I had a digital camera, which I hated. The trigger was so slow that I never got a decent shot of any moving object, blurry, out of focus, usually missed the subject completely by the time the shutter clicked. Also, it chewed through batteries at a ridiculous rate, only getting about 20 pictures per set. Instead, I mostly used a very small film camera which took decent pictures quickly.
I figured the technology had improved enough to make it worthwhile to invest again. So I set out to find a good camera. First things first. I went to ConsumerReports.org. (You can subscribe for $20/yr or go to the library and get the back issues). Through research I found out that I wanted an advanced compact, lightweight enough to carry easily. I wanted more control than your typical point-n-shoot. I wanted image stabilization, which eliminates jiggle. Since I take a lot of concert footage, my subjects move fast and the trigger has to be quick. I wanted at least 5.0 megapixels (and that has proved to take great clear photos at 8x10 size). It must use AA batteries, so I don’t have to keep buy ridiculously expensive batteries that run down too fast. And I needed at least a 10x zoom for close-ups.
I had the list of recommendations from Consumer Reports with me when I got to Best Buy. I choose the Canon Powershot S2 IS, because it met all the specifications. It didn’t have the quickest trigger, but it hasn’t bothered me too much. In addition to a 12x optical zoom, it also has a 4x digital zoom. I can see each individual feather on a bird about 50 feet away. For less than $500, I have a camera that will serve me well for a long time.
Here’s a few things I’ve found out: If you don’t use that LCD display, you can get about 500 pictures off a set of AA batteries. I buy Duracell Ultra Digital batteries at Costco, a pack of 16 for $8. That works out to $2 for 500 photos. I also use Costco.com to print out only the photos I want copies of for 17 cents each. This alone has saved me hundreds of dollars over film developing. You can set the camera to high speed continuous shooting, which means you hold down the trigger and it keeps shooting until you let go. I have taken some great shots this way. Set the size to Medium1, which gives good quality but isn’t as slow as Large. Buy a 1.0 Gigabite chip. I’ve gotten over 800 pictures on one without filling it up. Play around with your settings, see what it can do. Read the instruction book, vital information about different aspects of the camera.