For a couple years now, I’ve been shooting photos with a Canon S5 IS. I love the 12x optical zoom, the awesome movie capability, the super-macro mode and a whole lot else about it. It’s larger than your usual Point and Shoot, but a lot less bulky than a full-on digital SLR. My only problem with it has been that Canon did not, and will not, make one of their nifty waterproof cases for it. This puts a serious crimp in my ability to take it along in my kayak.
A while ago, I invested in what I thought would be a reasonable solution, a waterproof “bag” with a long snoot that accommodates the zoom lens. In practice, the bag has been difficult to use because it’s tough to operate most of the controls on the camera, starting with the on-off switch.
A couple of weeks ago, one of my paddling buddies scored an enviable package on Craigslist - a Canon G7 and a waterproof case for $400. The G7 (and its successor, the G9) has a 6x optical zoom and a lot of the functionality of my S5 IS, plus the waterproof case. I started obsessing about trying to find a similar deal. I bid and lost numerous eBay auctions, and combed the Craigslist landscape frequently, hoping against hope to encounter a deal as good as my buddy stumbled into, either for the G7 or the G9.
At some point, I was reading a user review of the G7, and the review referenced another Canon as a lower-priced alternative, the A720 IS. As luck would have it, Seattle Craigslist had an A720 available for $175 (the going eBay price for the G7 seemed to be about $425), AND Canon makes a waterproof case for it.
I nailed down the Craigslist offering, passing my trusting currency to a stranger in the parking lot of an AM-PM minimart on the east side. I then went to eBay and nailed a “buy-it-now” deal for a compatible waterproof case, whose progress westward from New Jersey I track periodically on the UPS website.
The A720 actually has some advantages over the G7 for my purposes. First and foremost, the price and the eerie instantaneous availability on Craigslist; plus, it uses AA batteries instead of the G7s proprietary Canon battery. I learned on our trip to Joshua Tree a couple of years ago that a camera with a proprietary battery can be a problem if you’re out somewhere where you don’t have access to electrical outlets for recharging. If a camera uses AA batteries, you can carry a supply of commercial batteries to supplant your rechargeables.
So, by the time I get back from Ashland, I will have a sweet setup for kayak photography, as my waterproof case will have completed its cross-country journey (I resisted the temptation to purchase expedited delivery).
Here’s a sample of the A720’s zoom capability:
Of course, embedded in this consumerist bliss is the inevitable worm of desire: The feature set on the A720, combined with its smaller size, may start to compel me to carry it, instead of the S5 IS, on my peregrinations, rationalizing that the A720’s “good enough” for most applications. Of course, it’s not “good enough” for all applications, but how much more does the S5 bring to the party?
The logic of which leads me inexorably towards upgrading the S5 with a full-on DSLR. This juggernaut of rationalization needs to be derailed by the reality that I’m not a professional photographer, that I use only 15% of the capabilities of my middling cameras and, back to the reason I was infatuated with the S5 in the first place, I probably won’t be inclined to carry a DSLR and a coterie of lenses on 95% of the outings that afford me most of my photographing opportunities.
The only positive of this quandary is that I’m having it about cameras, and not cars or houses.