I’ve said many times over that I like my little camera, a Canon PowerShot S50, but I’ve also mentioned that it’s not very powerful and is already a relic in terms of technology (I’ve had it more than three years already). That’s not to say it’s garbage. Ha! As I’ve learned to actually utilize it’s many functions and settings, I’ve found it to be capable of taking rather splendid photos.
But only at close range. Its optical zoom is only 3x. While it also has 12x digital zoom capabilities, I avoid that like the plague due to the poor overall quality of images captured using that feature, which is true of all digital cameras.
With such a limited optical zoom, the only photos I know will turn out best are those I take of subjects in close quarters, such as The Kids. Similarly, it does a respectable job of landscape photography (although not spectacular, it’s certainly done okay by me). It’s also good under other circumstances, but the specifics of each case are very important as to the final outcome.
One area where it tends to fail me is wildlife and some other nature photography. On the same token, it also does poorly with long-distance shots overall. That’s because the limited zoom is not capable of reaching out and pulling in the finer details of subjects and scenes that rely on closeness for clarity. A good example of that can be seen in most bird photos I’ve taken. Sure, they’re presentable and you can usually see clearly what I was trying to photograph, but a great many of those pictures are actually crops from much larger images because the subject in question wasn’t close enough to fill the frame, and the zoom was incapable of reaching out far enough to do a better job. And crops of images don’t normally look fantastic because they’re nothing more than a limited subset of the information captured.
So what to do…
Well, I’ll tell you what I should do. I should get a new camera.
I in no way want to get rid of the one I have now. For point-and-shoot technology, it does a bang-up job and has speed and size in its favor. There are always going to be circumstances where it’s the best option.
Likewise, there will always be circumstances where it just doesn’t cut the mustard. That’s the shortcoming I want to rectify.
After looking at new digital cameras, I’ve decided I’m still not ready for a dSLR. Not yet, anyway, and I may never be. I say that because they’re too complicated for the kind of photography I do (based on convenience rather than intentional sessions). I’m just not ready to lug around a bunch of accessories that I have to juggle each time my target and/or environment changes. I may never be interested in that kind of investment of both time and energy, not to mention money.
That conclusion ultimately led me back to point-and-shoot digital cameras. This time, however, I upped the ante by evaluating the high-end models instead of the run-of-the-mill devices I looked at years ago when I purchased my first one.
In the coming months, therefore, I intend to purchase a new Canon PowerShot S3 IS—assuming a new model doesn’t come out before I take action.
Being familiar with the Canon controls and software makes this an easy decision for me. Another big plus is that this camera has a 12x optical zoom. 12x! That’s leaps and bounds above what I have now.
It’s still a relatively small camera (although larger than the one I have now) and still features all the same great tools and technologies I use, from macro to video to low-light capabilities. In addition to those, it offers several upgrades. Some of those include the much higher optical zoom, a bigger LCD screen with flip-and-twist convenience, a “super macro” function, a higher megapixel rating, up to ISO 800, and QVGA (320×240 60fps) movie capture with stereo sound.
I’ve constantly said I’m not trying to be a professional photographer, and I never will be. An expensive dSLR would provide me with better quality and more features, but it also comes with the accessory requirement and the need to juggle more than just a camera in order to take photos. If I’m going to continue being a casual picture taker, that’s far too much for me to deal with.
So I think the S3 IS will suit my needs just fine. It gives me much better optical zoom ability, which addresses my single-most important concern with my present camera, and it also gives me many new features I can utilize.
What I think is funny in both a good and bad way is that the camera costs as much as my S50 did more than three years ago, yet it’s light years ahead in features and functions. Mind you, I paid the same amount for my much more powerful laptop about three years after I spent that big chunk of change on a tower desktop that now seems like a dinosaur in comparison. Ah, the progress of technology…
You can rest assured I’m not rushing out to purchase the new camera in the next few weeks. My present financial situation prohibits that without question. But as I get caught up on my responsibilities and obligations over the next several months, I’ll be looking to make the investment along with the few odds and ends accessories I’ll need to go along with it (upgraded memory, carrying case, A/C adapter, etc.).
I’m excited it didn’t take me long to find something that far outmaneuvers my current camera without requiring me to earn a photography engineering degree or to drag around tons of extra equipment to match every possible scenario under which I might want to snap a picture or two. I’m equally excited because I believe this new one will give me the ability to capture images that at present elude my reach.