Time to go Digital – chuck away that film camera!

Characters at Glastonbury Festival 2004 by John Bownas
Characters at Glastonbury Festival 2004 by John Bownas

VF waxes lyrical about the joys of megapixels and the immediacy and joyous rush of knowing straight away that you have got that perfect picture of your mate falling on his bum in the mud!

[l-zone1]Those nice people at Fuji lent us a cool little toy for Glastonbury 2004 – one of their lovely new FinePix S602Zoom cameras. We were impressed not only with the camera itself, but also with the number of people who we saw at the festival sporting the same model…in fact a very unscientific straw poll led us to the conclusion that this camera packs a lot of punch for a lot of people!

If you haven’t gone digital yet then it’s time to do the maths:-

A typical halfway decent 35mm film camera will set you back something like £50-100. If you take the SLR option then make that £150-300.

Once you’ve bought a film and had it printed, and then got one or two reprints for friends, then you’ll be lucky to have change out £15. Bear in mind that you also don’t know what you’ve got in the camera until you open the envelope from the printers, and all of those precious memories might have been wiped forever by a big muddy fingerprint on the lens!

[r-zone2]Ten films later and you’re £150 lighter, add on the price of the camera, and all of a sudden you’ve nearly paid for something like the S602Zoom (especially if you hunt out some good internet deals) – and now think about how much more you might have got for your money if you’d gone digital.

[l-zone3]If you’re worried about picture quality then think again. The latest cameras, like this little baby from Fuji, pack upwards of 3 million pixels into each image…and in fact the S602Zoom can supply you with 6 million pixels thanks to some clever technology that we won’t bore you with here! What this means is that if you want to make use of that nice photo-quality colour printer at home, then you can rest assured the S602Zoom will fill the whole page without any loss in quality…so no nasty jagged edges on those frameable shots!



[l-zone1]Also, with a 6x optical zoom, this camera lets you get close to the action without ever having to leave your comfy deckchair surrounded by tins of beer and the remains of that last tray of chicken noodles. The optical zoom ability does make this camera a bit bigger than some of it’s rivals, but that big lens barrel delivers amazingly sharp images, and it’s not a big price to pay for substantially improved performance over some of the more slim-line models.

Chuck in a decent sized memory card (and you’ll get a 1Gb card for not much over a £100 now) and you’ve also got a really nice little video camera – with sound as well! The video quality isn’t going to deliver you DVD images, but for playing back on your PC then you’ll be amazed at how good it actually is.

Now we’re not going to waste time here telling you just how to get the most out of your new digital friend – there’s plenty of other websites out there that can do a far better job at that than us – but suffice to say that about 100 or so of the images taken by one of our photographers on our Glastonbury gallery were shot using this Fuji camera, and we think you’ll agree that the quality speaks for itself! Most of the better ones were taken out and about around the site, but then this is just the sort of picture that most of you would be taking of you and your friends as you bask in the sun or bathe in the mud…whichever option applies!

[r-zone2]All of that said, we can’t help but do our best to upset the marketing people at Fuji by telling you that our own preferred weapon of choice is in fact made by another company – Nikon. However the camera that Nikon makes that has us very hot under the collar is another animal entirely. The D100 (and it’s latest sibling the D70) will mean that you have to dig quite a bit more deeply into your pocket. The D100 is over a grand without a lens, so you’ll need to spend at least £300 more before you can start taking pictures. The D70 comes with a lens package that we would seriously recommend, and that will potentially give you some change from your £1000. If you aren’t already wedded to Nikon by having a nice collection of lenses from your old F70, then you could do equally well with the Canon range…and in fact if you want to get us back into Fuji’s good books then you could look very seriously at their S1 and S2 Pro ranges – which will, in fact, allow you to keep using all of those nice easily available Nikon lenses, as they use the same fittings.

Added to this, the D100/D70’s and their competitors are not the sorts of things that you can slip into a coat pocket. These beauties don’t let you forget that you have them around your neck, and it’s only the really serious photographers who would want to be lugging things like these around festival sites. However if you are serious about getting just that perfect picture of your favourite band on stage then stick a nice big 300mm lens onto the front of one of these digital SLR’s and you’re right in there close to the action.

[l-zone3]There will always be a place for film, as it has real advantages in certain situations, but if only for the immediacy that digital brings, with its ability to let you see what you have got only a second or so after you have taken the picture, is the removal of any excuse for anyone taking bad pictures any more!