I've been doing some more playing with an Olympus SP810-UZ zoom camera that I have on loan from Olympus and I have to tell you that while I still hate only having the LCD to focus with, I'm loving this camera. In my last posting (scroll down, you have to see this) I demonstrated the scope of the amazing 36X optical zoom lens. I'm still having a blast with that lens.
This past Sunday I took a walk around a local pond and experimented with some fun in-camera effects (that I discovered purely by accident while looking at the menus). Two of those effects are show here: the "soft focus" effect at top and then the "reflection" mode below that. There are others too: including a pop art filter (you end up with a purple and black silhouette basically), a fisheye lens effect (which is actually kind of cool), a watercolor filter and five others. These aren't the kinds of things I'd use seriously (I can create them better in Photoshop), but they are still a lot of fun to play around with--and everyone I've shown them too is getting a kick out of them. I thought both filters did a fine job of capturing the mood of an overcast November day in New England.
Too many people take cameras way too seriously. They're supposed to be fun and have an experimental nature to them, I think--that's how you learn what you like and it's also away to just break out of your day-to-day visual limitations. So, for me, discovering weird stuff like this in cameras is just great. Don't let people tell you that "it's just a gimmick" because hey, gimmicks are fun, too. When I was a kid I always wanted a Lite Brite set to play with (and never got one!) and guess what--I still want one! I think I was born being in love with light and color!
Holiday gift idea: If you're looking for something different and easy to buy for a Christmas gift, consider making a donation in someone's name to a worthy cause. One of my favorites is the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. The sanctuary is a non-public refuge where elephants that have been rescued from the circus or from zoos can live out their lives in dignity and peace in a wild and free environment. They deserve nothing less.