I never owned a digital camera until 2004, and since then I’ve only owned one. But I’ve owned it four times.
The first time, I did a massive amount of research online and came up with a relatively obscure camera, the Minolta G400, that seemed to have a holy grail of properties: excellent picture quality, fast startup time, relatively small size, superb battery life, a decent optical viewfinder. And it was dirt cheap: around $200 at the time. So I snatched it up. Here it is:
Over the next couple of years, I carried it with me everywhere, and it was a champ. It performed as advertised and made me start looking at everything from the perspective of “What would be a good shot here?” Of course, this constant usage led to some troubles:
Camera #1: Dropped it after taking a picture at the top of mountain while skiing in Tahoe. Hit my shoe, cracked the LCD. Had to send it in for repairs (or what seemed like replacement).
Camera #2: Fell out of my bag while jumping a fence after playing some pickup ultimate. Came back 10 minutes later and it was gone. Submitted an insurance claim and used the money to buy the same camera again.
Camera #3: After another year or so of constant usage and getting beat up in my backpack, the CCD finally gave up the ghost. Pictures were heavily banded. By this time, Minolta had stopped making digital cameras altogether. I suppose this was because they were too good. I searched around for a better camera (figuring that I might as well keep up with the times) but found nothing that had comparable features in the same price range, even 3 years later. Solution: I hit up eBay and got a used G400.
Camera #4: Turns out the reason the guy was selling it was that it was busted and couldn’t focus properly (though he failed to mention this during the auction!) I sent it back and gave up.
That was over 6 months ago. In the meanwhile I’ve tried to use other people’s cameras but I invariably give up halfway through with a bad taste in my mouth. Either the picture quality is terrible (so common in subcompacts these days) or the shutter lag is interminable, or something. So I’ve hardly taken any pictures since then. I’ve also debated buying a DSLR but ultimately decided against it because of the cost and the fact that I like having a camera that fits in my pocket and allows me to take some spontaneous pictures.
Now my mourning period is finally over, though. I’ve stopped wearing black, and I’ve just ordered a new camera, the Canon SD850 IS, which I hope will be a worthy successor. In the meanwhile, here are some of my favorite pictures from the G400 days. (There are many portraits that I love as well, but I haven’t selected them to protect the innocent.) Tell me your favorite!