It has been one rainy June. As a matter of fact a lot of the spring has been wet. But the temperature has been mild and the grass has grown long. Though the rain has stopped me from getting into Manhattan and taking street pictures as I like to do but has left me with plenty of time to contemplate buying a new camera.

I usually have two cameras at any give time. A pocketable one and a bigger more sophisticated model. The first big one I ever had was the Olympus OM-G (35mm SLR) which I got back in college. The spring of 1985 I think. I used that one for many years. It’s in a closet somewhere around here now. Good camera.

I didn’t start carrying a pocketable camera for many years after I got my big camera. It was sometime in the early 90’s that I bought a 35mm Olympus Stylus pocket sized camera. I liked that camera. It was not as small as today’s pocketable cameras but it was small enough that I carried it everywhere. My first one was stolen out of my coat pocket in a NYC bar one evening. I usually didn’t carry it in my coat pocket and for sure never did after that. Damned theives. I replaced it though.

Last year I replaced my old pocketable camera (now digital) with a Nikon Coolpix S60. The only reason I wanted that one is the touch screen. I wanted to try that out. It’s been interesting for me to use a camera that meters and focuses where you touch it on screen. Good stuff.

My larger camera is the Nikon Coolpix 8800. I bought it in 2005 and it’s an eight megapixel camera. The Coolpix S60 is a ten megapixel camera. I hate it when my small camera passes my big camera in megapixels. That’s when I start thinking about a new big camera.

I’ve been looking on-line at the latest cameras. There is a lot to choose from. I have stayed away from digital SLRs because I insist on a live view LCD screen. I never want to look through a camera’s view finder again. And I like to shoot at waist level and odd angles so I like the LCD to swivel. The one thing I don’t like about my S60 is that its LCD doesn’t swivel. But that would be hard to do with a touch screen.

These days there are some SLRs (or 4/3 systems) with live view swivel LCD screens. I’ve been checking out some of these but nothing has jumped out at me. They are expensive too. And not as compact as my Coolpix 8800 and other “prosumer” digital cameras.

I take camera reviews with a grain of salt. Whether by amateurs on sites like Amazon or professionals on camera web sites I have no idea what a person’s picture making skill might be. That is an important piece of information that’s missing. Both of my current cameras got mediocre reviews but I like them both. As a matter of fact I like every camera I’ve ever used. I’m sure they exist but I’ve never had a bad camera.

That is because my picture making skills are pretty well developed. After all I draw and paint most of the time so making a picture with a camera is easy compared to making one out of thin air. No insult to the photographic profession but it’s true. That is why there are a lot more photographers than artists.

My background as an artist effects the way I make photos too. I’m less demanding of my camera because my skill is not in taking the picture but in what I make out of it after the picture is taken. A real photographer’s photographer takes total control of his camera and the picture is made in his planning plus knowledge of what his camera can do. There might be some post production work or there might not be. That’s not the kind of photographer I am. To me the photo is raw material for making something interesting.

So advice in a photo review doesn’t always ring true to me. There are some good ones but only about one in three I’d say. And some people just expect their camera to do everything. And do it instantly. One of the criticisms of the Coolpix 8800 was that the zoom was slow. Compared to what? Who knows. And it had one of the biggest zooms in its class at the time so of course it was slower than cameras with zooms half its size. Lots of critics don’t make sense to me.

I’m still not even sure if I really want to replace my Coolpix 8800 yet. Sure there are bigger zooms out there today and more megapixels but I haven’t decided if it’s really worth it. Money is tight these days and even though the cameras I’ve been looking at are cheaper than my Coolpix 8800 was they are still not cheap. It always comes down to money, doesn’t it?