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Clicking Hell: The Never Ending Search For The Perfect Camera

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Edward Chester"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." -- James Joyce.

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" -- Albert Einstein.


Compromise is often a laudable thing. Negotiating peace treaties, deciding what to cook the family for dinner; it's a good approach in many walks of life. But, over the years I've come to the conclusion that it just doesn't work when it comes to cameras.

It wasn’t long ago – okay 6 or 7 years - that my idea of a good camera was the venerable Sony Ericsson K810 camera phone, but it didn't take long being in an office filled with DSLRs and colleagues that talked endlessly about 'fast glass' to learn the error of my ways. However, I wasn't quite ready for the big leagues of an SLR yet – both financially, and because I wanted one camera that could do everything. Remember, most SLRs didn't do video at this time, and you had to have a host of lenses to get the most from them. So, I compromised.


The Fujifilm S9600 - The perfect compromise? Not for me.

I plumped for the Fujifilm S9600, a large superzoom compact with a large, SLR-like body, larger than average sensor and 18x zoom range. In theory it was the perfect camera, but in actuality I quickly found it lacking. Images were noisy and lacking in detail, while the small sensor and slow lens meant you could never achieve attractive bokeh effects and low light performance was awful. Compromise hadn't worked.

So, I learned my lesson, and after saving my hard earned pennies I invested in Sony's entry level DSLR of the time, the excellent Sony A200 – an absolute bargain at £270. I instantly fell in love with the easy handling, fast performance and huge leap in image quality. Okay, the stock lens was rubbish, but at least it was a start. Sadly, fate intervened.


The Sony A200 - The cheapest DSLR that ever was, and crackin' it was too.

One dirty rotten scoundrel and a broken window later and I was no longer in possession of my beloved. Worse, though, when it came to looking for a replacement, again, compromise crept in.

There was sound logic for justifying my approach. After all, while excellent for what it was, the A200 didn't offer video, it was rather big, and I never did get round to buying any extra lenses for it. And, it just so happened we'd recently reviewed the excellent Panasonic LX5. Fast glass, truly compact body, manual controls. Surely this was the perfect camera?!


The Panasonic LX5 - Impressive but only for its size.

I took the plunge and very quickly felt that nasty taste of compromise again. Yes, the glass is fast, yes the image quality is excellent for a compact but, no, it still wasn't quite good enough. So, I sold it, threw aside compromise and bought a Panasonic G2 – once again I was in camera heaven.

SLR image quality, articulated screen, video recording, microphone inputs, great handling, there was little I could fault. Again, by plumping for a large camera that first and foremost was about image quality, I'd found what I was looking for.


The Panasonic G2 - it was almost love at first sight.

At least that was until a flight across the Atlantic scuppered my plans. It's a truth universally known that a camera left in a suitcase will not survive a transatlantic flight, and so unto me it was proved.  

All of which preamble brings me to this very day, this still cameraless day. Having been mulling over the idea for months of what camera to get to replace my G2, this morning I just so happened to visit Canon which was showing off its latest products at its summer showcase. And, what should I find but another tempting compromise, the Canon G1X.


The Canon G1X - Have I finally found the one?

Packing a near APS-C size sensor, full HD video, an articulated screen, a high quality 4x zoom lens (okay, so it's not a lot but it'll do) and enthusiast level performance and handling, it's once again tempting me to try and have it all, to barter with myself, to compromise…

Am I merely on the path to joyous discovery or have I already gone insane? Let me know in the comments what tech compromises you've lived to regret or are loathed to be without.


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