Thursday, December 20, 2007

PowerShot SD950 IS Digital ELPH

The PowerShot SD950 IS Digital ELPH is Canon's latest and probably smallest digital camera. It looks great, with its rounded Titanium body. And it’s got lots of those great Canon camera features. So how does it stack up against my old favorite the S5 IS Powershot? and my wife's favorite too who loves taking here before and after weight loss photos with it.

Well the SD950 has the cool high tech optical image stabilization, face detection that Canon is known for. Apparently on the PowerShot SD950 these are next-generation versions of the technology. The LCD is the same size as the S5 but of course it does not swivel. You can’t expect that with one of the smallest digital cameras out there. Also the SD950 has what’s called a PureColor LCD screen. This has scratch-resistant and anti-reflection coating for viewing at multiple angles. Unfortunately the optical zoom is about 1/3 of the S5 Powershot optical zoom, 3.7x. Still pretty cool for a tiny camera like this.

It weighs around the same as the other cameras on Canon’s SD series, 5.82 oz – slightly more than the SD800 IS. The shooting speed is around the same as well: 1.5 fps. Faster than some, slower than others. Of course it’s much smaller and weights way less than the Canon S5 IS.

The resolution is 12.1 Megapixel. That beats out the S5’s 8 megapixel. How use that will be is debatable. For me, not useful at all. I don’t need to print billboards. Digital cameras nowadays are in a race to have the largest total pixel count regardless of how useful it is. If you like huge file sizes for your photographs, go for a digital camera with lots of megapixels.

The PowerShot SD950 has lots of shooting modes like the S5. Some are: Auto, Camera M, Special Scene (Portrait, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Aquarium, Underwater, ISO 3200, Indoor, Kids & Pets, Night Snapshot), Sports Mode, Color Accent, Color Swap, Digital Macro, Stitch Assist, Movie. The S5 IS appears to have a few more like Night Scene which rocks!

Of course being a later model camera, the PowerShot SD950 IS has all the later memory card options: SD/SDHC Memory Card, MultiMediaCard, MMC Plus Card, HC MMC Plus Card. The S5 has less options. And of course, being one of the smallest digital cameras, don’t expect external flash capability or lens attachments like the Powershot S5 IS.

The PowerShot SD950 IS Digital ELPH is not the cheapest digital camera on the market but it fairly priced at around $344 on amazon. The S5 IS is less at $320. Price-wise it’s a pretty much a tossup. So the decision is, do you like small digital cameras or feature rich digital cameras. Most people do like the small cameras based on digital camera sales these days. But check out what your missing, try the Canon S5 IS at digital camera stores in your area.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Smallest Digital Camera vs. Cheapest Digital Camera

I’ve been spending a lot of time praising my favorite digital camera, the Canon S5. But I’ve been reading many and digital camera ratings and reviews praising the Canon G9. The internet seems to really love this small digital camera (OK it's not the smallest Canon). I like the cheaper Canon S5 (OK it's not the cheapest.) Let’s put the 2 powershots head to head and talk about their advantages and disadvantages.

Canon certainly makes a lot of fine camera products (even dental cameras i think). The most popular right now are the SD400, SD450, SD600, etc, Canon XTI (expensive), Canon A710, and the newest G9. The G9 appears to be a favorite in most camera review sites I’ve seen. So, is the g9 or s5is better? Based on the press and digital camera ratings out there, you most likely would conclude the G9 is the best cannon powershot on the market right now. I disagree.

Advantages of the Canon G9
This new and popular darling Canon surely has some great features. Immediate noticeable is the huge LCD screen. This 3 inch screen is most impressive. The smaller screen on the S5 is a disadvantage, but it swivels! This is a great feature if you want to photograph yourself. No more guessing I in the shot? No clear winner here.

RAW Image Format
The Powershot G9 has Raw image format. The Canon S5 does not. For me, I don’t care. RAW image format is for professional photographers who want to deal with huge file sizes. I don’t. When rating cameras I don’t consider this capability an adavantage and I think the average consumer will never use RAW format. More likely they will accidentally use it and wind up with oversized, unwieldy image files. Cannon is receiving kudos for including the RAW capability on the latest digital camera, but for me, and the average consumer, it’s no big deal.

Digital camera batteries can be a love hate affair. The Powershot G9 has a custom battery. The S5 has off the shelf AA batteries. The G9 gets 240 shots with a fully charged battery. The S5 get 170 shots with a set of batteries. Replacing AA batteries gets expensive and annoying. Waiting for your rechargeable digital camera battery to recharge is annoying. No clear winner here.

Memory Cards
When comparing cameras we should talk about memory cards. The Canon G9 has a slight advantage when it comes to memory since it has more options. The G9 can accept SD/SDHC Memory Card, MultiMediaCard, MMC Plus Card, and HC MMC Plus Card. The Powershot S5 can only take the SD/SDHC Memory Card or the MultiMediaCard. The G9 wins this one although it’s not a terribly big deal in my book.

Who is the Smaller Digital Camera?
Everyone loves small digital cameras. Clearly the G9 wins the size battle. However the G9 is not really a pocket-sized camera. It weighs less than the S5 which weighs 15.9 oz; but still the G9 weighs 11.26 oz. That’s a bit bulky for a pocket, even a coat pocket. The G9 wins this one because the S5 is just not even close to being a pocket size camera. And the S5IS is larger in every dimension. Again however, the G9 is only slightly better in this regard.

Here we start to get into the strength of the S5: a 12x optical zoom. The G9 is clearly at a disadvantage with 6x optical zoom. Additionally the S5IS can optically zoom while shooting video. The G9 cannot. This is a huge advantage for the Canon S5 over the G9.

Again the S5 has the advantage in the Macro Mode category. The g9 can get within a centimeter of its subject in macro mode. The Powershot S5 can get right up against its subject – 0 centimeters. The s5 has super macro mode which provides this ultra close-up capability.

Which is the Cheapest Digital Camera?
Sorry G9. The Canon Powershot S5 IS is much cheaper than the G9. The Powershot G9 retails for $500. $437 on amazon. The S5 is only $320 on The cheapest digital camera is the S5.

Without a doubt I give a higher rating to S5IS. Go to a place where digital cameras are for sale and try out both cameras. Compare digital camera prices. I think when comparing the two cameras you will choose the S5. Small cameras are nice, but the superior features belong to the S5.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Extreme Close-ups with the Canon S5

In my previous post I mentioned the advantage of the Canon S5IS batteries: no waiting! Obviously the batteries are not the coolest feature of the Canon S5 IS digital camera. However, one of the coolest features is Super Macro Mode!

Closeups With The Canon S5
There are actually 2 close-up modes on the Canon S5, macro mode and super macro mode. With macro mode you can get within a few inches of an object and get a decent closeup. With super macro mode you can get REALLY close and get an impressive close-up photo. Super macro mode is a feature that clearly sets the Canon S5IS apart from other digital cameras like the G9 or G7. Dare I say it makes the S5IS better than the G9.

Extreme Closeups With The Cannon S5
Essentially with Canon S5 IS in Super Macro Mode you can get as close as you want to your subject. Your lens can literally be touching the subject. Can you do that with the SD powershots? I don’t think so. Here's a pic with the S5IS lens literally touching my monitor screen. Not only that, its super easy to use. Just put the S5IS in program mode and hold in the flower button on the side of the lens. Boom! Super macro mode. And just shoot like you normally do, just really close. Here's the typical flower closeup. The manual essentially glosses over macro mode and jumps right into super macro mode; probably because super macro mode on the Canon S5 is so cool! A lot cooler than Canon S5 batteries!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Always Ready Digital Camera

As I briefly mentioned in my last post, I’ve always buy canon cameras. I haven’t owned any other brand of digital camera and I don’t think I’ve owned any other brand of camera period. So when it came time to buy a new digital camera, the only question was which Cannon digital camera will I buy?

Obviously I bought the Canon S5 IS. I did it for a variety of reasons. There was one benefit I didn’t really think about at the time. The batteries.

Big Batteries, Big Camera
When I considered the S5IS, I was initially turned off by the fact that it used four (4) double A batteries. These things are practically antiques in the camera world. Most all digital cameras nowadays use a proprietary digital camera battery. My old Canon powershot had one. These big old AA batteries make the Cannon S5IS way bigger than it had to be.

A Digital Camera With No Waiting
Digital cameras like the Canon SD line come with only one proprietary battery. So when it dies you’ve got to recharge it and your camera is out of commission. That is unless you buy another battery which means more money. And I’ve never tried to buy one of these proprietary Canon batteries, but I’ll assume it’s a pain in the ass. Not like you can go to Rite Aid and pick one up.

When the S5IS batteries die you just pop in four new ones. Granted this can become costly after a while but you can buy a set of rechargeable double AAs for 20 bucks. A new Canon battery will cost you around the same. But one of the great things about off the shelf batteries is, you can always find some good ones ready to go. You don't have to worry about your backup battery being charged. This is great if you want to travel portugal and you forget to pack a battery changer.

So what I initially viewed only as a disadvantage, proved to give the S5 IS a leg up on the SD800, Canon G9 and other Canon powershot cameras I considered.

UPDATE: The battery life of my Canon Powershot S5 is seeming shorter and shorter with every battery change. I think it's time to invest in rechargable batteries for my favorite digital camera

Monday, December 3, 2007

Canon S5 - Zoom While Shooting Video

I mentioned previously that a great advantage of the Canon powershot S5 IS isthat you can zoom while shooting video. Now this is not digital zooming. Digital zooming is OK but the picture gets grainy as you zoom. Actually it is not OK. Digital zooming like on the canon g9 is not very useful. If you’re wondering whether the G9 or S5IS is better, this may be a deciding factor. The S5 provides a 12x optical zoom while shooting video. Highly useful! When it comes to video however, the S5IS has other great features.

Instant Video Mode
The Cannon S5IS has a dedicated movie button. What’s that? That means you don’t have to fiddle around trying to put the camera in video mode when your kid starts doing a cute little dance. This is great for me especially with two active young girls! The dedicated movie button on the S5 is just like one that you would see on a camcorder like the ZR850. And the button is perfectly located for quick access.

Canon’s Photo In Movie Feature
The Photo In Movie feature of the S5 is pretty nifty. While you are shooting video, you can just click a picture like you normally would. It’s nice to have those companion photos with your videos. The only disadvantage with this feature is that the video is interrupted with the still photo. So when you watch the video, at the point the picture is taken, the video freezes. A small disadvantage of the S5 IS, but since most powershots don’t have Photo In Movie, I’m nitpicking. Still, the Photo In Movie feature is awesome. For those comparing digital cameras, the G9 does not have this feature.

Other S5IS Movie Capabilities
There are a host of other video features of the Cannon S5 IS that sound great but at this point, I haven’t experienced. One of these features is Face Detection. Most certainly I have unknowingly used this feature of the camera since it’s the ability to detect human faces and adjust the focus and exposure accordingly. Pretty cool feature for a video camera!

Something else great for a camera to have is Long Play mode. With Long Play mode you can capture much longer stretches of 30fps video with your Canon S5. It can also capture 60fps video and 15fps as well. Also the camera has stereo sound recording and a noise filter to suppress that nasty wind sound you often get with other camcorders. The sound quality is not too bad but it would be great if you could attach external mics to the S5 IS. Well you can’t have everything.

When comparing the Canon S5IS to other digital cameras like the SD400, it has clear advantages. The video on the S5 is clearly better! If you need more expansive video capability you probably should be looking into a camcorder. If you already own one, enjoy these superb video features when using your camera.

Update: This feature is coming in handy for some too lazy to walk (sometimes) like me. LOL!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Why did I buy the Canon S5IS digital camera?

Well let’s start out with why I did NOT want to buy Canon S5 IS. It’s big. Not like the EOS Digital SLR, but it is much bigger than the Powershot G9 or G7. Those tiny cigarette-box-cameras are so small and convenient. They fit right in your pocket and they are just so easy to tote around. That’s a huge advantage in my book. So why did I sacrifice super portability?

Picture Quality
Since I had owned one of these small Cannon digital cameras already, Powershot S410 Digital ELPH (like the SD400), I was familiar with their shortcomings. The problem is picture quality. Not so much with outdoor shots. Indoor shots usually looked pretty poor. I am by no means a camera expert. I don’t want to spend time learning the ins and outs of focal lengths and apertures. I just want better pictures. And I want it to be easy. This lead me to the S5.

Great Features
The S5 has lot and lots of great features, but there were a handful that really sold me on the camera. So what were they?

12x Optical Zoom: The G9 and others don’t compare. When you take a good look at it, you see the s5 has a bigger lens. A good rule of thumb is that lenses that look bigger are better. The optical zoom on this thing is great. Don’t bother with digital zoom, optical zoom is the important thing.

Video: The Canon S5IS takes great video and you can optically zoom while shooting video. That’s like a real video camera. I've always been sold on Cannon cameras but this the first one I've had that takes such great video. Not only that you can take still photos while shooting video!

Flash: The flash on the Canon powershot S5 IS pops up and is centered over the lens, and when I bought the camera, my hunch was this flash would produce better photos. Well it does. I’m not sure exactly why, but flash photos with this camera look way better that my old Powershot.

Fast: When you press the button to take a picture, it takes a picture right away. No more missing shots like I did with my old Powershot. The response time seemed faster with the S5 IS than with Powershot G9 or SD850 as well.

Not only does it have all the cool features above (and lots more), the S5 IS was cheaper than the G9 and about the same as other Canon SDs. Price is sure part of the reason I usually buy Canon.

SciFi and steampunk fans need to read about Grandville by Bryan Talbot