New compact camera

(aka Vegas toys, exhibit 2)

It’s a while since I got back from Las Vegas, and I still haven’t posted everything I wanted to write about.

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to pick up a small digital camera as a sidearm / for situations when I didn’t have a DSLR handy. I’d previously owned a compact – a Fuji 5700 which was ~3-4MP, and which I’ve now passed on to my father-in-law. I got frustrated with that due to the lack of creative options as I was getting into photography more seriously, and moved up to the Canon EOS 350D. However, I’ve been to Vegas several times in the last few years, and not had a camera with me, so I was beginning to get itchy. And some days I just want to go out without a large bag with SLR and a selection of lenses!

So, I popped in to the large branch of Fry’s just out of town and spent some time browsing their selection.

I was pretty sure I wanted a Canon IXUS. I actually wasn’t going to force myself into it, but the selection criteria were essentially:

  • very small
  • optical viewfinder
  • 7MP or better
  • NOT taking Memory Stick (so Sony was out), and preferably not xD either (so Olympus and Fuji were not high on the list)
  • preferably with image stabilisation (IS)

Ixus 850 ISThe Canon PowerShot SD800 IS Digital Elph / IXUS 850 IS met all of those criteria. Although the LCD is 2.5 inch rather than anything larger, it retains the optical viewfinder, which both Ola and I prefer to have available alongside the digital display on the back.

The other IXUS on display was 10MP (I think) and cheaper, but had no IS. Besides, that many pixels on a small sensor are going to lead to more noise.

When the sales guy rang it through on the till, it ended up $50 cheaper than on the label, and they also threw in a 2Gb SD card for a knockdown price (the camera itself came with a <sarcasm>HUGE</sarcasm> 16Mb SD card… I mean… wow). The 2Gb is a slow card, so I’ll almost certainly pick up a faster one at some point, but it’s enough to be getting on with. The camera is also compatible with the new high capacity SDHC standard, too, so should be fairly future proof.

Credit has to go to the folks who came electronics shopping with me, for waiting while I dithered over whether to buy a camera at all; and to Alex and Ben for having the patience to put up with my verbal deliberations on the subject.

So far I’ve made use of it in Vegas, and on travels to Windsor and Edinburgh, and Ola has taken it to Paris. Impressions are good. It’s totally pocketable. Image quality is pretty good. The only issues I have are that the lens shows some distortion at the wide end, there is a little bit of fringing on some of the detail, and the exposure can be a bit… err, playful (but then, I’d rather not have to shoot against plain grey clouded skies). It’s not the same as a DSLR, and I need to accept that. I’m sure I’ve barely explored the functions yet, so I’m looking forward to using it a little more.

Images taken with the IXUS are tagged with ‘ixus’ on my Flickr photostream.

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8 thoughts on “New compact camera”

  1. I loved my canon pocket digital camera until it stopped working. Most of my photos on my flickr were taken with it. The new camera I got was a Sony DCN-1 which surprisingly takes good photos or at least photos I am happy with. I do miss having a viewfinder but at least I can take the memory card and stick it to my PSP 🙂

  2. Ixuses are cool – I used to take my old Ixus 400 with me on holiday for those times when the dSLR was just too bulky and noticeable. It finally gave up the ghost when I took it on a jet boat in New Zealand… The main thing I had a problem with when using it on the same trip as the SLR was the delay between pressing the shutter, and the photo being taken… oh, and the wait for it to power on.

    Nonetheless, I’m pretty pleased with the photos I got with it – it was my main camera for five holidays, and endured some pretty extreme climates – arctic Sweden, the eastern Himalaya, Japan and Peru.

    I think you’ve made a fine choice!

  3. Thanks Missy and Myk for your comments. So far I’m happy. It works nicely with Lightroom, which just imports directly from the camera. As I said, I’m still exploring the features, but it seems to be hitting the mark.

  4. I have a Fuji (9600 as it happens) and while it DOES come with an xD slot it also has a CF slot. So I’ve chosen to use the CF slot with the fastest card I can find. Works very nicely. So xD is NOT mandatory for Fuji.

    But I do endorse the “2 cameras” thing – carrying my babycam almost everywhere I go. The 9600 is for longer trips WHERE I DON’T RECKON ON HAVING IT STOLEN.

  5. […] My view is that yes, you’ll certainly get better results in terms of definition, detail, fuzzy/grainy-ness if you move up to a newer model of camera… most compacts start at around 5MP now, and the IXUS / Digital Elph I own has 7 (I think) which has been superb for outdoors photography and snapshots, although I’ve not used it in the context of the light tent. Here’s what I wrote about it back in May. […]

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