One of the benefits of the Internet is that I can read the manual for my new camera before it arrives in the mail.
Canon camera manuals are poorly done, and hard to read. I think that's because they're trying to squeeze all information into 228 half-size pages. Anyhow, I am perusing the PDF file for the SX110 camera, and while most of it is repetitive from other camera models (especially Canons), there are a few new items that intrigue me:
In safety zoom mode, the camera balances the maximum digital zoom with resolution to ensure images are not overly grainy:
- At max resolutions (9 and 6 megapixel) and widescreen mode, no digital zoom is available.
- At min resolution (0.3 megapixel or 640x480), the maximum 4x digital zoom is available.
- At inbetween resolutions (2 and 4 megapixel), the max digital zooms are 1.3x and 2.2x, respectively.
I think what's happening is that the SX110 makes use of the entire sensor surface at lower resolutions to magnify the image.
Multi-shot Self Timer
I seem to need to use the self-timer as rarely as once a year, and we all know the procedure: click the shutter, run over to the group, wait for the picture to be taken, and then run back to check if it turned out. Repeat as necessary.
When multi-shot is turned on, the self timer takes ten photos in a row.
Too Many Options
The drawback to digital cameras is that vendors can cram in too many options. One example is the SX110's many anti-shake modes: off, continuous, shot-only, and panning. I tend to use shot-only (anti-shake starts when the shutter is pressed half-way).
I am interested to see how this camera handles low-light situations, since I have a disdain for flash. I have become quite good at steadying the camera for evening, night, and interior photos with no flash.
Canon claims a max ISO of 1600, plus a simulated ISO 3200, although reviews say that ISO 400 is the max for clean images. Even 400 would be an improvement over my older cameras.
The SX110 has an ISO boost button, which ups the ISO (light sensitivity) in low-light situations. I think I'l find that handy. However, the G10 is even better, for it has a separate dial dedicated to ISO, just like film cameras used to have.
But ISO is not the only spec important to low-light photography; large aperture matters even more. This camera boasts f2.8, which is good for a consumer camera. (My old Canon G1 was f2.0, which let a lot more light come through.)
I tend to think of shooting modes as features invented by the marketing department. I find the clutter of modes annoying, but there are rare exceptions. The Fireworks mode on my current Samsung NV3 works really well, so we'll see what it's like on the SX110.
The continuous shooting mode is improved over my old S1is with live view. In the old camera, there was a lag in the viewfinder, so it was impossible to keep the camera trained on a moving subject, such as my figure-skating daughter.
Related to this is movie mode, which continues to be weak in Canon cameras. The max resolution is 640x480 -- good enough -- and the largest single movie file is now one hour or 4GB (improved over the S1is). However, Canon still lacks a pause mode, as found in my Samsung NV3.
I look forward to seeing how many pictures my 16GB SDHC card holds! Canon estimates 4,000 at the highest resolution and best quality -- and 122,000 at 640x480 and lowest quality.
(I used to own the first 1GB memory card for digital cameras, the 1GB micro hard disk from IBM. The drive broke down after a few years -- and there went $300.)
As I mentioned earlier, digital cameras have too many features. One that might come in hand is the ability to create folders. When on a trip, it would be handy to segregate photos by folders marked by the date -- the SX110 can create these date-segregated folders automatically.
My very first digital camera had a similar feature: the file name of each picture was today's date, with an increment counter. The first photo taken today would be 90411001 (2009, April, 10, 001). Very handy.
Curiously enough, the SX110 holds a maximum of 2000 photos per folder. I wonder how that number is arrived at.
This camera has no hotshoe, but you can buy a screw-on kit that reminds me of cheap film cameras of yesteryear. You screw in a bracket to the camera's tripod socket, and then attach the flash to the other end of the bracket. Usually a cable is required to signal the flash to go off, but there doesn't seem to be one for the SX110 -- maybe the signal is sent through the bracket.