Posts Tagged Canon

Canon SX200 IS

canon_sx200_isI had been looking at the Canon SX200 IS ever since it was announced. Had this camera been announced sooner, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the 18-200 IS lens for my DSLR. When I was deciding whether or not to purchase that lens, one of the factors was whether I would be happier with a compact camera since the primary purpose of the lens was for traveling. At the time, I decided that there weren’t any compact cameras available that met my needs.

Just over a month later, the SX200 IS was announced. I immediately wanted it, but was hesitant due to the fact that I already had the 18-200 IS lens for basically the same purpose. I mentioned in the write-up of our March cruise that there were a couple of issues with that lens that definitely had me thinking more seriously about the SX200 IS. However, I wanted to try it out first hand to see how I felt about the shutter lag and other hands-on issues. Soon, I saw that Costco was carrying it for a decent price, but when I went by the store, they didn’t actually have it yet. Being uncertain still, I was patient.

Then it happened. On the day Wayne and I were leaving for Santa Fe, I decided to stop by Costco again. I suddenly decided that it would be very convenient to have a compact camera for the trip, though I was still taking my DSLR and all its gear. Therefore, when Costco had the SX200 in stock, I only had to play with it for a minute or two before I decided to purchase it. Honestly, I probably would have bought it even if I hadn’t been able to try it out first, as by this time I’d been looking for it long enough that I wasn’t completely rational about it any more. Plus, Poppy got one.

That was just over two weeks ago, and since then I’ve definitely grown to love this camera. Don’t get me wrong, I love my 40D more, and I even like my 18-200 IS lens, despite its short-comings. But this SX200 IS is great. I like the HD video (720p). I like that it has custom modes for controlling shutter speed, aperture or both. I also like the Scene modes, like Sunset (image at left) and Stitch Assist (which shows a portion of the previous shot to let you line up the next one for panorama shots). I love that it has 28mm wide angle and 336mm telephoto. And I love that it fits in my pocket.

That’s not to say that it’s perfect. The multi-shot is too slow (about 1 shot per second). The flash takes too long to recharge (not sure, but I’d guess 3-4 seconds). Neither of those issues bother me very much as I can use my DSLR in situations where those things really matter. The one issue I’ve had that has bugged me is a real difficulty using Macro mode with flowers. I’m not entirely sure what the issue is. Sometimes I think it is just an issue with the focus range of the various modes, but then I seem to be able to take good Macro shots of things like bottle caps (image at right). Other times I think it is just that the camera isn’t very good at focusing on the generally low  contrast of a flower, but then I try manual focus and still can’t seem to get it right. Oh well, the close-up flower shots should really be taken with my amazing 24-70mm Canon lens on my DSLR, anyway.

One unexpected use case I’ve found is carrying both my 40D with the 18-200IS lens and my SX200 IS in HD Movie mode. Then I can take stills with the superior frame rate and other advantages of my DSLR, and then just pull the SX200 out of my pocket to take some short video.

Ever since my Olympus 2100UZ back in the early part of the decade, I’ve been addicted to ultra-zooms. I switched to DSLR several years ago, selling the Uzi shortly thereafter. I did by one non-zooming Sony compact a few years ago, but that was a mistake. Now, finally, there’s a pocketable ultra-zoom that I like. I’m glad to have it as an addition to my arsenal so that I can have a much more ever-present camera and can take it places where my 40D is simply too much trouble to carry. I’m glad that I took my DSLR to amusement parks and such when my kids were younger, but now that there in their pre-teens (or close), the SX200 will certainly be sufficient for capturing future memories.

I highly recommend the Canon SX200 IS for anyone that wants a serious zoom that fits in your pocket.

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Cruise Highlights

Friends and coworkers keep asking how our cruise was, and my answer is generally along the lines of “meh”. However, the more I think about it the more I realize that that answer really isn’t fair. The vacation itself was actually very nice and relaxing and I had a wonderful time. The ambivalent feeling I have is really because I wanted the cruise to be something special. Instead, I came away thinking that I would have enjoyed a resort more.

As always, the devil is in the details. First, there’s the money. For an “all-inclusive” deal, Carnival sure spent a whole lot of energy trying to nickel-and-dime their guests. From the “Soda Card” I bought to the photo prints they offered for sale to the threat of fees if you lost any towels to the very over-priced bar drinks, it was difficult to not spend additional money.

Next, there’s the issue of time in ports. There simply not enough of it. The truth is, I’m sure there are many people who really enjoy the ship-board activities: drinking, hanging out by the pool, gambling at what passes for a casino and, well, eating. But I’m not really one of them. Well, except for the eating part. Then, when we finally get to a port and can leave the ship, we have to be back in time for the ship to leave port by 3 or 4 PM. I’d much rather leave at around sunset. I think those extra three hours in port would be very handy.

There are other things, like the food selections available at certain times of the day or even the specific foods unavailable during regular meals in the dining room, but I think that’s enough negativity. After all, I really did enjoy my vacation. My favorite parts were driving a 6-speed Jeep Wrangler around Cozumel and watching flying fish jump out of the wake from the ship and re-enter the ocean tens of yards away. (Look closely at the last shot below and you can see one of them.)

Here are some of the highlights from the pictures I took. (More can be found on my photo album site.)

Oh, and about the Canon 18-200 mm IS lens for which this trip was the real test? The results are mixed. I love the versatility of the lens and had no trouble with focus accuracy or speed. However, there was quite a bit of vignetting and pincushioning in a lot of the images. It was the only lens I took on this trip, so all of the images above were shot with it. The question I have yet to fully answer for myself is whether I am happier with this lens than I would have been with a compact super-zoom camera like the upcoming Canon 200SX IS. I think the answer is yes, but I’m just not certain. Without these two issues, the answer would be a definitive yes. Now, I think I’ll have to take another look at that camera when it comes out, along with its competitors.

The other result of this lens test is that I am that much more interested in the Canon 70-200 f/2.8.

PS: If you haven’t stopped by my photo blog in a while, please do so. Thanks!

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New Lens

Yesterday, I finally made a decision and ordered a new lens for my Canon SLR camera. It was a surprisingly difficult decision due to a number of factors. The rest of this post is probably not particularly interesting if you’re not into SLR photography, so it’s after the break (click the post title).

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