|The Olympus D-220L was my first digital camera. It had
zoom, and only 640x480 resolution, but this was back in 1998, after
all. The first 400 pictures in my Sea World collection were with this
camera. Considering it's vintage, it took some very clear and sharp
pictures, with the good color and contrast I've come to expect from all
of my Olympus models.
next camera was
an Olympus D-620L in early 1999. This was a digital SLR with a 3X zoom.
resolution was 1280x1024. (1.4MP) This was one of the first to have a
burst mode capability, where it could take several pictures only 0.3
seconds apart. You may notice some of my Sea World images catch a
sequence of 3 or 4 pictures of the same jump. There are 6,000 pictures
from this camera in my collection. This camera, and all the ones after
it, can be used with threaded filters, and I often use a polarizing
filter to eliminate the glare and reflection from Sea World's
underwater viewing window.
|In mid 2000, got a
the Sony DCR-TRV310. This was before digital was that common. It
recorded onto the standard Hi8 video tapes, and was therefore known as
a Digital-8 camcorder. I used this camera, and the D-620L on my
vacation in summer of 2000.
|In late 2001, I
the Olympus C-4040, a 4MP, 3X zoom digital still camera. These pictures
in my collection start with SeaWorld04486, and now number over 6,500
pictures. This is an excellent camera, with great default settings, and
flexible manual controls. It also has the burst mode, but can take more
pictures in each burst. The large lens (F-stop 1.8) helps it capture
more light, so it can use a higher shutter speed than many cameras.
(this helps stop blurry action photos, even in shade) I have also used
it's maximum 4-second shutter speed to capture shooting stars.
|I was carrying both
C-4040 and the TRV310 every time I visited Sea World. This made for a
very heavy camera bag. (nearly 10 pounds)
In 2006, I found a camera that could do a decent job at both still and video. The Sony HDR-HC3 takes High-Definition Video, (1440 x 1080) and can take 4MP still images. The still images are not quite as sharp as the C-4040, but are still good. The pictures can be one of several resolutions, depending if I am in still mode or video mode when I snap the picture. (In video mode, the pictures are 2.3MP and shaped in 16x9 like the video.) The video is amazing! These pictures start at SeaWorld11179.
It was much easier getting around carrying only 2 or 3 pounds instead of 10. It is much smaller than the TRV310, almost as small as the C-4040. There is a nice automatic shutter to protect the glass. It can take time-lapse sequences, (1 image every few minutes) or even slow motion video (3 real seconds are stretched to 12 seconds of tape, with 240 fields per second!)
2007, I decided I needed to get a better still camera
to complement the HD video. The Olympus SP-550UZ is a 7MP camera with
an astounding 18x zoom. It can also zoom out to 28mm equivalent, which
is a very wide field of view. (These pictures start at SeaWorld11353.)
The 3072x2304 pixel images are sharp and show excellent detail. It has
adjustable ISO sensitivity and up to a 15 second exposure, I have some
night pictures that even show the Milky Way, and with the zoom I can
pick out the moons of Jupiter.
I do have some minor complaints, though. There is no optical viewfinder, and the LCD viewfinder freezes at inconvienent moments, so a fast moving subject is sometimes tricky to follow. There is also some slight chromatic aberration at the extreme end of the zoom. There is a filter adapter available, but it does not mount to the lens, so it can't be used at the wide end of the zoom range.
|2008: That was soon followed by the Olympus SP-570UZ (10MP), which is a 10MP version of the 550 above. The LCD viewfinder works much smoother, and most other features are very similar, with some refinements. They moved the zoom to a ring on the lens. This is my favorite camera for still photos.|
|2008: I also now have an Olympus Stylus 1030SW, which is waterproof and ruggedized. I'm using this for some of my more active adventures.|
|2009: Canon Vixia HF S10. The HF S10 is one of a handful of HD camcorders that, with 8.5 Megapixel, can deliver an independent red, green, and blue to each pixel of the HD frame, and it can shoot progressive video at 30 fps. The video quality is astounding, and it has pretty good stills, too. If I had to take just one camera on a trip, this would be the one, though there's still times when I want the resolution and control of the SP-570UZ. It has a cool feature that records the last 3 seconds before you pressed the record button, and then keeps recording until you stop it. This way you can wait for that perfect moment, and capture it without recording hours of nothing. It records on flash memory, either in the built in 32GB, or on a SDHC card.|
|2010: I bought the new Fuji W1 Stereo camera! It has two image sensors, so I can finally take 3D photos of people, animals, and other things that move. (Unlike my previous technique, which required moving the camera between two photos, and thus required a still scene.) It does video, too, but that's only VGA resolution, and a bit blocky. It has a good range of manual controls, though the image quality is slightly limited by the small lenses. The camera is slightly more bulky than most point-and-shoots, because it has to be wide enough for the lenses to be 2.5" apart like your own eyes are. The large LCD on the back has a feature that lets you see 3D images directly, without special glasses. In addition to 3D images, it can use the two lenses to take simultanerous wide & telephoto images, or take images with different shutter settings. This lets you take advantage of a moment of action and decide which composition you want later.|