Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Everything old is new again

I had to look it up, but here’s what I know. I bought a second-hand PowerShot G9 early in January last year. Shortly afterwards, in fact, just a week short of a year ago, I sold my PowerShot S80, which I’d carried around for 20 months, to my friend P-Doug for, if memory serves me, $200. That spring, I threw in a spare battery, since he only had the one.

Ever since then, I’ve taken just shy of 10,000 still and moving images with the G9. I’ve dropped it at a basketball game, lost it at a dusky roadside (where it was apparently hit by a passing car) and then found it again after driving half way across the city, and taken it tubing down the Grand River, where its companion, an infrared-reconfigured PowerShot S70, was drenched and cost over $300 to repair. And for all that, I’ve found that I’ve missed the lightness, compactness, and ease of access and control the S80 furnished. And so every so often, I’d look around… eBay, Craigslist…

A couple of weeks ago, I found one being sold on eBay with a starting bid of $35 on it. It was broken – the lens had come open in the guy’s pocket and jammed, leading to the dreaded E18 error that plagues PowerShot cameras. I read up on it to find out what it would cost to repair it, and learned that in such cases, it’s often possible to gently work the lens assembly such that the gears pop back into alignment. So, I bid on it; $51, which raised the bid to $36. The day before the auction ended, someone bid $45, which boosted mine to $46. I decided to hedge my bets and raised my bid to $66. The day the auction ended, a Saturday around noon, I was sitting in the Bishop and the Belcher with P-Doug, keeping an eye on the auction using a wi-fi connection and my little Eee laptop (which I got free from my bank... remember when they used to give you toasters?), refreshing the page every few seconds. With seconds to go, some troll out there bid $52 – which ironically enough would have won it for him if I hadn’t previously raised my limit. In the last six seconds, he gambled I’d bid sixty bucks, and bid $61.05. That raised my bid to $62.05, and he didn’t have time to respond. Screw you, asshole. >:)P

So, for sixty-two bucks US, plus postage, I wrangled… a broken S80. It was a gamble. I hoped I’d be able to overcome the E18 error myself, but if not, I knew a place where I could get the work done. The question was, would it be worth doing? I’d already blown $300 on a camera in the summer I would never have bothered to fix if it weren’t reconditioned to shoot infrared. But, the fellow at the camera shop reckoned it could be fixed for “about $92”… weird number, but that’s what he said. So I felt like one way or the other, it would pay off.

Well, the S80 arrived today, and I started to gently work on the lens assembly. Within a couple of minutes, I heard the “click” while working on the innermost element. I put the battery from my G9 into it, and the S80 sucked the lens assembly back in and then extended it again, and I had a working S80 again. Oh, it sounds rough opening and closing, and I might want to see if there’s something cost-effective they can do about that, but the point is, I got a real bargain. So, after a year, I’m back in the saddle again with an S80.

I’m undecided, just yet, how to handle the issue of the cameras. I don’t hate the G9. It shoots RAW, it does voice recordings, it does better videos than the S80 without the high-pitched whine… but it’s big. Half again as big as the S80. The controls aren’t all gathered to be worked easily with your right thumb. So I’m not sure. I suggested to P-Doug, once I’d won the auction, that I thought maybe the G9 would be my “winter” camera – since I’m not carrying the S70 to shoot infrared much in the winter – and the S80 would be paired with the S70 (as it was in the summer of 2007) to be my “summer” camera(s). I guess we’ll see. Right now, I’m just jazzed to have an S80 again. I honestly don’t know why Canon axed them so quickly; they were only out about eight or nine months – or why they killed off the S line with the S80. An S90, that could shoot RAW (which the S70 can but S80 can’t) and maybe had a bigger, Digimarc III sensor, would have been a big hit, I think.

1 comment:

Jim Grey said...

Daggone it, now you've gone and kicked up my new-camera lust. I went and looked up some S80 reviews and I think I see why you liked this little camera.