Thursday, August 31, 2006

Digitals versus point-and-shoot

I admit it, I'm one of those people who took forever to get a digital camera. I had my old point-and-shoot for a long time - years and years! And it wasn't even a very GOOD point-and-shoot. It probably cost me 30 dollars, and by the time I finally decided to break down and buy a digital camera, the old thing had most of its origional color rubbed off, plus most of the bottons were missing the raised part that showed what the button actually DID. Good thing I have a good memory!

It wasn't even ME that decided to retire it, anyway. The thing had been through four trips to Europe, (the last trip lasting an entire semester), and had provided me with probably millions of rolls of film, which I developed and dutifully put into a correct order in my dozens of photo albums that line the shelves of our bedroom. I can remember coming home from my latest semester abroad with a plastic baggie and 32 rolls of film to develop. It was so much fun to get all the pictures back! I don't think I was thinking much of getting a brand new digital camera - oh, I probably mentioned it once or twice, but I don't know if I was serious.

Then, for my birthday last year, my 25th birthday, my mom gave me a Kodak digital camera. Its pretty close to my old point-and-shoot - which, by the way, is a Samsung. The Kodak has about the same zoom quality as my Samsung, even though you can't see the zoon through the eye-piece like you can on my point-and-shoot, you have to turn on the screen in order to see the zoom. But it is about the same. And, at first, I admit, there was something great about being able to see if a picture turned out right away, and retake it if it didn't. Boy, you really can't mess it up with a digital, can you? Take the picture, look at the picture, and if its terrible, quick call everyone back to retake it! It seemed like the most wonderful thing!

And it was so nice to be able to stick my photos on the computer. My new camera even came with a fancy printing dock, so I could print out pictures if I wanted to, and an even niftier cord that would stick right into a USB hub on my computer. One touch, and then presto, the photos could be on my computer. Yep, it was nice. Right there, at my fingertips. I can't tell you how many times I needed those pictures - myspace, facebook, emails, websites, so many different things online that you can "upload your photos!" to. And it was handy! I made my fiance and I lots of those movies - the kind where you have slideshows of great photos and you can add music and everything to them? ! They are great, I saved them to my hard drive too, maybe we'll use them at our wedding next summer.

I took my digital camera wherever I went - to shows, concerts, out on the town with friends, weddings, and all of the places I WENT for almost a year. I started to organize my photos on my desktop, different folders for different occasions, and all of the pictures organized and labeled in each folder. Its nice. If you want to see anything about my life, you just need to sit down at my desktop computer in my office and open up my pictures folder. Plus, for about 10 dollars I can buy about that many sheets of paper and print out about 10 of my favorite photos, right from my computer. What a great idea! To be able to make prints of the photos you love!?

Wait just a second here. Did I just type that I can buy 10 pages of photo paper for 10 dollars, and therefore have the luxery of making 10 prints of pictures I really love? I came to this conclusion about 9 months after I'd had my digital camera. I started noticing something - something I didn't like very much at all. While all of my photos were neatly organized in desktop folders, and while each of the photos was labeled and ordered, my photo albums were in a very sad place. I opened them once, about 9 months after the arrival of my Kodak, and was shocked that nothing had changed in them for almost a year. Where were all of the things I had done? Where were all of the photos of my fiance and I, of my friends, of each event we had lived through?

Oh, yes. They were on my desktop.

See, I used to sit in bed, or on the couch, and have a cup of coffee or a cold soda and look through all of my photo books. I used to throw my photo albums into my suitcases and take them to my friends' houses, my relatives places, everywhere else. Gosh, that was hard to do with my computer! Sure, I could email some pictures to my friends, and sure, I could print out 10 pictures for 10 dollars - and I suppose I could take those with my to my friends' to look at.

But, that just wasn't enough. Remember the days of getting a whole packet of pictures from Kmart or somewhere else - 24 photos per role of film -and taking that packet to school, or to work, or to Thanksgiving dinner - with a stack of photos - usually doubles - right there in your hands. Remember, when your best friend would say "hey, can I have the double of that?" and you'd have it the photo - right there?

Well, I wanted that. So, I went on a hunt. We live in a little town in SD, and I'd been to Minneapolis recently and noticed that at Target in the city, you could put your digital prints on a cd and they'd made you real prints - cheaply, and in about an hour. I was delighted at this, so I started shopping around our small town. The Target here didn't have a photo developing places, and the local camera stores were very expensive, so I settled on Kmart. They had a big sign up that said they'd have one day service, for 25 cents a photo. Okay, well, that wasn't the BEST deal I could think of, but it was pretty good.

So I stuck about a hundred pictures from the past nine months onto a cd and took them in to Kmart. I decided that I would get doubles, just like the old days, and they told me to come back the next day to pick them up.

It took Kmart almost a week to get my digital pictures done. First, they had problems with the printer. Then, they couldn't find the person to FIX the printer, so they tried to do it themselves and BROKE the printer, so they had to order a new printer. It took them about 7 days, and when I finally got the pictures, they quality was worse than any point-and-shoot I'd ever seen. Certainly worse than the photos looked on my computer screen. I asked about discounts - I asked about getting my money back. And they weren't very polite to me, so I took my expensive, crappy photos, and left.

I didn't want to give up on the digital age - really I didn't. So the next time I had a few events that I'd taken digital pictures of, I put all the photos on a cd and went to Walmart. THEY were advertising 20 cents a photo, and they also promised next day service.

This time, they lost my photos. But they found them again, about a week later. When I asked about getting them at a cheaper price because I didn't get them the next day, the clerk looked at me and said "Well, it says here on the packet that they WERE here the day they were supposed to be. We just couldn't find them. But they were here. So that is the price you have to pay."

I hate to say it, but they weren't that good of quality either.

Two weeks ago, one of my best friends got married. I took my digital camera, and then, on second thought, I grabed my old point-and-shoot from the drawer, stuck about 8 rolls of film in my pockets, and headed out the door. I had made a decision.

I decided to use my digital camera for the shots I knew I'd want on the computer, for email or for slideshows or whatever. I took one of the bride and groom. One of the reception tables. One of me and my fiance for our desktop photo folder. One of the cake.

The rest of the time, I used the point-and-shoot. I took candids of my friends and candids at the reception, and I went through three rolls of film, just like the old days. When I had used up my photo taking quota, I still had about 5 rolls of film left. So I decided to try an experiment.

My friend Jess, who was in the wedding, recently got married herself, and now has a 5 year old step son, Gabe. He'd been pestering us all night, because his father was seated by us. Even though I love the little boy, he's a bundle of energy, and weddings are a hard place to entertain kids. So, I loaded my beloved point-and-shoot and gave it to him. Everytime he was good, he got another roll of film. He wandered the reception, taking shots of the couple, the head table, and lots of shots of his dad's face. He did have some trouble getting used to the camera, however, because his dad said he'd never used a point-and-shoot before. Gah, that made me feel old.

After the wedding, I downloaded my digitals and took my rolls of film to be developed. There, I found out that the price of developing a roll of fillm has gone down about a dollar in the year since I'd had my digital camera! Whoo!

Here is how it came out. The digitals were good, and I'll probably use some of them when I'm online doing things. My point-and-shoot photos were great, however. I filled up my photo book and was very pleased at the quality, and also at the doubles that I have to give to people.

Gabe's pictures though - they were by far the best.

From now on, I'm using my digital and my point-and-shoot together. I'm only taking digital pictures to put on my computer, and I'm going to be sure to also take a shot with my Samsung at the same time. I'll just be the lady with two cameras. And my desktop folders will remain full, as WELL AS my photo albums!

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