Sunday, June 3, 2007

second camera

I started thinking about getting a second camera body last winter. I was taking pictures of swans & geese on the Mississippi in Monticello when my trusty Canon 20D locked up. The readout screen was showing my settings, but I couldn't operate the shutter, or even turn the camera off. I repeatedly turned it on and off, adjusted the settings, even prayed -- nothing seemed to help. Well, perhaps the last did help because I remembered reading something in the manual about removing and reinserting the battery. Sure enough, that worked. But it did scare me! How could I take pictures if I had to send my camera to Canon?
The simple answer was to get another body. Of course, it had to be a Canon single-lens reflex so that I could use my lenses and other accessories. But what to get? Another 20D, which I love and was still available new? -- or the 30D, a 20D with a bunch of improvements? Then there is the 5D, with a full 35mm frame sensor, but more than double the price of the 30D. With all these choices I followed my usual mode of behavior -- I did nothing.
Then this spring, as I started some of my tours of Springbrook, Carlos Avery, and Wargo, I became frustrated with having to change lenses. My favorites for birding are a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom, a 300mm f/4.0, and a 400mm f/5.6. (The first two have image stabilization.) A solution seemed to be to mount the 400mm with camera on the tripod (with the Wimberly Sidekick) and to carry the 300mm with another body around my neck.
In the meanwhile, Canon had come out with an upgrade of the Digital Rebel XT, the XTi. The XTi, even though only about 1/2 the price of the 30D, had many improvements over the 30D. The two main ones are a 10.1mp self-cleaning sensor and a larger memory for continuous burst of shots (even though at 3 rather than 5 shots per second). They both have 2.5" monitors; the XTi has a noticeably quieter shutter than my 20D. So, considering finances and features, the choice seemed simple -- XTi it is!
Next dilemma: Where to buy?
I'm sorry, but I've have given up on local dealers. I've tried to buy from them, but they just will not come within $100 of Internet prices (plus having to pay sales tax). The three major suppliers, in my opinion, are Amazon, Adorama, and B&H. Yes, there are others you can locate through sites like PriceGrabber, but I've dealt with each of the three and have found them to be very good with respect to prices, delivery, and returns. For the XTi, all were within $10 of each other, including shipping.
As an aside, I had considered another dealer out of New York, since their prices are substantially lower than the above three. However, as a friend of mine found out when he tried to order from them, they will not include what the factory ordinarily ships with the camera -- items such as a battery, charger, camera strap. Also, their shipping charges are quite high.
I decided to go with Amazon ($674.50), simply because of their automated, no-hassle ordering system and prompt shipping (usually free for orders over $25 and often delivered within 3 business days -- so, don't spend the money, unless you need to, for 2nd or 3rd day delivery).
According to Amazon's tracking system, my camera is now sitting in Eagan, MN (I ordered it May 31) -- I'm hoping for delivery tomorrow! I'll let you know how it works out.