*Or, Nerd Tragedy in the Catacombs
**Or, If I Weren't Quite So Chubby I Wouldn't Have These Problems
The second most frequent question I receive via e-mail – behind a myriad of “what kind of shoe should I buy?” queries – is what kind of camera I use while running. I’ve discussed this once before, but a recent set of circumstances required me to get a new camera, which happens to be a lot like the old camera, but not exactly so. I’ll explain more in a minute. In the meantime, please indulge me in a little back story …
About two years ago I made what was possibly the best investment in my blogging career, purchasing a Canon PowerShot SD1400 as a dedicated blog-use camera. It was sleek, compact, super-easy to use, and took remarkably decent pictures that didn’t require a long set-up period to get started or a long shutter lag between shots. It gradually became a constant companion in my running exploits as well as my everyday routine. Basically, I took it with me everywhere.
It also turned out to be surprisingly resilient to sweat, dust, moisture from fog and rain, or the occasional accidental drop on account of my clumsiness. In fact, it had proven so durable that I rarely had any second thoughts about tucking the camera into a pocket for whatever strange adventure I encountered … which is how it ended up in my back pocket as I descended into the Catacombs.
This was perhaps the most notorious of the cave networks at Lava Beds National Monument, and before taking our group of 8th-graders underground, everybody was made aware that exploration of the cave would be extremely challenging in places. In other words, I can’t claim I wasn’t warned.
We eventually broke into small groups and made our way down into the tunnels, which started out relatively manageable …
… before becoming so low as to require some commando crawling …
… and ultimately reaching portions where the ceiling scraped against your back even as your belly was scraping against the ground. (On a related note, it’s definitely not the place to be if you’re slightly overweight. Or remotely claustrophobic.) It was in a section very much like the one shown above – a photo, incidentally, taken by a friend who is much skinnier than me, using a shock-resistant camera – that I felt the sharp protrusions of lava rock against my backside while I was wriggling through a narrow tunnel.
When I finally made it to an area when I could sit upright, I reached into my pocket and found the glass LCD screen on my camera had shattered. RIP, Best Blogging Investment Ever.
So the search was on to find a replacement, and my first instinct was to replace my old camera with the exact same model. But when I looked it up on the Amazon.com page, there was an automated “There is a newer model of this item” sign, which took me to the Canon PowerShot ELPH 300. After a bit of comparison shopping between the two, I decided to purchase the updated model. (As a bonus, it was a few bucks cheaper.)
|Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 on left, SD1400 on right; photo taken with yet another camera. Yes, we have a few cameras at home.|
Here’s how the two compare*: they’re roughly the same size, with almost all of the same user features. The main spec difference is that my old camera had 14.1 megapixels, while the newer one has only 12.1 MP. From what I read, consensus says that the lower MP value doesn’t sacrifice image quality or detail, but results in smaller file sizes. I suppose that’s good.
*This should go without saying, but I’m nowhere an expert when it comes to digital camera reviews. So all this is just one idiot’s opinion.
The case of the new camera is a coarse plastic, as compared to the smooth polished exterior of the old camera. I initially didn’t like this change, but now I think it might help me have the whoopsies less frequently when pulling it out of my pocket. One can hope, anyway.
|ELPH 300 on left, SD1400 (with shattered LCD screen) on right|
One downside of the new camera is that the back side controls are slightly less intuitive and user-friendly. For example, there’s no icon for the self-timer where the old one used to be; the feature is still there, but you have to make one additional click to the menu screen to find it. I’ll probably get used to this, but it’s still kind of a disappointment.
|ELPH 300 on left, SD1400 on right|
The nicest thing about the new camera is that it’s slightly wider and more square on the bottom, which means that it balances a little more easily for those aforementioned self-timer photos. If I can decrease the number of rocks or twigs I have to arrange to get my camera to balance, that will be good news indeed.
Time will tell if the durability of this new camera is as good as my old one was; my adventure calendar has been woefully empty lately, but that should hopefully change in the near future. No matter how well it performs, though, I’ve learned one important tip: if I ever take my camera underground again, I should probably invest in a nice little carrying case.
Get updates as soon as they're posted! Click here to subscribe to Running and Rambling.
Check out the Running Life book for a collection of our most popular columns.