Canon S90 at CanonTuttle

Canon sponsored this week’s Tuttle Club, so not only did I catch up with Tuttle folk in London, I got a chance to see some of the kit from the Canon Pro Solutions Show in more detail. The video here was shot at Tuttle, with special thanks to Brian Condon for playing camera man and operating the Canon SX200is this was shot with. By the way, this is possibly one of the last shots of me with the Movember Mo. click HD or watch on the S90 Video on Vimeo to see a higher quality version. I’m even speaking in Web 2.0 now – “favourite-liked” indeed:

I’ve raved about the PowerShot S90 before – it’s a very high quality and very small camera in a very competitive market space these days. I purchased the SX200is for times when I go without a Digital SLR, like these shots at the movember party. The S90 is a notch above the Sx200is, in terms of both price and features, but it turns out it isn’t a straight forward comparison. Firstly, playing with the camera in the darkest corners of LEON, here is a mix of shots taken with my 5D Mark II and the S90:

Some shots from Canon Tuttle (on the S90 and the 5D Mark II of course)

It lived up to my expectations. Remember, the shots there are a mixture of the S90 and a big DSLR that is almost ten times the price. Yes, you can tell the difference, and no, I’m not trying to compare them (click through on a photo and look at the additional information on the right hand side of the Flickr page to see which camera took which) – Just saying that you can use the two together or substitute when needs must – it isn’t always easy to carry the 5D Mark II around all evening during a party.

The S90 is quite a bit more compact that the SX200is, and better in low light. It goes up to 3200ISO compared to the SX200is’s 1600, and the aperture range is f/2-f/4.9  versus f/3.4-5.3 – remember, small is good ;). Combined, that’s a quite a bit of extra range in the dark. What I’d loose in going to the S90 is the hyper-zoom capability  – the SX200is has a lens that is equivalent to 28mm-336mm, while the S90 reaches to 105mm. A 105mm zoom is none too shabby, and is more that enough for most photography. However, 336mm is an insanely long zoom, and one of the things that attracted me to the SX200is – I can’t travel with a zoom lens that large for my DSLRs, but the SX200is fits in my pocket. I can’t say I’ve used that level of zoom very often, but it does come in handy.

The S90 fixes one of my minor niggles with the Sx200is – it has a motorised flash that only comes up when it is needed. Only a cosmetic thing, but a nice touch. The s90 also has an extra dial around the lens, which is configurable for fast one-handed adjustments. It is one of the features that really grabbed my attention. The two cameras seem to share the same lovely 3 inch wide-view LCD display, and both support video – the S90 also adds in stereo sound recording. And here things get a little odd. The S90 doesn’t record HD video, or support 16:9 (wide screen) video – unless you count 480p as HD… to be fair, 720p is probably over kill in this format, but the lack of it might put off the ‘box ticking’ buyers, which is a real shame as this is a great camera.

Now, I’m going to let you into a secret: I looked at the new PowerShot G11 as well. I’d ignored it, because quite frankly it looked like a bunch of kids had gone nuts with mecano. It’s got dials and buttons EVERYWHERE. It’s another step up in price from the S90, but still a 10.4 Megapixel camera (the Sx200is is 12.4  – there really isn’t much in it). However, it shoots in RAW mode, which means more chance of rescuing borderline photos in editing back on the Mac/PC. The lens is 28-140mm equivalent, giving a bit more zoom. It’s quite a lot bigger, and double the weight at 12.5oz /355g, but it’s an all together more serious camera. The screen is a little smaller, but flips out and angles, and there is a hot shoe connector for an external flash. It also has a built in view finder, which I actually found quite fun, compared to holding a camera at arms length and looking at a screen.

You’ve probably figured out by now that there are some subtleties to picking out a high end digital camera, you need to think carefully about your budget and what features are most important to you. The S90 nicely slots into the range – if I was after something very high end, like the PowerShot G11, but in a much more compact form, then the S90 looks the business. For a compact camera with full DSLR features, I’d now give the G11 a serious look. All those dials and knobs make it very fast to operate. It is quite big and chunky, but there again it really is pushing the envelope of what a little digital camera can do and is a fraction of the size of a DSLR, even the diminutive 1000D. The PowerShot range now goes in almost every direction from waterproof to bullet proof (almost).

Do remember in all of this, that I’m a bit odd in a) doing lots of candid photography in dark venues (that doesn’t sound good does it? :) ) and b) my general refusal to use a flash. All of these cameras have very nice built-in flashes which will get you great shots. Flash just isn’t my style. I’m still very happy with my SX200is, its extended zoom range, HD video support and it’s good looks will keep it in my kit bag for a while to come!

Thank you to Canon for coming out to play, and supporting Tuttle. It made for a great morning!

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