Announcing: a New Camera (for me)

This a really long post about how I was probably going to buy an Lx3, then maybe the G11 but oh, perhaps not, no, wait! definitely I will and DEFINITELY from the little store, but then I bought the G11 from Amazon because it was cheapest and I am terrible.  Read on if you have plenty of time on your hands and like my rambling.


Well, you all know what happened to the Olympus. And the Ricoh.

Thankfully, I still have the Fuji and she’s doing well.  No sitting around all day in water; no being thrown across a room; yet to be dropped or smacked against something. So, fingers crossed, she’ll stay that way.

Still, we liked having two cameras (well, I liked that we had two cameras) and it was great that one of them – the erstwhile, much-maligned and maltreated Ricoh – was pocket-size and lightweight, especially in comparison to the Fuji, coming in at a hefty 1kg or thereabouts.

Maybe 1kg isn’t so much for the digital-SLR users out there, but I’m yet to make the leap.  I think about it often and get covetous a lot but I keep reminding myself that one of the things I like least about the Fuji is its bulkiness and heaviness.

I walk/hike a lot.  I cycle a lot.  These are the things I like to do.  Despite taking lots of photos, I am still rather self-conscious with a camera and I regularly fail to take photos, especially in restaurants.Often, we head out and decide to leave the Fuji at home.  Usually, this is when we head somewhere we’ve been before but, invariably, there is always some point where I think, “Dang, wish I had the camera.”

And, yes, I do think ‘dang.’  It’s rarely a big enough deal to use a stronger word.

So, after much reading around the web about a replacement for the Ricoh – I was after something light but with more manual options than a simple point & shoot – I had decided on the Panasonic LX3.   I still bear a ridiculous amount of affection for the Olympus but none of their bridge cameras was attracting my attention.  The EP-1 sounded interesting but perhaps a little *too* interesting.  I’d like someone else to test the innovative end of the market (you know, who has experience and actually knows stuff and takes excellent photos because of their knowledge rather than via my method of half-baked ideas, half-remembered information and lots of trial & error).  I’ll be right along once the innovation has died down somewhat (and therefore is almost more affordable for mere mortals).

The Lx3’s direct competitor on the market seemed to be the G10.  And then along came the G11.

The Canon G11 was getting a lot of attention and rave reviews.  In particular, people were applauding Canon’s decision to step back from the game of increasing mega-pixels and focus on something else (in this case a better image sensor).  I’ve never been too swayed by the mega-pixels available on a camera.  Sure, a high number was good but at some stage it was obvious that the technology was good enough that even the low-end of the market cameras had a million-billion mega-pixels.  Also, I had personal experience: the Olympus only had 4 mega-pixels and when I compare some of the photos I took with it to some of the photos I took with the Fuji (9 mega-pixels), the quality was often the same, sometimes better.

Anyway, I had made my mind almost up that I would be getting the Lx3.  I did want to play with it in person, so whenever I passed a camera store, I popped in to ask if they had one.  Many said no.

Amusingly, I walked into one store – Jessops (a large chain store selling cameras and related paraphernalia).  At the counter was a man asking a rather detailed question of the guy behind the counter.  I happened to overhear the staff-member’s reply, which made me giggle, “Oh, we’re not a proper camera store.  You should try [little boutique camera shop], which is a bit out of town.”

I finally found a store – probably a proper camera store – that had the Lx3.  The store had very few point and shoot cameras, actually, and almost everyone who wandered into the store during the time that I was there (a good half-hour or so, but onto that in a moment) was a man (usually with a beard) who invariably said something along the lines of, “My Canon/Nikon Blah-Blah needs a Blah-di-da-do-buh.  I read that Brand-Name’s is better than Competitor’s. Do you have either of them for me to look at? Or what do you suggest?”  Frequently the answer was, “Yes, I’ll just go get one for you,” or “Hmm, well I use the Blah-Blah myself, though nothing’s wrong with Blah-di-duhs.  We have both but not the Brand-Name. Would you like to look?”

The person who let me play with the camera was obviously a photographer himself.  And despite letting me play with the Lx3, he cheekily said, “Have you considered the Canon G11?” shortly after I asked him how to change exposure compensation or get to macro on the Lx3.  I was there, so I thought I’d just have a little look.  So I fiddled with the G11, too, and its shape and feel and controls felt so much better than the Lx3.  And it was really very light.  And it would fit into the camera bag that we had the Olyumpus in quite nicely, which lovely bag had been languishing in the cupboard for 3 years.

But then very-helpful but rather cheeky camera-store-guy said, “And we’ve just got in the Panasonic GF-1. It’s a micro 4/3rds.  Want to have a look?”

To which the sensible reply is, “No. This decision is hard enough as it is,” but my actual reply was, “Ooh, yes please!”

And the GF-1 felt great. And seemed really interesting. And took magical photographs of my finger and random camera equipment in the store and a goofily smiling camera-store-guy.  But I handed it back with a, “It’s way out of budget,” and sweet camera-store-guy said, “Yeah, I thought it might be but I thought you might like playing with it, too.”

I told him, truthfully, that I had been mostly set on the Lx3 but that in playing with it I was not so happy about the buttons and its seeming flimsiness (important for Oanh the Camera Destroyer) and now needed to go away and think real hard about Stuff.  I also told him it was really not very nice of him to hand me the GF-1.

And so I went away.  About a month later, having done more reading and more flip-flopping between the two cameras, and also been for a 4-day hike where I bemoaned (quietly and to myself and perhaps once or twice but definitely no more than that to my partner) the big-ness of the Fuji, I decided kinda-mostly-sort-of to buy the G11.  Also, it was a good price at the airport store and I thought, “Ooh, I’ll pick it up on my way to Brissie,” because I make all my decisions based on logical, rational factors.

Because I was not completely certain and also as I happened to be near the camera store, I wandered back in and asked if I could look at the Lx3 and G11 side by side.  A different camera-store-guy was most happy to let me and he stood there and chatted gear with me while I fiddled and took photographs of my finger.  The best part (well, there were a few) was (1) He thought the Fuji was a good camera and asked me WHY I was looking at buying another, (2) He gave me factors and reasons why I should choose the G11 over the Lx3 and why I should choose the Lx3 over the G11 and (3) He finished with, “But they’re both really good cameras and I can’t say you should definitely buy one instead of the other.  It depends on you, really.”

Great. Thanks, dude.

I said I’d go have lunch and think about it and maybe come back later.  His eyes darted to the clock when I said lunch and mine followed his, “Hmm, right. Maybe I’ll wander around a bit and then have lunch and think about it and then come back later.” It was only 11am.

I was certain of one thing: despite it being 10 GBP more expensive than the airport store and 5 GBP more expensive than Amazon, I would buy from the camera store where I had had two excellent, patient and helpful folk assist me during my deliberations.

Before lunch, I had decided, Yes! I will buy the G11! but that I first needed to double-check on Amazon the price of memory cards as the camera store’s accessories struck me as being much more expensive than usual.  I was happy enough to pay a bit over the odds, but not a lot over the odds.

When I looked at Amazon, their price for the G11 had dropped – in a mere 24 hours! – so that it was now 25GBP less than the camera store.  And for that, I could also buy the memory card, maybe two.  I thought about going back to the store and telling them this and seeing if I could buy the G11 with memory card at their price so at least they’d have a sale from me, but it was getting late and I’d otherwise spent the whole day by myself and was not really feeling up to that level of bargaining.  So, I decided to defer the decision, yet again.

The story kind of ends with a phhblpt.  After another day mulling it over, I decided to buy the camera and memory card from Amazon because I did want the G11 and the best price not by a little but by a long shot was Amazon.  I feel vaguely bad that I’m not helping out the little store.

But now I await the arrival of a new camera!

As a reward for having made it to the end of this mammoth post, here is a gratuitous photo of a sweet little Willy Wagtail, taken by the Olympus C750, Brisbane City Botanic Gardens, July 2006.



  1. It was a little like that for me and the LX3, though one issue helped resolve the whole thing — the LX3 was waaay overhyped and production had been cut back and supply was so scarce the camera was priced $300 OVER retail. So I got the G10.

    I can feel your pain about not giving the business to the little guy for all their helpfulness. But that’s the price they pay for having people to answer your questions.

    I’ve been thinking about the micro 4/3 cameras, too, though I’ll wait a year or two to see other innovations from competition. It’s conveniently priced out of my camera budget (something I consider a money-saving-device). But it’d be nice to have something with a decent sensor size in a compact format.

    What I loved about the G10 when I first got it is what I still love about it — the two features I use a lot (ISO and exposure compensation) are right there with their own knobs, not hidden in menus.

    Looking forward to your experience with G11 🙂


    1. nikkipolani
      Well, if you do end up with a micro 4/3rds, I’d love to know about it – youre just the sort of experienced person I’d trust to comment on it, not amateur, gear-geeky, enthusiastic but ultimately not that knowledgeable me. At the moment, it is just too expensive and I keep thinking if I’m going to spend that money I should just buy a D-SLR!

      The hype of the Lx3 has died down a little now (it was near hysteria last year!) and though not widely available, its price has come down quite a bit. I don’t know if you ever played with one in person? It was way, way too fiddly, I thought.

      I’ll definitely be letting you know how I get on – so excited!


  2. If you haven’t gotten your camera yet, have you looked at the S90? If I could afford a new point and shoot, that’d be mine. Photo quality seems to be the same as the G11 but it’s as compact as my SD1000, which is great for slipping into my pocket on hikes.

    Poor little camera store. Some places will match prices so you could’ve asked them if they were willing to match Amazon’s.


    1. wandering chopsticks
      I did look at the s90 but it must be very new over here because its price difference from the G11 is not that much. And, yes, though it’s much more pocket-sized than the G11, which isn’t really pocket sized unless you have an awfuly big pocket, it just did not seem as robust, nor did I feel that I could have as much control over it as over the G11.

      And anyway, I’ve bought the G11 now and am just waiting for it…

      Yes, I thought about asking the little store to match prices, but I’m not actually very good at bargaining and it always feels a bit cheeky and mean (well, which is probably why I am not good at bargaining!) Ah well …


  3. No, I never did play with the LX3. I know of a few camera stores around here (well, not close, but reachable), but I was more interested in image quality. In the end, I think the longer zoom on the G10 (and the unavailability of the LX3) made the difference. I like the heavy-duty build of the G10. I tend not to be too gentle with my gear and appreciate rugged construction.


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