Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Great Camera Dilemma of '07 -- Solved!

Man.  I have been driving my friends crazy trying to decide between digital cameras.  In one corner, the Pentax W30 (the slightly better newer version of the Pentax WP that Wil recommended).  In the other, the Olympus Stylus SW 770.  The Olympus is better than the Pentax in nearly every way.  It's also $100 more.

Both are waterproof cameras, which is one of the things I'm looking for in a camera.  My old camera was waterproof, and I loved being able to take that with me kayaking or on other adventures that might involve it getting splashed.  The Olympus, though, is waterproof to a depth of, like, 10 meters.  Also crush-proof, drop-proof, and all-around beat-the-crap-out-of-it proof.  Hell, I could take that sucker whitewater rafting and just clip it to my wetsuit without worry.  But did I mention the whole $100 more expensive thing?

I am usually very decisive.  With this, I had great difficulty.  I made a great big chart, comparison-shopping not only the cameras, but also their accessories (as the batteries and storage cards are different on the cameras).  I also read tons of reader reviews.

My ultimate conclusion was that I'd buy the Pentax ... if it was made by Olympus.  I am not here to bad mouth the fine folks at Pentax (and, certainly, a personal recommendation from Wil weighed in its favor) -- but I read an awful lot of reviews about the Pentax failing and Pentax customer service being crap -- while the Olympus scored very high across the board.

I considered the Olympus's younger-brother, which was not as waterproof (but still pretty waterproof), and cheaper -- but it got horrible reviews for user-unfriendliness, so I quickly knocked this off the list.

I pondered for another day.  Kept looking for cheaper deals on the Olympus.  It's more camera than I need, but if I can bring the price down lower, I could maybe justify the purchase. 

While deal-shopping, I came across Olympus's trade-in program.  Basically, you send them your old camera and proof you bought an Olympus, and they'll send you a small check (depending on the street value of your old camera).  I was thinking, hey, maybe I could knock another $20 or $40 off the Olympus's price with this program.  (Heck, someone is selling my old camera model on eBay now, and the bids are up to $61.  Of course, that one actually comes with its batteries, and I still can't find the batteries for mine.)

I went to Olympus's trade-in estimator and typed in my camera's specs.  Was treated to the cheerful information that my camera has no trade-in value.  Harsh.  (I wasn't entirely surprised -- other trade-in estimators have said my current laptop has no trade-in value either.)

But.  While the Olympus website was busy dissing my camera, I discovered something about Olympus cameras in general.  The entire Stylus line is "all-weather."  It ain't waterproof, but you can take pics in the rain or snow, and it can get splashed on with no problems.

Hmmm.  The other day Peggy had suggested I consider how often I'd actually take the camera kayaking, and I replied that I'd put it in potential splash situations pretty often.  But there aren't a whole ton of times that I'd want to take the damn thing actually underwater.

Which basically meant that the entire Stylus line was open to me, without having to get the extra-special-rugged model.

Another half hour of comparing features, reading reviews (with particular attention to how well the all-weatherness held up) and comparison shopping, and I found the Stylus for me with all the right features. 

For a few bucks less than the Pentax.


1 comment:

lanurseprn said...

I hope you enjoy the new camera.  I want to get one, too. But, have no idea what kind.  I'll figure it out.