Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Buying a new camera - Update

I had a both a frustrating and productive time yesterday trying to track down cameras I wanted to try.

The good news - I think I've found the camera I want to buy - the Canon Powershot SX40 HS.  I'm in the process of testing out how strong my feelings are towards it - and finding the best price.

Canon Powershot SX40 HS

The bad news - This conclusion was not without some considerable frustration which almost made me give up looking!  Plus an extra bit of bad news I could have done without.

Frustrating: John Lewis @ Stratford Westfield

Call me old fashioned but I thought that the point of having cameras in a store is that you're trying to sell them.  However after three visits to John Lewis at Stratford Westfield I've still to come across a working camera.

If it happens once, I just think it's one of those things, twice I begin to get irritated and three times I ask to speak to the manager.

Yesterday I learned the store has a set-up which is basically malfunctioning badly and none of the cameras appear to be charging.  All of the ones I pick up have discharged their batteries and are not charging - hence nothing actually works and it's impossible to test a camera.  What's more I gather that this is a new system that John Lewis was hoping to implement in all their stores.

I can't buy from B&M stores which don't get the basics right.  If I don't want to try before I buy I'll go to Amazon!

What John Lewis needs to do is install the system used by both Jessops and Currys which works fine!

Good news: The very well informed man in Jessops

I like to buy from stores where the staff are well informed and helpful.  People who know about cameras and can explain the techie bits I don't understand - and don't guess when they don't know!

Yesterday I was fortunate in encountering a nice chap called William in Jessops at Stratford Westfield.

He was able to tell me all about the camera I decided I wanted to look at - the Canon Powershot SX40 HS.  In particular was able to demonstrate how the macro worked with an object at zero distance.

Good news:  Canon Powershot SX40 HS

I'm seriously contemplating buying a Canon Powershot SX40 HS.  This is the complete specification.

Canon SX40 HS - from the rear
Just got to work out what those new buttons are top right....
Here's some of the reasons why I like this camera.  Plus this is a Trusted Reviews review of the Canon SX40 HS
  • Most of the controls are the ones I know and have been using for years - only a few new ones to learn!  Chances are I know how most of it works already.
  • The big new addition is the 12.1 megapixel CMOS sensor.  This gives improved photography in low light conditions - which for taking photographs in exhibitions will be a boon.
  • It's got a 35x optical zoom with image stablisation which is much better than my current S5-S1 12x optical zoom AND it can take macro shots very close to the subject - which is essential (see Trusted Reviews Review of the SX40 HS for photos which demonstrate what is possible).  I discovered, thanks to William, that the trick is to do all such photographs on the wideangle lens with no zoom.  Hence why the camera can take images when there is zero distance between camera and object.  It also focused fantastically fast using this method.  The only issue for me is going to be my mobility in getting close to the objects.  see Zoom, Image Stablisation and Macro
Canon Powershot SX40 HS
showing off the 36 optical zoom 24-840mm
  • It's got the great Canon Image Stabilisation I like and trust - this is what keeps me wedded to Canon 
  • Fantastically comfortable hand grip built into the camera.  This is again for me a real clinching factor for me.  If it feels like an extension of my hand and is very safe and secure when in use I'm a lot happier.  See Design and Comfort
  • It also has the standard very flexible vari-angle monitor which I've now been using for years and which everyone else now seems to have copied
  • Plus the Dioptre correction which is now essential for me.
  • Plus it can record video at 1080p full HD resolution, at 24fps - which is nice but not essential.
Incidentally, one of the things I realised while idly looking at some of the Digital SLRs is that I can't use them as they are too heavy for my hand which has permanent tenosynovitis.  Plus handling them felt uncomfortable for me and may leave me seriously off balance and hence prone to fall.

So I'm definitely sticking to a bridge camera - and saving some money as well!

Bad news:  the Battery

I sometimes take huge numbers of photos and hence want a battery which can cope with this.  However I tend to have back-ups for when I've forgotten to charge the battery.  I was expecting a switch from AA batteries.  What I wasn't expecting was the difficulty in locating genuine Canon batteries, the prices quoted for the genuine articles (I've been quoted £69 for a proper Canon battery!) and the fact that both these factors contribute to a market for counterfeit batteries which might damage the camera.

It really concerns me that a genuine battery is difficult to get hold of and the production of counterfeit batteries means it's difficult to know whether you're getting the genuine article or not.  I'm waiting for an answer from Canon on that one.

So that's where I've got to so far.  I'm now trying to suss out this battery situation and work out what the best combined deal is.


  1. very interesting! I am enjoying your quest as I have the same issue- would love a DSLR but the weight is an issue for me. I have an old bridge camera Canon Pro 1 - dropped 2 times and got it repaired 2 times and it still takes great pictures although many years old now and the screen is tiny and it is slow. I am in need of a new one and love Canons... so looking forward to seeing how you go!

  2. The camera looks like a good choice, it has been highly recommended on the bird forum I belong to for anyone not wanting to carry a DSLR or in addition to for ease of use
    For batteries I buy from either Wex Photographic or Park Cameras as the service is excellent at both. Interestingly the online shop for Wex are recommending a different replacement battery at £29.00, it might be worth giving them a ring and asking them about it.

    1. Many thanks Gayle. Those birders are pretty discriminating when it comes to cameras as I recall so recommendation from them is high praise indeed. I noticed that there were a lot of comments from people who photograph birds on Amazon as well

      Thanks for the tip re the batteries

    2. Wow! 9.6 out of 10 from 578 impartial reviews by Testfreaks on the Park Cameras site. Those are the sort of numbers which I like!

  3. this one looks great

    Another advantage of bridge cameras is that, with not changing lenses, dust doesn't get as much chance to get in.

  4. I looked at the exact same camera recently - really liked it but unlike you already have the DSLR which is darn heavy with its 18-200 lens but as I spent so much on that I can't justify doubling up on another superzoom,as much as this is much more compact and light - so I ended up with a Canon S100 compact which is fantastic. One of our mutual artist friends has this camera and has featured some of the pics on her Flickr and FB pages ...

  5. At least I've not had the expense of buying a camera I can't use. My tenosynovitis screams very loudly very fast if I have to grip a bit too much. Very heavy cameras are simply not an option for me.

    I think I'm probably also going to try buying a much smaller camera for "handbag use"

  6. hello katherine
    The images obtained from the SX40 are really good, this camera has excellent glass which means clarity of image, this I have seen for myself. I personally choose an SLR for the benefits of being able to photograph my work with negligible degree of distortion. I wear a leather wrist brace to help support the weight of an SLR or use a tri-pod when photographing art or a mono-pod out in the field which enables steadiness which really helps when against the wind to capture bird images. I always buy an extra battery at the same time as camera purchase, that way I am covered.


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