Thursday, June 05, 2008

Cool Cameras and Curious Lizards

My little Kodak EasyShare Z612 has taken a beating for eighteen months. I’ve inflicted constant focusing and zooming on the digital dynamo every day since Christmas 06. I can hear and feel its parts wearing…

I work with Jason, a camera expert in the field of Forensic science. He’s also a FujifilmUSA rep. From his collection of the best cameras he stores on campus, he brought me a Nikon D40.


With its 18-55mm lens it gives superb photos. Nikon cameras just thrill me. I said, “Jason, this is great but I need a powerful zoom!”


He brought me a 200-500mm Tamron lens in its own carrying case. Oh, goodie. I wasn’t expecting something so large. The piece on the left in the photo is a doohickey that protects the lens.


Very carefully, I lifted the expensive beast and put it on a pedestal. I marveled at its power.


Attaching the lens to the camera wore me out, worrying that I might drop it. You know? I held it for a while. And wondered how in the hell will this fit in my handbag or pocket? I won’t need that small lens very often. I’ll need the 200-500mm lens! There are smaller zoom lenses out there; however, I quickly decided I don't want to bother with changing lenses. I’m a hopeless, happy, pointer and shooter without a schedule or plan, floating from one subject to another within seconds. Zoom for a hummingbird then macro for a butterfly or flower… I returned the lens to Jason unharmed without even trying it.



I’m not suited for a DSLR because I want to be ready to capture nature when it happens and be able to carry a camera around my neck often. I pulled my Kodak out of my pocket to visit with a curious Eastern Fence Lizard the other day.


Hello, Lady! I was just assessing your ant problem.


Did you notice how quickly I can eliminate them?


I think I'll check this side of the brick. Don't go away. I'll be right back.


I'm back. I had a nice lunch.


You definitely have an ant problem. Don't worry, Lady. I'll take care of it.


Now, where are my children?


Right now I’m lusting about this camera - a Fujifilm S100SF does everything I need and is well suited for nature photography. I can get a nice discount on one, but first I want to hold it, feel it, and see if it fits in my handbag.

I'd love to hear opinions about your favorite camera.


Susie said...

I have a Kodak EasyShare too. Guess I'm no help, but I do love how it fits so nicely in my purse.
Yours takes great pictures!

NCmountainwoman said...

A Nikon D50 which is plenty of camera for me. It has lots of bells and whistles including rapid fire, yet is simple enough for a novice like me.

What a coincidence! Today we bought a Nikkor AF-S VR Zoom 70-300mm lens. The practice pictures I took this afternoon are very good, especially since they were hand held and I'm not a great photographer. Changing the lens is really simple.

This camera won't fit in your purse, but there are some great light-weight camera bags out there. Mine holds the camera, new lens, and charging stuff with room left over. It even has a zipper at the bottom that conceals a little waterproof bag to cover everything if you're caught in the rain. The whole thing loaded weighs far less than my purse and everything is really easy to get to.

dmmgmfm said...

I love my Canon XTI! I have several lenses for it and love using it, but I'm considering getting another, smaller camera that I can haul around in my purse.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I am a hopeless point-and-shooter. I have a Canon A80. I like it because it has a screen that you can pull out and rotate if you need to get the camera into an odd position while you stay upright. There is a newer model of course. Mine has been dropped so many times I am almost embarrassed to show it as the camera is all bent up and parts are loose. It still works, not as well as it did but I can't afford a new one right now.

I love your lizard shots especially with your narrative. Tell him I have ants but sadly no lizards to eat them.

Rose said...

Could you send one of the lizard family my way? We seem to have lots of ants outside.
Mary, you take such great photos already; I can't imagine how they could be improved with that huge Nikon lens. Besides, that might scare the hummingbirds away!
My children got me a new Sony Cybershot with the standard 3x zoom for Christmas. I was very happy with it till I started blogging. I don't want them to know I secretly want a new camera with more zoom capability.

Mary said...

Susie, Kodak EasyShare are great cameras. I'm even considering purchasing a new Z712.

Carolyn, I'll be buy to see what you do with that 300mm zoom. I don't think the Nikon D50 is for sale anymore - maybe replaced by the D80? Awesome camera.

Laurie, your Canon takes great pictures. I often wondered what camera you have. Thanks!

Lisa, don't we have enough to do? Changing lenses - I can do without.

Rose, I used a Sony Cybershot 3x zoom before I got the Kodak. And, you know what? It took WONDERFUL photos. Then, like you, I wanted to zoom in on birds... Go ahead and put a zoom on your list :o) I still love my Kodak 12x zoom.

JeanMac said...

I like "easy" cameras! I have a Pentax Optio 30 which is "all" the camera I need. My sister and bro are into lenses - I aim and shoot:)

Q said...

Dear Mary,
I love the lizard!! I have a blue tailed skink taking care of my ants.
I bonded with my Nikon D50. I do have the 200-500 lens and shade guard like you showed. It is a point and shoot for me and a camera I can do manual shots with. The camera and lens are heavy, 10 pounds. I think of it as my weight baring exercise. I can hand hold the camera a nd lens zoomed out to 500. Makes up close shots possible for me.
It all depends on what you want to do. You have a great eye so what ever camera you decide on you will do wonderfully.
Great photo of the Fritillary...
Stay cool.

Seabrooke said...

New cameras are such fun to play with, but ultimately it's about what you're comfortable using and what helps you get the pictures you want.

I'm on my fourth digital. My very first one was a Kodak, back when digital cameras hadn't been on the market all that long, perhaps a year or so. It was a 1.2 megapixel. How times have changed!

Numbers 2 and 3 were both Canon Powershot A-series point-and-shoots, and I was extremely happy with them, they did virtually everything I needed. However, I was unhappy with bird photography (I did the digiscoping thing, but usually used my binoculars instead of a scope, and just never got good photos).

I finally decided last year to splurge for my birthday and buy myself a real DSLR. A happy Canon customer, I went for the Canon XTi, which was competitively priced and had glowing reviews from everyone I knew who used one. I've never regretted the purchase.

It came with two lenses, an 18-55 and a 75-300. I feel the 300 is just a tad too short for great bird photos, but it certainly gets me good bird photos, and for the price and weight I can't complain (the next step up cost a pretty penny, and are heavy to boot). This year I splurged again and bought a good-quality macro lens so I could get up close and personal with the insects and other things I came across.

It's true that the camera's a bit bulky to carry around in your pocket or handbag, and changing the lenses can be a nuisance, but the photography addict in me is willing to put up with these slight inconveniences for the photos the camera is capable of taking.

If you don't want anything that large, I recommend the Canon Powershots or the Nikon CoolPix series - both are highly rated. I'd also suggest checking out some of the 10x or 12x zoom point-and-shoots - they can get just as close to birds as my DSLR's 300 lens, but are much easier to tote around. Something like (though not necessarily specifically) this Canon Powershot.

Seabrooke said...

Just checked out the specs on the camera you posted (should've done that first, I suppose!) - sure seems like you know what you're looking for, and that looks like a great camera for your purposes!

beckie said...

Mary, I have a Kodak Easyshare, but a small one-c530. Would love one like my granddaughter got for her birthday an Olympias, I think. It does the macro and mega macro or something like that. Anyway, takes really great close ups, zooms, and pictures of things in motion. It is small enough to carry in a purse and has it's own battery charger. That would really be a plus for me-I am always buying batteries! Loved the lizard. Wonder if he'd hire out?

Debbie said...

Mary, I am in the same boat. I like to take a lot of nature shots and picturs of the kids. I really don't think I would be happy with a camera I had to change lenses on. I've been reserches some of the new "superzooms".

I'm still looking, but I need a camera that can easily fit in a bag or pocket, give me good zoom, great macros and catch my 8yo in mid-bounce on the trampline. I'm not asking for much!

dguzman said...

Whoa, I'm lusting over those big cameras! But like you I'm kinda scared of them. I really liked my old Nikon CoolPix 4800--the macro couldn't be beat--and my Kodak Z712-IS is great (though the macro isn't). I would love to have one of those big cameras and lenses, but for now--I'm too much like you, floating around and snapping pics quickly.

Anonymous said...

I have a kodak z612 and a panasonic fz7, both 12x zooms- I LOVE the panny camera itself but the Kodak's photos have more life and jewel like quality to them. Early pannys like mine suffered from extreme noise in their image output which can be post processed out but who wants to photoshop every picture? Not me! It's also why i don't want a dslr-too much too learn ( and carry around)-I just want great photos!! So it's my z612 that has gotten constant use despite the fact that the panasonic's leica lens is superb and the macro capability and image stabilization is unbeatable. Plus the burst mode on panasonics is outragously fast!! That being said, my friend and I both upgraded our kodak superzoom digitals this spring-I went for the Kodak z812, she went for the Panasonic 18x superzoom. She just came back from Provence and I am completely blown away by her photos-the colors are poppy and noise really doesn't seem to be an issue anymore. That 18x zoom plus extra wide angle and even better macro capabilities looks like a winning combination. Best of all it's only centimeters bigger than our z612/812s. I don't own one so I can't give you a complete review but If I had waited to buy my new camera until after I saw the photos she took in Provence... I very well might have been the owner of a Panasonic 18x too!! Check out the panasonic forum at dpreview here:
There is one forum member in particular (HeatherV) who's nature photos with her Pan 18x are superb!Look for her posts.
I love my new Kodak z812 but now that panasonic seems to have improved ten fold over my older model, I definitely think you should give it a look!! here's the review:
All that being said, I am still thrilled with my z812- the gorgeous kodak color and crisp images please me no end- but it's essentially the same camera as the 612 only with 2 more mega pixels and better low light capabilites. It is very fast to capture images but SLOW to read to the card which is a pain for quick shooting. Panasonics are lightening fast. I was also VERY intrigued with the Fuji (still am!) but couldn't locate one nearby to try-holding a camera in one's hands IS very important! I am SO excited for you and the prospect of a new camera!! I will be glued to your blog in anticipation to see what you get!! You will produce magic with whatever you choose!!
hugs, gretchen

Anonymous said...

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, with a Raynox 2020 2x teleconverter, which has served me well for the past couple of years. Small enough to fit in my bag and light enough, even w/converter attached, to tote on long walks. It's got a 10x optical zoom, compared with the more standard 3x of point-and-shoots, which makes a huge difference in clarity with zoomed-in shots.

However, given a chance to use that D40 with the big zoom? I'd be all over that!

Corey said...

I'm a D50 devotee as well. My zoom lens is a Nikkor 70-300mm, but without the VR. It is compact enough to carry around in my diaper bag (the man-sized one I use, not that behemoth my wife carried). I find that unless I'm trying to capture subjects within 10 feet of myself, I don't ever need to change from that lens. Of course, there's the fact that I dropped it a few months ago and it needs a new worm gear, so I've been using the 28-80 that came with the camera more. The good news is that summer birding is very boring, and there's really no need for the big lens until fall when I hope to get the 300 repaired.

The Quacks of Life said...


I'd question your camera expert since the tamron won't autofocus on the d40 (the d40 and d60 don't have a focus motor in the camera). its a nice camera though! I sympathise with you over the lens changing. I often walk around with two cameras. the big beast for birds and a landscape/church lens on the other :D

I have a Nikon d80 (and a 2nd hand d70) and a few lenses :(

the fuji is a big beast really, meant to be rather good though. you may prefer a panasonic fz18 or Canon s5s which are considerably lighter/smaller.

fuji - 918g
panny - 407g
canon - 550g

both come with image stabilisation

The Quacks of Life said...

whoops better translate from the metric :D

fuji over 2lbs
Panny under a 1lb
canon just over a 1lb

You may want to look at the panny fz50 as well.

I reckon your style is like my friend OC and she went for something like the above.

I'll shut up

Cheryl said...

Well and cameras....I can't even tell you what make mine is....Mr Practical bought it and as long as it can takes photos I am happy.
I have to say you and Sherry are my favourite photographers. Your pics are always stunning. If you just uploaded them without any words, it would still hold meaning.

The photos today are truly have a talent and an eye for nature, whatever you choose will be right because you will be holding the camera.

Kathie Brown said...

Mary, an interesting post, to say the least! We love our Nikon D80 and I do carry it hiking with me in the desert. We have a 70 to 300mm zoom lens on it most of the time. I sling the strap over my shoulder most of the time but put it halfweay over my neck if I get concerned about driopping it. Almost all the photos on my blog are taken with it. I only change to the shorter lens for landscape photos or portraits. The Mexican poppy picture I posted earlier this spring was taken with that zoom lens, as well as the recent flycatcher. All of the pics on the "Greaterville Road" post were taken with the zoom also. I put the camera in automatic mode for some shots but most of the time I keep it in the sports mode which allows me to take quick shots of birds as they fly by in natural light-no flash. If I think I need flash,I put it in automatic. Hope this helps. I can't wait to see what you decide!

Anonymous said...

Mary, there are plenty of things I like about my DSLR (Canon XTi) like its fast focus and fast power-up and fast shooting and adjustable everything. But one thing I don't like is the size of the lenses I have to carry around to get half the zoom power that my point-and-shoot gets. Not to mention the cost of lenses. For your kind of photography, I'd stick to nice sharp P&S cameras.

Anonymous said...

Mary, I have a Nikon d200 that difinitely does not fit in my handbag. Like Q, I get my exercise with it. Most of the time, I keep on a Nikkor 55-200mm VR lens that works pretty well without a tripod. I do keep my Coolpix 4300 in my bag, though.

I know that whatever you choose you will get good shots. You have proved that over and over.

Sandpiper (Lin) said...

Mary, just buy a bigger purse. LOL You'll build muscles with that lens, too. ;-) Seriously, I love my DSLR and having the 500mm is fantastic, but it's best to use a tripod with one. When I can't take a tripod, I often take a 300mm and that's plenty of zoom. That being said, when I walk with the "big gun", I usually sling a little Canon S2IS around my neck, too, so I don't have to carry extra lenses.

Susan Gets Native said...

Well, I'm no help on the "big camera" question, but I will say that you better not buy one at Best Buy.

: )

The Quacks of Life said...

I wanted to add that the fuji you linked to described itself as a 28-400 equivalent.

mountainwoman mentions a 70-300 VR (nice lens btw and that would work on the d40) now on a Nikon dSLR that is 105-450 equivalent. on a canon it would be a 112-480.

the fuji and the equivalents I mentioned would mean you could take birds and insects and take snaps of family and friends and your lovely dogs without changing lenses.

I'll shut up now honest :D

Mary said...

THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUGGESTIONS AND INFORMATION. Really, this will help me a great deal while I browse for a new camera. I'm still leaning towards a point and shoot, however :o)

And Pete, no need to shut up! You make me laugh so hard and I love hearing from someone who obviously knows a lot more about cameras than I do. Your photos are fantastic, too.

NatureWoman said...

No help here, Mary, because I too love the convenience of whipping my camera out of my pocket, even though I would love to be able to get better photos. But whatever you do, I always love your photos!

Anonymous said...

Hi Mary

I was going to suggest the Fuji S100SF or the 18x zoom Fuji S8100fd ( see this link)

With the 8100 you have the 4 x AA batteries which are good if you are away and just change for fresh batteries or the 100 has an internal battery which you have to charge each time.

The 8100 has the 18x zoom, the 100 has 14.3 x zoom.

I use to use the old S5500 which was good in its day. Anyway check the Fuji site and see the difference.

Anonymous said...

If you would have stuck with the Nikon . . . I would have suggested the new D60 that they just came out with. I understand your feeling with the DSLR since a good majority of my pictures are taken with my point-and-shoot. But I wouldn't turn give up my DSLR if it was the last thing to give away!

Kerri Farley said...

I carry a point and shoot with me at all times....but when I go out specifically to take pcitures I use my Nikon D40X DSLR. I love this camera!

Nora said...

I love camera talk, any camera talk will do and I am hooked and have to read it all...I have canon as that is what we all started with but I secretly lust after the New Nikkon with the high ISO!!!

nina at Nature Remains. said...

I switched last year from pocket camera to DSLR--thinking it was more camera than I needed.
And now this year, happily snapping along with a Canon Digital Rebel have "outgrown" the package lens (18-55mm) and am adjusting to a new 200mm.

You take great pictures already, Mary--maybe a DSLR is your next step? It could fit in a purse, and isn't very heavy. And the 18-55 lens isn't clunky at all. And all of the automatic point and shoot settings are there--it's really great!

(maybe you just need a bigger purse)

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Mary, who says you can't have both? I have a P&S that I keep in my purse, (Canon A630) and the Sony Alpha 100 with the 70-300 zoom lens. I love having both of them.

As is usually the case with most people, I want even better equipment. I'd love to get a new P&S, and am very curious to see what you select. I'd also love to eventually upgrade and get a Nikon DSLR.