And money. When I wanted to take out some really nasty cage bars so I could take a photo of a cute rodent in Zoobic, I realized I needed macro lens. Then there was a time I saw this colorful bird flying near the Corregidor Hotel. I didn't have zoom lens. Those lenses are helluva lot more expensive than my actual dSLR!
After selling Shin-Chan (to my cousin Mia, because I wanted to make sure that the next owner would take care of him), my eyes zeroed in on the various Panasonic Lumix digicams available on the internet. I wanted a red one; Cris was adamant about having Leica lens with powerful zooming capabilities. The Lumix ZS3 costs about $300 online. Inquiring about this model at Infomax (Park Square 1) had me choking on my smoothie: it costs about P25,000. That's nearly double the online price.
My new boyfriend, Shin-Chan 2. Photo taken by Belle Dinglasa, using a Canon 500D
I surfed for local Multiply sellers, but this model would always be out of stock. In Greenhills -- supposedly the place for el cheapo stuff -- the ZS3 costs about P20,000 (still $450). Finally, I decided to go straight to where the best and cheapest cameras are: Hidalgo in good 'ol Quiapo. Cham and Cris bought their cameras there and I had been with them when we bought Cris's Cham Jr. (Nikon d80). Unfortunately, Cham couldn't accompany me today so I asked Lei and Belle to come with me.
My sister Alex, who buys both her camera and fashion accessories in Quiapo, gave me several warnings:
- Do not look like you're lost.
- Do not look like you're stupid.
- Wear the most pulubi-looking clothing you have. That area is full of snatchers.
Taken later, at Infomax (when I was looking for a camera protector)
After sporting the most unflattering getup, we went on our way. The first store we arrived at was selling the model for P13,000. I had only brought P12,000 with me so we had to canvas. Alex said that the best store was Henry's...unfortunately, like most shops in Hidalgo, Henry's was selling the ZS3 for P14,500. *Sigh* No store had any red ZS3s. Plus, I had to withdraw an additional P1,000 before I could go back to the first shop.
Lei asked me what I'd be naming my second camera. I told her he'd be Shin-Chan 2.
Test shot #1. Hm. I did not have those eye bags the first time I went to Hidalgo...
Test shot #2, with Lei
I do not remember the name of this store, but it's just beside Henry's. I would've bought an SD card and a camera case for Shin-Chan 2, but the only additional accessory I could afford was the one that my sister asked me to buy for her, which was a 52mm generic lens cap.
Lei and Belle bought some blank DVDs (for her video project) then we went on to search for the biggest DVD pirate den in the area. I swear, the den just astounded me. Elvert was right when he said, "Bumabaha ng DVDs. Hanapin nyo yung may weird movies." (The place is raining with DVDs. Look for the stalls with the weird movies.) And he did not mean the porn. There were lots of really disturbingly graphic, in-your-face DVD covers. I instructed both Belle and Lei to cover their eyes as we walked down the aisles. Belle and I thought that we could take some really interesting photos but...we just didn't want to lose our cameras to some two-bit thief. This was when we all thought a powerful phone cam would've come in handy.
Here's the sad part: I found some really rare indie films and old movies -- ones that can only be borrowed from inaccessible university libraries -- in the area. Why is it sad? Heck, I ran out of cash! I left the camera shop with only P90 to my name. I couldn't even afford the 3-5 DVDs for P100 packages. Boohoo!
After that rather interesting sojourn, we went to Park Square 1 to buy a 2 gigabyte SD card with my credit cart (which was P200 more expensive than the ones sold in Hidalgo). Then we went to Sizzling Pepper Steak for a late lunch.
Belle taking a photo of Shin-Chan 2
I tested Shin-Chan 2 further and was floored by his power! His outputs were lovely, just lovely! I could rarely take decent food photos with my dSLR and here is a point-and-shoot digicam giving me such breathtaking images I could never produce with a supposedly professional camera. I tested the zoom and I was not disappointed. I could see SM Makati's logo clearly from where we were sitting. (I will post the Sizzling Pepper Steak photos tomorrow, when I write my review of the place. EDIT: I just realized the food looked better on the camera. I couldn't play with the white balance till later because the manual was written in every other language except English!)
The Lumix ZS3 is small, but thick.
My only problem with Shin-Chan 2 is that it's a bit thick, making it difficult for me to find a nice red or pink protector for it. The ZS3 is not the latest Lumix model, but the features are good enough for me. I mean, heck, I bought my dSLR for P42,000 two years ago. This one is nearly 1/4th the price but has double the power.
Features (as listed in Amazon.com):
- Model: Panasonic Lumix ZS3 Black
- Optical Sensor Resolution: 10.1-megapixel resolution captures enough detail for poster-size prints
- Optical zoom: 12x MEGA optical image-stablilized zoom; 25mm ultra-wide-angle lens
- Can capture HD video in "AVCHD Lite" format
- Has Intelligent Auto (iA) mode; Face Recognition feature
- Can capture images to SD/SDHC memory cards (not included)
- Maximum Aperture Range: F/3.3-4.9
- Minimum focal length: 4.1 millimeters
- Maximum focal length: 49.2 millimeters
- Lens Type: Zoom lens
- Optical Sensor Size: 1/2.33"
- Included Flash Type: Built-in flash
- Display Size: 3 inches
- Light Sensitivity: ISO 100, ISO 800, ISO 400, ISO 200, ISO 80, ISO auto, ISO auto (1600-6400), ISO 1600, ISO 3200
- Image types: JPEG
- Shooting Modes: Frame movie mode
- Exposure Control Type: Candle, Beach, Transform, Beach & surf, Snow, High sensitivity, Starry sky, Soft skin, Baby1, Baby2, Portrait mode, Aerial photo, Hi-speed burst, Film grain, Pin hole, Party/indoor, Night portrait, Self-portrait, Pet, Scenery, Food, Fireworks, Low light, Night scene, Underwater, Sports mode, Sunset
- Viewfinder Type: None
- Width: 4.1 inches
- Depth: 1.3 inches
- Height: 2.4 inches
- Weight: 7.2 Ounces
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