An unwanted new toy

After only a couple years of great service, our Canon S2 already seems to be on death's door. It's been a fantastic camera; as good as point-and-shoots get. And with two children born in the last few years we've definitely crammed about 10 years worth of normal photo taking into that short time frame. However, I'm still surprised to see it wanting to check out so soon.

Unfortunately, I was noticing more and more noise coming from the zoom mechanism in recent weeks and last week we finally started getting the dreaded E18 error. I've tinkered with a few of the more basic fixes on the many sites discussing this problem. But nothing seems to have helped yet. We like this camera so much I'm considering taking it apart to take a stab at some of the more advanced proposed fixes. But before I likely finish the thing off by performing its autopsy we wanted to make sure no photos would be missed in the present.

In theory, I'd love to have two cameras: an SLR with all the lenses and accessories we could possibly want (along with the patience and knowledge to take good photos . . . as well as a tiny band of cherpas to cart around all the equipment.) I'd also like a nice, tiny point-and-shoot that's easy to throw in your pocket. Unfortunately with Holly staying home for (at least) one year I just can't justify going out and plunking down the money for an SLR right now. But we've grown spoiled to the long zoom lens and great photos from our S2, so I can't just settle on a standard point-and-shoot either. A camera like we had was the ideal compromise.

I'd considered simply getting the newest version in the S-series, the S5. But as I was looking at that one and comparing it with others I started to find myself drawn to the new Canon SX100 IS. This is Canon's first attempt at a 'compact' superzoom and I have to say the size was indeed the big draw for me (that it was $100 cheaper was just pure gravy.) One of my only complaints about the S2 was its size - which was also a strength since it felt very solid and steady in the hand. But you definitely couldn't throw it in your pocket and head out the door (and even if you could it would surely rip your pants off as it weighed several pounds.) While the SX100 isn't exactly tiny, it's still MUCH smaller than the S2/S5. I was able to easily carry it around with us in my shorts pocket this weekend. Likewise, we were able to easily tuck it into a small pocket in the little backpack Holly uses whenever she and the girls head out of the house.

The SX100 also fixes the single most annoying trait of all the S1-S5 cameras - no more dangly lens caps flailing about. How Canon hasn't come up with a better lens cap solution after 5 generations of the same body style is beyond me.

The SX100 is not a perfect camera by any means. The video mode (while nowhere near as bad as what I expected based on some of the early reviews) can't match the class-leading video functionality you get from the S1-S5. And with kids, we do use the video feature a lot for small clips so it'll be interesting to see how much we really lose there. The LCD also isn't as high-res as some of its competitors. But since that doesn't affect the quality of the photos I'm willing to live with that for now.

I still hope to somehow perform a miracle and get our S2 back on its feet. And if I do I'll almost certainly be returning our newest toy so we can use the money elsewhere. But assuming our S2 ends up as jumbled pile of wires and screws I think its successor will be a suitable replacement for the near future.

This week in rambling camera talk was brought to you by Visa - Go ahead. We know you're good for it.

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