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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Improving the Ixus

by Eolake Stobblehouse
These two pictures are taken with my new Canon Ixus 60 (PowerShot SD600 in the U.S.). I had no idea Canon had continued to improve the Ixus. This one is great. Compact, nice mechanical feel and looks, good usability (for instance in show mode, the zoom lever zooms in on the picture!). And high picture quality. It is beautiful and small, even smaller than my beloved Fuji F10, and has the same image quality. Pin-sharp lens, low grain, six megapixels. It is probably the best carry-everywhere camera I know of.

Actually: only five years ago, a revolutionary camera was the Canon D30. For the first time, three megapixels became available for a somewhat affordable price: $3,000! Six years ago that would have cost you something like three times as much. Today I can buy a pocket camera with twice the resolution for $300! It staggers the mind.

I just tested the low-light capability: another positive surprise. ISO 200 is the same quality as 100, 400 is very good, and even 800 is usable, which is highly unusual on such a compact camera. On my much larger Nikon 8400, even ISO 200 is very grainy. Big cudos to Canon for this development. (This was the raison d'etre of the Fuji F10, but it seems they are getting competition now.)



Blogger Fazal Majid said...

The Fuji F10 has been superseded by the F11 and now the F30, which has perfectly usable ISO 800. Part of why the Fujis have such high sensitivity is their relatively large 1/1.7" sensors, compared to a paltry 1/2.5" for the Canon.

Of course, the real holy grail is a digital Contax T3 or Olympus Stylus Epic with an APS-C sized sensor for true high sensitivity (without detail-destroying noise processing). Unfortunately, sensor sizes have been going down rather than up in compact digicams, 3 years ago most midrange compacts like the Canon S30 has a 2/3" sensor.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Carsten Bockermann said...

The one thing I really like about the ELPHs (or IXUSs, as they are called over here) is that they have an optical viewfinder. While the picture quality of my Panasonic FX8 is very good, I hate the fact that I have to use the LCD all the time.

2:07 PM  
Blogger JohnL said...

you have obciously never tried the casio range of cameras then

4:04 PM  
Blogger Sam Merrell said...

Another great Canon point and shoot: The A620. It's quite a bit larger than the ELPHs (it still fits inside your pocket, barely), but it also delivers aperture and shutter priority shooting with a 1/1.8" CCD.

4:54 PM  
Blogger eolake said...

I like using the LCD. It frees up the viewpoint level.

It still seems that a digital camera of a certain chip size will be much larger than a film camera with similar film format. But fortunately the noise handling is improving rapidly, I just hope autofocus speed will too, so we can get a great compact street camera soon.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Bob Casner said...

I want a pocket camera like my old Olympus XD with a APS sized sensor, too, and don't leave out the optical viewfinder! By the way, 6MP does NOT give you twice the resolution of 3MP, with Bayer pattern sensors (virtually everything except the FOVEON equipped Sigma DSLR), you have to QUADRUPLE the pixel count to double the resolution.

7:29 PM  
Blogger pbizarro said...

The Canon Ixus 800 IS is even better, since it has IS.

1:25 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

It's not just the sensor size, though that probably plays the greatest role. If you compare the noise performance of a Fuji Z1/Z2 also with a 1/2.5" Super CCD, I'll be willing to bet you a $64,000 No-prize that it's going to be less noisy at all ISO's than any equivalent traditional CCD camera. Fuji really have a fundamental advantage here with their sensor technology. They've been moving in this direction since the E550/F810 from a year or two ago. It'll be interesting to see if they can spin it into a real impact on the market. (So far it doesn't look like it.)

4:33 AM  
Blogger fivetonsflax said...

I, too, yearn for a digital compact with a large sensor and an optical viewfinder. Maybe someone will deliver with a competitor to the Epson RD-1.

Bayer is not the reason you need quadruple the pixels to double the resolution. The reason is much simpler: CCDs are two-dimensional, and you need to double the resolution in both dimensions.

9:09 AM  
Blogger dyathink said...

what am i not getting? Both of these photos look like they're printed on vinyl. They're just a few steps up from the results i get on my Nokia 6130 cellphone camera but cell phone shooting is, well, what it is and that's all we expect (or want) it to be. As far as it goes, i far prefer the photo below of Mozart's wife. It has blemishes, tears, stains, but soul to the max. These two digi samples look like a plasticized driver's licenses. And i've had 5 digital cameras and love them. But if i received results like these, even going back to my very first Sony Cybershot 3.3MP P&S, well i would have given up at the get go.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Dave New said...

When my wife's old Minolta Dimage X somehow mysteriously broke (grandkids suspected, but not convicted), I took the opportunity to upgrade her to a Z1, mainly because of it's ability to take practically noise-free pictures at ISO 640 in dim lighting situations, due to the SuperCCD technology.

I would have wanted to get whatever the current Canon digicam offering was at the time, but frankly, they were (and still are) the 8-ball when it comes to putting togethere a compelling package that combines a camera about the size of a pack of cards (that doesn't have a dumb telescoping lens) and shoots beautiful pictures at elevated ISOs.

I'd like to have a small digicam of some sort, so I always have something in the glove box (for instance), as opposed to dragging out the ol' DSLR kit. It would have been handy on my recent fishing trip, as I was loath to drag the DSLR along in the boat, where worms, fish slime, beer, sweat, suntan lotion, and maybe a little rain or splashed lake water would have been encountered.

I'm still turned off by most of the available options in digicams, though. None of them would be as handy as the twin-lens (wide/tele) Olympus water-resistant compact 35mm film camera would be. They all suffer from noise problems, small sensors, annoying shutter and focus lag, and miniscule flashes.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Does it have a battery display yet? That's the omission that annoys me the most about the otherwise brilliant IXUS 500.

3:11 AM  
Blogger eolake said...

Hm, I don't see a battery indicator. Indeed an odd omission, though I had not thought about it.

Dyathink: apart from lack of manners, it does seem you're missing something. I don't see what's wrong with the pictures, and you're no help.

8:05 AM  
Blogger dyathink said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:35 AM  

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