I don't understand this forum

Started Oct 24, 2009 | Discussions thread
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peterzimmerman
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I don't understand this forum
Oct 24, 2009

I started lurking here to find out what real S90 users might say about their cameras while I was waiting for Amazon to send me mine. Just 2 weeks earlier I had bought and quickly returned a Fujifilm F70 EXR, disappointed because its low light/high-ISO performance was wanting, and because I hadn't been able to get a single sharp, autofocused picture at any ISO and at modest zoom settings (35mm equiv of, say 135 mm).

I grant I was taken in slightly by Ken Rockwell's pseudo-review of a preproduction camera, and by David Pogue's wink-wink comments about the S90.

Mostly what I'm finding here in Canon Talk about the S90 is endless agonizing over the purchase of the S90 or the G11, and these comments based largely on which camera is marginally better at ISO 800 or ISO 1600. Claims and counter claims are illustrated with usually well-exposed pictures, but rarely pictures designed to show how good a picture taking tool the S90 is or isn't. Rarely pictures of any artistic value. Often pictures of a few things on a kitchen table with comments such as "I couldn't wait to show you how good/bad my S90 is"

My two principal cameras are a Leica MP with a set of Summicrons and Summiluxes for film work, and a Nikon D200 for digital SLR work at distances and focal lengths not reachable by the MP. My standard for the auxiliary camera that will go in my pocket when out walking or in my briefcase on a business trip is that under reasonably comparable conditions, not too far from the ISO 200/mid zoom range I can mix prints or monitor pictures from all of the cameras without any of them appearing weak.

By that standard, the S90IS is a brilliant picture taker. With good lighting at ISO 100-400 it delivers brilliantly sharp pictures. With poor lighting at ISO 800-1600 it will bring home the bacon with an image that is sharp, retains details, appears chroma (and also luminance) noise free, and needs a minimum of postprocessing if shot as JPEG.

It probably is not the best available solution in any field of designing cameras, but by being second place in everything else, it may well turn out that universal second best rates first-best overall.

Are the colors imperfect? That's what (electronic) filters in p.p. are for. Is the native exposure a little off? Curves, levels step in, just as chemical tools to fix all of the above are used by good wet-chemistry experts -- I learned to produce color when it was all done at 100F and above and in total darkness and took half an hour to see a print. Digital is a godsend.

I've enough experience to confirm for myself that the S90 is a very good picture taker: It gets technically competent pictures easily; handled right even shutter lag is tolerable. At high ISO, I haven't found a compact cam that can beat it by much in any significant way for:

Color: it's not the best color you can get. I think the Leica D-lux series does that better

Sharpness: Maybe the zoom on the LX-3/Leica D-lux4 has a better lens. But the Canon zoom is more flexible at near and far.

Low Light: some day the micro-four thirds will wipe the floor with a 1/1.7" sensor. Until then, it's a draw in favor of the Canon.

Size/weight: Advantage S90 over any other compact cameras on the general market. Drops in a pocket (if the pocket has a button-down flap to keep the camera from falling or "walking away."

The S90 is a fine picture taker with enormous freedom in this era of nearly total electronic control exerted from click to print.

Are there sharper cameras out there? Yes! Does it matter? If it does, Brother you ain't seen original Cartier-Bresson Leica prints from the 1930s and 1940s. Look at the man jumping the puddle of water at the Gare St. Lazare station. The original print is unsharp everywhere -- a combination of slow shutter speed and camera movement. The camera? A IIIc or IIIB leica using whatever film might have been available, say an Agfa, a Perutz or even a Kodak.

But, uh, could you catch that decisive moment with a digital compact? Nah. Unless perhaps it was an S90 with zero shutter delay from the half-push point.

Later on HCB used faster films mostly Tri-X, and better cameras and lenses, M-series bodies and Summicron and Elmarit lenses. This memory is kept bright on the strength of the slightly muddy and slightly unsharp, but perfectly composed and timed pix.

In the S90 we have a camera perfectly so designed, for once in a digital compact, that can do all that, and do it in color too. The quality of the final print is determined by the photographer with the tool playing a secondary role. Ansel Adams would have loved it for his family pix. Dorothea Lange would have loved it. Karsch of Ottawa would have mounted it on a tripod, and asked Canon to remove the anti-moire filter.

Take pictures of the living world of people and nature that surrounds you, and look at how well or ill the S90is does over a week or two. Then tell me, if the camera suits your hands, you would rather go pixel peeping.

The best camera in the world is the one you always have with you, and the S90 beats most other cameras I've seen since I gave up shooting my Minox LX and BL because film processing became too hard to get and too expensive. The SD is finally approaching being an honest replacement for the Minox LX , and easier and cheaper to use. But I miss using the skills I needed to coax 11x14 inch Minox prints from an 8x11 millimeter negative.

Go some place unfamiliar to shoot with your S90, G11, or DSLR. Aafter you've shot your film and processed it, bring it by and let me take a look at the results. I think I'll be able to tell you which is which But judge the form and lighting of the pictures. Don't complain about a dropped pixel your host misses.

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