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Old 02-08-10, 09:21 AM   #1
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Possibly the best camera to take along on a bike ride?

Canon PowerShot SX210: 14MP, 14x optical zoom, DIGIC4 processor, optical IS, f3.8, 720p HD video, full manual mode!

http://www.dpreview.com/news/1002/10...rshotsx210.asp

I think that in good lighting conditions the quality won't be far off from an entry level DSLR in particular if you use the full manual mode to get nice depth of field. I just wonder about noise levels and macro abilities.

It is difficult to carry a DSLR and couple of lenses on a bike, not to mention risky, that's few $k worth of hardware. So far though I haven't seen a compact camera with quality and level of control that was anywhere close to DSLR even under good light conditions. So I hardly take pictures while cycling

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Old 02-08-10, 10:40 AM   #2
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The best camera to take is the one you have. I wouldn't carry my DSLR. I carry an old A710. A camera phone beats nothing (though not by a lot, even the best of them stink as far as I've seen).

14 megapixels on most point-and-shoots is 80% marketing BS - the sensor simply wouldn't be big enough to support that unless you were in full daylight (and maybe even then). With the SX210 it's a bit better, I'd say probably about 40% marketing BS since it uses a larger-than-average sensor size.

I've seen old 3 megapixel cameras that produce better images than 10 megapixel ones. More megapixels is not necessarily a good thing.

Noise as light drops off is always the killer for point-and-shoot digitals. It's so bad that people are getting used to it. I've seen photos taken in low light that people say "isn't that a nice picture" and the grain is so bad I'm gagging on it. Still, with so many people shooting on camera phones these days, ANY actual camera is going to be superb by comparison.

I actually have thought about carrying my SLR, but I'd have to get a pelican case for it; I'm just not going to take the chance that I might wipe out and whack $2000 worth of lens and body.
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Old 02-08-10, 10:50 AM   #3
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I know, my mom has a 4MP PowerShoot (400?) that produces gorgeous images, I almost believe it's a fluke The size of a sensor has nothing to do with how many pixels it can capture. It will capture as many as it's designed for, but the sensitivity and quality may suffer and noise increase. So yeah, I agree that the sheer megapixel count doesn't equal quality and is overused by marketing and 14MP is an overkill though, I'd probably downsample them anyway. But yeah, I'm afraid to carry my D40 and lenses on a bike, too risky. I'll be very interested in this new camera if it doesn't have high noise.

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Old 02-08-10, 11:14 AM   #4
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It's crazy that they can squeeze a 14x zoom into that thing.
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Old 02-08-10, 12:34 PM   #5
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The size of a sensor has nothing to do with how many pixels it can capture. It will capture as many as it's designed for, but the sensitivity and quality may suffer and noise increase.
Noise is a direct result of the size of each pixel on the sensor. This is because obviously when you reduce the size of the pixel, you reduce the number of photons that it's catching during the exposure, but actually increasing its sensitivity to thermal noise, which is caused by the camera's and the sensor's own heat. Therefore you get a lower signal-to-noise ratio.

You get small pixels by trying to cram a lot of megapixels into a sensor the size of a pencil eraser. So yeah, the size of the sensor doesn't mean it can't capture a lot of pixels, it just means that a smaller sensor WILL HAVE MORE NOISE. This is physics and there's really nothing you can do about it unless you're willing to cool the sensor in liquid nitrogen or something.

Some manufacturers reduce noise through software, but that just blurs the pictures to where they would have been better off just using a smaller sensor to start with.

My DSLR has a 15 megapixel sensor and I think even that might be overkill - not because of the noise, but because a 15 megapixel image requires high grade lenses to really push that kind of quality. If you're shooting 14 megapixels and you don't have a $500+ lens on the front of the sensor, you're probably just wasting storage space.

It's all about marketing though. If your competitor sells a 13 megapixel camera, you need to sell a 14 megapixel camera. If you make a 10 megapixel camera that actually takes better photographs than the 13 megapixel camera, you'll still lose in the marketplace.

What do you do with 14 megapixels anyway? The only use I know is to "zoom" after the fact by cropping down - that is, unless you're printing photos at 5 by 7 feet.
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Old 02-08-10, 12:41 PM   #6
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That's why I said that I'm wondering about the quality and noise levels of this little camera. Most small cameras I have tried have unacceptable noise at anything above ISO200. However, sensors are constantly improved and noise levels are lower with each generation.

I crop images or resize them to 3000x2000 for keeping. A someone said once: "Give me a 1000 Megapixel camera and I will never need a telephoto lens!"

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Old 02-08-10, 02:26 PM   #7
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And then there's Compression. Some have so much compression that a 14 mp is no better than a 6mp due to compression. Raw uncompressed image is best but very impractical because of it's size.
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Old 02-08-10, 02:32 PM   #8
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I shoot RAW all the time and I have no problems really. I actually wish this compact camera was capable of RAW. It gives so much more control over conversion to final bitmap.

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Old 02-08-10, 02:35 PM   #9
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For most people much over 3MPixels is complete overkill. I use a Nikon D3 for professional work but when I'm riding I use my Blackberry Bold cell phone camera, I mean who in their right mind wants to ride with 20lbs of camera and lenses :-) Also you're right about the quality. Many pocket cameras have the same 12MP resolution as the D3 but they can't touch it for image quality during daylight and in questionable lighting the D3 blows them away completely.

You can't see the difference between 3Mp and 6Mp until you're printing above 8x10. Most people never print above 5x7.
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Old 02-08-10, 02:44 PM   #10
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Some have so much compression that a 14 mp is no better than a 6mp due to compression.
And of course, even if the sensor and processing engine can capture all that detail faithfully, that's no guarantee that the lens is of high enough quality to convey all that detail to the sensor in the first place.

With any luck DPReview will do a test on this thing and we'll see where the extinction lines blur out.
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Old 02-08-10, 02:50 PM   #11
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I think the Canon SX series are going to be better than average. Look at the size of the lens. It's pretty massive for a point-and-shoot. I think there's probably a decent sized sensor behind it. It won't be an SLR, or even a 5/4, but it'll be better than most point-and-shoots.

I rather like the SX120IS personally. It's a lot of camera for around $225. I have friends with 100 and 110s, the 120 is just another step in that line.
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Old 02-08-10, 03:12 PM   #12
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I've been eyeing the canon s90:

http://www.kenrockwell.com/canon/s90.htm

What's nice about it is that is a P&S with an actual control ring around the lense. You can set the ring to whatever function you want, focus, aperture, exposure compensation, etc. I don't have any first hand experience, but it's been getting good reviews. It also goes wider than most compact cameras.
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Old 02-08-10, 03:18 PM   #13
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Yeah, indeed, the S90 may be better, someone pointed that out in the Touring forum. It also shoots RAW and has that ring for manual focus, which is nice. It doesn't shoot HD video but that's not important to me. It's $100 more though.

Quote:
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For most people much over 3MPixels is complete overkill. I use a Nikon D3 for professional work but when I'm riding I use my Blackberry Bold cell phone camera, I mean who in their right mind wants to ride with 20lbs of camera and lenses :-) Also you're right about the quality. Many pocket cameras have the same 12MP resolution as the D3 but they can't touch it for image quality during daylight and in questionable lighting the D3 blows them away completely.

You can't see the difference between 3Mp and 6Mp until you're printing above 8x10. Most people never print above 5x7.
Not really an overkill, the more pixels is better for two reasons: you can crop, you can resize the image to smaller resolution which may improve the sharpness a bit.

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Old 02-08-10, 03:49 PM   #14
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I think there's probably a decent sized sensor behind it.
'Fraid not. Specs say 1/2.3", which is on the small side, even for point-n-shoots.
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Old 02-09-10, 07:15 AM   #15
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I've been eyeing the canon s90:

http://www.kenrockwell.com/canon/s90.htm

What's nice about it is that is a P&S with an actual control ring around the lense. You can set the ring to whatever function you want, focus, aperture, exposure compensation, etc. I don't have any first hand experience, but it's been getting good reviews. It also goes wider than most compact cameras.
I wouldn't be too excited about it. The big win on rings around lenses is if they directly, mechanically control lens (it's lens; "lense" would be pronounced "lens-ee") zoom and/or focus.

I had a camera once with a ring around the lens that digitally controlled focus, and it really wasn't any better than pushbuttons.

If you want a ring around the lens that's useful, buy an SLR.
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Old 02-09-10, 08:40 AM   #16
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lense - a transparent optical device used to converge or diverge transmitted light and to form images
it's (if I'm correct) the UK-english term, a bit like color and colour...

however: the best camera to take along is not necessarily the one with the most optical zoom. It depends on lots of other factors.
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Old 02-09-10, 10:51 PM   #17
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I needed to buy a laptop and a lcd tv for my business today and while I was waiting for the salespeople I walked over and took a look at the S90.

It looks like a nice little camera. It will easily fit in a jersey pocket (wrapped in a baggie of course) and would be ready in a moments notice. I have a couple of SLR's but only take them biking once in a while because of the hassle getting them in and out of the backpack to take pictures.

I don't care about the ring around the lens, the f 2.0 and ability to shoot raw along with the small size are the biggest advantages to me. Most of the time I'm on the bike I'm looking to get a landscape-type shot anyways so it seems like it will be a good choice for me sometime soon.

I hope Nikon comes out with something comparable before I pull the trigger as I would rather stay with one camera company but it looks better than anything Nikon has right now in a similar size.
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Old 02-10-10, 07:24 AM   #18
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FWIW, most Canon point-and-shoots can shoot RAW if you load the CHDK firmware, see this web site:
http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK

I highly recommend anyone who likes to play to check it out. It's totally safe, in fact Canon has OK'd it - it does not permanently change anything on your camera, it just patches itself in to the camera on boot time, so just taking the memory card out and removing the files removes the code.

With it you can do all kinds of awesome stuff like motion detect, intervalometer, live histograms, etc - with scripting you can do anything you can think of, really.

And it allows RAW shooting from any supported camera.
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Old 02-10-10, 09:00 AM   #19
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FWIW, most Canon point-and-shoots can shoot RAW if you load the CHDK firmware, see this web site:
http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK
I've been meaning to try it out sometime.
It sounds almost too good to be true.
However, I haven't quite found out how you can have multiple functions at the same time available: e.g. intervalometer and raw shooting.

Still, thanks for reminding me of this.
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Old 02-10-10, 11:19 AM   #20
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I've been meaning to try it out sometime.
It sounds almost too good to be true.
However, I haven't quite found out how you can have multiple functions at the same time available: e.g. intervalometer and raw shooting.

Still, thanks for reminding me of this.
I don't see how raw shooting and intervalometer are mutually exclusive functions.

It works great, trust me. Turns a little Canon point-and-shoot into a gadget-lovers dream.
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Old 02-10-10, 12:36 PM   #21
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The best camera to take along on a bike ride is the one that you won't miss if it falls in the river.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 02-10-10, 07:16 PM   #22
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It's crazy that they can squeeze a 14x zoom into that thing.
Yeah crazy huh, except the optically the zoom is only about 8 the rest is digital and at 14 it's pixilated.

I like my Canon SureShot AS1000IS, it's very small yet takes great pics. Problem I hate with digital cameras is that they eat batteries like crazy. I like my old 35mm's the best, I have a Pentax K1000 that is entirely mechanical with no need for a battery thus no worry about a battery freezing or dying and thus no pictures; I also love my Canon Eos Elan; but both of those are too big to fit in a seat bag, though I do take the Pentax and put it in a handlebar bag on occasion.
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Old 02-10-10, 08:17 PM   #23
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Yeah crazy huh, except the optically the zoom is only about 8 the rest is digital and at 14 it's pixilated.

I like my Canon SureShot AS1000IS, it's very small yet takes great pics. Problem I hate with digital cameras is that they eat batteries like crazy.
You're not using alkaline batteries, are you? They will kill alkalines in no time.

For point-and-shoot cameras, I prefer to use cameras that use AA batteries. For cameras getting regular use, I use low-self-discharge AA cells. I get about 350 shots out of a charge, which even when I'm on vacation is about a week's worth. If the camera gets infrequent use, like maybe just a few frames a week, I put Lithium primary AA cells in it. Currently I have a set of Lithium AA cells that I picked out of the recycling bin at work. They've been running my Canon A710 for close to a year now, taking maybe 20 or 30 frames a month (I mainly use my SLR).

Cameras are getting WAY more stingy with power than they used to be. My first digital camera with LiIon batteries was lucky to make 60 shots on a charge; my daughter has a little Digital Elph that can do about 280, and it has a tiny little battery. My SLR with its LiIon - well, I don't really know. Most I've shot at once was about 700 frames in one day, and the battery indicator dropped one peg right at the end of the night.
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Old 02-10-10, 08:21 PM   #24
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You're not using alkaline batteries, are you? They will kill alkalines in no time.

.
I've tried both Alkalines and Nimhs. I know that my battery in my Elan will last at least 1 year of almost constant use including using flash.
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Old 02-15-10, 07:27 PM   #25
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But did you use good NiMH, if you use those crappy ones from a store that come with a 15 minute cooker/charger then you won't get good life.

The model the OP mentioned has one fatal flaw: "Power Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-5L "
When you start to own more than on or two electronic items you have to standardize on power. For example, we have more than one digicam now, wife's big S3IS, the 1100IS I carry on bike rides, kids each have digicams, leapters, radios, etc. All those take AA's and we have one good charger (MAHA C9000) so I can just take a couple spares on bike rides. If we used lithium ion based electronics we would have to buy a lot of different spare batteries and worry about the tangle of chargers. Then factor in the cost of new lithium ion batteries about every three years for each.
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