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Other Canon S90 Pages: Canon S90 Tips & Accessories S90 Accessory Reviews The Great Photo Shootout
This is the first page of the journal, in which I learn many things.
Part One Part Two >>>
Richard Being Richard: Not Sure If Face Detection
Would Have Helped Here
It would, I later discovered. More odd Richard photos on the Richard Page.
Just stumbled upon it today after midnight. Ken Rockwell's Canon S90 User's Guide. I follow his UG for my Nikon D300 religiously. When there was some possibility of him going offline recently, I downloaded the whole suite of pages, so I'd always have it.
I know Ken uses his S90 heavily, because I've followed his major shoots with it. He now touts the S90 as the best pocket camera, but before that he said the Canon 780 was, and it just was not. Is not. I bought one on his say-so, and I still love it for small and handy, but quality, it ain't, except IQ.
Mine's been in the shop twice for its own internal issues — first, the LCD quit working, then it usually refused to turn on. I never damaged it except to scratch the body and LCD in my pocket, where it so often was since last summer. It usually works okay since Canon fixed it the second time. But not always.
So I understand about not quite trusting KR's every pronouncement. But I'll read this s90 guide thoroughly and more than once.
Okay, I'm about a third the way down, and I've already disagreed several times. Not a surprise. I've been running this camera since mid-March, and I think I know what I want and need. KR sets front ring to exposure compensation, but I far prefer to keep that on the fiddly little dial everybody complains about moving too easily (until they actually use the camera awhile, then it ceases to be an issue — for me, at least).
Everyone I've read on the s90 has their own favorite setting for the front ring. I don't suggest you leave it at default like I do, but I like it there, find it perfect for my way of using this camera. That way it changes when I change the mode. In AV, it changes the aperture; in TV it adjusts shutter speed; in P it changes the ISO (since the camera adjusts both the aperture and shutter).
I so rarely use Auto that I did not know what the front ring changed in that mode. It zooms the lens — pretty odd, since there's a dedicated lever around the shutter that only does that. I had to try it out to discover in M, the front ring adjusts aperture and the fiddly ring changes shutter speed. Who knew?
And I like the little extra possibility of staying focused the half press allows with Servo AF. I think. I might set it to KR's rec and see if it changes anything I notice — nope. I'm fighting AF Frame to Face AiAF, although it seems like a really good idea. I'm not sure if it would have helped my Richard shot above. A little more focus there might have been nice.
Best, most succinct explanation I've found was from Imageemperor on Flickr: Discussing Servo AF in Canon Powershot Sx200 is: "It adjusts focus parameters to compensate for the moving subject, and thus improves the sharpness of the image. Without servo, it optimizes for static images."
I appreciate Hints & TIps still and hadn't noticed any delay, but then I find this whole camera a delight as a slow camera. Find something to photograph, work at getting it right before I snap. Usually — the Richard shot was quick or not at all. If a so-called static subject appears to move, because I moved the camera, I still need all the focus I can get.
If I set color to Vivid, which I love, my art pictures show too intense. Art needs neutral. If I change it, I forget I've changed it. So usually, I don't. When I'm on vacation or mini-vacation, I go Vivid, because I only care about photographing Dallas Art.
I'm a little confused because he's left some settings I actually change out of his equation, but I'll figure that stuff out on fourth and fifth readings — nope again. Then I was all set to read more suggestions, and it just stops, even though the s90 is much more complicated.
Will make rereads easy, I suppose. But he doesn't even mention things I'd hoped for a discussion of, like RAW, which I've only used twice, and never opened even one of those — because I couldn't find them.
one-tenth @ f/4.9
Took the wrong camera to a family gathering. I had both my s90 and my D300 with a 50/1.8. The s90 was smaller, so I took it. Wrong move. As I've told beginning photographers so many times, Point and Shoot cameras are useless for children, pets and action, all of which you get a lot of around family events.
Some people know this deep down, and when I aim a camera at them, they grab their fellow subjects and line them up close with big smiles on their faces. I'm not a fan of that kind of picture. I'd much rather capture real emotions or interesting action, even if it's slow.
But I'm unlikely to ever choose f/4.9 as my aperture for kid shots. I got the s90, because it had an f/2 lens, and just assumed I'd have the intelligence to keep it at wide angle. The Nikon lens I didn't bring for the camera I didn't bring is f/1.8, where it would have stayed. But the s90 adjusted that max aperture when I zoomed. The new Panasonic LX5's max aperture even at full telephoto is only 3.5. Why is Canon's f/4.9?
Kyle in Darth Vader T-shirt and Bucket Hat
Eventually, I quit trying to capture an isolated moment in a long series of clicking away just pushing the button. I timed myself carefully to the peak of action — or inaction. I got a few keepers that way inside — and more when we moved outside to say goodbyes. I'm convinced I would have had a lot higher percentage of keepers if I'd brought the Nikon D300 behemoth.
In this shot I blurred the grass and his father standing behind him, because now there was too much depth of field, and I wanted Kyle isolated in sharpness.
Lorraine Tady Yellow/Black 3020 oil on canvas 24 x 20 inches
in Small Abstract Painting at Barry Whistler Gallery
Visited eight galleries this week for a story about difficult art — difficult to look at and understand, not necessarily difficult to make. First couple galleries I took both my Nikon D300 and my s90. After that, I only took the s90. If I were reproducing the shots big on paper or plastic or whatever goes for print material these days, I'd have stuck with the D300, but since all I was shooting for was online, the s90 was perfect.
My usual lens for photographing art when I don't know what kind of distance or light color to expect has been the very good Nikkor 17~55mm f/2.8 zoom. But since I've never figured out how to set the color balance on that big hulk, the s90 is great.
Pinky Diablo Pig's Foot in Hot Buns! Blazing Artists! at the Texas Theatre
I learned in about ten minutes how to set colors on the s90, and I've never forgot. I've spent hours "learning" and relearning how to do it on the Nikon, and though I may hold the fairly complicated technique in my mind for awhile, the next time I need to use it, it's long gone.
I don't always remember how to set it immediately on the s90, but remembering is so much easier, because there's so few steps. Click the middle of the dial that never ever slides around on its own anymore (even though I've never done anything but learn the camera well enough not to mess with it unless I mean to), click down to the odd little symbol on the opposite end from the AWB (which I always read as Average White Band), then push the Menu button.
Debbie Curtis untitled acrylic on wallpaper in The Barbie Show at Rising Gallery
On my other Canon pocket cam, I have to push the Display button for White Balance, so I sometimes click that instead, but it never works on the s90, and once I figure that out, I remember what does work, and even if the white area I have to fill the frame with is tiny, I usually can — since it matters not a whit to this whole proceeding whether it's in focus, and it always works.
Some art galleries have various mixes of fluorescent, tungsten, daylight and other stray lights, so it comes in very handy. And it's so much lighter than a D series digital Nikon, has Image Stabilization at all focal lengths, and its lens is a whole stop brighter.
Great cam for shooting art, especially now that the LCD tells the truth again. Yay, Canon!
Mark di Suervo Ad Astra 2005 painted steel 48 x 25.5 x 25.5 feet
Ah! Found something while exiting a movie. Had to photograph it. Again. [below] Always a thrill to see it coming up out of the escalator pit called downstairs at NorthPark Shopping Center in North Dallas, although I remember when it was a ranch on the outskirts of town.
Minus the sculpture, of course, and all the people.
Oh Frabjus Day! My s90 works wonderfully and WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) works again.
"Your product has been examined and it was found that the optical assembly did not operate properly causing black spots. The optical assembly was replaced and product functions were confirmed. Other electrical adjustments, inspection and cleaning and parts replacements were carried out."
Looking forward to stumbling upon something a little more worthy of photographing than a bird wing I found in my front yard. Still, it's nice. Great subject for close-up. I'd forgot; so nice to have the spots gone, and to have replaced the optical assembly really seems to have helped.
A Small Package Of Value Will Come To You, Shortly SD780
That's the title for the talking goof lead-in to a song by Jefferson Airplane (full title: A Small Package Of Value Will Come To You, Shortly / Young Girl Sunday Blues, and it came true for me today. I got my s90 back from Canon, and it works good as new.
This photo of the s90 still in its Canon packaging (better than how they shipped back my SD780 a couple weeks ago) was shot with my SD780, but I'll be posting s90 shots soon. Or maybe in a paragraph or two.
Light Splatters from my Front Window on my Wood Floor s90
Kinda an obtuse subject. Light splattered from my already-too-photographed front window full of translucent objects. But the tenth shot on my newly repaired and returned to Factory Specifications S90. For awhile, I thought I saw slants of light all through the image, then I realized it was wood grain in the floor.
So glad to have my camera back. Kinda wish I had a underwater housing for it, since I'm swimming so often these days, and I keep seeing vivid colored objects around that pool the s90 would render exquisitely, but I don't want to get it wet.
Canon or somebody was offering an email coupon for 10% off at Amazon this week — bringing the price down to $160 or so, and I seriously considered it. But the camera I'd really want a water housing for would have a much longer zoom. For photographing birds from a borrowed or bought small portable kayak, or so the dream goes. A water housing for my Nikon with my 150~500mm lens would cost as much as my D300.
DPR tested Super-Zoom Compacts recently, and I kept wishing something as good as my s90 had a loooong zoom.
Yo Tentatively Accepts the New Office
I've just read another Digital Photography Review review of a MicroFourThirds camera with five times the sensor size as my S90 (that's still in the shop). Five times, and guess which camera got the higher score in DPR's newish number review rating. (See several on the bottom of the right-most column.
The s90 is, of course, at least a two percent better camera than the Panasonic G-2 — or any other camera I've seen reviewed there — except Sony's new Alpha 850 that's $2,000 body only; that got the same score as our little wonder. With a 75% rating, and it only costs half what the G-2 goes for and a fifth what the Sony costs, and has built-in image stabilization, although no articulating LCD.
Interesting. Food for thought.
Two Pocket Canons s90
Me in my bathroom mirror (whose own splotches look like they belong to both cameras but don't.) attempting to show the size differences between my Canon SD780 (just back from Canon repair) and my Canon S90 (now in repair; they say it'll be fixed in and returned back to me within approximately 7 business days from July 10. I still love my 780, but I miss the s90. I'm hoping they can return it to Factory Specifications, and it will once again take pictures that look like they did while I was twiddling the dial.
The 780 just takes pictures. The s90 allows me to make images. Directly comparing the resulting images from the two cameras belies my thesis presented ad nauseam in Cameras & Lenses Useful for Photographing Art: An Introduction to Digital Cameras & Lenses and a little more forcibly in immensely unpopular Great Camera Shootout, in which I directly (pixel peepin' time) compare images of art from my Nikon D300, Canon S5-IS, Canon SD 780 and my currently missing in action Canon S90.
Which, of course, the Nikon wins handily, but in a strong second-place showing is the SD780. Or the s90, depending upon how you look at it. I should warn you, the painting I photographed is offensive to some people, like gallery owners who liked Tom Moody's paintings, style and sense of humor, but who were — almost universally — scared to show this image. But it's not an overtly mean visual image. More subtle. I always think it's just plain funny how some people react to it.
On my J R's Collection suite of pages on DallasArtsRevue, which I edit and publish, I give the squeamish an opportunity to opt out of seeing it. You have that right, also, of course. It was just the first interesting painting in my pile when I needed to shoot actual art, although that page is much more than about photographing art now.
The s90 is substantially larger than the sd780, and that's not as obvious in this photograph as I'd hoped, but once they are both in one of my pants pockets, it becomes overt. (The big diff is thickness, which doesn't show in my bathroom shot above.)
I forget the 780 is in there, often, as I've been wearing it this last week since I sent off the s90. The s90 is a great camera but only barely pocketable. The 780 is a good pocket camera, when it works — although I was hoping when I sent it back to Canon to fix, that they'd fix it, instead of simply returning it to Factory Specs. Its Factory Specs are not nearly good enough.
If they revive my s90 back to Factory Specs, however, I'll rejoice. Stay tuned.
Golden Leaves Among the Green S90
Finally sent off my s90 today. Maybe Canon will fix it better than the SD780 I got back this week doing the same exact things by the second day and the LCD all scratched up. It's still a wonderful camera that gets lost in my pocket, so I'm never obnoxiously aware I've a camera stuffed in there like s90, and it works. Sometimes.
It's just possible they can fix the 90. I do hope, and I wouldn't mind terribly paying for its fix, since although I did not drop it, I did drop onto it. I have hope now, but as a cynical optimist I'm required to.
Un-Post-Processed Pixel-Peeper 100% Crop of Yo from the s90 at ISO 800
I have a 50mm f/1.8 non-VR, a 17~55 non-VR, and a 150~500 for my Nikon D300, leaving a pretty substantial gap, both in focal length and carry-ability, and today, on the first morning of spring 2010, I had to borrow Anna's 18~55mm zoom so I could get some wide shots of the spectacular Solstice sunrise, since my Rocket Launcher doesn't have any of those.
So I did a little research on comparable Nikon lenses, and even after all that, could not decide. I like my huge, clunking, f/2.8 at all focal lengths lens, but I'd hate to have to carry it around while using my Rocket Launcher (Sigma 150~500mm zoom AF APO DG OS HSM f/5.6~6.3 super tele zoom).
Usually what I do is keep my S90 or SD780 in my pocket, it case I need to take a wide shot. The SD is all wrapped up ready to get sent back to Canon Fixit — again. And the s90 is next in that same line. And I didn't bring it with me.
In the 1970s, I used my Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 lens for a whole year, never using any other lens, just because it seemed like an interesting thing to do. That was film and manual focus, back when cameras had split-image rangefinder focusing built into the viewing screens. I shot everything from news shots to portraits with that one lens — in fact, I often wish I had as fast a 24mm DX lens (35mm equivalent) lens now.
I still have the old one, but I'm not willing to struggle against the impossible odds of focusing it on a digicam without split-image focusing. The s90 is not quick enough to shoot impromptu photographs along with the careful, enthusiast shots and art documents I love to make. And my big, fat, heavy, clunky 17~55mm f/2.8 lens is neither fast (bright) enough nor light enough to want to carry around with me, and it has no VR.
Five Nikon VR Lenses to fill my gap for wide to mild tele
mm equiv f/stops nomenclature focus cost zoom Wt. 18~200 27~300 3.5~5.6 ED VR II DX 20 774 11.11x 19.2 24~120 36~180 3.5~5.6 VR ED G 5x less-than optical at 24 - VG at 120; CA only in corners except 24; sharp 11, VG 8~16; Ø3~4.5; 18~105 27~156 3.5~5.6 ED VR II DX 18 360 5.8x 14.8 silent focus, good bokeh, little CA, Pz3-2-4 16~85 24~127 3.5~5.6 ED VR DX 15.6
5.3x 17.8 Ø4-4.5, barrel and vignetting wide, sharp 5.6 wide 11 tele; 1:4 closest, needs lens hood, good focus speed, bokeh harsh at 50mm f/5; lower distortion than 18~200, Bj Pz4-3-4 KRr compares with 18~200, 18~55 27~83 3.5~5.6 VR DX 11 270 3x 9.3 Ø4+ for non-VR, plastic, slow focus, pronounced barrel distortion close, blue CA, sharp 8 wide 11 tele, VG macro, flares in back-light, Bj DPR rec, KRr 17~55 25.5~83 2.8 ED DX 15 1,500 3.24x 27 Ø5 close, Ø4 distant; low CA, mild barrel wide - mild pin long; serious ghosting backlighted; can be used of FX w vignetting under 35mm; Pz3.5-5-2.5 very fast AF, center sharpness stellar, edges mediocre at 24mm 2.8 and 55mm. KRr
Ø= Bjørn Rørslett rating for Nikon D200; Pz = Photozone ratings for Optical, Mechanical and Price/Performance; Sharp with f/stops show at what apertures lens is sharpest or at wide or tele; KRr - Ken Rockwell review; bolds indicate extremes, barrel = barrel distortion and pin = pincushion distortion; focus = closest focus; CA = chromatic aberrations ...
In the end, even after all the research, I decided my Nikon 17~55 was the best possible lens I didn't have to afford, since I already bought it five years ago, and f/2.8 would just have to do.
A Small Package of Value May Come to You Shortly shot with Canon SD780
I've just filled out the return camera for repair information for my s90. It has to be repaired. They didn't ask any questions except when I bought it, which was last March, so it was clearly still in warranties. I'm also sending back my SD780, which I want even less to send back, although it's much more clearly in need of fixing. That one's already been back for repairs once, and now it's even worse in need of fixing.
No doubts about the SD780. It's a damaged camera. I suspect it came damaged, which is why Canon replaced it after only six months from its debut. Kinda wish they'd told Ken Rockwell, who is still calling it 'The Best Pocket Camera," even though he has since been calling the s90 The Best Pocket Camera.
After this long as an owner of an s90, I know it's not really a pocket camera. Not at all. But it certainly qualifies big time as an enthusiast's camera.
I read reviews, but I mostly went on his recommendation when I bought my SD780, which I still love, despite its many and obvious failings. Worst among those is that it often refuses to turn on. Big failing for a camera that's supposed to be used, and not just stuck off in a corner looking cute. When it works, it's pretty terrific. Very small. Very pocketable. When it doesn't work, it's just a cute little brick.
Takes good pictures. I still use it to photograph art, and those pix are just fine for web work, which is where I post most of my photographs of art (See my 1,300+ page DallasArtsRevue site, where most of the photographs of art are by me). It even takes pix at 1 per second, which is pretty amazing for driving down the street photographing something(s).
But I really hold it against it that it often refuses to turn on.
Yellow Egret Mit Schmutz shot with s90
I'm sending the s90 back to Canon for repairs in the same box. Either showing I'm a sucker for Canon's reputed quality or I'm a glutton for punishment.
It's problems are more complex. I assume most — if not all — its current issues stem from being fallen on (I did not drop it) by me from the height of approximately 15 inches. I would much rather not have fallen on it, since that sturdy little camera broke three of my ribs on my left side. Excruciating.
Since then, almost every frame out of that wonderful little camera that may truly be The Best Enthusiast's Compact Digital, comes with some sort of splotches, in exactly the same places precisely approximated in the above, only very slightly cropped image. See the dark spots on the upper central rightish and bottom right corners?
Dallas, Texas' New Calatrava Bridge in the Making — sans schmutz s90
That's my schmutz. It doesn't show in every shot. Sometimes there's similarly toned or colored image areas there, so the black doesn't show so obviously, and so far, I've been able to have Photoshop Heal it every time, but I cannot really depend upon the stains to always come out.
Besides, the most egregious issue is that what changing the aperture, shutter speed or EV does not show in the LCD. I.e., the LCD lies. I assume a lot of LCDs lie. But for a careful enthusiast's camera where such adjustments are very important, I'd rather have it work correctly than to try to outguess it.
I hope Canon will fix it. I wouldn't mind terribly having to pay some of the cost of them fixing it, but I do so hope they will be able to fix it. It's a great little (though only barely pocketable) camera that is much better than the SD780. I hope to be an s90 enthusiast for a much longer time.
Although I've had my eyes peeled for a replacement. The Panasonic LX3, that Canon closely copied to create the s90 may have an upcoming replacement at long last. If se, I might get one if my s90 is unfixable. I've also done a great deal of research (See my Cameras & Lenses page that started out as Cameras & Lenses Useful for Photographing Art.) in MicroFourThirds and other mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras and especially in cameras with articulating LCDs and Cameras with Manual Exposure Options.
That Chair Again s90 shot
I may have to change the name of this journal. I still love the capabilities that are left of my s90 after it broke three of my ribs when I fell a foot and a half onto it, thus rendering it prematurely senile, with schmutz-like dust spots on images, and destroying the LCDs image-preview capabilities, and I'm on to the next camera possibility
I want a good cam with an articulating LCD. I held and fired a Nikon D5000 today. It felt a lot like a D40 (a very good thing). It's light, focused fast in regular mode, so I tried it in Live View (focused a lot slower) and made one exposure. What came of it was nothing like what I saw on the LCD. When my Canon S5-IS was in manual mode (as was the D5000 today) what I saw on the LCD prior to shooting is what I got.
Not, apparently what I can expect with the D5000, however, so I need to do more research. Would sure be nice to have a camera I already had lenses for.
Now I'm reading a story in Mother Jones (of all places) by Kevin Drum about articulating LCDs in October 2009, called "Autofocus Blues." In which the writer calls attention to the fast normal mode focusing of the Nikon D5000 and the extraordinarily slow AF of it in Live View, which is probably what I'd use if I used the D5000 for "light studio" work like at Joel's and other times I get to shoot sculpture (my favorite form to contemplate and photograph).
Maybe I should use Live View (LV) for setting composition, then switch back to autofocus regular mode for shooting. Or does it even matter that LV is slow — even painfully slow to focus, if the cam's on a tripod?
And now I'm reading the online comments to the MJ story, which seem to be leading me in an intriguing direction.
Back to the Panasonic G2 — and silly historic prejudices against using EVFs instead of fresnel / ground glass / optical VFs. I've talked about some of these old prejudices on my Cameras & Lenses page, and I am fascinated by their various permutations. Here's a responder talking about the D5000, "which has excellent shutter lag and AF acquisition specs when live-view is off, apparently turns into a horrible focusing slug when live-view is activated. It not only uses contrast detection, but evidently uses a really slow, crappy version of contrast detection that makes the camera almost useless."
Hmmm... Here's nice. On a D5000, one can move the autofocus square around to focus at a specific place — just like on my D300 (but not on the D40). That's grande. Wish the s90 had that. The more I read about it, the more the D5000 and its articulating LCD seems made for what I want it to do: photograph inanimate art objects from too high, too low or otherwise inaccessible. And its kit lens would be a great little image-stabilized wide-to-slight tele zoom for the Nikon lenses I've been gathering all my life, it seems.
I keep finding positives to outweigh the negatives, then more negatives to outweigh the positives. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have achieved stasis. The facts have once again backed me into a corner. To complicate matters, the guy at Wolf today told me the Nikon D90 might have an articulated LCD. La la.
The reviews of the 5k keep iterating the same possibilities, never once mentioning using an LCD to photograph art or other objects, at which it might just be quite good. And all for only about $30 more than the Canon G11, compared with which even in slow old LV, the D5000 renders spectacularly better IQ (Image Quality).
Guitar Head: accidentally shot at iso 3200, then softened in dFine
I photographed more tribal art today at Joel Cooner Gallery, using the s90, but it was not easy. The fact that I fell on it enough to break three ribs is really beginning to show on the camera, which does not behave like it did when new or before it broke my ribs. For one thing, the preview in the LCD is way off and getting offer. Then there's the dust or oil spots in the same place on most of the images.
Twirling the little wheel that everybody says turns too loosely alters the apparent exposure, but it does not stay that way and what it shows is rarely what I get. I get that it's damaged, and that Canon probably won't fix it for free, since it was mishandled. I miss what it used to be, but even at its best condition ever, it's not what I need to shoot art, especially in make-shift studio conditions.
At home, at other people homes and studios and other times I photograph art, I generally use my Nikon D300, which I've learned to think with. Everything's quick and what I see on the LCD is dead accurate to what I'll get — especially when I enlarge it eight clicks. But it's too big a camera to use on Joel's puny tripod, and even if it weren't, it doesn't have an articulating LCD.
I sorely missed the Canon S5-IS' articulating LCD, but the colors that come from that lame, old camera just aren't vivid enough anymore. I cranked my own tripod up higher than I am, and then I had the devil of a time sighting through the stuck-on-the-back tripod of the s90 just like the one on my Nikon.
I really do need an articulating LCD to shoot 3-D work well from a tripod. It might be different if I had a dedicated studio or a tabletop I could rack up and down for the wide variety of very tall to very short objects. But I don't, and I cannot.
I need a more adjustable camera that I can always wee what it's pointed at, and the s90 is not it. What would be, however, is a huge question with many competing answers, all of which involve serious compromises in one direction or several, and none of which yet seem right enough to go ahead and buy into a new system.
There is, of course, the Canon G11, which is a good camera with an articulating LCD and awfully good IQ (image quality) considering its tiny sensor. But I'd rather have a bigger sensor — at least microFourThirds (m43) size up to APS-C/DX size like on my Nikon. As good as the G11 is, it's big and clunky, does not fit into a pocket, and does not have a long enough zoom to photograph birds.
I can't afford a different outstanding camera for each of my photographic uses, but getting it down to three — pocket camera for whatever arises when I'm not planning on anything arising; the big Nikon for real professional shooting; and a little studio camera for Joel's and other places — might almost be sensible.
I want an easily carry-able camera (which the s90 never really was) with either a very versatile, very wide-angle to long-tele zoom or interchangeable lenses. Preferably interchangeable lenses I don't have to buy all new ones of, and which have bright maximum apertures. I like the m43 Olympus E-P2's built-in image stabilization (IS) and comparatively small size, but want the Panasonic G2's articulating LCD. But that m43 sensor is too small. I need an APS-C = DX sensor like the one on my Nikon.
Like the one on the new Sony NEX-5, which offers great IQ but doesn't have a fully articulating LCD or built-in IS. I want an electronic viewfinder (EVF) like the one that Olympus adds onto its E-P2, or is built-into the the Panasonic G2. The Nikon D5000 has enough of those and a somewhat movable, though not entirely articulating LCD and, unlike all these other choices, will use lenses I already own.
I want a smaller, more versatile camera I can use at Joel's or just out wandering around. One that's got a good, longer zoom, smallish body, built-in IS, manual controls and that doesn't cost and arm and a leg. That all seems to imply a little Point+Shoot like Canon's, but I've had those, and didn't entirely appreciate the experience.
I'm thinking either the Panasonic G2 is the best of the bunch for what I want, but I'd sure miss the IS on every zoom level the s90 and most other compact cameras have. So maybe I should stick with my Nikon lenses I already have and love and add the Nikon D5000's articulating LCD, even though it's basically an amateur's camera with amateur slowness and amateur gimmicks.
Then I could afford a new s90.
David Hickman Duet Male/Female steel
Busy, busy day today, birding at the beginning, then all day excitement, social, art and food. Yum. Chronologically, I could have started this page out with the turtle or the grasshopper, but it really seemed like a juggling kind of acrobatic day. I had my s90 with me all along, only took a spare few shots with it while birding, but lots more at the parties.
Probably seemed strange for some to have me wandering around with a little camera taking pictures of everything in sight at both, hugely attended parties this Sunday before Memorial Day but it's who I am, what I do. Besides, what better opportunity to take colorful, fun, interesting shots with that camera I keep testing.
The David Hickman sculpture is instructive in this context, because the first half dozen attempts to photograph it resulted only in bright blurs. The s90 would not focus on its textures, bright metallic as they were. Until I seriously darkened (EV–2 — the max) the image and aimed the focus box just right. This frame is not full full frame but close, and it one worked for the sculpture, but rendered the background of trees and green too dark, of course.
From one direction it's a man, I'm told, and from the other it appears female. I think this side is male.
Turtle Up Close, Pulled In
This was my first of two important turtles today. This guy was at the Fort Worth Solid Waste Drying Beds in Arlington, Texas this early morning as we hoped for — and got — lots of interesting birds to photograph. I'd brought both my big Nikon with my big Sigma "Rocket Launcher" lens, and my s90, just in case. The other was a turtle traveling we thought too slow across the middle of a busy road in Dallas on our way to parties.
I picked it up and carried it across the road to a a pond. Soon as I put it down it speeded into the water, making a big splash and landing upside down. All the way across it had thrashed and attempted to make me drop it. I grabbed in what I thought would be the safest hand placements along its side toward the back. I didn't want to get big. I don't think it appreciated my helping it across, and I never had a chance to photograph it I was so busy do gooding for it. It was dark green, all over angular and very strong and thrashy.
In this case, it was a large turtle who needed photographing and on his level. So I stood over him, leaned way over to put the camera on the ground aimed in at him, and fired. That's mostly my shadow all around it. This is the second try. The first was way off, since seeing into a sun-lighted s90 LCD is still almost impossible. Very pleased with the shot.
I brought a Hoodman LCD Loupe that I used to check composition and exposure on both the s90 and the Nikon.
Grasshopper on a Dirt Road
Didn't think I'd got this one. Thought I didn't manage to capture any details. The first time I tried, I did not succeed. This time, apparently, it worked pretty well, rendering the dirt road and plants and trees all around nicely defocused. Remarkable, since I didn't put a lot of effort into the endeavor and needed to do it quickly before our little green friend decided to hop elsewhere, which it did almost immediately after this shot.
The windshield was too far forward for me to site through the LCD, so placement here was just a wild guess that turned out okay. I cropped it only a little, to make it look bigger in the frame. I had set focus to Macro just before I stuck it out there.
Three Faces of TJ
This was at the second of our two big parties of Sunday. TJ Mabrey is an amazing friend and a world-acclaimed sculptor, although you might not deduce that from these faces she greeted me with. That's the real her in the middle. She likes to clown for cameras. She had a very similar-sized but very differently configured, rounded edged long zoom camera with her that we've talked about and compared over email before.
When we go to her rural Central Texas home again, we'll trade and play with each others' cameras. I've been wanting to try something with more telephoto, perhaps long enough to capture hawks flying over or perched atop telephone poles.
What's pretty amazing about this short series is that I got all three shots in as rapid a succession as it took TJ to express her inner selves, in sharp focus the first time I shot them, which was the only time it happened. I often write how slow this camera is on the uptake, but here, we can see that, when the photographer is inspired and paying close, enthusiast's attention, speed can happen. TJ was leaving as we were arriving, so she was the first friend in, whom I had time to talk with. Brief remarks, hugs, kisses and goodbye.
TJ Mabrey Okra David and Linda Hickman Collection
Two African Hats on the sides, with Billy L. Keen's Becoming Human, behind
This is skipping ahead in the chronology that you mostly won't see in the unfolding of the day's art, but T J Mabrey has been sculpting soft, organic shapes out of hard organic materials for many years now. Some are on her DallasArtsRevue Supporting Member's page as elsewhere on these sites. Do a quick search of my sites to see three pages of mentions of her name and her art. She and I used to travel far in Texas to see art, and we visited Stanley Marsh in Amarillo and other art in Houston and San Antonio, too. Grand fun, those long rides talking about art and artists and seeing more of it.
David Hickman Delicate Balance (detail) about ecology
I love this piece of this piece and felt need to capture its essence in that colorful room/gallery. The s90 obliged my whim wonderfully, having something solid and colorful to hang its focus on — and, despite the darkness around, plenty of light in the glass.
Becky Johnson Cinderella
David and Linda Hickman Collection
In another end of that same room, off to the right from the star streaks was this stained glass beauty in a vivid yellow dress. Work by many artists were scattered around the grounds and through the house and everywhere all around all around, although it was almost all there anyway, part of their private collection. It was a party to promote local sculpture, a party to have fun and probably about six other reasons, if that few. Good music, great art, fun architecture, very visual day just aching to be captured in silicone.
David Hickman Red & White Maquette in Blue Cubicle Maybe a foot and a half high
Realized and unrealized sculpture models in a blue cabinet open and closed to the outside. This one was realized twice. Once at Trammell Crow's Alexan Design Center and once in David's studio yard as the gear in a gate, which I think I photographed.
Interesting red couch in the middle of that marvelous gallery/rec room, showing both the blue cabinet of cubby holes at the top left and the stripe-tiled fireplace on the right.
Sometimes an umbrella is just an umbrella to keep off the sun and rain.
Bright Flowers Out Front
And a bunch of flowers, even against a black-painted wall of garages, is just a bunch of flowers. Not so much art exactly, but there for their beauty, which I thought a gently astonishing sight, though I wondered whether those garages are extra hot on bright Texas sunshiny days. Then I remembered almost going in there accidentally, while wandering around. But I didn't, so I don't know its temperature.
Colorful Chairs at Casa Azul
Lots of color and lots of white on white and dark on dark art scattered around the extensive garden area in our second garden party of the day at friends.
David Hickmn Arrow Fish (detail)
David likes his sculpture to move, and many of them turn on bases, tilt, swing and circle. Huge butterflies flapped slowly above and this fish and other colorful objects swung and swayed below.
Bromeliad, or something like that
This was in the blue greenhouse named Casa Azul, near where were the colorful chairs and stools above.
Eliseo Garcia Eliseo's Bench
Eliseo Garcia Loving Hands White Marble
And where there wasn't glorious color, there was glorious white. I remember identifying a long series of Eliseo's work by those big hands.
Diana and Stoney Savage with Roger Aberg
I sat close and up front to hear my friend Diana whom I'd met in a reading group many years ago sing the first time I'd heard her do that, and in such an amazing art environment, full of angles, shapes, textures and dimensionalities, to hardly even mention the colors.
Origami Leaf in an Origami Tree
The other party was more personal, less promotional but just as happy and musical — mostly drums that anybody could pick up and bang along. I'm sure after we left the drumming went into the night. We love it when it happens and missed it as we left for the other place. Plenty, too, of art, but of a more personal style and presentation.
Artist & Title Unknown
Both parties showed off extensive backyard gardens of differing complexities involving nature and art.
Moonlady's Herb Garden
Plenty of light just outside the kitchen on the way to outside's green gardens and flowing waters. Everything lovely and natural. So nice it almost felt cool.
Herb Garden Annex
Except as noted above, when I grabbed the camera and shot it quickly to capture a moment or an animal or object, most of these shots from this busy and pleasant day, were enthusiast's moments of careful consideration about what I wanted to capture, and fiddling with dials · that one that annoyed me so very much in the earliest days of my ownership of the Canon S90, doesn't at all anymore.
I can't remember the last time that dial got in my way, except after dealing with other cameras, I have to switch gears and remember how this one operates. Then, I've noticed that it doesn't move easily enough, so the problem, if that's what it was, of it moving too freely, never has a chance to bother me anymore, and I wonder at all the fuss it seems to cause other S90 users.
Except for all of today's blurred pet shots and pets with humans, none of which are usable, the camera acquitted itself well in several hundred occasions.
all today's shots exposed at ISO 400, usually with EV – .67 or more.
More Art Below.
Yo and My Foot
Yesterday was a rather ambiguous and way too complicated (as it turned out; I just parked the camera in my pocket before we left.) experiment involving the wrong camera on one of those occasions when we needed to go somewhere but didn't know where and didn't find out till we'd gone and done it. Pleasant but unplanned, except for the pleasant part, like the experiment.
Setting myself assignments often feels odd. I don't have cameras to do assignments. I have cameras to take photographs. Sometimes I know ahead of time what the deal is. Often I discover them as I'm going about whatever other business or pleasure I'm on. Thursday, that was to photograph the latest works by Kathy Boortz, who is a friend and a client. I like it when those coincide. Most of my clients are friends, but not all and not always. The communications is always more effective and succinct when they are friends. Not, perhaps, deep, close friends, but people I know and like for who they are, not just what they do. And versa vice.
I like to be direct and point most of my actions toward showing their work in the best possible light, angle, view. Over the years, I know what they like and need and want. Joel likes differing angles and important details. He wants front, side, quarter and three quarter views, backs, important details, historic aspects. He likes his better, more important and more expensive work to look dramatic. I almost always shoot his stuff with one light and one flat foam board reflector to give it plenty of shape.
Kathy displays her work on her back deck, where light is diffuse, usually against a light background. Joel has a signature green the gallery is painted and he's adopted as "his." We put pieces against that color wall whenever possible. Most others have their paintings wherever it is. If possible, I have them hold it facing me and the sun. I have hundreds of shots of chins and hands, shoulders and arms around paintings
All that gets cropped out. What's important is the piece, and the color.
Other times, besides birds, I photograph what happens to me or what I happen on. Impossible to plan ahead for that. For those, a pocket camera is often best. Why I bought the Canon SD780, which often does not work, so I carry it less, though it is tiny and inconspicuous enough I'm willing to hassle with its inconsistencies sometimes. Then the s90, which is a larger, more noticeable presence. I rarely have it without remembering it constantly. It's banging against my knee as I walk, or crowding my pockets.
Neither a small DX sensor camera or a microFourThirds cam is going to be small and inconspicuous. I've been thinking for any situation when I might be faced with the possibility of having the opportunity to make an Art photograph — not a photo of art, but one that qualifies for that status itself, I should go ahead and carry my big, chunky, ol' Nikon D300. It's quick, and I'm quick with it. I point, shoot and get, unlike when I aim and fire any Point+Shoot camera.
Most shots are at least in focus, which tends not to happen with the s90 — unless I'm being very careful. I may have confused the function of a carry-around camera with the function of an enthusiast's camera. The s90 is great as an enthusiast's camera, but it does not carry-around well. Except sometimes.
This is one of those times. My s90 was on the edge of the desk in front of me as I searched the net for information about an Olympus Pen EP-2 with its marvelous, high-res Electronic Viewfinder I'm so keen on trying. That I miss all these years since my main cam was the Sony F707 and its built-in EVF. Most of what it was was not quite good enough, although way ahead of everybody else back then. But having direct visual feedback every time I shot a pic, was wonderful. And I miss it.
Absent-mindedly, I was rubbing something under my desk with my bare foot. I assumed it was the edge of my cat's bed, but it turned out to be Yo, himself. I didn't recognize it immediately, because he did not scratch or bite me while I worked my foot up and down along what turned out to be his chin. Yo had a rough early childhood, and he's always wary of someone doing him dirty, even though we don't do that here, ever. He just remembers, or has a fragment of a memory lodged in his unconsciousness somewhere buried deep.
When I recognized the furry hardness of his face as cat, I looked down and wondered what kind of photograph that would make. The s90 was in easy reach, so I picked it up, held it carefully against my knee, focused very carefully on his right whiskers, so they'd stand out. Click, check the LCD, blurred. Click again, holding it with two hands.
Three more shots. The image in the LCD was dark, perfectly matching what I saw against my recently fractured right foot. This photo is my first image of it not swollen. With veins showing. I either did not manage to wake Yo up, or he chose to keep his eyes closed and his face against my foot.
I had turned off the bright red focus lamp when light is dark weeks ago, because it always upsets Yo, who is the most annimate and interesting object here. It probably hurts his eyes. Because it had to work at optical focusing, the s90 focused slowly, as I aimed here, then there, then back to the whiskers. Gradually, eventually, the camera figured out what I was trying to focus it on, and it let me.
I got two shots that I mostly like, and I like this one better. Nose, whiskers, jowls, even Yo's forehead is sharp. My foot is sharp. f/4.9 at full telephoto, 22.5mm, whatever 35mm equivalence that might be. ISO 400 like I usually shoot except at Joel's. One second, I think that 1 must mean. Kinda hard to believe.
Today's plan was to start shooting soon as I woke up. And when I did, I reached over, found my S90, and started taking pictures. Pretty proud of myself till about the dozenth shot, when the camera finally bothered to tell me that there was no memory card installed. It truly took my pictures. So I found a card, stuck it in, and started taking the same pix again. This was the first one of those.
Just the sort of shot the S90 is good for. Nothing's moving. I got the White Balanced, I composed, I shot. It is hardly wonderful, but it more or less worked. Nyahhh.
It took a long time to get these several hundred shots from the card to the computer. Usually, I just drag them over from a Card Reader to the working space on my iMac, but today it refused until I downloaded just a few at a time over with Canon's Image Browser, which I'd always been unsettled about having uploaded till today. It automatically gets in the way every time I load a card, Canon or Nikon or whatever, but now I see that there may actually be some use in it.
Apparently this image and a couple others of this mornings initial shots had got disrupted enough that the lower parts of the image never made it to the card. More damage, no doubt, from me falling on this camera and breaking some ribs. I'm still not sure I want to replace it, when it's so slow and has such a short zoom. Maybe a 4/3rds camera or that new Sony NEX will work better for me. I like the s90, but it's just not fast enough for anything but meticulous work.
Yacht Club with Dallas Skyline
Later, Anna came by and we decided to go somewhere. Where we usually go on those whims is the lake. I knew that if I wanted serious bird photographs I should take my Nikon and the Rocket Launcher, but I was still in the mode of using the s90, so I brought it instead. It's good enough for scenics, if this is scenic.
What it's really good for is getting out of the car, walking up to an object, and carefully considering everything, then clicking a couple of times, which is what I did here. And it's an adequate shot of this pylon in the slime of a boat dock that's very rarely used. Nice contrasting colors. Lots of texture. Pretty, in a limited way.
We're not sure who dragged this bed out of where and stowed it right there, but I was once again happy to get up out of the car, walk around to find the right angle of view, fire off a bunch of shots. Even composed tightly as this, it looks like it's in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that's just right. Nice to have caught that big bug at top right.
This was as close as we got to a bird using this camera with it's vague resemblance of a telephoto lens. Not much feather detail, and there's lots going on in grackle feathers, and it's an adequate photograph of a bird that's close. No biggie.
Nice of this tree to stand there without moving much more than a few leaves while I stuck the cam out the window and went click.
I liked the composition.
This guy was crawling around on my seat belt while the window was open, and it took awhile to get it to hold still enough to focus way up close on it, but eventually I did. Then I dulled the sharpness on the belt itself, and I still have no idea what bug that is.
Barn Swallows on electric lines. When I tried to brighten them up with the flash, the camera overexposed them and the sky behind them, rendering the whole shot useless.
The trick in much of my bird photography is using a camera whose IQ (image quality) is so good that the image can be enlarged enough to make the image look okay even when the bird in question is proportionally large enough to take over the composition. It usually works with my Nikon. This camera doesn't.
More proof of that failure. We think it's a grackle juvenile. It certainly seemed uneven on its feet and just learning how to use them, but it was not smoothed out or particularly well served by greatly enlarging it from the s90 original shot.
This bird stood perfectly still while I composed, shot, recomposed and reshot.
I originally made this for Bobby's Birthday, but it kept getting bigger and bigger, and all he said he wanted was something to hang on the tree — it being near Christmas — and since it no longer had any chance of hanging on anything but maybe the National Christmas Tree or the one in Times Square, I gave him something else that would fit, and I still have this crinkled tin-foiled object.
The guy in it said it was really Critter Control, and this was one of the old trucks that still had the old name on it. We liked the pattern of little feet across the side of it.
My Rocket Launcher is way too telephoto to back off and get a shot like this. My s90 is not fast enough to capture birds flying like this in sharp focus, so this is a major compromise that doesn't really, but only sorta does work.
It was raining here, so I didn't get out of the car and walk over there and get better composition, but I still like the colors, although the S90 didn't deal well with them.
I spend more and more time considering and reconsidering Olympus' m43 cameras, and their EP-2 with their new f/4~5.6 14~150mm (28~300 35mm equivalent) zoom would have been very nice for a day of shooting like today. I could have zoomed in on all those little birds and wided out for other scenes. And since my S90 seems to be getting worse after it broke three of my ribs ...
Today, I spent way too much time attempting, then finally nearly succeeding in testing all my cameras under nearly the identical circumstances. The results were skewed by something — focus, camera movement (all were shot with a tripod, but not all employed a self-timer), something.
My startling results were that my Canon S90 (even in its post rib-breaking condition) makes the second sharpest and/or contrasty (I cannot yet differenciate between those two qualities) images of them all — Nikon D300 with 50mm 1.8 and the 17~55 2.8 zoom; S5; SD780 and S90.
All the details I could stand are on my Great Camera Shootout page.
It's not Canon's fault if my S90 is behaving strangely. Today, shooting at Joel Cooner Gallery — mostly African Hats, my S90 did spectacularly well. Rendered images so beautifully and clean I hardly had to do any adjustments in Photoshop, when with the S5 I had to do twenty minutes or more for every shot. Amazing quality images shot with one badly-bent lamp and a styrofoam board reflector to fill in some of the shadows.
I have them since I shot them on my personal S90, and I just didn't have time to get to this one — which was slimy-moist to the touch — at the gallery today. This was not what showed on the LCD before and after setting exposure today, but I may be learning to read its mind. Although maybe second-guessing comes natural to serious photographers.
The LCD view was also different from how they turned out, but what turned out was just short of spectacular. Not what many photogs would expect out of a Compact Point+Shoot. Certainly not what I expected out of a camera this small and this tough before I became so enamoured of it I just had to buy one.
I say "tough," because when I recently broke my ribs in a short fall, this camera was under and directly adjacent to the three ribs I broke when I fell on it. I had earlier believed nothing was wrong with the camera after our collective fall, but today I saw what I recognize from my interchangeable-lens Nikon dSLR as "dust" spots on the sensor.
Most closed-box compact cameras never have the opportunity to show splotches on their sensors, because there'd be no way of getting the substance into the camera. Apparently, falling on one provided the opportunity. I now believe my S90 got jarred loose of whatever — lubricant, dust or small pieces of something — when my ribs compressed it into the dirt downhill from the Winfrey Building overlooking White Rock Lake about a month ago.
This is a piece I failed by not giving it the credit I believe it was due. It didn't help that it was awkwardly placed in front of a plaque of names (which I've freed it from in this reproduction).
Yes, it seems noticeably contrived with the crying cloud and rainbow body, headband and feather, and confused in all that mixed symbolism is a meaning I can't grasp. But deep down I understand.
There's a direct simplicity to it that I admire. It's not mawkish, it just is. I can't go back and change its placement, but I do hereby give it my Special Juror's Award.
Seems odd that I've had this camera almost two weeks and I am still baffled by its settings. I've depended on Ken Rockwell's guides to my Nikons as others have probably depended on his guides to Canon SLR cameras, but his chief story about the S90 is missing most of the setting details built into those other camera guides.
The most helpful page I've yet found is on Digital Photography Review's Canon forum replying to the question, "
1. Has somebody done a good online guide to s90 learnings and experiences?
2. What are your 5 best experiences in terms of s90 settings and best practice?"
The answers are online here.
Hand-held using the close-up mode, under fluorescent ceiling lights, with a green pillow leaned in behind what was left of the flower, so I wouldn't have to clean up my office.
Even later I attempted to do a close-up of the pistils that had meanwhile dropped to my mouse table with my S90, which did not wish to focus that close. So I tried my now nearly abandoned Canon SD780, which happily got down so much closer, and I felt sort of defeated, but then again, successful.