As a follow-up to my Cameras, then and now… story, here’s what’s happened with digital camera evolution in our household over the last three years.
As noted in the other writeup, our current digital camera is the Canon PowerShot SD400, a marvel of features and compactness that we bought this past July. It replaced a Canon PowerShot S30, which I purchased in January of 2002. So just how far have consumer digital cameras come in three years? Probably a lot farther than this article will demonstrate, as I’ll only be speaking to the differences in the two cameras we own. But even there, the changes are pretty dramatic, starting with (of course), the size:
Read on to see just how much has changed in a little over three and a half years.
|PowerShot S30 ||PowerShot SD400 |
|Weight (no batt.)||16.9oz||4.6oz|
|Largest Image Size||2048x1536 pixels||2592x1944 pixels|
|Image Sensor||3.3mil pixel CCD||5.3mil pixel CCD|
|Optical Viewfinder||Showed 82% of image area||Shows all of image area|
|Back panel LCD||1.8”||2.0”|
|Movie Mode||320x240 (30 sec max)|
or 160x120 (120 sec max)
Both at 15fps
|[email protected] (no limit)|
or [email protected] (60 sec max)
|Storage Cards||Compact Flash||SD Memory Card|
|Battery Info||Shots (LCD on/off): 160 / 390|
|Shots (LCD on/off): 150 / 400|
As you can see, everything in the new camera is an improvement over the old, even beyond the smaller size. I really enjoy the upgraded movie mode; it means I often-times don’t take our DV camera with us, knowing that I can capture short some really nice clips at 640x480. Also notable to me is the new USB2 interface; this makes a huge difference when transferring images from the SD cards. And it’s not just the camera that has gotten smaller; the battery in the new one is less than half the weight of the old, yet has nearly identical performance. And even the charger for the battery is notably smaller, so much so that it’s not a hassle finding space for it when packing for a trip.
Though there’s clearly a limit on practicality as sizes decrease, I don’t think the new SD400 is too small. In fact, it’s actually easier to operate than was the S30, due to better design. As seen in this shot…
…the back of the SD400 utilizes what was empty space on the S30 for its control functions. On the S30, you had to use this somewhat-tricky four-way rocker switch at the top of the camera. On the SD400, the large control ring makes working through the camera’s interface very simple—a nice use of previously-wasted space.
This isn’t meant to be a pitch for the SD400; it’s a fine camera, but I’m sure there are many others out there that are just as capable, if not more so. Instead, it’s just a peek at how fast things are moving in the world of digital cameras.
As a closing footnote, sorry for the relatively poor image quality in these shots. I had to use my Treo to take the pictures, as I was running out of picture-taking devices!