One of the camera’s Canon announced yesterday, the S90, looks like a contender for my next compact photo shooter. It’s due out sometime in September based on early information, with a UK price of £449 for pre-order from Amazon.co.uk as shown below.
Not cheap but the spec is good and I would expect this to quickly drop below £400. Since I’m off the Florida at the end of October I took a look at early US prices to see if it would be worth waiting and buying out there (dependant on reviews and a hands on of course). The Amazon.com price is shown below.
I know UK citizens often get a poor deal when it comes to prices, but this is ridiculous. At the current exchange rate (as I type on 20th August 2009) of $1.65 to the pound that makes the US Amazon price the equivalent of £260. The other way round, the UK price is $740. However you look at it this is an obscene markup, and as this article questions, didn’t the British PM promise an end to this?
I’ve been looking at high end compact cameras recently, in my continuing quest for a reasonably sized camera that can capture good images in less than optimal light. My Nikon D50 does a very good job, and while a £120 vibration reduction lens would make it even better it’s still a big camera to carry around a theme park all day for holiday snaps. The Panasonic DMC-FS3 (a £100 compact) I took to San Francisco and Las Vegas earlier this year did an OK job in daylight but gave poor results as the light levels dropped.
Unlike the iPhone 3GS finally replacing my mobile phone and PDA, my quest for an all in one image/video capture device has been a failure. The Sanyo Xacti range failed to deliver, with the C5 and HD2 being too much of a compromise in both photo and video quality. A Canon HF100 now does video duties with excellent quality results, so the hunt is on for a compact that can deliver good results in low light.
The current model that has caught my eye is the Panasonic LX3. A fast F2-F2.8 lens (meaning more light reaching the sensor so faster shutter speeds and less blur) and a sensible 10 megapixels suggest at least one manufacturer has taken a step back from the megapixel race to assess what customers actually want. This happened a few years ago when AMD and Intel reached a limit in pure processor speed and had to start looking at increasing efficiency and the number of cores in their processors. Megaherts was never much more than a marketing buzzword, and megapixels means even less. Would anyone choose a fuzzy fifteen megapixel image over a sharp six megapixel one? The crazy thing here is that the number of pixels comes from multiplying horizontal and vertical resolution, so while my Nikon D50 produces six megapixel images of 3000 by 2000 pixels, a twelve megapixel camera which sounds twice as good gives images of 4240 by 2824 pixels, an increase of around 40% both horizontally and vertically. To get a true doubling of resolution to 6000 by 4000 requires a 24 megapixel camera, well out of the consumer price range.
The reason for this rather lengthy ramble is that todays big photographic news is the announcement of the Canon G11. Where Panasonic decided to keep the number of pixels the same and improve image quality with the move from the the Lx2 to Lx3, Canon has decided to reduce the G10′s 14.7 megapixels down to 10 megapixels for the G11. Hopefully reviews will shortly rave over increased low light image quality, and other camera manufacturers will finally realise that consumers value image quality over marketing hype. This may be wishful thinking on my part, but I suspect that two big names making a brave move may be enough to start a new trend.
UPDATE Looks like there’s another model to compete with The Panasonic Lx3, as Canon also announced the S90. Offering the same 10 Megapixel sensor with a 28-110mm zoom and F2-F4.9 lens this may be the model that goes head to head with the Lx3 at a similar price.
While picking up Mrs Bassheads last few presents yesterday I popped into Jessops to have a look at the special offers. I’ve had my eye on a Canon HF100 for a while now, and intended to order one from Amazon after Christmas. The price on Amazon.co.uk recently dropped from £550 for £450, then shot back over £500 before I had a chance to order one. It’s currently sitting at £476, and Jessops had the HF100 for £499 witha £50 cash back from Canon. Even better, when I paid the system said the price was £489 so the total after cashback is £439. I could order from Amazon and get one for £426 with the cashback but it’s in my hand and I can now shoot HD christmas video to bore the family.
Compared to my last video camera (Sanyo Xacti HD2, soon to be appearing on Ebay) the HF100 is stunning. Easy to use menu’s, responsive screen and an easy to control yet fast zoom make it a pleasure to use. The footage doesn’t disappoint either. I set the camera to 25p mode and used shutter priority at 25 to get amazing low light performance. The Xacti would just go black and fuzzy in low light, and although there is still noise in the Canon’s footage there’s also a lot of detail. Read more…
Looks like there will finally be another option for tapeless HD camcorders. The Canon Vixia HF10 offers full HD recording (1920×1080 resolution) to 16Gb of internal flash memory and SDHC cards. Quoted battery life of 3 hours standard is pretty good too. Due in April in the US for $1,099 this could be what I’ve been waiting for. My current Sanyo Xacti HD2 is fine outdoors in bright light, but poor in lower light conditions. Sony have some nice HD/Hdd models available that are reported to be a bit better, but don’t bother with JVC’s Everio range. Will the Vixia finally offer good low light performance? More details and video here.