Following the sad (and annoying) loss of our digital camera on holiday last week, I've been pondering replacing it. Thanks to generous relatives I have some birthday and Christmas money unspent, as well as some - unexpectedly - in honour of our 25th anniversary.
The choice is overwhelming. There are several well-known quality camera manufacturers - Nikon, Pentax, Olympus, Canon, etc - who each seem to make a huge variety of digital cameras. I tried researching on Amazon UK, Ciao UK and Dooyoo UK, but they didn't help. It seems that most people are happy with whatever they've bought, and they all have similar features within any price range.
I asked on an online forum, and was directed to the excellent DPReview site. Here, up to ten cameras can be selected from a lengthy list, and compared side to side. Some of them have online galleries, most of them have brief reviews. There's also a way of selecting by features and price, to narrow down the selection.
However I was also advised to have a look at actual cameras, see what appealed, find out how easy they were for me to use. So this morning we went into the town and visited three or four camera shops. There aren't any huge electrical stores that sell dozens of options - instead each shop seemed to sell from just a couple of manufacturers, and only one or two models. Prices were much higher than in the UK, but we didn't expect to buy one here unless offered a considerable discount. I found in handling them that I didn't like the very light ones. They seemed fiddly, and I thought they would be difficult to hold still. My 35mm camera weighs about 250g, and the lost digital was about the same; I decided that was around the weight I was looking for.
We jotted down brands and prices, and came back to compare with Amazon UK. Most of the models here are no longer available in the UK, apparently, and if they are they're about 75% of the price.
So we went back to DPReview, and checked the galleries. I have a high-resolution flatscreen monitor on this computer, so differences in quality were quite amazing. Not that any of the photos in the galleries were bad - they were all at least as good as our old camera, mostly better.
But there were just a few cameras which stood out as being stunning - unbelievably sharp, excellent colour, a real delight on the screen. Every one of them was, to our surprise, a Canon. Even at the cheapest ranges and lowest megapixels, Canon stood out from the rest in photo quality.
So now we've narrowed the vast choice down to four, all of them by Canon: A85, A95, A510 and A520. The latter two are newer models, but they all look excellent. The A520 is a little beyond our expected price-range, but then again if it's good enough for enlarged prints, I wouldn't need to use my 35mm camera at all, and that would save costs over the next few years.
To my surprise, it seems as though Amazon UK has the best prices for these cameras. They won't deliver cameras outside the UK, but that's OK: we'll be back there in October, or may be able to get a delivery sent to someone coming out here. The only places cheaper are one or two online shops that only deliver within the UK to the registered credit card address. Even more surprisingly, Argos - supposedly the discount catalogue store - is significantly more expensive than anywhere else!
Any comments about these cameras, positive or negative, would be very welcome.