Recently I have been reduced to taking photos with my phone. It’s handy to have a camera in your phone, but these days it’s just about all I have.
For years now I’ve had the use of an old beat-up Nikon Coolpix 990 from work. I had it with me when we evacuated, and so was forced to keep it for several months when campus was closed. In the months after Katrina I took it with me everywhere — there were so many strange and amazing sights in the city in those days which I felt almost duty-bound to record.
We bought another camera at work, an Olympus C8080, and so the Nikon became our second camera, which I borrowed extensively. And truth be known I liked it a lot better than the Olympus. I shot some test photos that illustrate why.
But the Nikon has slowly deteriorated. I guess it’s taken a few knocks over ten years of use. Pieces have fallen off. The battery door won’t stay closed. Neither will the door for the media card.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I suppose I should confess that there have actually been two Nikon Coolpix 990s in my life. I accidentally ruined the first one by leaving it out in the rain. I was so ashamed I never told anyone, and purchased a replacement off eBay out of my own pocket. Because I kept this a secret, it seems to me like there was only one camera, when in fact there were two. This reminds me of the multiple Severians embedded in the narrative of The Book of the New Sun, but now I am digressing most egregiously.)
Some time over the past month it’s just ceased to operate entirely. That makes me sad. I’ve taken more photos with that camera than any other in my life, I’m sure. Thousands of photos, probably tens of thousands.
So, today I am shedding a tear for an old dead soldier. What I liked most about the Coolpix 990 was that it took good-looking photos without much fuss. I used it as a point-and-shoot for the most part, since I don’t understand much about concepts like f-stops or ISO settings. But I also liked the form of the Coolpix 990. It doesn’t have that traditional barrel-shape of many cameras. It’s relatively flat, which made it easy to sling over my shoulder while riding around on my bike. The twisting body is also pretty cool, and made it easier to take candid photos where people didn’t even realize that what I was holding was even a camera.
Before the tears dry, I’m already thinking about buying a new camera for my personal use. I’ve realized that, artistic pretensions aside, what I really want is a compact point-and-shoot, something small and easy to use. Of course it should also be capable of taking great pictures. And I’d like to spend less than $500.
So I’m thinking about the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5V.