I just joined the digital revolution in photography with the help of the Apple store in Concord. The store was clearing away its stock of digital cameras and were selling several Nikon Coolpix 2100, 3100 and 5100 cameras for a reasonable price.
In 2000, I was working as a post-doc and at the same time, Nikon came out with the Nikon 800/900 series of digital cameras for a cool $1000. I thought that the price was excessive considering that the resolution of the cameras was for a 4x6 inch photo. Who would be insane enough to buy one? The camera just came out, the technology is not that settled, there are kinks in the way the camera works. Lo and behold, the lab I was working in bought one. For what, I still don't know. I tend to believe that the person responsible was so enamored with the grant money that he just received that he just wanted to show off to the other labs in the department that he has money. Thank you very much for buying the lab something that was not useful at any level at all. As a testament to his genius and leadership, that lab is wallowing and pining away for the good old days.
The camera I bought was reasonable for $200. I slapped on some doube A batteries into the camera and proceeded to take pictures at the party. After 20 shots with flash, the alkaline batteries were dead. Ooops, read the direction first! I'm not supposed to use alkaline batteries. I should use lithium batteries or the rechargeable Ni-Metal hydride batteries which cost around $60 for charger and batteries at Radioshack. The next day, I slapped on the lithium battery which came with the camera and took about 80 pictures. Not bad in terms of battery life and the amount of pictures. Of course, this time around, I turned off the red-eye reduction which affects mostly those who are optical pigmentation challenged.
There is a selection in the camera for the size of the pictures. The 3 megapixel is ridiculous because really, who wants to print 8x10 photos? If you do, you really should get that manual camera ready. For the Sunday party, I went to the 4x6 size and that is why I got 80 photos from a 16 MB compact media memory. There is also an option for a 2MB which probably translates to a 5x7 photo.
The size of the camera can be a burden and a blessing. For someone whith humongous hands, the camera can be difficult to control because it is so small. My hands swallows the 3100. For the ego, it is not so cool to be taking pictures with this measly little camera. However, on those days when I don't want to carry a 20 pound backpack stuffed with camera gear, well the small size is a blessing that is overdue my body. Place the camera in the buttbag and off I go to wherever land.
The slow speed of the shutter is something that is a problem. I'm sure there is a way to make the shutter faster, but the speed of the camera is equivalent to an ISO 50 film. 50!!! Perhaps that is one reason that this camera was on sale. Some of my photos of moving people came out blurred. Forget about taking basketball shots of the SO. All I capture is a blur of flowery clothing and a ball.
But how about the posed shots? They were beautiful. I was examining them last night and the camera was definitely worth the $200. I just upload the photos to snapfish.com and people can order whatever photo they want. No muss, no fuss. Just the type of camera I love.
If you are in the market for a digital camera, consider a NIkon Coolpix 3100 if you find it on sale. I highly recommend it. It gets five pots of rice.