Sunday, January 4, 2009

Canon PowerShot SX10 IS

As promised, here is my review of the Canon PowerShot SX10 IS. The main features toted in the advertising of this digital camera include:
  • 10.0 mega pixels
  • 20x wide zoom
  • Optical image stabilizer
  • 0 cm. macro
  • Variable angle 2.5" LCD
  • Red-eye correction
  • Face detection technology
  • Motion detection technology
  • Intelligent contrast correction
  • 30 fps / VGA stereo sound movies
I read other reviews of this camera and most everyone is very pleased with this purchase. The most common complaint was that the camera is difficult to hold. I admit that the first few times my husband and I picked it up, we accidentally pushed some buttons and the camera started doing its own thing. However, upon closer inspection we discovered that Canon placed a thumb point with little Braille dots on the back of the camera to show you where you are supposed to grip it. The rest of your fingers wrap around the front where there are no buttons. Once you get your hand in the intended position, it becomes a habit rather quickly. Here you can see how the thump bumps are placed just beyond some buttons...

This camera has so many features that it took me several days to read through the user guide. My reading comprehension is terrible. I'm more of a hands-on learner, so whenever I came across a feature I thought I might use, I tried it out on the camera. Other features I found by accident and was pleasantly surprised to discover how intelligently this camera had been designed.

For instance, my old camera was this Kodak EasyShare DX7630, which was nothing to sneeze at in its day. Here's a picture of it taken with the Canon on auto...

One of my struggles with this Kodak was that I would take a bunch of pictures, download them to my computer and forget to erase them from the camera's memory card. Some time later I would take more pictures, and download them to my computer, hitting the "transfer all" option, and next thing I knew I had duplicate photos taking up space on my computer that I had to delete. Kodak's software had a pick-which-photos-you-want-to-transfer option, but it took a lot less time to simply transfer all. Of course, not erasing the old photos was user error, but considering how often I made this error, I consider myself untrainable when it comes to changing the habit.

My son recently used my new Canon to produce a film about Julius Caesar for his history class. He had downloaded those movies to the Macintosh, but hadn't erased them from the camera's memory card. I then took some pictures of the horses and went to go download them to my Windows laptop. I realized that my son's Caesar movies were still on the camera and panicked, because I thought that meant having to delete them off my laptop. One of the Canon's software options is to only transfer untransferred images. I thought, "Hmmmm. Those Caesar movies were transferred to the Mac, but not to this laptop. It will probably transfer them."

I pushed the transfer-untransferred-images option, and only my horse photos were downloaded! It detected which images had not been transferred off the camera and was not concerned about which computer they had been transferred to. Brilliant!

My old Kodak only gave me the choice to either delete all or delete just one photo at a time off the memory card. That proved to be a bit of a pain. The Canon gives the following choices when it comes to erasing:
  • Erase single image or movie
  • Select range (first and last image) to erase
  • Select date of images to erase
  • Select by category
  • Select by folder
What a relief! An idiot-proof erasing process. You can also protect images from being erased and store them in a Favorites folder.

The variable angle LCD is something worth mentioning. It flips to face the person taking the pictures as well as to face the person who is having her picture taken. Therefore, if you want to take a self-portrait, all you have to do is flip the LCD around to face you while you hold the camera in front of your face. That way you know you've got perfect aim and you can see those stray hairs that are out of place as well as the chocolate smear in the corner of your lip. Also, if you tip your camera on end to take a portrait photo instead of a landscape photo, the LCD adapts to display your image right-side up. You can choose to review your images in either the viewfinder or on the LCD screen. You can also add grid lines and picture information in each location to check your spacing and settings.

You can crop your images right on your camera using the zoom, and you can splice multiple images into a panoramic photograph right there on the camera! There is a built-in flash which you can control with various options, as well as a location to add an external flash. You can even take still shots WHILE you are filming a movie. You can print your photos straight to a printer from the camera, which is nice for those who don't care to store their images on a computer. You can set up shortcuts for options that you use most often. You can turn the microphone on or off for movies, or just record sound with no picture.

The camera as well as the computer software includes an auto-rotate function, so that you don't have to think about how many degrees the photo needs to be rotated clockwise or counter-clockwise in order to get it upright. You can change the colors within your image as well as photograph in black and white. You can program customized settings into the camera if you are really professional and not reliant on that auto feature like I am.

One of the sillier features is the ability to change the sound effects that happen when you start up the camera, when you press operation buttons, when you use the self-timer, and when you press the shutter button. You can actually make your camera bark like a dog when you take a picture.

So, what are the negatives? The camera takes 4 AA-size Alkaline batteries. That's actually a plus because it saves you the hassle of having to go to a camera shop to buy new camera batteries, however the AA batteries that came with the camera ran out within a week of me using the camera. So, we installed rechargeable AA batteries, and those ran out a week later too, but at least I can just pop them out and recharge them. The trick is to get into the habit of recharging them after a few photo shoots and not waiting until you've got some great picture you want to take, only to discover that the batteries are dead.

This Canon model is quick to zoom and slow to auto-focus, which can sometimes make it difficult to catch those split-second opportunities such as when your horse yawns and makes himself look like an ass. For that reason, if you see a shot that you know you have to catch in an instant, don't waste your time on the zoom. Just shoot it and trim it later.

The camera is a bit heavy, though lighter than DSLRs, so I do use the neck strap. I don't think I'll take it with me on trail rides in my new horn bag, mainly because I don't want to risk the horse rolling on it or smashing it into a tree, but I will use it in every other picture or movie-taking opportunity.


dp said...

I played with my friend's the other day and was very impressed, but also noticed that the auto focus is slower than on my older version. I was surprised by how big it is, but it seems like a nice middle-ground between my pocket-sized PowerShot and David's D50. Enjoy!

Leah Fry said...

I looked at this one because of that 10x zoom, but I wanted a smaller one and ended up getting a sweet package deal on my Sony. I'm glad iPhoto does it all without the wonky software the cameras provide. I just set it up in there to automatically delete originals off the camera when I download pix. Can't wait to see some of those 10x shots!

Fantastyk Voyager said...

very very nice!!
Now I know why your pictures are so good!

deserthorses5 said...

I'm ready for a new camera myself! Thanks for the article! I'll have to go check out some cameras, although, at this point, I think I want a video camera.

AnnL said...

I do the same thing all the time with transferring the images. I never remember to deleted the old images and end up with 2 or 3 copies of them on my computer.

Nice, informative review. Thanks!

Andrea said...

Those are the best little cameras!! I think that will be my next purchase. And what a great review!!

Jennifer MacNeill-Traylor said...

Very helpful. I need a new camera soon and had this one on my list of ones to look into.

ranchette said...

Looks like a nice camera. And bless you, you read the manual! tehe! It always does take a bit of trial and error to figure out a new one, doesn't it?

I also share your concern about taking a big camera with me trail riding; I'm afraid of it either falling off and getting squashed or just getting squashed period. I've missed a lot of good trail shots, so maybe I need to start packing the little camera with.

C-ingspots said...

Great job!! I think you may have missed your calling dear. Product review 101 you get an A. Very nice camera, I almost bought that one myself, but ended up getting a Kodak Easyshare 10 mp with a 12x zoom. It was cheaper by a couple hundred and came with a rechargeable battery pack which sealed the deal for me. I love experimenting with new toys!! So much fun!! Have a blast, looking forward to awesome shots. Happy New Year!!

Callie said...

Funny, I've just given my birthday wish list to Steve and it includes a Cannon power shot! Well, and maybe an Aussie saddle, LOL!

lytha said...

please take some photos and show us the results!!!

Pony Girl said...

This review was great, I had actually just researched this camera a little myself for my next camera purchase! I really want an ultra zoom, but I'm not ready for the DLSR. I was also looking at the Nikon coolpix ultra-zoom. Let us know when you take some pics with the Canon so we can see what it does! :)

prairierunner said...

Great info. I've been looking at buying this one to replace my old point and shoot.
Thanks for leaving the link over at Sunday Stills too!!

Tammy said...

My older version of this same camera (3 megapixels!) just shot its last picture. I was on the fence about upgrading to this model because I like the older model so well or going to a DSLR. Your review helped. I think I am going to wait on the DSLR & go with what I've been successful with so far. Thanks for the review.