Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tech Tuesday: Is It Too Much to Ask?

When I bought my Canon Digital Rebel almost five years ago, it came with a "kit lens", an 18-55 mm zoom. That's roughly equivalent to a 28-90 mm zoom on a 35 mm camera - moderate wide-angle to short telephoto.

The Digital Rebel was the first DSLR under $1000 ($999.95, to be exact, when I bought mine at Best Buy,) but now there's lots of competition at even lower price points, and most of these come with an 18-55 mm zoom (or it's four-thirds equivalent.) Nowadays, a zoom in this range is cheap to make, and besides, pretty handy. The wide end of the range is wide enough to be useful, and the telephoto end is great for portraits.

But the long end just isn't long enough for me. So when I take out my DSLR (now a 4th-generation Digital Rebel XSi,) I also schlep along a 70-300 zoom. And it usually turns out that whenever I change lenses, I see a shot that needs the lens I just put in my bag.

What I really want now is a walk-around-all-day lens like the  Sigma AF 18-200mm DC OS . Now that's the 35mm equivalent of a 28-320 mm zoom, and with that kind of range in one lens, I could probably leave my other lenses, and the whole camera bag, for that matter, home. So that's what I'm saving my DSLR pennies for now.

But who wants to carry a DSLR around every day, even with a light and compact zoom like the Sigma? That's why I have my take-along-everywhere-everyday camera, a Canon A620 that I bought in early 2006. The current model in Canon's lineup sells for about $175-200, and it's a good everyday digicam. You can't carry it in your shirt pocket, but it will easily fit in most pants pockets or even a small purse. Me, I just through mine in my take-to-work backpack along with my lunch and a book to read on the Light Rail.

Now what I really want in an everyday digicam is something with the lens range of that Sigma 18-200mm lens. As I said, it would be the 35 mm equivalent of a 28-320mm zoom. But while you can get digicams with 10X or more zoom ratios, they all start at a 35mm or 37mm equivalent, and that's just too narrow for my wide tastes.

So here's what my specs are for my next digicam:

  • Lens with zoom range equivalent to 28-280mm and optical stabilization
  • 8 to 10 Megapixels. More than that doesn't make sense for tiny digicam sensors, and it would just increase noise levels. Besides, I get decent 13x19 prints from my 7MP A620.
  • 2.5" or 3" LCD

Now is that too much to ask?!

The closest thing I've seen so far is the new Canon Powershot SX110 IS - the lens is equivalent to 35-360mm, more than enough on the long end but not nearly wide enough on the other side. Discounted to around $275, it's a very attractive package, but I'm not buying another digicam with such a "normal" wide angle end of the zoom range. I want wide, baby, wide!

Anyone at Canon listening?

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