You may have seen in earlier posts some photographs that moi has clicked in the past. Those were all shot using an analog SLR of Seagull (China!), 2002 make, with just the camera body and a 35mm focus (no zoom) lens. The image quality is fantastic: unbeatable sharpness and above all, the satisfaction of hearing a loud "click" on pressing the shutter button every time, and winding the film after every shot... what joy!
However, the absence of a zoom, the suspense of having to wait until exhausting the entire roll of film and the difficulty in finding a good colour lab (believe me, it IS difficult) meant just one thing: move on to a digital camera.
And yours truly did. Though not a DSLR (woe... that will have to wait), its a handy point and shoot digital still image camera. I should confess, part of the inspiration to get a digicam came from Meenal, who complained of having to hold a pose long enough for me to evaluate the lighting conditions, adjust the shutter speed and aperture and finally click the snap on my analog SLR.
The new camera is a beauty. It's a Canon Powershot A 570 IS. Though meant to be a point and shoot, it has enough manual controls for the novice, and keep me from ruing about the lack of "control".
The basics: this one comes with 4x optical zoom (won't even mention the digital zoom, for I consider digital zoom redundant, and a marketing gimmick), which is about the same as a 140 mm zoom on a 35mm equivalent, and 7.1 megapixel, which is way more than enough for those quick "on the fly" or "picnic" shots. And it has an added face recognition function which is very effective for portraits and image stabilisation (thats where the IS comes from) for those really shaky hands, though I have not been able to conclusively demonstrate that the IS function is good.
Now for the auto and pre-set modes. I found the auto mode quite good - managed to click decent shots in low light and excellent ones in good light. The by now standard landscape shot mode and macro function (upto 5 cm!) are present, though the auto focus goes for a toss in the macro function. And yes, it has a manual focus function as well, though I am yet to figure that one out. In addition to the night shots, kids and pets and indoor shooting modes, it has seven pre-set shooting modes (aquarium, underwater, beach, snow, foliage, fireworks, night scene) for those wanting a bit of creativity. For the more adventurous and lion hearted, it lets you play with almost all controls: aperture (though limited to 5.5 to 8.0), shutter speed (upto 1250), ISO (80 to 1600, though after 400 the image gets increasingly noisy), white balance, colour settings, metering, flash output (unfortunately in only 3 discrete gradients), image size and quality. And believe it or not, it comes with an adaptor ring to accomodate a macro lens (upto 2 cms!), telephoto (2x) which of course, are not part of the standard kit.
It has a red eye reduction function and oh yes, it can even shoot movies! Though I have not explored that bit yet.
In terms of the hardware: having been used to the bulky and heavy feel of an analog SLR, I am having trouble handling this light beauty, for no fault of the camera. The tripod screw and the adaptor ring are of plastic - should have been metal to prevent faster wear, but I guess someone who uses telephoto and macro lenses and a tripod would go in for more professional cameras - read hybrid or DSLR - and therefore, its not much of a complaint. The battery compartment lid has a funny latch and hinge mechanism, which could have been better. The telescopic projection and retraction mechanism of the lens is not very smooth. Not serious complaints though. Will stick to the basics here and not get into the image processor, sensor and other serious and boring stuff - assuming that you are not already bored!
Image quality: been good so far: sharp and good for a point and shoot, colour reproduction - good, noise - present at higher ISO (400 and above, which is probably the only thing that I am unhappy with), extremely user friendly with easy to navigate controls and menus that are very intuitive.
All in all, a great camera and total VFM!
Am in the process of setting up a photoblog for those award winning shots ;) until then, check these out!
By the way, I am nowhere near discarding my analog SLR - that's my old and faithful, the camera that got me hooked to photography!