September 17, 2012 by Mathew
I used to buy something nice for myself once a year. I never felt guilty about it because I always ended up being the person who made sure everyone in the family got birthday and Christmas presents. As a result I was sort of left out the loop when it came to getting stuff.
Fast forward to the present day. It’s been nearly five years since I bought anything at all for myself. Most of the nice things that I had bought over the years I’ve had to sell. Leading up to dad’s death three and a half years ago we started feeling the financial pinch of Dad’s medical expenses and Grandpa and Grandma’s medical expenses. Over a two year period, all of my parents and grandparents died. Dad was the last to go and when he died it left me holding the bag. I had my nephew to take care of (he had been with Dad and I since four months of age). I spent the decade of my twenties and my early thirties taking care of him, being a caregiver to my grandparents, and eventually a caregiver to my dad. As a result I never had the opportunity to finish college or build any kind of a career for myself. That means money has become a rare and elusive commodity here in recent years. Every single molecule of it is expended on my, now 13 year old, nephew. Buying something nice for myself every once in a great while isn’t even on the radar anymore.
A few weeks ago I was given a Cannon Rebel XTi as a gift. It’s the first really super-nice thing I’ve gotten in nearly a half of a decade. My uncle tends to upgrade digital cameras frequently. Since the digital Rebels have come out he has sort of stuck with those. He usually sells his old camera to help cover the costs of the upgrade. For some reason he ended up not selling the XTi during one of the upgrades and it was sitting in his closet collecting dust.
The other morning he walked up to me, held out a camera bag and said, “this is yours.” He gave me the whole caboodle – the camera, two lenses, five batteries, external battery grip with two battery cartridges, two battery chargers, a stack of memory cards, an external Bower flash, and a pretty nice SLR bag to put it all in. About the only thing I’ll have to come up with is a remote, because the one he included didn’t work with this model. I’ve found that a remote is one of the most useful things a person can have for a camera and I feel sort of hindered without one.
This is the kind of still camera I’ve been wanting most of my adult life – ten megapixels, built in flash, exceptional image quality, loaded with features, potential for semi-pro use, and best of all it doesn’t require a backpack or a suitcase to carry it in. It’s compact enough that If I want to take it around town, I don’t need to borrow a shopping cart from the local Five-N’-Dime to do so.
Previously, the most practical digital still camera I had is the one built into my video camera. It has surprisingly passable picture quality for what it is – a dated video camera taking low resolution stills. Even at that it is barely adequate for internet use and produces photos that look as if they might have come from a toy camera. It’s only 1.6 megapixels and the only image format available is JPEG – not a very good algorithm at that. There’s no raw or uncompressed format and the crude JPEG compression totally decimates the image quality. My only other high quality still cameras are both ancient, full sized, DSLR’s that weigh three and four pounds without lenses and have the overall size of a small box of cereal. One of them, a Kodak DCS330, is only 3 megapixels. The other, a Kodak DCS460 is a 6 megapixel camera. Sadly, it kicked the bucket two years ago. Neither camera is all that practical because of the size, weight, and limited battery capacity.
Earlier in the summer, my uncle also gave me a brand new SLR gear-slinger type camera bag because he said that he found it to be awkward and un-useful. He said that if I didn’t have a use for it he was going to chuck it. It is just perfect for me. I don’t sling it over my back as the manufacturer intended. I snap it around my waist like a belt and it is extremely comfortable in that position. It holds the XTi, one of my video cameras, and accessories for both.
The XTi pretty much solves my problems in the still camera department. Before, when I wanted or needed to do any kind of still photography it was a major operation. I ended up having to lug multiple cameras around – the video camera for when I needed mobility, battery life, and remote camera operation, a low-res Cannon Pro70 for when I could get away without the remote and battery capacity, and one of the two Kodak beasts for when I had to have a higher resolution and better image quality. I am thrilled and grateful to get the XTi with all of the trimmings. It has a higher resolution and comparable image quality to the best (and least practical) of my other cameras – the DCS460. Yet, it is compact, maneuverable, and light enough that I can take it most places without any problems.
I guess that’s one less excuse I have to not post pictures on this blog. In fact, the current background image on this blog is a composite I built up using three different photos taken with the XTi.
Anyway, I know this is not a particularly “meaty” post but, I am so happy to have this camera I decided to write about it. I will probably share a little bit of my story in the next few posts. As well, I would like to get something posted in the “About Me” section of this blog.