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Before I bang on about the Canon S2 Is Digital camera, it is important to explain that while I believe it is an excellent camera, it is what it is within a specific price range, and is excellent because of its versatility to be as easy to use, or as creative and as flexible as you would want it to be.
Therefore this camera could appeal to both amateurs who want a good Auto everything, all round point and shoot camera, and likewise this camera has the option to be set manually, allowing the enthusiast to be more creative with their photography.
Before continuing any further, please let me say whilst I feel I have a good knowledge of photography skills, I do not intend to list the multitude of functions this fantastic camera is armed with. I feel this information can be easily found and explained more in depth technically by specific camera sites, which to some may be tiresome reading.
My intention is to explain my findings whilst using this camera which hopefully may give the reader an overall opinion of this cameras ability to take fantastic pictures.
***Okay! The camera! Why did I choose this camera? ****
I have been into photography for some years now, initially using a film SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera. I was looking for a digital camera which had better quality images than my existing point and shoot digital camera. The images I got from my Fuji Digital camera were of good quality, and I would then edit the images using appropriate software to get the effects I wanted. It gradually became clear that while a multitude of "after" effects can be achieved, through software, there were some area's that did not quite match up with the "pre" effects you can achieve with using manual camera settings.
It makes sense that if you want to take your photography seriously, then you buy a good digital SLR camera. However, that is assuming that you can afford to purchase within that price range. Just now I am unable to do so, so I started to look for something which would give me a good all round camera, with good manual settings as well as Auto, with the possibility of expanding the camera later on by adding different lenses, filters etc, which functioned well and most of all ,which took great images. I found this in the Canon Powershot S2 Is Digital Camera.
I spent many hours reviewing similar cameras priced around the £300 (British pounds) bracket, and there is a lot to choose from. Many cameras have similar functions, similar in design, similar ability and in picture quality, and different reviews suggest different models to be better than others.
**So why pick the Canon Powershot S2 Is over its contenders?*
I based my choice initially on sharpness of overall image, again certain web sites offering cameras for sale or for reviewing offered the ability to see the same image taken by different cameras of similar ilk. For me, by far the Canon won on this hands down. Most images looked so very closely matched but I based my
choice on highlights, low lights of the image and by digital noise in the image once magnified. Digital noise basically is similar to film grain, although created for different reasons. However digital images require decent lighting to be sharp. This was truer with earlier Digital Cameras/Camcorders. However, with better digital sensors which pick up the image this has got far better. Therefore, when examining an image for noise, it to the average eye may be less apparent. However I personally found that the images produced with the Canon showed less noise and therefore more clarity when magnified than similar cameras I looked at.
After looking at many cameras I reduced my choice down to three cameras. The Sony Cyber-shot H1, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5 both of which are excellent cameras and the Canon Powershot S2 Is. All of these cameras are very close in many areas and this made it difficult in making a specific choice, but I felt the Canon won on image sharpness. This is not to say that I believe others would be disappointed by the images produced by the other two cameras mentioned, far from it, and this strengthens my choice even further in choosing the Powershot over the other two.
*** Camera Description***
The camera is nice to hold, it is neither too big nor heavy and all the controls are easily accessible being sensibly set out. The LCD screen which tilts and swivels out makes it easy to take pictures where it may be awkward to get your eye up to the view finder. By this I mean imagine taking a picture over the heads of people standing in front of you, say at a rock concert, where you are holding the camera up in the air, you don't really know what your camera is pointing at. With the LCD screen it can be turned to any angle and you would be able to see what the camera is seeing.
** Automatic Function **
The images produced with this camera, simply by using it as a point and shoot camera are excellent!! I have not found any conditions yet which have tricked the Auto sensors such as snow; lack of light, moving objects, too much sun, tungsten lighting, and the camera handles all of these areas very well indeed. The camera has just about a mode for every possible situation which adjusts the settings accordingly, and does so very well. The automatic portrait mode works a treat, and I have produced some lovely images of family and friends, even my dog!! And did so without even trying to be creative, yet the images produced were razor sharp, beautifully coloured and bright with light while maintaining a small aperture effect of blurring out background clutter. However, should you choose to do so, all the auto settings can be overridden to allow you to be more creative with lighting, scenes etc.
This camera really is a joy to use, there are many modes which can be selected, shutter speeds, aperture settings, Auto or manual focus, and capture speeds. However, as yet all of the Auto settings have proved almost perfect in every way, although I'm sure it will be caught out with some obscure conditions, but I've yet to find it.
** Movie Mode ***
The camera will take digital movies with stereo sound too. The results are very good indeed and I am very impressed with its functionality. There are two capture speeds, of which both produce very good results. There is only one small restriction with shooting movies and that is you can only take 1 Gigabyte of film during one shooting, however there is more than enough to play with here. The only restriction to film capture really is the size of your memory card.
*** Flash ****
There varying flash modes and the flash appears quite powerful, however, most of my images so far have been more of requiring fill flash, which it does beautifully. The camera also has produced some great pictures in very low light settings and some night shots too. One negative thing I found though is that surprisingly the flash does not pop up automatically; it requires you to manually lift it up. It is a minor niggle, but would have preferred it to engage automatically.
** Boot up and Shooting Speed ***
The camera boots up proximately in around 1 second and is ready for use immediately. This for me is a joy! As I have despaired with my old digital camera when shooting pictures, and having to wait until the camera is ready again to shoot another snap. As soon as the camera takes a picture, it is ready to take again and will very little delay at all. How many times have you said "smile", press the camera button and nothing happens, then just as you move the camera to see what is wrong it eventually fires a burst of flash at your feet! This camera is capable of shoot continuous images at a rate of approximately two and a half frames per second.
** Connectivity *****
The camera has a USB connection for hooking up to your computer and also has an Audio/video out for connecting on to other devices such as graphic cards, video/DVD recorders etc.
Basically there are too many functions for me to list and I suggest if anyone would like to know more of the cameras details, such as shutter speeds, shoot modes, varying settings etc to check out the cameras specifications on line or at a good photographic retailers. It is worth checking out other reviews and digital camera magazines. However, this baby from all that I read previous to buying the camera, was shouting buy me buy me!!! And I have not been disappointed by it. Far from it, this camera has actually produced picture images; colour and quality which I felt eluded me whilst using previous earlier, cheaper digital cameras.
One small niggle is that there is no case provided with the camera, and you really want to keep it dust free and protected. Also the body is made up of solid plastic!! Mmm not too sure how strong the compound is but I am sure Canon would have considered this and can only assume it will take a bit of a beating before falling apart. I hope!!!!! I will be trying my best not to drop this, but time will tell. Given that fact that this camera has interchangeable lenses available, I place my faith in Canon to have produced someone of sound quality in build...
***Overview of Technical Specifications ******
Lens** 36 - 432mm (10x optical zoom), Has aperture settings of F2.7 - F3.5 and with Stabilized Image functioning, which helps prevent camera shake/blurred images when using higher tele length settings where light is lower. The image stabilizer allows dark scenes to be taken at smaller aperture settings
* Shutter speeds** 15 - 1/3200 sec * Continuous Shooting** Camera will shoot frames continuously at 2.4 frames per second.
* Movie mode** with stereo sound and only limited by size of memory card. The movie quality in this camera is very good.
* Viewfinder ** Colour, 1.8 inch in size with 114,000 pixels
* LCD screen** Flip out and twist similar to Digital Camcorders, with approximately 115,000 pixels
* Media Type** SD Memory Card
* Flash range** 70cm - 5.2m (wide, auto ISO)
* USB speed ** USB 2.0 (High Speed for faster transfers to PC etc)
* Dimensions** 113 x 78 x 75.5 mm
* Weight** 405g (14.3 oz) Note this weight is when the camera is unload & without batteries...
* Power*** the camera is powered by 4 x AA batteries. One advantage of using standard type batteries is when using the camera abroad or when you get caught out during a shoot, you can always find replacement batteries without the need to have to go back to your hotel room to recharge your battery pack.
All in all, when I first opened up the packaging I though Mmm nice, smaller than I anticipated. Put the memory card in, batteries, switched on, took a couple of pics and quickly download to my PC. First impression was very impressive in sharpness and genuine reproduction of colours whilst using flash indoors. It is unusual for me to initially find something where I am impressed with at first and which continues to impress even more as you become more accustom to addition functions. My final note is, if you want a camera to use purely as a "point and shoot" camera, which gives top class results and looking to spend money around the £300 area, then I genuinely believe you could not go wrong with this effort from Canon. As an amateur photographer I have been very impressed with the images I have captured. Likewise, if you want a camera with some functional ability, which can handle most situations and can be expanded on with additional attachments then yes, this camera is a very good choice. Obviously, if you want a point and shoot camera but your budget is under the £300 bracket, then you get what you pay for, which is not necessary bad, however, this camera for me, is a joy to use and has given me some excellent looking images which IT created whilst I was merely using it in a "point and shoot mode". Im not easily impressed by opinions of others and seek out practical examples, and for me whilst this camera has some very good competition in this price range, the sharpness of pictures, accurate lighting and the vibrant colours it produced sold it to me, and I'm yet to be disappointed.