Digital cameras certainly have their advantages, but after checking out some point-and-click devices recently, I felt a little nostalgic for the fast-disappearing days of film.
I recently tested three digital cameras – the HP Photosmart R817 5.1 megapixel, the Olympus Stylus 800 8.0 megapixel and the Nikon Coolpix P1 8.1 megapixel.
All three cameras were fairly user-friendly – there was no need to consult the accompanying manuals or starter guides in order to take basic photos and videos. Once I charged the batteries, I was able to turn the cameras on and start shooting right away.
The one exception to this was the HP camera – which should have been, but wasn’t, set on auto mode so the camera could figure out which setting to best take pictures in. Instead it came set at a mode for tungsten lighting and the pictures I first took were rather on the blue side. However a quick look down through the menu items soon rectified the matter. But the picture quality still looked better on the Nikon.
The cameras were also relatively fool proof when it came time to download the pictures to my computer.
I simply connected each of them with the included USB cable and the cameras automatically started downloading – no software installation required.
However, the Nikon for some reason did not load the pictures in the order in which they were taken, but instead seemed to grab pictures from the camera at random.
The good thing about digital cameras is that with a high-capacity memory card in place, it’s possible to take hundreds of pictures without having to worry about changing or running out of film. In most situations with a high-capacity card, there’s no need to stop shooting to change the card, as there is with film, unless of course, one is taking pictures at 8.1 megapixels. But unless you’re planning to blow up your pictures to insane proportions or crop out a small portion that you then plan to blow up to a fair size, taking pictures at 8.1 megapixels is generally not necessary.
Going, going, gone
What’s more of a concern is battery life. Here, the HP performed quite poorly. If you’re planning to spend the day shooting pictures, don’t expect this camera to last out the day. And since the battery is proprietary (as with the other two cameras), you can’t just pop in couple of AA batteries.
I’d rather go for a digital camera that works on AAs than risk losing my ability to take pictures, or spend the day deciding whether a shot is good enough to waste the battery power on.
The whole point of a digital camera is the ability to take as many pictures as one wants – and edit later. The other solution is to carry around two cameras, one digital and one film camera for when the digital one dies.
The Nikon had an exceptionally long battery life.
However, it fell short (or long) on one important aspect. The time lapse between pressing the button to take a picture – to – the – time – it – actually – took – to – open and close the shutter was exceedingly long and painful.
So, if you’re planning on taking any candid shots – at say an office party – fuggeddaboudit. By the time the camera actually takes the shot – which is a few seconds after you click the button to take it – your shot has long since moved on. The camera takes far too long to process through all the variables it needs to go through before it takes the picture.
It’s all enough to make me long for my handy 35mm point-and-shoot camera.