12 years, at least as many digital cameras

I’ve been interested in photography in varying degrees since middle school. Over the years, I’ve had a handful of disposable film cameras, a decent Olympus 35mm point and shoot (with a zoom) and the opportunity to use my parents Olympus OM-1 camera with a variety of excellent prime lenses. I was even fortunate enough (because I am just old enough) to have had the opportunity to take an enrichment program in high school and a photography class in college that both involved taking photos on black and white 35mm t-max film, processing that film and making my own prints in a darkroom.

That said, my enthusiasm for photography skyrocketed with the introduction of cost effective Digital Cameras. What follows is a brief look at the many cameras which have passed through my ownership in the ongoing quest for the best camera I could justify purchasing.

2000 – The hook

1998 was the first year I saw a fellow student who owned a digital camera. (I think it was Nick Vitalbo) It was interesting as a piece of technology, but since it wasn’t my own, it didn’t really stick in my mind. Clearly something piqued my interest, as I bought a very cheap digital camera with fixed memory and a proprietary image format that holiday before returning to school.

It only took a couple weeks before I was hooked, and made my first upgrade to the Fujifilm DX-9. I upgraded three more times that year, finally sticking with the Nikon Coolpix 950, a sharp 2 megapixel camera with a unique swiveling design. If those first cheap cameras were what got me hooked on taking (and sharing) photos of my friends and various adventures, it was the 950 which got me excited about taking better photos.

2001 – The art

After a year with the Coolpix 950, I was still enjoying the camera’s design, but wanted higher resolution images. I made the natural upgrade to the Coolpix 995, a superior model of the same basic design. This took me through the end of college and was my main camera for the next 1.5 years.

2002 – On the go

The only limitation of the Coolpix design was size, which is why I picked up a Canon s200 pocket camera as a second camera. I was never quite satisfied with this camera, and ended up upgrading my pocket-sized cameras five more times over the years, never quite satisfied with the results.

2003 – RAW and post-processing

In 2003 I bought my first camera capable of capturing images in the camera’s “RAW” format, such that I could make the creative processing decisions later on my computer. This was a huge catalyst for paying more attention to my art, even though the initial tools were very limited in their post-processing capabilites. The eventual release of Adobe Lightroom in 2007 finally gave us quick and easy post-processing capabilities.

Bighorn Sheep - Jasper/Banff National Parks (Canon G3)


2004 – Digital SLR

By 2004, I wanted more than I could get out of a point-and-shoot camera. I had known for a while that the next step would be to purchase an Digital SLR, and Canon made this remotely affordable when they released the Digital Rebel / 300D. I immediately started taking better photos, and loved the flexibility additional lenses opened up to me, as well as the richer post-processing capabilities it offered.

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir - Yosemite National Park (Canon 300d / EF-S 18-55mm)

2007 – HD Video

While second to my fondness for photography, I also enjoy capturing short videos, predominantly while traveling. In 2007 I picked up the HV10, a camcorder which shot HD video on familiar and readily available Mini DV cassettes. The next year I upgraded to a similar camcorder which stored video on SDHC cards and was less hassle to import and use.

2008-2010 – Sharing the fun

As I got better, I got better lenses and the cameras got better too, I wanted a camera with more resolution. I upgraded to the XTi in the spring, and by the fall Amy was ready for her own SLR too. That Christmas, I got her the XSi camera, and she got me the excellent Sigma 30mm 1.4 lens. She quickly took to photography (and it made it easier for me to justify camera gear purchases).

Orondo Cider Works - Lake Chelan, WA (Canon 300D, Ef 35mm F/2)


2011 – Better pictures on the go

After years struggling with terrible pocket cameras, we were so happy to get the Canon G12 for Christmas. It is a point and shoot with the manual controls “photo people” can’t live without. It has been our companion on many short trips where our larger cameras aren’t practical or feasible.

Appalachian Trail - Cole Mountain (Canon G12)


2012 – Taking it to the next level

Recently, I’ve been catching up on processing my photos, and I’ve been putting more attention into my compositions and my craft. Among other things, I love taking panoramic photos, as they capture the breadth and wildness of the many outdoor places we visit. I’ve recently recognized that I have hit the limits of my gear, and am excited to have just purchased a used Canon 5d mark II camera. I will certainly need to update a few lenses since a couple of our lenses aren’t compatible with a full frame camera.

The new camera will allow us to get some more capable lenses especially on the wide end, leverage advanced metering and focus capabilities, and take better photos. I’m excited for the increased sharpness and better source material for stitching panoramic images, and Amy is excited to have a more powerful camera to use for event photography.

Sunrise, Aguereberry Point - Death Valley National Park (Stitched Panorama using Canon t2i / EF-S 10-22mm on a tripod)


Table of cameras I’ve owned.

No, I don’t think very many people will actually find this interesting, but I found it helpful in understanding just how far we’ve come in so little time.

Year Purchased Make/Model Resolution Sensor Zoom Storage
December 1999 Generic camera 640×480 none non-removeable
January 2000 Fujifilm DX-9 640×480 1/4″ CCD 3x (32-96mm equivalent) Smartmedia
May 2000 Fujifilm MX-1200 1.3 Megapixel ? none (38mm equivalent) Smartmedia
October 2000 Nikon Coolpix 800 1.9 Megapixel 1/2″ CCD 2x (38-76 mm equivalent) Compactflash
November 2000 Nikon Coolpix 950 1.9 Megapixel 1/2″ CCD 3x (38–115 mm equivalent) Compactflash
November 2001 Nikon Coolpix 995 3.1 Megapixel 1/1.8″ CCD 4x (38–125 mm equivalent) Compactflash
October 2002 Canon Powershot s200 2.1 Megapixel 1/2.7″ CCD 2x (35-70 mm equivalent) Compactflash
June 2003 Canon Powershot G3 4.1 Megapixel 1/1.8″ CCD 4x (34-140 mm equivalent) Compactflash
April 2004 Canon 300d SLR 6.3 Megapixel 22.7 x 15.1 mm CMOS EF-S 18 – 55 mm (3x – 29-88mm equivalent) Compactflash
April 2004 Canon PowerShot ELPH 410 4.0 Megapixel 1/1.8″ CCD 3x (36-108mm equivalent) Compactflash
March 2006 Canon PowerShot ELPH SD600 6.0 Megapixel 1/2.5 CCD 3x (35-105mm equivalent) SD
November 2006 Canon PowerShot ELPH SD630 6.0 Megapixel 1/2.5 CCD 3x (35-105mm equivalent) SD
October 2007 Canon HV10 Camcorder HDV (Anamorphic 1440×1080 HD Video) 1/2.7″ CMOS 10x DV Cassettes
January 2008 Canon XTi DSLR 10 Megapixel 22.2 x 14.8mm CMOS n/a Compactflash
July 2008 Canon Vixia HF100 1920×1080 Full HD 1/3.2″ CMOS 12x SD/SDHC
December 2008 Canon XSi DSLR 12 Megapixel 22.2 x 14.8mm CMOS n/a SD/SDHC
October 2010 Canon T2i DSLR 18 Megapixel 22.3mm x 14.9mm CMOS n/a SD/SDHC
December 2011 Canon PowerShot G12 10 Megapixel 1/1.7″ CCD 4x (28-140 equivalent) SD/SDHC
April 2012 Canon 5d Mark II 21.1 Megapixel 36.0mm x 24.0mm CMOS n/a CF

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