Friday, August 13, 2010

S80, one more time :)

It's kind of a crossover. As of last Monday, I now have my third Canon PowerShot S80, and my third infrared camera. They're one and the same. I don't know what it is; there's just something about the S80 I really like; no other camera I've had feels quite as natural. So while I've moved on to other cameras with better image and video quality since then, when I saw someone in China was selling a raft of PowerShots he reconditions to shoot IR, I had to see if a trusty S80 was among them. It was.

He had other, better models available too, for a lot more. But the S80 is pretty much the most compact PowerShot I've ever seen; they managed to pack just about everything into it and my hands never really stopped hungering to feel the thing again. As I said, I've had two before. One was my workhorse for nearly two years. The other was really just to slake the hankering, but it pretty much just sat around until I found a good home for it in Indiana, where it wouldn't just sit around but would do some real work again, as is this camera's due. Ah, but as an infrared camera, I have reason to start carrying one around again.

It was a little over two hundred dollars, and largely financed by the sale of my first infrared refurb, the G1, to a friend interested in getting into IR photograph himself. So, again, it served two happy purposes: I was getting a better camera for just a few dollars, and I was rescuing the sturdy G1 from sitting on the shelf and getting it into the hands of another amateur photographer.

The S80 has some significant advantages over even the S70 I've been using for IR work over the last couple of years. It's about a quarter smaller, it responds faster, it takes slightly larger pictures (8MP vs 7.1MP) of better quality (Digic II processor vs Digic I), and, best of all, its video abilities are significantly superior. The S70 is limited to recording, at best, 30 seconds of 15 frames-per-second 640x480 video snippets. The S80 can record a full 30 frames-per-second, and the only limit on it is a 1G ceiling on file size. At 640x480, that translates to, on average, about ten minutes (but about 40 minutes at 320x240). I'd prefer something longer (particularly for filming on the road), but ten minutes isn't bad, and it sure beats 30 seconds. Admittedly, the S80 doesn't shoot RAW like the S70, but that's a minor concern, since it's reasonably fast on AEB spreads (one of the reasons I bought my first S80, actually).

I've been putting it through its paces over the last couple of days, and yesterday, one of the Wednesdays P-Doug and I have booked off this year with an eye to hiking and nicely breaking the weeks up, I used it to reshoot the abandoned bridge abutment on 11th Concession (last visited at the end of April, but now with the trees nicely leafed out), and a recently-closed but gorgeous pony truss bridge in Bolton (I'll have to blog on that in particular).

Below: a shot of the lost bridge on 11th Concession location taken with the S70 in late April, and the S80 in early August. The S70 shot is also HDR, composed of three exposures. I like the moodiness and gloom of the first and the bright 'life goes on' solace of the second. :)


jim said...


And your second S80 is getting a serious workout here in Indiana.

So much so that I am seriously considering an S90, which is more capable than the S80 and is small enough that it just might actually fit comfortably in my pants pocket.

Lone Primate said...

Oh, yeah, go for it. I waited years for them to come out with an S90, finally despaired of it, and then, of course, they finally went ahead and did it. Put the RAW shooting they'd taken out after the S70 back in, reduced the size, made the screen huge, improved the image quality... if they'd only come out with it by early 2008, I'd have probably gone that way instead of with the used G9 I depended on for two years. And I can't say for sure I won't grab one even now if a reasonably-priced used one comes my way. Yeah, go for it! :)

jim said...

I'm sorely tempted. Sorely. Just bought a new refrigerator unexpectedly, so I'm still smarting from that, but maybe in Sept. or Oct.

jim said...

ps. Amazon has them for way less than list.

Lone Primate said...

Wow, yeah, three hundred bucks and change. Even with the exchange rate (and the fact that "free shipping" to Canada isn't), it's still a really sweet deal. Ah, but I went with the Sony Cybershot HX5V last spring, and I'm really learning to value it, particularly its video abilities. Sorry, Canon; you snooze, you lose. :D

Scott Palmer, Ph.D. said...

I admire people who know about photography, but my ignorance of the subject is so profound that I really didn't know what you were talking about. Great photos, though!

My next stop is a blog article I saw in your table of contents: Welcome to Canada. For some reason, I thought that you had grown up Canadian.

Lone Primate said...

"I thought that you had grown up Canadian."

I did. :) That's somebody else's blog on my blog list. Gotta welcome the newcomers! As they said in Animal House, "We need the dudes!"