Archive for November, 2009

November 7, 2009

Posted in Nightscapes with tags , on November 16, 2009 by Garion

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Canon S90 – A short Review

Posted in cameras with tags , on November 15, 2009 by Garion

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In a nutshell the new Canon S90 resembles a prosumer camera but with DSLR-like controls hidden in a P&S style body. Most importantly it has to be stressed that this is NOT a DSLR replacement – its never meant to be one. This cam is aimed at a specific niche started by the 1 yr old Panasonic Lumix LX3 – now deservedly well on its way to being a cult status camera amongst photography enthusiasts, and also its closest rival.

As with all new cameras the S90 has a learning curve before one is able to extract the best out of it. I’m still experimenting to figure out the best settings and tweaks for it. More importantly, Canon really put a lot of options and ability for custom settings into it – this is definitely no simple “point and shoot” as it appearance belies – you’ll need to play with settings and the image files probably do benefit from a bit of PP – similar with most DSLR files. If you are looking for pure no brainer PnS – stop here and look at the cheaper Ixus models instead.

Following are a few random samples shot at ISOs ranging from 200 to 800 – as most folks would be interested to see how the hi ISO performance stacks up. All images no PP other than resize and slight USM. All images shot handheld.

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ISO 800 - Sample

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ISO 400 Sample

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ISO 200 - Sample

The thing that really stood out for me most when I first used this camera under low light conditions was not its reputed performance at hi ISO, nor the f2.0 lens (albeit only at 28mm), but its IS – Image Stabilizer system. The IS really WORKS LIKE A DREAM!  I would never have imagined a digital compact capable of such a feat, until this little wonder came along. For that alone, the camera is nearly worth the dough.

IQ and noise: Noise starts creeping in at ISO 400 and above and noise artifacts are readily present at ISO 800 if zoomed in 100%. This is a fact – this is where the tiny sensor loses out soundly to APS-C format (DSLR). However if you downsize for web or print lesser than 8R, the IQ should remain very decent. Still, its a very good performance considering its from a tiny compact. Noise aside IQ is generally excellent tho the WB occasionally goes a bit wonky under street or fluorescent lighting at night with occasional greenish cast appearing. Re: barrel distortions at wide angle – none visibly noticeable so far – the lens correction algorithm in camera seems to work fine.

Controls & ergonomics: A lot has already been written abt the ‘loose’ rear dial so I’ll skip it. Generally controls well laid out but will take a while to get used to it – 1st time it seems clumsy & awkward to press buttons and switches but you’ll soon get used to it. The camera menu system is clear and quite intuitive. I found best way to hold the cam when snapping is to hold it via the top and bottom panels with both hands – your index fingers and thumbs gripping in a ‘C’ shape. Build quality is somewhat average – although the body is mostly metal, I handled it and the LX3 and I think LX3 has a more solid, reassuring build.

Summing up:

What I like:

  • Small size – very easy to slip into pocket
  • FULL manual controls
  • Customizable Control ring around lens brilliant and intuitive concept
  • RAW capability
  • Excellent Image Stabilizer (IS) – a MAJOR plus and godsend!
  • Very good IQ – better noise control than most similar class compacts especially at higher ISOs

What I don’t like:

  • Very poor grip due to slippery front surface
  • Poor continous shot to shot performance (rated only 0.95 fps)
  • RAW files can only be processed in DPP – 3rd party software does not include barrel distortion correction capability.
  • Rear control dial – great way to scroll thru menus but can be really annoying at times when setting inadvertently changed due to its ‘looseness’
  • No HD video (a fairly minor niggle really)

Its simply amazing how far technology has come. Who would ever have thought a few yrs ago that a compact camera could be capable of such low light feats (handholding at moderately low-mid ISOs) and getting clean shots w/o aid of a tripod? The S90 has accomplished that and more. Thanks to the gauntlet thrown down by Panasonic’s LX3 a year or so ago, Canon has finally revived its ‘S’ line with a new model worthy of standing on its own against the LX3 and other competitors.

If you are looking for a go around companion to your DSLR in a compact package or just something to play around for fun shots when you’re on the go, this camera is the one to get for now.

1st post! + a New Toy

Posted in Lightpixels, Updates with tags , on November 15, 2009 by Garion

Ok this is my first post on WordPress hahah. Basically still trying to get the hang of this thing, so do pardon me.

So this is basically a photoblog, where I will share random digital photos taken.  I got the idea of the name from the two basic elements of digital photography, which is “light” + “pixels”.

I bought a new digicam recently, the Canon PowerShot S90 IS.  Review shall be posted shortly … stay tuned!

As always, appreciate any comments! Thanks!