Camera Bleg

CAMERA BLEG….For the past six years my camera of choice has been a Nikon Coolpix 995. As you can see, its unique feature is that it rotates in the middle, so you can point the camera up or down, hold it above your head or down at ground level, or grip it between your arms and point it straight down at a tabletop if you want to take pictures of documents. You can do all this while keeping the LCD facing toward you and your finger at the usual angle for pressing the shutter button.

This particular feature is one that most people either love or hate, but since I do this stuff all the time I love it. Scratch that. I adore it. Going back to a camera that makes me squat and bend and guess whenever I want to frame a shot that’s anywhere but eye level would feel like giving up my word processor and going back to a typewriter. And I’ve already told you how I feel about that.

Sadly, most of the rest of the world disagrees. Even more sadly, the image quality on the 995 is only so-so, and the autofocus on mine has sucked pretty badly ever since something jarred it a couple of years ago. Result: too many blurry cats. I’d like to get a new camera, with all the bells and whistles that six years of technology wizardry has added since 2001, but the only rotating camera still made is the Coolpix S10, which doesn’t meet even my modest needs. What to do?

I’m not willing to give up LCD flexibility completely, which means I need a camera with an articulating LCD screen. In fact, I have three fairly nonnegotiable demands:

  1. An articulating LCD screen.

  2. Image stabilization, since I’ve never had a very steady shooting hand.

  3. Wide angle capability. I’d like the equivalent of 24 mm, but I’ll make do with 28 mm.

Long story short, there doesn’t appear to be a camera on the market that has all three of these features. I can get frustratingly close, but not quite there. So far, the best fit I’ve found is the Canon S5, which has features 1 and 2 and the capability of adding a wide-angle attachment that provides feature 3. It’s not ideal, but it’s the closest I can find.

So here’s the bleg: does anyone have anything to say about the S5, good or bad? My biggest concern is image quality, which appears to be only adequate, and will inevitably be softened further with a wide angle attachment. If you actually have a wide angle attachment you’ve used with an S5, I’d love to hear about that too. Raynox seems to garner better reviews than Canon’s own add-on, but personal experience from someone who cares about image quality would be very, very helpful.

Of course, if you know of some other camera that has my three features, feel free to shout. I’d be delighted to get a DSLR and then choose my own glass, but none of them have everything I want, and I don’t feel like paying DSLR prices if I have to compromise.

Beyond that, consider this a digital camera open thread. But Canon S5 chatter would be especially appreciated.