New Camera – Canon PowerShot SX200 IS

So I very recently purchased a new camera. I really wanted to stick with a Sony product because I like the sleek and small design. I love the fact that I can put it in my pocket and just go wherever with it. As I was checking dpreview.com, I was comparing cameras side by side, looking at size, quality, zoom, video output and everything. Three days later, my eyes were crossing and I still couldn’t make up my mind. My friends were telling me that Canon cameras give excellent picture quality, but my gut feeling was telling me to stay with Sony because of how durable and sleek they were.

(http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/Sony/sony_dsct3.asp) That’s my old camera. I’ve dropped it in a club, sliding the camera under dancing feet, cracking open the shell of the camera and sliding the camera, memory card, battery in three different directions of the dance floor. It came back to me a little bruised, but I still used that camera for another 3 years after that, totaling the years to five.

Eventually, after looking at the price differences, I chose a Canon PowerShot SX200 IS (http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/Canon/canon_sx200is.asp). When the box arrived in the mail, I was surprised how small the box was, but when I opened the package, I was pretty disgusted by how large this piece of equipment was. Isn’t it 2009? They have been making commercially available digital cameras since 1990, so that’s about 20 years of experience. This camera is just about as large as my very first camera (http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/FujiFilm/fuji_finepix4800z.asp) purchased nearly ten years ago and it has twice the thickness of my old Sony DSC-T3. I was definitely not a fan and I wanted to return it right then and there.

However, I did decide that I really shouldn’t discriminate against this poor camera. What has it really done to me? I took it out of the packaging and realized that you had to take the battery out of the camera in order to charge it. Strike two. With the other two cameras I’ve owned, you could leave it charging in a dock while transferring photos to your computer. This is definitely not an option for this camera. While some people do not like having to carry an extra dock or anything, I don’t mind the dock thing because my laptop is so large that I wouldn’t be able to transfer files on the go, anyway.

After charging it and stuffing the camera with all its memory card and battery goodness, I also realized that I did not like the weight of the camera. In my hands, it felt clumsy and large. If I were holding it in my hands, I felt like if someone knocked my hand, it would fall out. (Chances are, it probably will at some point and land right on the long lens, making it impossible for it to retract back into the body. I’ll let you know if that happens and how their customer service people treat me then.)

I turned this bad boy on and there goes strike three! The flash automatically pops up from the top left side of the camera, making it practically impossible for you to put your hand anywhere but the right side of the camera. The flash does not retract or stay in place. You can force it down with your finger, but it’ll pop right back up when you let go. Now these are the first things I noticed about this camera that made me really want to send it back. I decided to give it a few more chances, seeing as I already had this camera in my hand.

I was pleasantly surprised by the picture quality of the camera, granted, it is a 12.1 megapixel 12x optical zoom lens. The flash is simply amazing. Pictures of a completely dark room are very well lit (http://www.mrdeadfish.com/blog/IMG_0005.JPG), macro pictures are superfine (http://www.mrdeadfish.com/blog/IMG_0013.JPG), and the quality of the pictures are overall pretty good. I had a few issues with low lights, but I think that’s because I didn’t manually set everything. I still have to play with that.

The menu options are extensive and not very intuitive. There’s a knob at the top to turn everything to different settings, then there’s a menu button, display button and a set/function button. Then there’s the little wheel around that, a play button and a print? button? There’s just a lot of wheels and buttons that don’t seem necessary and feels like they could be optimized or placed in better positions. When going into the menu, you have to go through a bunch of other menus in order to find what you want, so if you’re outside going in, you have to always set stuff in order to make it look nice. It’s not only that, but you have to go through two small menus to change the light from sun to light bulb.

The great thing about this camera is that it takes video at 1280 x 720. It’s very crisp and the sound is clear. There’s really no complaints in that area. I’d show you a demo video, but the only one I have is very long and rather boring… about us getting lost on our way to skydiving.

The screen is nice and wide, so it’s very clear, but it protrudes further out in the camera than the buttons. Something I don’t really like because it seems like this makes it more likely that it’ll scratch. I also can’t make a custom case for this camera because of the protruding screen and lens. Two more strikes.

And the very last strike? The a/v out/HDMI cable flap is really chintzy and cheap looking. It’s not flush and it’s kinda hard to open without feeling like you’re not going to break it. Not only that, but you either need to use their proprietary software to take your pictures off the camera (since it doesn’t mount like a drive to your computer) or you have to use iphoto or some other like software to take the pictures out and onto your computer.

With all this said, the picture quality is pretty good and I might keep it just for that reason. I’m still going to buy a smaller Sony camera for comparison purposes and to tote around to see how I feel about it, but another review will come with that.

Thanks everyone for all your input on my camera decision. I think, overall, I’m still partial to the smaller, sleeker Sony products.

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