It was back in the winter of 2019-2020 that I started looking to buy a new compact super zoom camera. I had been commuting into NYC a couple of days a week and when I did that I liked to take street photos. As I walked down Seventh Avenue from 32nd Street to 14th Street I’d snap pictures of the people and places along the way.

I also liked to go into the city on some Saturdays during the summer and take street photos in and around Bryant Park. For these Saturdays I would bring whatever super zoom camera I had at the time. These days I have a Canon Powersot SX60 HS. It’s a good camera, gets the job done, and I like it. But it’s also a big camera. It’s around the size of a typical 35MM camera.

I started looking for a smaller compact super zoom camera for my commuting days because I wanted a smaller size camera. I had always carried a bag with me on my commutes but over that winter break in December/January of 2019-2022 I started creating an “Art Go-Bag.” That’s a bag I could carry that had art supplies in it so I could make things on my commute.

Sometimes when I commute into the city it’s during off peak hours. That means fewer trains and longer waits. It was during those waits I liked to make art. I would sit in the train station for half an hour and draw. I’d usually work on some of my art cards.

I ended up buying a messenger style backpack and a couple of flat art supply bags that slipped into it. It all worked well together but the bulkiest thing in there was the camera. The camera fit but took up a bit chunk of room and distended the bag. The bag is a lot wider from front to back than if the camera were not in there. So I started thinking about not caring that camera on my commute and getting a smaller one.

I’m always looking at new cameras online. I like to see what is new and if prices have gone down. From about when digital cameras came out in around the year 2000 until around the late 20-teens cameras usually followed a pattern. The new model would come out, the old model would be discounted, and overall prices for digital cameras would drop a bit from year to year.

There are a couple of things I was looking for from the camera I wanted to carry in my commuter bag. I wanted it to be small, have a big zoom, and have a LCD panel that swiveled. I like the LCD panel to swivel because I enjoy shooting from waist level. That way I can look down at the view finder rather than raising the camera to my eye.

I eventually found that I liked the looks of a Canon Powershot SX740. It’s small enough to be pocketable, has a 40x zoom, and has a swivel LCD. My bigger Canon has a 60x zoom which is a crazy big zoom but I would settle for a 40x zoom for a pocket camera. I found a couple of others that were okay but didn’t have as big a zoom. I like that big zoom for taking street phots so I don’t have to disturb people as I take photos of everyday life.

The main reason I didn’t buy the camera right away back in January of 2020 was that it cost $400 and I didn’t have $400. So I went back to commuting during the new semester that January with my older and larger camera. I was planning on eventually getting the compact one when Covid hit and shut everything down. I began teaching virtually and not commuting.

Now it’s Fall 2022 and I’m back to commuting into the city two days a week. What about that new camera? Did I ever get it? No, I didn’t. I’m still carrying my larger one. A friend even gave me a second camera that is almost the same as the one I have now except that it’s a Nikon Coolpix. But it’s not a compact camera.

The main reason I never got a new camera is that the Powershot SX740 actually went up in price. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because Covid upset the supply chain for digital camera or maybe it’s because everyone carries a phone camera so demand is for a separate camera is low. You’d think low demand would lower a price but I’ve noticed that sometimes when an item goes from a mass market item to a niche item the price rises. I guess the economies of scale are lost and prices go up.

Back in early 2020 the MSRP on the camera was $400 and it still is but you can’t get it for that. It’s sold out on Canon’s website and even on Amazon they rarely have it for sale new. You can get it mint in box on Ebay but it will run you from $500 to $700. I’ve been looking at used ones on eBay and they’ll run you around $400. It’s strange to see this happen in the world of digital cameras.

I don’t even have the money right now to get one but I do occasionally follow the bidding for them on eBay. One popped up a week ago and though not new it was in barely used and in nice shape. It had a “Buy It Now” of around $330 and was also taking offers. If I had the money I would have bought it because I knew it would go fast. Sure enough in just a few hours it was gone. I’ve seen used ones on the site go for that price but they’re usually pretty battered.

I’ve seen non-working models of this camera on eBay too. They’re usually listed “As is” and marked as non-working or for parts only but they still go for $200. I often wonder who buys these broken cameras? A check of the “Items Sold” section of eBay shows that these broken cameras actually do sell. There must be people who buy and repair cameras.

So far I’ve been okay commuting with my old bulky camera this semester. I bought it back in 2015 so I know it well. There has only been one model after it, the SX70 HS and that one has gone up in price too. I paid around $500 for mine and the SX70 HD goes for around $700. What is happening in the world of digital cameras? I don’t know but it’s expensive.