Camera shopping

A couple of weeks ago, my trusty Olympus D-320L digital camera met an unfortunate end. It was sitting on a table when the long clothing of someone rushing past brushed against it and swept it off. The guy was moving pretty quickly and the table was on a platform; as a result it flew across 15 feet of room, bounced off a staircase and then landed seven fee below with a very loud smack, turning its insides into a mishmash of small broken electronic parts.

The camera was due for replacement anyway. I bought it in 1988, when one-megapixel cameras were cutting edge. The standard resolution of the camera was 640 by 480, the largest SmartMedia card it could take was 8MB, and it had no zoom. However, it was a tough little beast, took wonderful pictures in all manner of conditions and has been to one trip to Europe, two trips to Asia, a week at Burning Man and several jaunts across the United States and Canada. All told, I took about 10,000 pictures with that camera, all of which have been dutifully archived on CD-ROM.

I’m shopping around for a new one and would appreciate any advice. I’m looking for a camera in the CDN$800-or-less price range (that’s US$500-or-less). While picture quality is important to me — the D-320 took amazing pictures for a camera in its class — I’d prefer a ready-to-go-on-adventures camera that took decent pictures over a bulky, don’t-jostle-it-too-much camera that took amazing photos. This camera is more likely to take photos at beer-sodden nights in Toronto or Prague, bacchanalian revelry in Black Rock Desert and pictures of my nephews rather than Pulitzer Prize-winning photos of politicians or shots that will end up in coffee table books. Optical zoom would be nice too. Let me know in the comments.

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