Saturday, November 18, 2006

My Canon IS S2 - A Review

I am receiving lots of compliments regarding my pictures, so I thought it would be appropriate to write a post about my camera.

I spent a great deal of time researching cameras so that I could get one that would keep me happy for years.

What was important to me in a camera is that it take pictures where the object (flower) is in focus, but the background would be blurry. In my opinion, it is impossible to take nice pictures of flowers if the blackground isn't blurred. This is called being able to control the depth of field, which with the old style of cameras was taken care of by adjusting the f stop. With digital cameras the term used is being able to adjust the AV (aperature value).

Other major considerations were the zoom ability. (Tip: ignore the digital zoom. It isn't really a zoom) Just pay attention to the optical zoom. The Canon IS S2 has a 12x zoom. Most digital cameras have a 3x zoom. My son, who travels a lot, pointed out that the advantage to a good zoom is that you can take pictures of people without them knowing it. In foreign countries this can be important, as both he and I consider it rude and intrusive to stick a camera in someone's face. Of course you can also take pics of people you know without them knowing it. I have also turned off the "click" sound.

One of the problems with a long zoom is that blurry pictures are more common because of your hand shaking when snapping the shutter. Hence there is a feature called image stabilization. That is what the IS stands for in the name of the camera. It truly works. I have yet to take a blurry picture!!

The zoom is fantastic for taking close-up pics of flowers. When reading the instruction book, I happened to pick up a comment that it said that if you use the zoom when taking a close-up, the background will be blurry. Good enough for me! So I just stand back a few feet, zoom in on a flower and it takes great pics. I don't even bother to work with the aperature value (okay, I tried once or twice but I wasn't happy with the results). Its just too easy!!!!

The Canon IS S2 also has a fold out screen that rotates. At first this made me nervous, thinking that it couldn't be very solid, but it certainly doesn't feel fragile. The advantages to this type of screen are numerous. First, the screen is protected. Second, you can take pics of people without appearing to be looking at the camera. This is really great for candid shots. And it is great for taking pics of plants. I have held the camera overhead and near ground level and the rotating screen makes that easy.

Why not get a digital SLR camera? Too many lenses to carry around and too expensive. I like having the telephoto (zoom) right there on the camera. No lenses to change. Simply move a button and the subject is closer. How easy is that!!

There are 2 cameras with similar features that are similar to the Canon IS S2 and those are the Panasonic FZ7 and the Sony DSC-H2. The former does not have the fold out screen and when I picked one up and snapped the shutter I couldn't believe how much less comforable it was to handle. Something as simple as the position of the shutter button on the Canon (and Sony) was amazing. The Sony also doesn't have the fold out screen and I prefer the SD memory cards because they have become the standard and are therefore much cheaper than any of the other memory cards. Also, the Sony can only be repaired in Texas. Not at all convenient when travelling or living in another country.

Due to the Canon IS S2 having a fold out display, the size of the LCD monitor is smaller than the Panasonic or Sony. That is the only disadvantage I have noted, however the fold out screen is more important to me than its size. I believe the new Canon IS S3 has a slightly larger screen. I see that it has dropped dramatically in price in the last 3 months.

It also takes excellent indoor pics under amazingly low light and without a flash. As a matter of fact the color is better without the flash.

I think that pretty much covers it other than that I wanted to keep the camera to a 5MP size. I really don't plan to blow up any of my pictures to a huge size, so 5MP is plenty. Cheaper too.

If you go to you can read many many owners' reviews of the cameras I mentioned. This feature at Amazon was very helpful to me in making my camera selection. The colored text above links directly to Amazon if you want to read the reviews.

By the way, the main complaint about the Canon IS S2 was the fact that the lens cap fell off easily. Mine has that problem fixed.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Where Did this White Stuff Come From?

As a kid we got excited when we got the first snowfall, but as I get older I find there is much less enthusiasm. So I tried to look on the bright side and sure enough, there were lots of great pics to be had:

Scabrosa rosehips


Mountain Ash berries

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Carex grayi

Carex grayi

This grass has the most amazing seedheads! If you want to read more about the plant simply visit this link Carex grayi.