All good things come to an end and my Sony started failing intermittently. When I discovered how expensive the repairs were and how poor the official Sony service centers were, I decided it was time to change camera brands.
Doug Thompson, a professional photographer, spoke highly of Canon service and reliability and my wife Gretchen has had excellent results with her Canon cameras, so I decided that I would find a Canon model that would give me good low light performance and would provide a zoom lens with at least 10X magnification.
There are so many models that it was hard to choose between them, but I ended up with a Canon PowerShot SX20 IS which has all the features I need for less than $400.
I won't bore you with specifications, but this is like having a camera attached to a 20X spotting scope. The magnification can be pushed to 80X with 20X optical and 4X electronic.
Here are two views of our ice-covered gravel driveway and both shots were taken from the shelter of the front porch. The ice-covered gravel in the right hand image is from the center of the frame of the driveway image. You are seeing what ice covered pea-sized gravel looks like from 25 feet away.
In the two images below, you can see two views of an ice-covered tree about 20 feet away, both shot from the shelter of the front porch. The branch detail is from the upper left quadrant of the tree picture.
Camera evolution is proceeding at such a pace that I fully expect that this camera will be obsolete in a year or so. I can't imagine what the next few generation of consumer cameras will look like, but I can guess that they will provide a Bluetooth connection so that one will be able to shoot and post the image online in one operation and they will capture images in much lower light levels.