Went for a trip up to Napa today (through downtown SF, across the Golden Gate, around to Napa via Sausalito, then back down the eastern side of the bay via Oakland). It was a beautifully sunny day, so I took plenty of photos with the new Sony. Sunny weather always makes photography easy, even for amateurs like me, but I have to say I’m quite pleased with the results. You can see the latest photos in my Flickr photostream.

Photography Problem Solved - For Now

I am now the proud owner of a Sony Cybershot DSCW-55, which I’ll use for the remainder of my trip around the Bay Area to take some photos, after my Canon Powershot failed. I got it from Best Buy for the bargain price of $240 including a 1GB memory card. Not bad for a 7.1MP camera, especially given that current exchange rates almost halve that price when converting to pounds.


  • Easy-to-use Sony design - the build quality seems pretty good too. Normally I avoid Sony in the same way I avoid Apple - I just don’t understand the fuss (sorry Apple fans). This time, the bargain price swayed it for me.

  • Much slimmer and lighter than my Canon.

  • Goes all the way up to ISO 1000 (my Canon only does ISO 400). It remains to be seen how much noise there is at this level, but it’s still nice to know it can do it. I shoot in low light a lot, and hate compact-camera flash almost on principle.


  • Not quite as many features as my Canon. It won’t do aperture-priority, shutter-priority, etc. I can do without these for the time being.

  • No gravity sensor. It remains to be seen how annoying this will become, but Picasa makes rotating easy so hopefully it won’t be a big problem.

  • Only a 3x optical zoom. Not sure what this translates to in old numbers, but it ain’t much.

  • US charger - of course I didn’t expect anything different, but will have to solve this in the UK somehow.

  • US-only warranty - didn’t expect anything different either, but just decided to take the risk - that’s an easier decision to make with $240 than the ~$1000 the 400D would have cost.

I’m really not sure what I’ll do when I return to the UK. It probably depends on how many the Canon will cost to fix. I might sell it on Ebay once fixed and part-buy an SLR with the proceeds (I really should have followed Adrian’s advice originally and bought the 400D in the UK). I don’t really want to keep it; I’m most unimpressed with Canon now, and I get the impression the Sony will probably do everything I want from a compact. We’ll see.


It appears that my problems with my Powershot may not be the result of mishandling after all; I’m a victim of the dreaded E18 error. This appears to be a design flaw in Canon compact cameras that they refuse to acknowledge the existence of (the fact that there’s an extensive Wikipedia page for the problem says it all). Numerous solutions have been suggested; I’ve tried taking the camera apart a little to clean out around the lens but got nervous and screwed it back together again. My last attempt will be to buy some compressed air in a can and try that. By the sounds of things, if Canon try to charge for repairs, I may just have to pay up. But this, combined with the fact that it appears they won’t honour their warranties worldwide (which means I cannot really buy a 400D here) means that my opinion of Canon has plummeted from their previous record with me.

I’m still stuck with the problem of how to take pictures; I’ve looked into hiring a camera, but the only ones seemingly available are high-end SLRs at around $75/day - far more than I want to spend. I may just end up buying a cheap compact so I have some photos to take home.

R.I.P. Katy

Katy, our family’s cat, died of cancer today. I wish I had been able to be at home. She wasn’t the brightest cat ever, and she was very nervous, but she sure was beautiful and I’ll miss her a lot. Good-bye, Katy.


Canon Can't

Following up from yesterday’s sad tale, Canon US have told me by email that if I buy a 400D from Amazon here, I’d need to return it to the US for warranty service, via a US address. This makes me considerably more nervous about purchasing a camera here.

Unsurprisingly, Canon’s UK website provides much worse service - I can’t even find an email address to check with them whether they’d fix a camera under a US warranty. I still find it amazing that companies think it’s reasonable to leave their customers without an email address to contact. I’ll probably call them on Monday to confirm, but I’m not happy with this level of pre-sales support. I’ll be taking a look at Nikon.

Which unfortunately leaves me without a way of taking pictures whilst I’m here. And that makes me a sad Andy. Anyone see a way out of this?

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