Another camera conundrum

It’s been two years since I last bought a camera so I guess it’s once again time to hem and haw about my equipment and making changes to the toolkit. One major consideration is that a lot of my more interesting recent work has been from the seat of the kayak I bought over the summer. My rig for that work has been the venerable Canon G1 in its Aquapac bag. The G1 still takes great pictures, but the system has some deficiencies:

  • The camera seems to take forever to start up, at least compared to the instantaneousness of more recent models. It’s also so slow that I’m sure shots have been missed.
  • The camera’s autofocus doesn’t work through the Aquapac bag so I have to use the camera in “Pan Focus” mode which limits you to wide angle focal length.
  • Handling the camera in the bag is cumbersome.

So here’s what I’m considering:

  • Buy a waterproof camera. Specifically, buy an Olympus Stylus 770 SW. The cons of that choice are that it’s not a Canon (and I instinctively know how Canons work) and it uses xD memory cards and I’ve always been critical of the need for that card format (and I have big SD cards already). The big pro is that it wouldn’t require a waterproof case for kayaking, tubing, wet bike rides, etc. The shockproof feature would allow it to replace the G1 as the bike camera too. Michael Reichmann from The Luminous Landscape took one on an Amazon expedition and recommended it afterward.
  • Buy a Canon SD850 IS and the accompanying waterproof housing. My guru Derrick uses an earlier-generation version of this rig with outstanding results. The big pro is that it’s a Canon so I already know how to use it. It would also replace the SD450 as my pocket/belt camera that I take everywhere (as might the Olympus). I don’t know if it would replace the G1 on bike rides though, maybe. I’m a little leary of proper care of housing 0-rings.
  • Buy a Canon A720 IS and keep using the Aquapac bag. Canon lists a housing for this camera on its site too, but it is apparently not yet available as of this writing. I wonder about the autofocus performance inside the Aquapac. I’d hate to waste the 6x zoom by having to use pan focus mode.

I think a reconnaissance trip to Best Buy just may be in order.

Like last time, I may do nothing and just be suffering from what Dad would call “money burning a hole in my pocket.”