A reader emailed to ask me about the camera I use for my various photography efforts. Since the answer might be of interest to other folks, I am posting a lightly edited version here:
There's actually three cameras in my mix.
Most of the photos are shot with a Canon SD550 in full manual mode. I'll typically control for lighting source, brightness and film speed. A lot of the work is in either optical or digital macro mode, and I very rarely use flash.
I also have a Pentax Optio W30. That's mostly for adverse weather and beach use, because it's a lot tougher and better sealed than the Canon. The Pentax is often the "B" camera on normal photo outings, especially if the_child and I are both shooting. We usually leave it in auto mode.
lasirenadolce has a Nikon D70, and some shots come from that equipment. (For example, part of the recent missile silo series was taken with her camera, some shots by me, some shots by the_child.)
FWIW, I love the Canon dearly. I don't have the patience to sling an equipment bag for a digital SLR most of the time, so I haven't bothered to purchase my own. (I borrow lasirenadolce's when I need one.) The Canon's form factor is perfect for my hands and my usage pattern, and the image quality approaches stellar, except for some saturated reds and oranges in floral photography.
The Canon is incredibly versatile and shoots very well at macro and portrait length, and reasonably well in general photography. Like almost all small cameras it struggles with landscape shots and infinite fields, which is why I'll probably eventually buy a dSLR — larger CCD array and larger lenses.
My only complaint about the Canon (and the predecessor which I also owned for a while) is that it's delicate. Low tolerance for drops and bangs, and very low tolerance for dust and sand. I've spent more on repairs now than I spent on the camera initially, all related to wear and tear from ordinary use in the field (rather than electronic malfunctions, for example). That's why I bought the Pentax — something for rain, beach, hiking, etc.