Dec 022004

I like my new camera so far. It has a good weight and fits naturally in the hand. The controls are all well laid out and very easy to understand without grabbing a manual. When it comes time to slip it in a pocket it feels pretty bulky for me – I am used to carrying one that is about 35% thinner and weighs half as much. It still fits in a pocket, which is the most important thing. I’ve only got the 16mb XD card that comes with the camera. I have 512mb in SD, but its useless, I need to go to Costco and load up on memory. Because of that I have been pretty limited (6mp pics are around 2.5mb each, 12mp is around 6mb) in the number of different shots before I have to download the card. The camera is USB2, so the download speed is very good.

It does quite well in low light situations compared with my old camera. I imagine it is gaining a lot from the AF light on the closer low light shots, but even outdoor shots at night seemed very good. I think it will be quite useable for night time shots with a tripod. The change I would have liked to see was a bigger shutter range – the max is 3seconds. From what I have seen they should have allowed more than that, as the CCD is very low noise, even at the higher ISO’s. Hell, even if there was a lot of bad pix in the picture you can clean that up in post processing.

The one thing that I found to be a bit strange was the flash. It is not automatic – you have to hit a button for the flash to pop up, and push it down for no flash. On most other cameras I have used the flash is determined automatically most of the time, and you have to manually suppress or turn it off by hitting a few buttons. After using the flash on this camera, I really like the implementation. My control freak side loves having a simple & manual flash. The flash shots that I tested by blinding the cat turned out quite well. Even in the big rooms and in hallways the range of the flash seemed quite good (10’+). Haven’t used it enough to know how much of a drain on the battery life it is.

Outdoor shots seem good as well. I tested a few this morning using very close range shots, playing with the focus on midrange stuff, and trying out the optical & digital zoom. Digital zoom is usually a completely retarded implementation on digital cameras, since you could do a better job in Photoshop afterwards. But when shooting in 6mp mode, the digital zoom on this camera shows a bit of promise. Since there are 2 sensors, they can interpol to 12mp – making the internal crop not as much of a butchery to the photo. Doubt I will ever use it though, will just shoot in 12mp and crop afterwards.

I’m not yet sure how much I will use one of the camera’s main selling points – widescreen mode. Since it is an internal crop, one could always do it as post processing. However, I did find myself playing with the 16:9 aspect, just to get an idea of how something would be framed. I wish they used the whole screen for other stuff when shooting in normal mode – it would be cool to see the picture and a histogram.

I will head down to the cove today at lunch to see how it does with more outdoor shots & water.

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