index Digital Camera Review

Digital Camera Experience

Epson PhotoPC

The Epson was my first digital camera bought back in the early days on 1996. At CDN$800 it was not a cheap entry, but then there weren't a lot of choices in the consumer arena at that point. A rather massive affair, the PhotoPC had only enough internal storage for sixteen 640 by 480 images. LCD panels on cameras were a novely at that point; one of the early Casios had them but nothing else did, including this beastie. Like a film camera, you had to guess whether or not the photo was in focus or framed properly through the inadequate viewfinder.. All files were transferred through a serial cable back to the computer, and it ate alkaline batteries like no one's business. Epson, in an attempt to save money, didn't bother to include a power adaptor for it, so the rather time consuming task of moving photos onto a PC would ably assist in the battery buffet. It had support for camcorder lenses, but I never did buy any; in theory it was possible to upgrade the memory to take more photos but I never got around to buying that either.

On the other hand, it was a digital camera. Sure, the quality was weak, but at the time it still looked pretty good. Much of the filming of "Honey I Shrunk The Kids" TV show around my home was recorded on the camera, with me running into the house on a regular basis to dump the stored pictures in order to take a few more. There are more than a few examples of this here. As technology progressed the limitations of the camera became far more apparent, and I switched back to film.

Sample Shots: Snowy court | Thermometer | Slip Road | Crowchild at Lakeview

Review: PhotoPC 500 @ DPR (actually of its successor which was smaller but otherwise similar.)

Kodak DC220

This was never my camera but instead belonged to my father. A bit newer than the Epson -- and considerably more capable -- it was the first camera we had that took CompactFlash. It took us a while to realise that CF cards were removable and that it was far faster to read the cards in a dedicated reader on the PC than to use the serial connection to transfer the data. The camera was still rather heavy on batteries and was issues taking clear photos outside, although was a fine domestic camera. Still, a bit limited in resolution to 1152 by 480. It was also one of the more ugly cameras I've seen.

Sample Shots: Crater Lake | Mount Rainier Park | US Motel Sign | Cathedral Grove

Review: Kodak DC220 @ DPR

Canon S20

This was borrowed from a friend when I was sent on a trip to South Africa. The S20 is a tiny thing -- not much larger than a Palm Pilot. With a 3 megapixel CCD I used it extensively. At Heathrow on the way over, I'd picked up a Lexar 64MB CF card for about 120 quid. Grossly expensive, it became invaluable as I zoomed through the supplied 16MB CF card in a matter of moments. While the S20 had issues -- the external recharger for the battery pack; the tendency towards emphasizing the blue in a picture -- it was very portable, hard wearing and took excellent pictures.

I really liked this camera and it restored my interest in digital photography. In fact, I liked it so much, I decided to buy one.

Sample Shots: Durban Shorefront | Golden Gate Park I | Golden Gate Park II | Durban Wetlands

Review: Canon S20 @ DPR

Canon G1

When I went to buy the S20, I discovered that it had been discontinued and replaced by a 2 megapixel camera; old stock was available but at a price commensurate with a G1. The G1 had been highly recommended to me by a number of people at work (who, to be fair, also owned them.) The G1 had cool features, a track record and a great set of recommendations. I also bought an IBM 340MB microdrive. The G1 took gorgeous pictures: sharp, well balanced, clean colours. The support of Type 1 and Type 2 CF cards was a boon for trigger happy shutterbugs like myself.

Naturally I'd bought the lemon.

From about four months after I bought the camera, it spent more time in the shop than in my hands. Fortunately Canon has a service centre in town meaning I didn't spend a fortune on shipping it back and forth. It failed with a dead DC/DC converter (while on holiday in Northern BC; well away from a camera dealership); it developed bad and hot pixels in the CCD five times; and finally it refused to retract the zoom lense. At that point, Canon Canada decided it had had enough and swapped it for the G2.

Sample Shots: Pig Detail | Rio de Janeiro | Windy Mountain | Wedding Feast

Review: Canon G1 @ DPR

Canon G2

The Canon G2 refurb was the black special edition. It looks nice. It has the benefits of a couple of years field testing from the G1 to clean up the design. It has 4 megapixels rather than three. It's faster to start up, to focus and to process pictures and write them to storage.

I have been experiencing a few issues with the colour balancing being out to lunch and the auto-focus not, but that could well be unfamiliarity on my part.

Recently I've ordered an LensMate adaptor for the G2 in order to mount filters and other paraphanalia. I look forward to its arrival.

And, so far, the G2's holding up well.

Sample Shots: Gargoyle Detail | Canadian Flag | Chimney Pots | Waterfall

Review: Canon G2 @ DPR


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