The New Camera - Decision Time

If you have been paying attention and/or memorising this blog, you will recall my desire to squander a large amount of money on a Digital SLR camera. In order to save myself 7% on the list price in VAT alone, I instructed He Who Knows Everything to buy it for me while he was in Cardiff.
The only problem with such a move is that, obviously, I am picking a camera based entirely on interweb research and the opinions of people I don’t know (but who seem divided between the Sony and Cannon EOS 450D). I would have been happy to do this. At the end of the day, I reasoned, when the button is pressed, a picture gets taken. I managed to take fantabulous photographs with my old Pentax K1000; I will take fantabulous photographs with this.

Part of me, though, was still cautious, so I decided to head into Wexford town, go to the Sony Centre and have a go at pressing all of the buttons on the machine which would soon be mine. I would also, I decided, go up to Sam McCauley (which is a Chemist, or Pharmacy depending on which term you understand) and play with their Cannon.

The Sony Centre is not the best place in the world to go if you require information about a Sony product. While they are all lovely chaps and most industrious about asking if I would like any help, none of them work at the Sony Centre because they have a life-long love affair with the brand and are desperate to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with the public. They work in the Sony Centre because it has pleasant d├ęcor and a staff discount.

I held the camera. I looked at the flippy out screen. I pressed the button. I induced a moment of panic when I asked if he had a 70 – 300mm lens he could put on it for me (he didn’t, but he did have a 55 – 200mm). I admired the superior AV live view.
Then I asked how to adjust the depth of field.
He swallowed.
“What exactly would you mean by “Depth of Field”?” he asked.
“The relationship between the objects in the front of the frame and the back of the frame.” I explained.
He didn’t say anything.
“On the old cameras you adjusted the fstops.”
He still didn’t say anything.
“There was a clicky bit here.” I said, and pointed to the lens.
His mate jumped in. “To be honest, you probably know more about it than we do. We mainly get trained about the TVs. My ex-girlfriend was into photography and used to talk about stuff like that and I had no idea what she was talking about. If you go on the Sony website, you can download a PDF of the instruction manual. That will answer all of your questions.”
So they didn’t feel as though it had been a total waste of time, I asked them to write down the prices for me, which they did on a shiny brochure. The shiny brochure told me everything about the camera. It demonstrated how happy you could be if you had one of these cameras and used it to take photographs of an ethnically mixed group of children in football uniforms. It doesn’t show the following minutes in which the Rozzers arrive to arrest you and Daily Mail readers form an angry mob outside your home, but I’m sure it would have if space allowed.

In the interests of fairness, I went up to play with the Cannon and was immediately shocked at how much lighter it was. Obviously, I am strong from years of hefting plasterboard above my head so such a thing matters not to me, but even so… makes you wonder what on earth Sony have put in theirs.
The Cannon was very nice. It didn’t have a live view and it didn’t scan your retina so it knew what you were looking at, like the Sony. It costs more money and the lenses are more expensive because they have the anti-shake built into them rather than into the body, but they make much less noise when they are focusing and, being Cannon, there is a huge range of lenses and accessories available both new and second hand.
I asked the lady which one she thought was better, the Cannon or the Sony, and she said the Cannon. When I asked her why, she said it was because Cannon made all their cameras in-house as oppose to Sony who subcontract it to other companies and only make things like the chips themselves (which probably explains why the live view on the Sony is so good). I must confess, that doesn’t sound to me like a reason to buy a Cannon, that sounds to me like Sony are being sensible about things.

Interestingly, while in Cardiff, HWKE has been to two camera shops, Jacobs (a smallish chain) and the Cardiff Camera Centre. In Jacobs, the salesman recommended the Cannon as superior whereas in the Cardiff Camera Centre, the Sony held the favoured position.

So, HWKE went to the Camera Centre Cardiff and got me the Sony. He got me a Sigma 70 – 300mm lens, two UV filters and a Polarising one, a Memory Card, a natty bag to put it all in and a tripod. I had no desire for a tripod but he thinks that if you have a camera, you should have a tripod. He also pointed out that he gets very shaky hands due to his arthritis so he would need one. He will be arriving, with my camera, tonight. Hurrah!
When I sent him an email with my instructions telling him what to buy, I told him that I didn’t want one of the cameras that arrived with a lot of pictures of Strider on the memory card. He replied with “Okay. I won’t get the limited edition “S” series then.” He is such a wit.

I, and just about anybody else who lives in Ireland, complains at length about the price of things over here. When I was pricing up the cameras, I always knew that it would be cheaper in the UK because of the lower VAT rate and the weak pound. What I didn’t realise was that HWKE would be able to go into the Camera Centre Cardiff and get me all of the above for slightly less than just the camera would have cost me if I had bought it from the Sony Centre in Wexford town.

One last thing: A recommendation.
I bought my camera from the Camera Centre Cardiff. They are a third generation independent shop which has been in business for over 60 years. The owner bloke HWKE spoke to was super knowledgeable and jolly helpful in all matters. I have also heard good things about them from other people, so it wasn’t just a case of good humour directed towards a Brummie with a beard.
Their website can be found at or if you Google Camera Centre Cardiff you will find them; they also ship all over the world, whatever their website currently says, so there is no excuse for Johnny Foreigner not to take advantage of the exchange rate this instant.
I personally feel it is important to support independent shops. They offer specialist knowledge based on familiarity with their stock that you just don’t get in the chain stores. Let’s face it, nobody runs their own shop because they are guaranteed a wage packet at the end of the week. They aren’t. If they don’t know about what they sell, they are not going to still be going strong after 60 years.
If you have any kind of independent shops in your area, why not think about spending your hard earned currency there?


sarah said...


i inherited it from my dad who most likely inherited it from his great great great grandfather who fashioned it out of stone

those things are OLD. i thought i had the only one left.

good for us! :)

Theo said...

Take that back! The Pentax is not made out of stone! It just feels as though it is!

*runs out of comment thread crying*

I love my Pentax. I keep it in the back of a drawer and stroke it occaisionally.

sarah said...

no no! i didnt mean it to sound insulting!!!

i adore it! truly!

dont cry theeeeeo! crying makes me scared