How DO you pick a new camera?

Some things are fun to buy on impulse. Earrings and shoes, definitely. Technology? No way.

I am not an obsessive researcher when it comes to getting new technology — I mean how many ways can you research which iPod to get…it’s more about picking the color than anything else. But that goes out the window when it’s time to get a new camera.

Lumix FZ20

I bought a Lumix FZ20 [Panasonic camera with Leica lens, very highly reviewed here] in 2005 to shoot things for Knitty. It performed very well, but I found that I was not taking it along as much as I should have because it was big.

So when we went on a trip to Italy in 2006, we bought a little wee Canon digital Elph. And it won, getting used 90% of the time from then onwards, just because it could fit in a pocket.

When I accidentally dropped it and busted the lcd screen, I found a tutorial online that showed how to replace it, and the parts were less than $40 via ebay. Hub fixed it in an hour. That little Canon has had a lot of use in 4 years.

But I wanted the extra features a DSLR-type camera like the Lumix had to offer. So I did what I do when it comes to picking a new camera:

  1. I check I like how they are so precise about examining every aspect of a camera, including the good and bad. They usually alert me to models of cameras that stand out among the rest, and help me narrow down what it is I really want.
  2. Once I have a favorite or two chosen, I go to [don’t groan] Amazon, and see what the majority of consumers have to say. I know what’s there is not unbiased, and I know there are often reviews planted by the manufacturers of some products. But for cameras, it’s been helpful. If I find an issue that a lot of people mention, further googling can help me determine if it is a real problem or if it’s just inexperienced users that are causing their own problems.
Canon G11

The model that I kept coming back to was the Canon Powershot G11. Powershot, not Elph, meaning it won’t fit in my pocket. But it’s still nowhere near as large as a DSLR, which was my other possiblity.

This camera has a vaguely retro feel about its design which I like a lot, but more importantly, it has features I really wanted. It’s got an exposure compensation dial at the top left. The top right has an ISO dial (to choose how low the light can be where you’re shooting), and everything else was familiarly Canon-esque, which is a good thing. I like how intuitive it is to reach for a feature and find it where you expect it to be. I’ve found Canon to be wonderful that way over the years.

Look! I can see myself in it!

It also had this, which I have wanted forever: the tiltable viewscreen. Ideal for shooting over the heads of others, or avoiding glare on the screen in bright days [which happens a lot]. I also happen to have crappy closeup eyesight, so using a viewfinder isn’t something I like doing. A good lcd screen is my friend.

I’ll be able to fine-tune the white balance when I take Yarn Roundtable shots [the Elph was notorious for shooting purples as blues, no matter what I did, which meant more Photoshop fiddling after the fact] and lots more, as I get used to all the stuff this camera can do.

The Amys (Swenson and Singer) play with the tilty lcd screen at yesterday's Stitch & Pitch in Toronto.

Once I found the one I wanted, I stumbled across, a super-handy site for Canadians. It helps you figure out whether it’s cheaper to buy it in Canada or the US today, including exchange, duty and taxes, and will e-mail you when something you’re waiting to buy goes on sale. Super neat.

So why is this an Obsession Thursday post? Because I’ve done nothing but obsess about choosing the right camera for the last 2 weeks. My upcoming trip to Scotland means photo opportunities will be happening constantly. I don’t want to miss a single one.

Yesterday’s quick experiment at the Stitch & Pitch game in Toronto was great fun, and I have the ride over the ocean to finish reading the manual cover to cover.

(189 Posts)

9 thoughts on “How DO you pick a new camera?

  1. Tiny Tyrant

    I’ve had my Elph for over 10 years. Lost the battery and charger, replaced it with another ELPH and promptly found the stuff for the original. 😉

    They are hardy little cams. Enjoy your new Canon.

  2. ikisti

    Good pick on the G11. Its one of my favs. I would also say that if you can get to a store that lets you touch and shoot with the camera, well that’s the best.

    A million people may love the camera, but if you hate the way it feels in your hand or the way you zoom, well its not the camera for you.


  3. Spring Davidson

    I used the guide in Consumer Reports. I LOVE that they do all of the testing and evaluating! I use their recommendations for LOTS of purchases.

  4. Jenink

    I obsessed when buying my camera too. I ended up with a Canon DSLR b/c I wanted the flexibility to change lenses & couldn’t afford the Nikon. I also looked at the reviews on
    and ended up buying online after trying the real thing (I knew someone who already owned it.)

  5. Wool Free and Lovin' Knit

    oh, your timing is perfect. I need a new camera again too because my good wide-angled one bit the dust and isn’t worth repairing and my small fits nicely in your pocket just isn’t good enough — I’m going to check out your recent model and all the links etc. Should help me figure out what I want.
    thanks and happy picture taking in Scotland!!

  6. eastskye

    Lucky you! I made the mistake of thinking out loud about digital camera ideas, so my spouse took it upon himself to get one for me. It was nothing like I would have picked for myself. I am DROOLING with envy over your new baby! Enjoy the gorgeous pictures you’ll shoot with it. 🙂

  7. Lael

    I like a camera with very low megapixels – since I use it for my web site and blog, fewer pixels mean the pictures load faster, especially for those of us with dial-up. When I view your blog, most of the pictures don’t load. Of course, for vacation pics and family shots, I like higher resolution.

  8. Marisa

    I have the G2, a MUCH earlier version, and it is fantastic. It still works great (I’ve had it for 8 years or so, I think) so I haven’t been able to justify buying a new one with all the upgraded everything. I think your post might just push me over that edge, though.

Comments are closed.