Thursday, December 27, 2007

Canon SD1000

Canon SD1000My big gift this year was a small camera, the Canon SD1000. I'd wanted a decent second camera to complement my Canon S3 IS. Since the S3 takes a decent picture (for a non-SLR sensor), I only really wanted something that could fill in when I didn't have the S3 with me. I wanted something small enough to easily keep in a pocket at events but would still take a decent enough photo to share online or order 4x6 prints. I also wanted it to work well enough to take a decent enough photo (given enough light) that I could capture those spontaneous opportunities shots that pop up.

The SD1000 is tiny, half the depth of our older dying Canon S400. I've carried it in my pocket most of the time for the past two days and it's very easy to forget that it's there. It's roughly the same size and weight of my wallet.

I could write about 5 paragraphs about the features, but for the most part it's the basic Canon feature set that hasn't changed much since our old S400. So what's new or different?

Face detection. It's kind of cool to see it work live in the preview. I think Canon's is a little slower and error-prone than the little Fuji cameras I've played with at Best Buy, but it often finds a face. I turned off face detection and AiAF (Artificial Intelligent Auto-Focus) since I'm already in the habit of setting focus and exposure on the subject first then composing the shot.

Clock. If you hold down the function/set button for a couple seconds (or when you power on the camera) you get a clock display on the LCD screen, with the digits in cubes that flip as the time changes. You can change the background color with the left/right controls. If you rotate the camera you get the date in the display as well. I'm just fascinated by this feature. It probably took a firmware programmer a week of tinkering to add it but I think it's well worth it. I love cool hidden Easter eggs like that.

Time lapse video. Among the video recording options is a time-lapse setting. It will shoot a video at one frame a second (or two seconds). I think my half-full 1 gig card can hold 4 hours of video at that rate. If I'd realized that sooner I would have set the camera up on a tripod and shot the entire Christmas present bonanza with it. I'll have a lot of fun shooting kids doing stuff with this. I don't know how the battery life will work out in that mode though. I just wish it had some longer intervals available.

What don't I like about this camera?

There's no external power jack. It's not much of problem on what's a second camera for me or on such a tiny camera, but I don't think any of Canon's point-and-shoot cameras have them. The USB port could easily be used to power the camera. You can probably buy a special $50 battery shell from Canon to deliver external power -- you could with the S400. Ok. I looked it up. It's a special $70 AC adapter kit.

Battery. I like the tiny lithium ion battery. It's tiny. Tiny. It supposedly has a long life. The charger folds up almost as small as the camera. It all sounds good but I sure prefer AA cells so I can use NiMH rechargables or alkalines in a pinch. I know there's no way they can fit inside this tiny camera's shell, but I almost bought a larger Canon just for the ability to use AA cells. I'll probably buy a couple cheap replacement batteries on eBay. $10 can buy 2 generic spare batteries instead of $40 for one Canon branded battery. We did that for our S400 and they worked fine.

Weather / dust proofing. I briefly considered an Olympus model that is weatherproof. We have had very few problems with Canon cameras getting dust into places it shouldn't be but I know others have. Water's never been an issue.

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