My favorite things, number 3: Canon S5 IS

My favorite things, number 3: Canon S5 IS

Some years ago, I got into shooting black and white film and developing it and making prints myself.

I could go into my darkroom and work on one negative till I got a print just exactly the way I liked it, and suddenly it would be midnight.

Problem is, there were usually 20 frames on that roll of film that weren’t worth anything.

I recently digitized my old negatives and found a roll of film I’d shot at my parents’ house when my sister brought a new puppy to visit and I was there with my two sons and one of my brothers was there with his kids. Some of us wandered to the back yard and my sister let the kids play with the puppy. I shot picture after picture and I feel really lucky to have gotten one that I like very much. I had forgotten that there were any other pictures. That batch of negatives hadn’t been out of its sleeve since I made the one print I liked.

I don’t do photos for a living, and I work with people who do, and they know lots more than I ever will, but still: I do not cry over the rise of digital photography.

The e-mail signature for one of my co-workers quotes Linus Pauling: “The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.” Pauling won two Nobel prizes, so he knows a thing or two about good ideas. The same holds true of pictures; the best way to take a good picture it to take a lot of pictures. The rest of them? You have a “delete” button.

I take a lot of photos with a Canon S5 IS. On a recent bus trip to a Cardinals-Cubs game to St. Louis, I took 91 pictures.  I posted 17 on Facebook.

It’s my fourth Canon digital camera. One was stolen; I still have the other two, an older 3.2-MP point-and-shoot ELPH that I refuse to discard, and a newer PowerShot with 10 MPs. I like the point-and-shoots; at group get-togethers, I hand the camera around and have everyone shoot something. It’s cool to get the perspectives of other people; always something interesting to look at.

The S5 actually has fewer megapixels – 8 – than the newer point-and-shoot I own. Heck, the Droid X has an 8-MP camera.

But the Canon does what I want it to and has lots of features – some I don’t use until I’m really just playing around, which unfortunately doesn’t happen enough. It’ll take an 8 GB SDHC card. It shoots video very nicely, particularly in dark situations, as my sons know from the school plays that have been memorialized digitally. It has a 12x optical zoom and a 4x digital zoom too. (My son has a newer model that has an even better zoom, higher resolution and – aw, heck, distract him while I swipe it, will you?) It has a viewfinder and an LCD screen, and the screen rotates and swivels, so if you’re including yourself in the shot you actually can see the shot as you take it.

While I normally don’t use camera manufacturer’s software, I do like the Canon software’s ability to “stitch” pictures together into panoramic shots.

There are plenty of good digital cameras for not much money – you can get a terrific point-and-shoot for well under a hundred bucks. It doesn’t really matter so much what camera you use, so long as you use a camera.

You spend a lot of your life making memories without really even realizing it; bring a camera along now and then and photograph some of them.

Pictures, from top to bottom:

Children and a beagle puppy.

Merged views of Ocean Drive, Newport, R.I.

The Gateway Arch from Lacledes Landing in St. Louis.

Albert Pujols swings and misses.

Favorite things, number 5: tablet PC.

Favorite things number 4: iPod.

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John Foreman wrote on August 31, 2010 at 5:08 pm
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I had no idea you were such a good shooter. WOW. You didn't mention prices, and I'm curious.

Mike Howie wrote on August 31, 2010 at 8:08 pm
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The S5 has been superseded, so it's only available on the secondary market now, for about $200 to $250. The A480, my pocket Canon, also is on the secondary market for about $75 to $100.