Sunday, December 25, 2016

Vorsprung Durch Technik

Pinching the slogan from one of the German car manufacturers, here are the advances in technology over ten years. These two cameras were made in around 2003 (left) and 2013 (right). I've had the one on the left since 2013 and the one on the right since sometime this year.

The camera on the left is 3 megapixel, can run off commonly available AA batteries and offers a whole host of useful features:

  • Built in flash
  • Movies in VGA
  • Various modes including manual, aperture priority etc.
  • Intervalometer
  • Articulating LCD.
  • 100 - 400 ISO.
  • 3 megapixels
  • AA batteries
The one on the right offers
  • Interchangeable lens
  • Movies in HD
  • Various modes though these can be hard to access
  • Can take an external flash
  • High capacity battery
  • ISO up to 128,500.
  • 20 megapixels
What does all that mean? Well, in use I find the older camera much more usable and user friendly. The intervalometer is a pig to access but it works really well. The VGA video mode is supposed to be archaic but quite honestly it saves memory space, speeds up transfers and looks just the same as HD videos for pretty much every application I encounter.

The lack of AA battery support I find rather tiresome. It means that unless I shell out $50 on a second battery, when the batteries die, it's time to go home. With AA batteries, I can root around my glove compartment and find some. I can use rechargeable or disposable if needed. Of course if the camera breaks I could use the AA batteries elsewhere. Not so with the funky Olympus battery.

The lack of an articulating LCD is a hinderance on the latest camera. It's so useful for doing selfie videos, which I do for my occasional Photography 101 series. It is in fact the primary reason I keep the 3 megapixel camera.

ISO - that's just numbers as far as I'm concerned. Once ISOs go above 3200 then it's just silly numbers of increasingly limited practical value. As for megapixels, it's about the same. For 99% of applications more than 3 is a sheer waste of storage. Look at it this way... how many of your own photos do you view larger than the display Facebook makes for you? Exactly!

Having to dig through menues to access common functions - well, I'm not sure about that. With the camera on the right I seem to leave it in iAuto mode most of the time and it keeps getting things right.  The one on the left seems to work pretty well in program mode too. 

As far as interchangeable lenses go, I used to be really into lenses. Now I stick with the one that's on the camera. A longer lens would be useful for some subjects but no so useful that I'd want to part with the $100 needed to buy a secondhand 50-150. Years ago, yes I would have leapt at it but to be honest 90% of photography for me is doable with a 14-45. My Canon has something like a 24-300 zoom on it. 90% of the time it was never zoomed out that far.

The only reason I now use the Olympus for photos is that after I sent the Canon back for a warranty repair, the images were fuzzier than they had been. A cynic would suspect Canon slipped the camera a Mickey in order to force me to upgrade without realizing I have no brand loyalty only cash loyalty.

Have things advanced in the 10 years between the two cameras? I'm going to say no. In fact I think the camera of 10 years ago was a much more capable, more user friendly beast. As far as I can tell, there's not much difference in size between the two either. The lack of AA battery support is something that's a real deal killer for me. I would never buy a camera and pay new money to be fenced in by the manufacturer like that!

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