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Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Why two cameras?

Last year, in Cambodia, almost every Saturday I would catch a bus from Kompong Chhnang to Phnom Penh. I've written about it here before. (August 2006) The journey took up to 2.5 hours each way, occasionally longer. The bus was not exactly comfortable but I still enjoyed the journey. I never got tired off making the trip. The countryside we passed through was beautiful, interesting and ever-changing.

In my mind I would take many photos but I rarely took my camera with me. The purpose of the trip was to connect to the internet in Phnom Penh. I already had my laptop in my bag and my camera is a handful on its own.

When I arrived in Phnom Penh, once again, there would be many interesting sights and I would think to myself, 'If only I had my camera.'

It was rare to see another Westerner on this bus trip. I was usually the only one, which made me an item of interest and it was very common that someone would start up a conversation. The second-last time I made this trip there were about five young Westerners on the bus. One had a really small camera with a very large LCD monitor. They were looking at pictures on the screen and even from several seats away I could see them quite clearly.

'That's what I want.' I decided.

So, when I came to Kuala Lumpur on this trip I did some comparison shopping. There were lots of promotions. I ended up buying myself a Panasonic Lumix fx3, quite similar to the one I saw on the bus.

I'm not saying this is the best camera for this purpose. I decided that, as it was to be my second camera, I didn't need one that did everything that my other camera, a Panasonic Lumix fz20, can do. When I want to do some serious photography I will take the fz20. But at all other times I carry the fx3 and if I see something that is photogenic then I grab a shot. It might not be the best shot but I've got something.

One of the reasons I chose this particular camera, apart from price, was that it uses an SD memory card which is the same as the fz20 and therefore interchangeable between cameras. The other reason is that I have been pretty happy with the fz20 and therefore feel positive about Panasonic cameras. Had I not had this feeling towards Panasonic I might have gone for a Pentax. They had a few models in the price range that looked pretty good and got good reviews. Some of the other brands were OK but didn't tempt me and a few, including some popular, well-respected brands, simply did not impress me at all. If you plan to buy any camera I highly recommend you read the reviews.

After all that, I guess I'm feeling a little frustrated with the fx3. It really is aimed at the beginner (perhaps not as much as some of the other brands), or someone who can't be bothered working at taking photos. It's great for people who literally want to just point and shoot. And for that purpose it gives a fairly good photo that most people would be happy with. But I can be a little fussy and want something just a little better. The fx3 has lots of features but does not allow me to control it manually. Perhaps if I had spent more money I could have got a camera that went a bit further. It wouldn't have come up to the fz20 but it would have given me a little more flexibility.

I've also become a little more enthusiastic about displaying my photos and I've gone 'pro' with the main one of my flickr accounts. There was another motive in doing this. Flickr pro users can upload as many photos as they like and at any size they want. I usually reduce the file size before I upload to flickr. Now I can upload all my photos in full file size. You won't get to see these. I'm doing this as a way of backing up. The photos are not displayed. The ones I choose to display to the world are edited, and also reduced in file size, before I upload.

The non-pro flickr user is limited to a maximum of 200 photos. When you upload your 201st the first one disappears and so on. They keep them on file but hidden. So now that I've gone pro they've all come back again. That's over 700 photos. They go back to when I first joined flickr in early 2005. In fact, back then I was using an earlier camera, a Kodak DC 265.

If you're interested to see if you can tell the difference in photos from these three cameras, or just interested to see a record of my last few years, you'll find a link to this (and my other flickr pages) in the sidebar.

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