Grant McWilliams

Photography Blog

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I'm still trying to decide which camera to buy. Just to recap I wanted:

  1. Image Stabilization
  2. Aperture and Shutter Priority
  3. Wide angle lens
  4. small as possible

The only companies that make cameras that fit this description are Canon and Panasonic. I've discounted the Panasonics because of the excessive noise at ISOs above 100. That leaves me with several Canon cameras, none of which provide the whole list. Here they are.

  1. S80 - provides 2, 3 and 4
  2. SD800 - provides 1, 3 and 4
  3. A710IS - provides 1, 2 and 4
  4. G7 - provides 1, 2 and 4

The S80 is no longer being produced so it got cut right away. The sad thing is if it had image stabilization I'd buy one right now. The SD800 would be the same size and weight as my current SD500 but add a wide angle lens and image stabilization but still doesn't have any manual settings. That leaves the A710IS and G7. Neither come with a wide angle lens but one is available as a $150 accessory so at least it's possible.

What it really comes down to is two things - $200 in exchange for a hot shoe. There are smaller differences but that's basically the big ones.


Canon A710IS
canon_a710is
Canon G7
canonG7
Mega Pixels 7.1 10
LCD screen fixed 2.5“ (115,000 pixels) fixed 2.5“ (207,000 pixels)
Lens 35-210mm F2.8-4.8 35-210mm F2.8-4.8
External flash Slave only Hot shoe
ISO 80-800 80-1600
Weight 210g (7.4 oz) 320 g (11.3 oz)
Size 97.5 x 66.5 x 41.2 mm
(3.9 x 2.6 x 1.6 in)
106.4 x 71.9 x 42.5 mm
(4.2 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)
Sensor size 1 / 2.5“ 1 / 1.8“
Movie mode 640x480/30fps 640x480/30fps, 1024x768/15fps
Chip Digic II Digic III
Battery 2 AA NiMH Canon NB-2L LiON
Price $289 (Tri-State) $498 (Tri-State)
Flash Canon HF-DC1 $89.00 Speedlight 220EX $114.00
Tele-converter (2.0x) Canon TC-DC58N $100.00 Canon TC-DC58C $110.00
Wide-converter Canon WC-DC58N (0.70x) $156.00 Canon WC-DC58B (0.75x) $137.00
Conversion Lens Adapter LA-DC58G $17.99 Canon LA-DC58H $27.00

So what it really comes down to is the G7 has more pixels (which nobody needs), the LCD screen is nicer, it has the hot shoe for external flashes (big plus), it can do ISO 1600 (does anyone not using an F30 keep these shots?), it's heavier by 1/4 lb, a bit bigger, has a bigger sensor, can take really hi-res jerkey movies, has a proprietary battery and costs $220 more. Is it worth it? I'm leaning toward no. I need to research whether the slave flash for the A710IS will do what I need it to do. Theoretically a larger sensor takes cleaner pictures but so far the jury is still out on whether the G7s pictures are measurably better than the A710IS. They're bigger but are they better?

I was originally looking for one camera that did everything and I've since given up on that. Then I started looking for a compact to act as my "big" camera and keep my subcompact for my pocket. I don't know yet whether a compact will be small enough to carry around but if it is then the A710IS or G7 may become my new "small" camera and I'd splurge on a DSLR as my large one. I'm leaning toward a Nikon D80 for that. I want to field test one of these two cameras first before making that decision though. If these proves to be too big and I don't carry it with me I'll probably pick up a Canon SD800IS to replace the SD500 I have now. No matter Image Stabilization will be in my future. I've had too many pictures in the past that have turned out blurry because I couldn't hold the camera still enough.

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In the summer of 2005 we had an apartment in Paris but no internet. To save upload time I scaled all of my photos to 1024x768. I've always kept the 7 MP images around but never got them reuploaded. Gallery2 doesn't make it very easy to do this either. There is a reupload image plugin but it allows you to edit the image, click on modify image, then reupload image. This keeps the image name, comments, description etc.. but can you imagine me reuploading 2000 pictures one at a time? It takes six mouse clicks at he least to reupload a photo. I can mass upload photos but that makes it hard to only get the ones I wanted before without having to go through them and delete the bad ones. I've settled on a comprimise. If the gallery has a bunch of photos with descriptions etc.. then I reupload them one at a time. If it doesn't I mas upload them and delete the original small images. The Europe/France 2005 gallery is the only one that has photos that need to be reuploaded. So far I have London, Going Home, Bologna, Modena and Venice done.

I also updated a few pictures in my portfolio to reflext this. The pictures of the Pantheon are now the full size 7 MP versions. I added two new photos to the portfolio that I like but didn't notice before.

img_2228img_2302-x

Enjoy!

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When I travel I take lots of pictures and it always makes me nervous to only have them on flash. I've lost two flash cards in the last couple of years to file system errors. Considering how much it costs to travel it's nothing to buy a backup harddrive or extra flash cards. I bought

a harddrive case for about $12 like the one above which works great with a 60 GB 5400 rpm Hitachi laptop drive in it. The only problem is I still need my laptop because my camera can't talk directly to the drive. AP25-U-unit

I also need to bring along my memory card reader too because my daughter's camera uses CF cards and mine uses SD cards. I've found a new device that may help me. I've been considering not even taking my laptop to Ecuador in the winter because I don't want it to get stolen. Anyway the device I just purchased is a combined laptop hard drive and memory card reader. It's a lot bulkier than my other drive case but it can work without a computer. It's made by BAFO and I got it from thetechgeek.com which had it for $14.95 without a drive. I inserted a 60 GB drive into it and was thinking to myself I wonder how I format it. I was about to take the drive back out and plug it into my PVR client since it has a ribbon cable that takes 2.5 inch drives when I realized that I could just plug it in via USB (duh) and format it that way. I plugged it in and used mkdosfs to format it which took all of 3 seconds. Now that it was formatted I plugged in an SD card and pushed the Copy button and away it went. It beeped twice when it was done. This would be a great backup tool for my flash cards. I've mentioned that I'm a little paranoid about losing data and for good reason. The summer of 2005 we spent in Paris and I only backed up my pictures to my laptop and uploaded little 1024x768 versions to this website. This summer I did the same but brought along the portable harddrive and it was a good thing too because my laptop got rained on in Poland and I lost the data on the hard drive. Had that been my only copy I would have been toast. Thankfully that was one of three copies. So back to the BAFO device.BF-6010-unit This thing is so easy to backup flash cards with it should be a crime not to do it. You plug the flash card in and push the Copy button. That's it, really! It copies the contents to the hard drive and beeps twice.

I only have two complaints.

  1. It could be smaller
  2. the batteries could last longer

The battery is good for 1.6 hrs and it's about the size of an old
portable walkman. The power adapter is made for continental europe but comes with an adapter for the U.S. It's a bit bulky but not heavy.

To test the speed I created a 1 GB file and copied it to my 2 GB 120x SD card across a USB 2.0 connection.

  • Copy from PC to SD card - 5 minutes (3.3 MB/sec)
  • Copy from SD card to BAFO internal hd - 14 minutes (1.1 MB/sec)
  • Copy from PC to BAFO internal hd - 3 minutes (5.6 MB/sec)
  • Copy from BAFO internal hd to PC - 5 minutes (3.3 MB/sec)
  • Copy from BAFO internal CF card to PC - 4 minutes 53seconds (3.9 MB/sec)

So it's not the fastes thing on the block.. I then plugged it into my USB controller and used hdparm to test the internal hd. It clocked at about 4 MB/sec. It looks like the little device just doesn't have enough oomph to read and write at the same time. Copying from the PC to the hd is almost 5x faster than copying from the flash to the hd. The flash can't be the problem because I can write to it fairly fast. The interesting thing is it's actually faster to copy to the internal hd than from it! This is completely backwards from what it should be. The internal hd shoould be able to sustain 20 MB/sec and our fastest time was 5.6 MB/sec which is about 40 Mbits/sec so clearly we are using USB 2.0. So it appears that something internal to the device hits a roadblock about about 5 MB/sec.

None of this matters unless you're in a speed contest. You can figure that it will take about 10 minutes a day to backup your digital pictures if you're on vacation. The battery is good for 100 minutes so it theoretically could last you a week and a half without recharging...

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Ok, so I've been looking for a camera to replace the SD500 as I said before. A wide angle lens is a must because I'm having a problem getting far enough away from buildings. I also want a small size with a good lens and at least equal pixels to the SD500 (7MP) and more manual controls. So far the race has come down to two contenders - the Canon S80 and the Panasonic LX-02. I'd buy the Canon this minute if it were not for one thing - no image stabilization. I don't know how many pictures I've taken have turned out blurry because there was no place for a tripod or I was on a boat. Image stabilization could have been what I needed to take a clean shot. The Panasonic has image stabilization and a wide angle lens, and more megapixels (10MP) and manual controls and a Leica lens and a wide screen mode. The last Panasonic LX also had horrendous noise which is why I'm dragging my feet on getting the LX2. I did however, find some LX2 photos on a Japanese website that compares the LX-1 with the LX-2. I've cut out small areas of the photos for better comparison which I'll show below.

ls1-lx2sunflowers

LX2 LX1

 

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