Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, and 27th birthdays to me!

I wanted to get myself something amazing for my 21st birthday (since I wasn't planning a big drinking bash anyway). I've been a photographer, however amateur, since high school, so I researched cameras and selected a nice point-and-shoot camera to buy myself. You'll have to go back in time with me to 2004, waaaaay back to when digital cameras were common but not very cheap. I chose a five megapixel camera with 3x optical zoom. It was three hundred dollars. For a point-and-shoot, 5MP was a big deal. 3x optical zoom was a really big deal--few, if any, cameras then had anything but digital zoom. The same camera today is available with a few more megapixels for just about the same price. But Sony has a serious image stabilization problem, and I've fought that issue since the day I bought the camera. Without using a tripod, I have to be perfectly still or be shooting at the highest speed in full sunlight for the pictures to not be blurry. Indoor or candlelight, forget it. The camera served me well through college and has taken over eight thousand pictures since 2004. I've used it well, and cared for it very well. And I've always dreamed of having something a little bit better.

When DSLR cameras, the big fancy ones with long lenses, hit the affordable market in about 2006, my mouth started watering. I learned to take pictures with long-lens cameras (film, of course), so I've always wanted something I knew how to use. To break into the DSLR market would have set me back at least $1200 for the body in 2006, and each year I pined away--and walked away. Prices dropped around the holidays, but they never fell below $1000. Stores would hold "mega sales" on every product but their cameras. Finally, in about 2008, the ever-popular Canons dropped down around $800. Ugh. Still too much money, especially since I was living paycheck-to-paycheck. My trusty Sony would have to do.

Last week, I was stumbling around online when I found a review of a DSLR camera. The author went over every detail, highlighting the many, many pros and the every-so-few cons. I fell in love all over again (no offense to The Man). I looked elsewhere online to find reviews, and the overwhelming majority of opinions online were positive. Even Amazon has a 4+ star rating with more than a hundred reviews, and that's really saying something. So I knew what model I wanted, I just needed to find a price I liked. Prices varied online from $650 to $900, and the average was right around $750 for the camera and lens only. Shoot.

I started building my case. I thought about it for a few days. I talked it over with The Man. I did more price shopping. I looked at similar cameras from other brands and quickly realized how much I was getting for $750, so I knew I was in the right market. *sigh* Would my prized camera remain a dream forever?

Late Friday night, rather than blogging, I was surfing Best Buy's website for cameras when I found a kit price at $699. Camera body, lens, all of the camera's accessories, and a free carrying bag included. Holy freaking crap.

Yeah. And the Salem store had one in stock. One. And we were heading to Salem first thing in the morning anyway. And The Man has an income, we owe nothing on our credit cards, and we have money left over from our tax returns, more than plenty for the camera, and I'd already waited six years, and I am taking engagement pictures later this month so the timing couldn't have been better. *pant pant* The stars had aligned! (I'm so dramatic, haha)

So we went to Salem, bought the camera, had it opened and ready to take pictures within the hour, and went in search of waterfalls. Thank you to the friendly people at Nikon who give out pre-charged batteries so kids like me don't have to wait overnight to take pictures with pretty new cameras. Thank you to the memory card people for putting your cards on sale the exact same day I need to buy one. And thank you to Adam, the nice guy who helped me research the serial number to make sure my new camera wasn't part of the recall before I even had it out of the store.

I had to give up getting a laptop or the matching wedding band to my ring for a while, but neither of those things are things I'll lose sleep over. If I'd passed up a sale like the one I got, I'd be kicking myself forever.

That's the saga of how I acquired a shiny new camera. *grin!*

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