I bought my first digital camera in 2003. It’s a Panasonic DMC-FZ1 and you can find a picture and review of it here. I bought it for a couple reasons: it’s 2.1 megapixels which looks acceptable if you’re printing 4x6s. It had options to shoot either 2 or 4fps at full resolution. 12x stabilized optical zoom and f1.8 meant it was very flexible. I went to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb shortly after purchasing the camera. The zoom was very useful as we could see ~11 turns and 700 feet of elevation change. I used the multiple frame mode to shoot cars going through turns and then assembled them with panorama software.
I stopped using my FZ1 when I got my N95 in 2007 since it was much smaller, 5 megapixels, and always on me. When I lost the N95 I got a G1, which is a 3.2 camera that shoots images that look like ass, just like its iPhone competition.
I’m talking about the FZ1 now because I recently put it back into service. I’ve been doing a lot of projects around the house and wanted better pictures for the blog. Using it again made me realize what I’ve been missing in a camera (I have no desire to be a DSLR person). The feature that really hooked me again was the manual white balance. I’m always working under fluorescents, sometimes with indirect sunlight; none of that matters since I can reset the white balance in less than two seconds. Having a real camera also means a functional macro mode. You get other nice features like being able to see the shutter speed the camera is planning on using so you can attempt to increase the lighting if it seems too slow.
It’s really been a great experience bringing back this piece of tech that I had pretty much written off. The only thing that’s missing is an Eye-Fi card to make it the perfect around the house camera.