Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Photographic Turning Point?

An interesting day so far, camera-wise.

Canon announced some new camera. The G11 and the S90. A new camera announcement is generally nothing big, becuase there are hundreds of models out there across a dozen brands.

But these are interesting, to me at least.

The G11 is the successor to the G10, a rather popular semi-pro point-and-shoot. This would be your standard upgrade to a series, new image processing software, some ergonomic changes, etc.. The return of a flip-screen is nice, but the big change is that they DROPPED the megapixel count from 14.7MP to 10MP. This is fantastic news in the digital camera realm.

MP became the focus of camera manufacturers years ago. You only have a 3MP? You need to get 5MP camera. 5? Why not 6? The problem is, that as you increase the MP count, you need to increase the sensor size accordingly, and this wasn't being done. This is why your 10MP point-and-shoot takes incredibly noisy pictures if you're not outside on a sunny day, and why people dropping $3k on a high-end SLR get such crisp shots at higher ISO settigns (among other reasons).

14.7 MP on a a standard P&S sensor size is ridiculous. Most photographers have known this for a while, but the wider market finds these things out too late, when they enter "why are my pictures so noisy?" in Google.

So Canon pulling back on MP with a new model is impressive. It shows that the leader in the camera market is doing what's right for the user, not the marketing department. In the end, most people won't even notice the drop, but will notice the improved quality of their photos in lower light.

The S90 is another interesting foray for Canon. They dropped the S-line 4 years ago as it fell between their other P&S lines. But the recent popularity of Panasonic's LX3 - a compact camera with some pretty professional features - has seemingly revived this line from Canon.

It's a very compact camera with a professional-quality lens, and relatively large sensor. This, as stated above, means lower noise, and a much higher image quality. There are all kinds of manual settings, and Canon has moved some control to a lens ring that mimics your standard SLR use. Initial reviews are positive on this interface change. The S90 is a huge entry into a growing area of digital cameras - the professional compact. There are times when your SLR just isn't practical, is too cumbersome, is at risk (say, a hike over rough terrain, or visiting the UK) or frankly, just too much camera. The LX3 has been the current favourite for this range, but Canon coming back into the game is huge.

Finally, not new, but impressive, was this link to a wedding video. The wedding itself isn't important, but the quality of the video itself is. The whole thing was shot with Canon 5D Mark II's. Granted, there's a lot of other equipment being used to keep cameras steady, focused, etc.., but the actual filming device is a consumer SLR that can picked up in any camera shop. High def video of this quality, for a fraction of the cost of professional high def equipment is a HUGE game-changer. Digital video brought a new era of indie films, where the quality was no longer "Canadian" quality video, but clear images that didn't look like they were done on the cheap. Inexpensive high def will bring an even higher quality of image to filmmakers that don't have access to the big studios. Think the current digital photography boom, but in movies. A couple more interations in the firmware realm for these cameras, and there will be more 12-year olds making zombie films before you know it.

Hey, I'm excited.


Memphis MOJO said...

The G-11 includes image stabilization!! Amazing.

BWoP said...

I didn't read this post, but my guess is that OhCaptain may have . . .