Warning...this is a long and rambling post. It is an example of how my mind works when trying to make a decision.
As many of you know, I have been searching for a new camera. My March 1st post, "my quest for the perfect camera", went into detail on the the camera features that are most important to me and the types of cameras I have been considering.
After hours and hours reading reviews, various photography sites, and finally going down to a camera shop, I "think" I have made my choice. The reason I say "think" is that I am still not 100% sure yet - I am probably 98.9% sure at the moment.
A week ago, I spent a couple of hours at Ritz Camera Shop in Honolulu checking out the various cameras on my list. I was very fortunate to find a knowledgeable salesperson that was willing to spend quite a bit of time with me. He patiently answered all of my questions and let me try out as many cameras as I wanted. He did not try to sell me on any specific camera and even ignored other paying customers while helping me. I kept telling him that I was in no hurry and I it was fine to help the other customers.
I first checked out both the Canon PowerShot Pro Series S5 IS and the Canon PowerShot G9 side by side. They no longer sold the Canon PowerShot Pro Series S3 IS. Right away I loved the size and sturdiness of the G9. It was lighter than I imagined. We talked about some of the pros and cons of each camera and I brought up some of the issues I had read about regarding the G9. I also handled the Canon PowerShot A650 IS. Again, I was drawn back to the G9. The salesperson then went through some of the features and settings of the G9. I loved the little scroll wheel and how many of the settings were so easily accessible.
I then wandered over to the DSLR section. I had to at least dream about buying a DSLR for a little while before making my choice. I started with the Pentax K100D. It was just too big for me. The store did not have any of the entry level Sony cameras. I then checked out both the Canon XTi and the Nikon D40x side by side. At first, I did not feel that there was much difference between the two cameras. I continued to play with each, going back and forth between the two, looking through each viewfinder and snapping a few photos.
At this point, a couple visiting from New York came in looking for a new lens. The guy mentioned that the viewfinder of the Nikon camera was clearer/sharper or something like that than the viewfinder of the Canon camera. I did not really notice a difference at first but eventually I could see a slight difference. I also I started to feel much more comfortable with the overall feel of the Nikon camera which surprised me since I have always been a "Canon girl". I started chatting with the couple about some of the differences between the Canon and the Nikon and about the various lens choices. They were both so helpful. The best I could do in return was to help the girl choose a new camera bag - now bags I know.
After about 30 minutes or so of playing around with the Canon and the Nikon, I felt pretty sure that the Nikon D40x would be the camera I would choose. But before making that decision, I still wanted to check out the Canon XSi (which comes out in April) because of the new live view feature. I also read that the grip on the Canon XSi has improved. It would however be pretty difficult to pass up on the current sale price of the D40x.
After returning to earth, I went back to the non-DSLR section. I was surprised to find how much I missed that great DSLR viewfinder after only 30 minutes or so of handling the DSLR cameras. For the past few years I have become so used to using the LCD instead of the lousy viewfinder on my digital cameras, and now it seemed so strange to go back to using the LCD. And all this time I somehow I thought that live view would be a bonus (and it probably is in some circumstances) but now I definitely know that having a good viewfinder sure is a great feature to have, one that the Canon PowerShot G9 does not have.
After handling all the cameras one time more, I just could not get past the size and the ease of traveling that I would enjoy with the Canon PowerShot G9 when comparing the G9 to both the larger non-DSLRs I considered and when comparing the G9 to the entry level DSLR cameras. A post on Big Mike's Digital Photography Blog demonstrates the difference quite nicely.
I checked out the Canon PowerShot A650 IS one more time just to be sure since it was similar in size to the G9 and cheaper than the G9, but again, I was drawn back to the Canon PowerShot G9. It just had a better feel. At that point I think I was probably 90% sure that the G9 would be the camera I would purchase.
I then of course felt really guilty about not buying the camera. After the salesperson spent so much time with me, my Catholic/Jewish guilt started to surface. How could I not buy the camera after all the time he spent with me? But the price was too high at this store and I was not thrilled with only a 10-day return policy. In the end, I walked out empty handed after thanking the salesperson for all of his help.
Once I returned home, I read more about the G9 on some of the photo websites and then started to search a few photo blogs. What brought my "sure factor" up to 98.9% was seeing some of the photos from the G9 camera on Bill Lockhart's Photography blog. Of course I am not a professional and it will probably take me years to learn to shoot photos this amazing, but at least I know the camera has the capability.
My 1.1% doubt factor at this point is only because of some of the comments about problems with some of the G9's with LCD light leaks and also this banding thing. Both are noticeable right away though, so if I got a lemon, returning the camera would be an option, but not a happy one. I am also one that holds out hope that a new camera will be coming out in the next month or two before my trip with some of the improved "wish list features" many have talked about for the next in the line of the G series cameras, although I know that if I think that way, I could be waiting forever for that "perfect camera". I also want to have time to learn my new camera before going on my trip and spring break would be the perfect time to start.
So, all that is left to do is to decide where to purchase the camera. After checking local prices and factoring in the added tax, Amazon seemed to be the best choice. Of course, the price went up $20.00 to $465.94 since I first put the G9 in my shopping cart along with my 10 other wish list cameras.
For the past few days, I have been checking my shopping cart to see if the price has gone back down. Today I noticed that Crutchfield was selling the camera for $449.99 with a $9.99 shipping charge on Amazon. After going to the direct Crutchfield site, I found the same price for the G9 along with free shipping! I got home too late with the time difference to call to confirm that shipping is indeed free to Hawaii (there is often that little hidden no free shipping to Hawaii clause with many of the free shipping offers on websites). So tomorrow may be the day I finally purchase my "perfect camera" - the Canon PowerShot G9
... unless I change my mind in the morning.