Saturday, December 26, 2009
Walking around with a small camera
I had wanted a pocketable camera, something that could be on my person without announcing its prescence to all the world and also produce pictures of reasonable quality.
I spent some time on Christmas reading the S90's manual. Endless options and complications of the sort that delight people who want to be able to adjust lots of things.
And, some nice features including a decent sensor, the ability to shoot RAW pictures, an interesting arrangement of controls including a control ring around the lens with variable functionallity, an f2.0 lens and the claimed ability to take pictures in low light (ISO 12800). On top of that, endless special modes for all conceivable kinds of photographic situations from fireworks to fish in aquaria.
I played around with it at home. Trying to get the hang of a few of the features could be frustrating at times but was helped by the explanations that showed up on screen when using menus.
I posted some shots from the camera. While it is obvious that they are not as good (not as much resolution, more noise) as those from a DSLR with a good lens, I wonder if they are good enough for typical purposes, e.g. posting on websites or small prints.
The S90 has a lot of features that I have barely begun to explore. In some ways I want two, perhaps contradictory, things from it. I want a point and shoot that takes no effort to use while producing good pictures and secondly I want a small camera that has the ability to let me control it completely both in how it takes the shot and how that shot is processed. The camera seems to satisfy the second, time will tell how well it satisfies the first.
If you are used to a DSLR then controlling a small camera is frustrating. Instead of things being done with convenient and sturdy controls you end up dealing with tiny buttons, tiny dials and the need to resort to menus for what might wish were easily accessible functions. The S90 is no exception. It does try hard to be easy to use and even has a programmable S button and the ability to set up user menus. Most of its menus and functions were easy to use although a few required a bit of manual reading.
This is not intended to be a review of what is a very complicated and powerful little camera. There are lots of those reviews out there. I have just written about my first walk around with the camera; if I get another decently warm day I may give it another try.