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Old Oct 30, 2009, 10:36 PM   #1
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Default Is it Canon Technology or just skill

Hello,...I'm a casual user of this website and received excellent help from many contributors. I'm trying to decide about 3 different cameras and/or one new lens. I currently own a Canon XSi which came with the 2 kit lenses, 18-55 IS, and the 75-300mm telephoto, which I have had for a little over one year. To be honest, I've not been happy with this camera or lenses since I've always had problems getting close up photos in good focus. The results have been poor image quality when viewed at 100%. I have done all the effort with Canon, sending everything back for testing, and getting everything back with only one comment,.."The camera and lenses are within spec."

My passion for shooting close-ups, flowers, and telephoto images has not done down, it just keeps growing as I view what others have created. I'm looking at the Canon SX1, SX10, SX20, and/or the possibility of a new lens for the XSi. I'm also looking at the Tamron 18-250/270 lens for my XSi. I have read most all of the reviews on all of this equipment and looked at 100's of images on many websites. This has not given me the information to make the decision.

This really got started when Tamron started putting out ads for their new 18-270mm lens and this got me to investigate other new technology such as the SX1, and the “S” series. I already own the S3 IS, and the G7, and the SD1000, and I just got the G10 for my daughter. I love my G7 for what it does.
I found a thread on this website on the SX1 camera and while many people have posted information, the outstanding images that have been put up by Donalduck have just really put me in a daze. He claims that most all of these cameras are great and than any of them will take great pictures. He says to “just forget the spec’s,.. go out and shoot and learn. His images demonstrate so much skill it is easy to see why he could use any of these cameras and still take outstanding pictures. For the reset of us, and specifically me,… I want to know up front that I have a GOOD camera before I invest my $$$ and time to do the learning. So here is how I pose the question. Is it all about the Technology differences,… or is it all about getting the skill?

1. The SX1, SX10, and the SX20 all have the EXACT same lens, and the same Canon Digic IV processor chip, and very similar controls, functions, and camera body. Of course there is the Video difference but I would like to not consider that up front, as my first requirement it shooting good pictures. The SX1 has a New CMOS image sensor, while the SX10 and SX20 have the identical CCD image sensor as the Canon XSi. So is the only difference just the Sensor???

2. Some say that all of the “S” series cameras have terrible ISO NOISE at ISO 400 and above. Others say the SX20 has lower image quality than either the SX1 or SX10. Since the technology is so similar what is it that makes the difference, or is it just not having the skill to make the shot that makes the difference?

3. The Canon XSi claims to have one of the best built in Noise Reduction software for all ISO settings up to 1600, but that chip is the DigiC III and not the newer DigiC IV. So how does the NOISE in the SX1, SX10, and SX20 get so bad at only ISO 400? I can’t believe that the Canon engineers took all of this NR function out of the firmware, just to protect the sales of the XSi. This does not make sense. If you’ve got a chip that does great things,… you use it.

4. The other question is all about another lens for my XSi. Given the XSi does not suffer from ISO noise, then why wouldn’t the Tamron 18-270mm lens be a great all in one lens for that camera, and could it shoot the outstanding images similar to Donalduck,… given some training and more skill?

Is it all about the technology or is it the skill? I think it is both.
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Old Oct 31, 2009, 12:47 AM   #2
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do you have tripod?

if not, then its a must.

its a must to get enough depth of field, and its a must to counter camera shake which will be quite pronounced at this range.

sorry to say, but its skill, not the kit.

also, you should really think about getting a dedicated macro lens as well.
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Old Oct 31, 2009, 8:41 AM   #3
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Absolutely agree with Hards80. Neither lens you are using is suitable for macro work. In general the 75-300 is a very poor lens -it sells for under $170. Compared to the much better Canon 70-300 IS USM which sells for $460
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Old Oct 31, 2009, 12:02 PM   #4
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I surely do agree with Dustin and JohnG-

A good solid tripod is step one. The Canon kit lens, the 18-55mmIS lens is not bad at all and it is capable of some macro work, but you will soon find it limited if you do much macro work. The Tamron 18-250mm or 18-270mm lenses have a place. But because they are dim lenses, they require lots of light. The other factor is this: at 18mm they show a sizable amount of image distortion.

You might be better served by investing in a dedicated macro lens like the Tamron 90mm lens which is very sharp and can also be used for portraits. If you are dedicated to the single lens solution, then you might want to look at the Sigma 18-250mm lens, which according to SLR Gear, shows markedly less distortion at the wide end, but become soft at the long end of the lens. These single lens solution lens are called "compromise" lenses for a reason.

In spanning a zoom range that great, some compromises have to be made in optical performance. It is a rule of physics. If you stay away from the ends of these lenses, their performance is good. However, if you are prone pixel peeping at 100% a lot, you will be better served with several zoom lenses that can offer better optical performance.

You might give some consideration to investing your budget in a better lens set-up for the XSi, rather than in purchasing a new super zoom or bridge camera. However, if part of the attraction to a superzoom or bridge camera is the video clip capability, look for a used Canon S-5IS camera.

It comes down to using the right tools and in sharpening your own photographic skills. Expanding your skills and learning can be fun, but that growth is only moved forward by getting better and better image results, that is the real motivator.

Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce

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Old Oct 31, 2009, 1:37 PM   #5
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trigger-

Here is a quick photo sample, using my Canon XSi camera, of what the Canon 18-55mmIS kit lens can do as macro lens. This image is directly from the camera with no pp. It was only cropped and re-sized, and no noiseware was used.

There is a pleasant, but somewhat soft, sharpness to this image, as I used an old, but very sturdy tripod to take the photo.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Oct 31, 2009, 1:57 PM   #6
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trigger-

Here is another macro photo sample taken with the Canon XSi camera. However, this time, I replaced the 18-55mmIS kit lens with the Canon 55-250mmIS lens. Once again the camera was on a tripod. The camera to subject distance was 5 feet. Then using the lens, I zoomed in and created a macro photo.

Like the last photo, no pp, no noiseware, just cropped and re-sized. And please notice that the sharpness has improved a bit. Perhaps this is a technique that can improve your macro photos. And that Canon 55-250mmIS costs considerably less than a SX-1 or SX-10.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Oct 31, 2009, 4:57 PM   #7
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And, now, trigger-

Another photo sample. This one was taken with my Canon S-5IS camera, using the very same technique that I employed with the XSi camera and the canon 55-250mmIS lens.

What do you think?

Sarah Joyce
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Old Nov 1, 2009, 5:38 PM   #8
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Hi there, trigger-

I know! I have too much time on my hands. But I had my $200 Kodak Z-1012 camera out today (11/01) and I figured I just could not pass up the chance to take a macro photo of the Panasonic ZS1 camera we have been using as a model, to see what it would do.

And I even tried to make this one hard as well. This was taken using the Z-1012 camera at a distance of 4 1/2 inches using the built-in flash unit on the Z-1012 camera. Naturally, I had to throttle back the flash output of that built-in flash, so I selected EV -1.0 on the flash compensation and came up with this photo.

Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Nov 2, 2009, 12:52 AM   #9
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First let me respond to Hard80. Yes I do have a pretty good tripod, but it could have a better head on it. Is it good enough, probably not,... now I think I will add that to my Xmas list for all my kids. That’s one down.

DOF is something I have to work on for each picture I take with the XSi because I never get what I think is the correct focus. I've done months of testing with every FOCUS chart and aid known to man,... In a few weeks I'm going to build a new test sample and gather some accurate data in 4 different setups for both lenses.

On you other point about Camera shake, this is a key reason that each of the options I'm looking at have Image Stabilization built in. In the past when I've made shots of the Moon, I've really noticed just how sensitive everything is to shake. Just the motion of the camera raising the mirror will start the tripod to vibrate, and I know I will need a weighted tripod to overcome anything in the camera that moves. I already have wireless control for shooting but I think know there are modes to lock up the mirror and other things I can do.

Finally, the fixed 100 mm macro will come someday, if I don't find another satisfactory solution.

JohnG and Susan; Yes there are better lenses but I'm in my 70's, retired, and living on a fixed income,..and EVERYTHING JUST KEEPS GOING UP. I'm already going to have to sell some of what I have just to get some new piece of equipment. It will only be one piece and that will have to last me for several years. If "He who shall not be named" keeps messing with Health Care, I could really be screwed. I retired after 33 years with IBM, and believe it or now I still get medical, dental, and vision coverage from IBM. This includes giving me full Medicare supplemental coverage for a minimal amount. If the health Care bill passes, IBM will drop this like a hot potato. Has anyone read the bill who can tell me how much all of this would cost me?

Susan, your suggestion leads me away from what I NEED to do, not what I would love to do. I don't want to carry multiple lenses and swap them each time I take a shot. That is my attraction to the SX1, SX10, or the 18-270mm VR lens. I love all the shots you have attached. I can shoot the same Shot with the XSi at 55mm and 0.8ft from the object. I also have the Canon S3 IS, with a 12x zoom so I can shoot the same shot as you did with the S5 IS but it won't be as good. I can do better than any of those with my G7 in macro or super Macro.

However, my S3 IS is limited in all kinds of ways. My G7 is great for many things but only has a very limited 6x zoom and the wide angle is limited to 35mm equiv.

I'm probably going to have to sell the S3 IS if I go with either the SX1 or the SX10 IS. If I select the all in one Zoom I will sell one or both of the Kit lenses that came with the XSi. Why would I want to keep either one of them? The manual focus on the short lens is terrible and the telephoto has no IS. Every time I mention them, everyone always reminds me how cheap they are and what they lack in performance.

So far not one person has said anything about my original statement about the first three choices. I would love to hear some FACTS about those 3 things.

So far I heard that the CMOS sensor in the SX1 is not as good as the CCD sensors in the other cameras. However, having been an engineer in design and development, and senior management at IBM, I know the engineers at Canon would never put out a product like the SX1 and use a lesser quality sensor,.. and then expect to market it at TWICE the price as the next best model. Having looked at all the results of many reviews and looked at the pictures that Donalduck has posted, I believe the SX1 matches the quality and performance of the SX1. This gives the SX1 no price justification over anything. The only thing is has is the HD Video and view screen.

I'm hoping that someone with the Canon XSi and the Tamron 18-270mm VR lens can add some comments and hopefully some sample images. Hopefully I can then get some comments and evaluation of those 3 items on this thread.

If I had to make a choice right this day, it would probably be the SX10 IS, since I believe it has the same camera performance as the SX1 and I don't need nor can afford the HD Video functions that come with that camera. As soon as I find a website that has a good review of the 18-270mm with and Canon Rebel, and they have some really good examples, I may be convinced about that lens. If that becomes a solution, I can sell the S3 and at least the telephoto kit lens. However, I'm still wondering why I would keep the 18-55mm IS. I would never use it.

While I'm at it, it really ticks me off that Canon Dropped the "Focus Bracketing" function out of the XSi. Since 80% of my problems so far have been with focus, that one feature might have mitigated the problem.

One last comment tonight about the operation of this forum. Each time I have posted a reply that takes a few minutes to create, especially when I have to think hard about it, by the time I finish the response and attempt to post it, I find when I execute the post, the website has logged me of. I was clearly logged in to start the post, but somehow there is a timeout that must log me off. When I log back in the page is redirect to a blank page and all is lost. The bad news is that all my thoughts and answers are lost and I have to start all over again. This is the pits.
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Old Nov 2, 2009, 10:54 AM   #10
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Trigger.

i am wondering what your expectations are at a 100% crop. Do you think you could post us 2 or 3 examples of your unacceptable 100% crops. or link us to full size versions?

(sorry for brevity, i am heading out the door to work)
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