Friday, July 28, 2006

The Canon Powershot SD 700 IS

No, this is not going to become consumer reports but last week I also purchased a Canon point and shoot camera to replace my old Powershot. I love my EOS (which is a single lens reflex camera) but there are lots of times when I want to take along a tiny camera that I can shoot with.

On last Sunday, I dropped my older Powershot and its function door chipped making the switch unreliable. I can fix that with some tape and will now use that camera (which is 4 megapixels) for my fishing camera. But I decided to replace that with a newer model.

A word on brands. Photographers are like many other hobbyists. They fall into at least two categories - Canon or Nikon. I happen to be a Canon person but Nikons also have a lot of features. In the early days of digital photography I had a Nikon which had terrible battery life and was relatively slow. I bought a Canon and was satisfied and thus switched. My SLR (Single Lens Reflex) is a older model EOS (the original 10D) but it is fine for the kind of photography I do. At some point I might buy a newer model - but the current features of my SLR are fine. Once you get into a brand you are often stuck - with lenses and other accessories - which work on the other brand but not as well. So if you are getting into a new and expensive camera check out both brands (and then buy the Canon!)

The Canon has a lot of nice features that my older Powershot did not. It has a faster chip - which means a lot of good things - faster image processing and a much better acceptance of light. On my blog there is a post about our trip to the Napa wine country which could not have been taken with my old camera. A second good feature is related to the flash. On the old Powershots when you turned the camera off it went back to its default - which meant if you were shooting in a place where flash is prohibited - you needed to reset the camera every time you took a shot. That problem has been fixed. A second new feature is an oversized LCD. One of the benefits of digital cameras is the instant gratification - but a small LCD requires you to pull out your glasses to see the image - on this camera that is no longer true. A third feature is image stabilization - that means when you do a slight movement during shooting the camera figures that out and stops it in the image. My old Powershot did a good job with Macros (close up shooting) but this one is even better. The criticism of it has been its price (about $500 for full retail). There is a full review of it at Digital Photo Review.

The comparison between Nokia and Canon could not be more stark. The Canon documentation is excellent and clear. It answers the questions you need to have answered. The Canon site is also much better. I have also used their phone assistance and when I last used it they were very helpful. At one point when the EOS was new I spent about 40 minutes with a technical support person resolving a problem. Instead in infinite hold, I was able to get through to a person in a relatively short wait. On a second instance, where I had dropped a lens, the tech worked me through some tests to assure it needed to go to service and only then did he set me up for service. Both of those instances convinced me that Canon cared about their products and their customers. Thus, when I bought this new camera, I looked only at Canon alternatives.

This is ultimately a consumer society, and we have choices. Nokia, at least in the instance with the 770 did not seem to get that, Canon does.

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