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CAMERA DU JOUR

30 September 2004

Peggy has had a terrible effect on me.

We became friends because she is a camera-holic and even if she paid for postage from the U.S. to Australia, it was still cheaper to buy cameras in the US and have them sent to her than buying the same camera over the counter in Perth.

So I became her supplier.  She'd find these great bargains on the Internet, buy them, have them sent to me and I'd send them on to her.  I used to kid her about her camera-of-the month club, since over several years I sent so many cameras to her.

When she came here, it was to collect one of the cameras she bought.  I think she also bought one while she was here. 

This whole mindset began to wear off on me when I turned my first digital camera in on a better camera before I went to Australia.  I was happy with the Olympus and pleased to see that the quality was better than my Mavica had been.

Then while in Australia, Peggy found this great point and shoot camera that would fit in a pocket and we both (as well as her friend Chris) bought one.  I now had two digital cameras.

The Olympus began giving me problems before I left Australia and by the time I got home, it really was very "iffy" as far as reliability.  I talked it over with Peggy and I decided to use some of the money I had saved for Australia, but hadn't spent, and buy myself a new camera when I got back.

I bought a Minolta, on recommendation from a salesclerk at Costco, who assured me that Costco has a "forever" return policy and that if I decided I didn't like the camera, as long as I kept the documentation, I could return it, even if it was years later.

Well, the Minolta has developed a slight quirk.  The sound on the movie feature isn't working.  Also, I have become increasingly disappointed in the clarity of the photos.  While the Olympus seemed to handle "shaky hands" all right, the Minolta does not, and though I got a lot of good shots in New York, too many of them were disappointing.

I mentioned to Peggy that I was going to take the Minolta back and exchange it, because of the movie malfunction.  She fired back an e-mail telling me that what I really needed to get was the new Panasonic FZ3, which has a 12x zoom (my previous cameras have all had 10x) and which also has image stabilization, which takes care of a lot of that shaky hand syndrome.

I went on to DPreview to check out the specs and the review and the user comments and it didn't take much to convince me that this was the camera of my dreams.

So, once I had the psychiatrist's work finished and had met with the head of the UC Davis Dance and Theatre Department to set up publicity for the coming school year, I took off with my Minolta and headed for Costco.

-- IMPORTANT INFORMATION:  For anybody who has bought anything at Costco, they aren't kidding.  You can return any item (except computers) at any time, even several years after you've purchased it.  Keep those receipts!

I walked in with my year-old camera, told them I wanted to return it and they handed me my money back and took the camera.  Piece o'cake.  Well, not quite a piece o'cake.  Digital cameras come with an 8 mb digital storage card.  This is just to get you started, but it holds about 3 photos, so doesn't really do you much good.   I had long since replaced the 8 mb with larger storage medium, and, of course, had lost misplaced the 8 mb card.  I had everything else in the box except the 8 mb card, which is like trying to return a bottle of pills with every single pill in the bottle, but the cotton stuffing lost. 

At first they weren't going to take the camera back without the 8 mb card, but they called a manager over and she poo-poo'd it and said it was fine to take the camera back.

I would have purchased a replacement camera at Costco, but they don't carry Panasonic, so I had to go elsewhere. 

CompUSA is near Costco so my first stop was there, but they don't carry Panasonic either.  There is a Circuit City about 20 miles away, and I knew from DPreview that they carried the Panasonic, so I drove down there.

Amazing how "lost" I felt knowing that for a few brief moments I did not own a big digital camera.  I told myself that I did have the little pocket Casio so I wasn't exactly without a camera, but still it felt like there was a small hole in my life.

Circuit City did have the camera in stock and the clerk commented that it was the easiest sale she'd ever made.  I looked at it, said "I'll take it" and handed her all the money I'd just received from Costco.  Nothing easier.

Feeling "whole" again, I drove back to Davis and settled in to bond with the new camera.

First frustration was discovering that while the Minolta was powered by 4 AA batteries, the Panasonic has its own battery, which needs 2 hours to charge before it can be used for the first time, so the battery is now charging and I have begun to read through the instruction book, but have reached a point where I can't really do anything without power on the camera, so I'm kinda stuck here for the next two hours.

But I think I'm going to like this camera a lot.  I like the feel of it better than the Minolta.  I like the idea of the larger zoom, and I've wanted image stabilization ever since I used Peggy's camera, which has it.

With luck, this camera will last me for a long time.  It has to.  I didn't buy it at Costco and Circuit City will only take it back during the first 30 days.   After that, I'm on my own. 

But that's OK.  I think it's going to be just fine!


Website of the Day

This New York Times article, called "Sentenced to be Raped," infuriates me so much it's beyond outrage.

This one, however, a review of The Big Voice thrills me!

PHOTO OF THE DAY

pic1.jpg (56120 bytes)

Well, what ELSE would I choose for picture #1
on the new camera?

 


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