I have a new camera! It’s a Canon Powershot A720 IS, which is actually very similar to my old Canon Powershot A710 IS. Notable differences between the two are that it takes photos at a slightly higher resolution, it’s reportedly several grams lighter, and it has less water inside.
Canon makes great cameras, in my opinion, both compact and SLR (although I’m more of a compact user myself). I bought my original Powershot camera in late 2006 after a lot of shopping around in the compact camera market, looking for something I could conveniently take tramping and which wouldn’t require me to spend much time setting up photos. The closest contenders at the time were a couple of the Panasonic Lumix cameras, but after looking at some of the sample photos they were producing, I wasn’t convinced that the Panasonic cameras were doing as good-a-job. It was something about the colours between pixels which looked a bit strange and out of coordination when the photos were blown up.
This particular Canon camera doesn’t make any special claims to being shockproof or waterproof, which are often advisable for outdoor use. Until now, though, I’ve still found it to be fairly durable as long as I take basic precautions such as always using the wrist-strap (which has saved it several times), and packing it away properly before river crossings. That’s even taking into account that don’t tend to go to obsessive lengths to look after my things when I’m using them. eg. I still take my camera out in the rain because as far as I’m concerned, that’s what it’s for. It’s not ultra-light for a compact camera but is still reasonably light at ~200 grams + batteries, it has a good lens, it has a better-than-average optical zoom (6x) and incorporates an image stabaliser which helps a lot when you’re in a rush, it makes intelligent decisions for things I decide not to set up manually, although the manual option is usually there, and it takes both HD-SD cards and AA batteries. I liked it so much for the way I wanted to use a camera that when the old one broke, I went out and bought another one as identical as I could find.
The A710 died some time between Saturday night and Sunday morning on the recent trip to Mt Richmond Forest Park. It didn’t completely stop working but the digital display gave up, and particular formations showing on the display implied that water had probably gotten inside. So I went on through the trip taking photos through the viewfinder as best I could, but there are certain non-immediate things with a digital camera that you need the display for, such as for formatting the card and changing settings. The A710 might still dry out one day, but I’d still rather have a camera that’s not at risk of failing at a bad time. If it dries out, I’ll have two good cameras.
I’ve yet to take the A720 tramping, although the first occasion will probably be next weekend, somewhere in the Rimutakas.