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First Couple of Months With the Canon PowerShot SD800

I’ve been using my Canon PowerShot SD800 IS Digital ELPH a lot lately owing to the small size and easy carryability (not really a word but it is what I mean).

I got the SD800 to replace my Pentax Optio S6 that just wasn’t cutting it as a pocket point-and-shoot. To be fair I got the Optio S6 for a specific purpose, to take aerial photos from my RC airplane which it does quite nicely but I was hoping that it would double as an always with me point-and-shoot. Sadly, it was not to be. The Optio just doesn’t work well for me in low light situations.

While some may consider the SD 800 an upgrade to the popular SD700 IS, the wider angle lens (35mm film camera equivalent to 3.8X – 28 – 105 mm versus 4X, 35 – 140 mm) kind of puts it in a different class. In fact. I recently recommended the SD700 to my sister and she is loving it and after using both I think the SD700 has an edge in image quality but I really like the added wide angle of the SD 800.

Canon bundles a 16MB memory card with the SD800. That is kind of a joke since it holds just four photos at the highest quality setting so go ahead and get a larger SD memory card right away. There were a ton of 1GB cards for next to nothing when I bough the camera so that is what I went with. It lets me shoot about 350 shots at high res. More than enough and I keep that 16MB card for those final four shots if I really need it! Actually, as an emergency you could lower the quality setting and pack a few more in.

The SD800 uses an NB-5L lithium-ion battery and has a nice, compact charger, unlike my Pentax Optio S6 that has a big, corded charger. Battery life has been great so far. I’ve never even had to use the spare battery while out shooting yet although I do rotate the batteries to keep them fresh. Canon estimates about 270 shots. Don’t know want the ratio of flash to non flash pix was but I recently took over 100 shots at night with the flash and still had power to spare.

I also got the Canon Digital ELPH accessory kit that includes a spare battery, A nice leather case and a useless, to me anyway, plastic-coated metal neck strap. I still think this is a good deal because a spare battery is about $39.00 and the whole kit was $44.00 so I go the case for $5.00. If you don’t need the spare battery, either for use or for security, skip this set just go for the case that costs about $15.00.

I really like the large, 2.5-inch LCD monitor. I use it for framing most shots but I do appreciate, and sometimes use, the optical viewfinder; another omission on the Pentax that I sometimes missed.

Another feature that I have grown to like is Image Stabilization. I love it on my full-bore Nikon 70-200/2.8 that I shoot with on my Nikon D200 and, even on a consumer-grade camera like this, it helps get sharper, more usable photos in low-light conditions. I don’t think I’d but another camera without it.

Focus speed is another area that I am happy with. The Optio S6 was woefully slow sometimes and except in super low light situations I’ve always found the SD800 to be nice and quick.

I haven’t used any of the bundled software yet but it seems like a capable set. I simply import the photos into Aperture on my Mac and that works for me.

So, after a couple of months use I am very happy with the SD800.

Nikon DSLR Lust – The New D3 and D300

Nikon recently made my DSLR lust kick into high gear by introducing the D3 and the D300. Both cameras are coming in November. The D3 looks like it will go for $4999.95. The D300 at $1799.95.

I’ve had my D200 for quite a while now and it is serving me well. I have about 7,000 images from it and I’ve even been playing quite a bit with my D50 that I got almost exclusively for my Aerial Pole Camera set up but with a new 12.3 megapixel sensor and seeming emphasis on better low-light capabilities (the only real Achilles heel I’ve discovered in the D200) I will have to seriously consider the D300. Frankly, the D3 is still out of reach for me.

There are a lot of sites out there with all the techie stuff like here, here and here but one cool feature, if I understand it correctly, will be the “LiveView” shooting modes that let you frame photos using the built-in 3.0-inch LCD display. That seems handy to me.

Oh, and the new self-cleaning sensor unit that vibrates the optical low-pass filter in front of the image sensor to shake particles free could be a great too. i shoot outside in the wind a lot and that makes for a dusty sensor at times. If this feature keeps me from having to clean the sensor as often as I do now, Whoopie!

I am sure I’ll replace the D200 someday, maybe even this November when the D300 comes out. I am going to be anxiously awaiting the first round of low-light tests to hit sites like DPReview or Ken Rockwell’s site and if the D300 is markedly better than the D200 maybe I’ll spring for one.

In addition to the new bodies Nikon is bringing out some new lenses including 14-24mm and 24-70mm wide angle lenses, both f/2.8, and 400mm, 500mm and 600mm super telephoto lenses. That 400mm f/2.8 may be tempting! Yeah, right at $8,799.95? Wowzers! More info here.

My Third Nikon DSLR, The Nikon D50

I started out with the D100 and then moved to the D200, which I really like, so you might be wondering why the Nikon D50 DSLR? Well, the main reason is that it weighs a lot less. I am going to be using the D50 on an aerial photography pole camera set up and the less weight 30-40 feet in the air the better. The pole can setup is still under construction but so far I have the poles, 40 feet of military aluminum antenna, the nikon D50 and a PRISM remote release. The PRISM plugs into an R/C aircraft receiver, and converts the servo control pulses to the infrared signal protocol necessary to trigger the shutter on the Nikon D50 digital camera. A very cool setup and handy when the camera is 40 feet in the air. I will be using a 2.4 Ghz Spread Spectrum aircraft RC unit so that I can pan and tilt the camera as well. That, coupled with a video down link will give me a good idea of what I am shooting.

Meanwhile, I have been shooting some shots with the D50 and the stock 18-55 Nikon lens. So far I really like the rig. Nice and light and, from what I’ve sees so far, the shots are great. I anticipate using it as a second camera when i am shooting with the D200 and the 70-200 2.8 that I love so much. Not having to switch lenses in a dusty windy environment like I so often shoot in will be great!

“Nikon D50 6.1MP Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S DX Zoom Nikkor Lens” (Nikon)

Nikon D200 Review at Steve’s DigiCams

I’ve often found the reviews at Steve’s DigiCams useful and really well done. Since I already own the D200, I was not looking to get convinced to buy one but there is a ton of info and I learned a lot about my new gear. There are about 15 pages to peruse and it is worth checking out if you are thinking about one of these super cameras or want to learn more about the rig you already have.

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