Monday, August 15, 2011

Taking the Canon S95 out for a test drive

I finally bought a new camera to replace the one that died on top of a mountain in the pouring rain many months ago. It took me all of about five minutes to decide on the Canon S95, which had less to do with the camera's features and more to do with wanting to get in and out of the electronics store as quickly as possible.

Japanese electronics stores are like torture chambers. If I was a spy and the enemy was trying to get me to spill some top-secret information, all they'd have to do is take me to a Japanese electronics store and I'd crack in less than 10 minutes. These stores are an all-out assault on the eyes and the ears. The fluorescent lighting is so bright it feels like your head is being squeezed in a vise grip. Your eyes dart wildly all over the place, unsure where to look because every square inch of space is plastered with ads. They hang from the ceiling, they line the walls, they take up more shelf space than the electronics. Too much clutter, too many colours. It makes you dizzy and nauseous. And the noise. The noise! There are more salespeople than customers and some of them are shouting out random greetings, others are using megaphones to advertise special deals, and the rest stalk their prey like commission-hungry carnivores. The overhead speakers blast the store's theme song over and over again (these theme songs usually feature a woman singing in a high-pitched voice over happy-sounding but crazy-making synthesizers). Every television in the store is turned on. Every stereo system is thumping out music. The result is a toxic cloud of noisy gibberish under blinding lights and aggressive advertising selling shiny plastic things in unnatural colours. The whole place is madness.

My tolerance level for these stores is about five minutes. I went in knowing exactly what I wanted -- a small point-and-shoot camera. And it had to be Canon. My old camera was a Canon and it was good. (I have the soul of an 80-year-old: I know what I like and I stick with it.) As much as I would like to upgrade to a digital SLR, I can't imagine lugging the damn thing around all the time. I like the little point-and-shoot cameras. I like their compact size and their light weight. You can take them everywhere. The Canon S95 was on sale and it looked good. So I bought it. And got the hell out of the store.

Two days in and I'm pretty happy with my little camera. I took it for a test drive yesterday. Just taking some pictures of a typical Monday here in Kyoto. I took some pictures at the lab. I took some pictures on my walk home. I took some pictures at the grocery store. And I took some pictures from the roof of my apartment. So far, so good.

I am especially fond of the "miniature" setting, which makes everything look like a little model version of the real thing.

The "macro" setting works nicely as well.

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