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Old Nov 18, 2003, 12:34 PM   #1
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Default S50 and G3

I bought my S50 two weeks ago and finally consider myself experienced enough with it to comment. The S50 is my fifth digital camera and my third Canon. My comments regarding the 5MP sensor of the S50 are probably identical to the performance of the G5's sensor (same sensor), while my experience with the G3 sensor should apply equally to the S45.

First off, I am a G3 owner and that is my primary camera, though I take more pictures with the S50. The reason is that the S50 is with me everywhere I go, while the G3 only comes out when I plan to take pictures. I used to have an S200 as my carry camera, but the G3 spoiled me with its manual controls and full adjustability.

The S50 is about 60% of the size and 80% of the weight of the G3, and with its all-metal construction actually feels sturdier than the G3. It powers up in about the same amount of time, and shutter lag and autofocus speed are about the same when set to similar modes. Of course, they should perform about the same as they are both based ont eh exact same processor, and I would imagine, share even more than that internally. I knew of the similarities going in, and honestly that was one of my main criteria in purchasing the S50. Both cameras are fast enough (the Sony V1 is faster).

The similarity in electronics really does matter. The menu structure is identical between the two cameras, with the only differences being the very few modes that differ, such as the AiAF on the S50 and the remote control on the G3. Both also have a custom mode (2 custom modes on G3, 1 on S50) which is perhaps my favorite feature.

Custom mode(s) remembers whatever setting you have the camera to when you "save settings" in the menu. This includes mode, image setting, such as contrast or B&W, white balance, shutter speed and/or aperture (depending on mode), focus method, flash and exposure compensation, ISO and even what focal length you had the lens zoomed to. For me this is terrific. WHen I shoot color (70% of the time) I select the apropriate AV or Program mode. The camera remambers a few settings across the "creative zone" modes, inluding ISO, image setting and white balance. A quick turn to C (Custom) mode and I am in AV, with ISO 50, no flash and B&W. With the G3 I have it set up exactly the same, only the C2 mode uses flash (I have the external 420EX which makes ALL the difference in flash photography.

The S50 and G3 are both, technically, compact, point and shoot cameras, albeit rather full-featured ones. That means that they use tiny flash units mounted close to the lens, which sets the stage for very bad red-eye. The G3 is a bit better than the S50 with the built-in flash precisely because it is a bit farther from the lens. In practice, using ANY compact camera, built-in flash should be seen as a last resort. The G3 has a hot shoe for an external flash as mentioned above, and that feature alone is worth the cost and bulk, and is why the G3 is my priimary camera. There is just no substitute for external flash, preferably bounced off of a wall, ceiling or card.

Image quality is a toss-up, with both being outstanding. The S50 shots do show a bit more detail, as I would expect of a 5 vs. 4 megapixel sensor, however the S50 distorts a bit more at the wideangle setting than the G3 does - the price of such a tiny lens. The G3 is also much better in low light, first because its lens is between 1 and 2 stops faster depending on focal length, and second because its sensor stays noise-free a stop higher than the S50's. The G3 and S50 both display no noise whatsoever at ISO 50, but the G3 is still noiseless at ISO 100. At ISO 200 the G3 has minimal image noise, but it is still very good, while the S50 at ISO 100 is about the same as the G3 at ISO 200. The G3 at ISO 400 is noisy, but acceptable, and looks about the same as the S50 at ISO 200. The S50 is so noisy at ISO 400 that I will only use that setting in a real pinch, like photographing inside a museum that prohibits flash.

CA. or purple fringe is the reason why Phil only gave a "Recommended" rating to the S50 and G5, which uses the same sensor. I've taken some photographs in challenging lighting conditions and haven't noticed any CA problems, but I typically underexpose my photos by 2/3 stop and since I almost always use spot metering, I don't blow out the bright areas. On Phil's test shots, CA seemed worst when the highlights were blown out and the lens wide-open. I shoot almost exclusively in AV and Program modes, and usually shift to the slowest shutter speed I can safely hand hold (1/50th second), thus stopping down the lens and curing any and all CA problems. Even wide open, however, its just not been a problem.

Once in a great while I print an 11X14. I don't have a printer at home capable of this, and take my JPEG to a lab which uses optical transfer, the same same method used to print from film. I've been told that such lab prints allow larger blow-ups than from an inkjet printer, and in fact, I've had some stellar prints made from the G3's 4 megapixel files. The S50 shows a bit more detail, but more importantly, allows me to crop the image a bit and still get the same quality.

At home printing 8X10 both the G3 and S50 produce amazing results. I like the G3 more for portraits because of its optical characteristics (fast lens with bladed iris=nice bokeh), but for landscape or architectural shots, the S50's increased detail is impressive, not that G3 is any slouch.

Back to the sensors. Many people, including Phil, think that the 4MP sensor of the G3 and S45 was a better match for the lenses of these cameras. They are probably correct in a general sense, as with the G3 I don't have to be as careful about exposure and ISO as I do with the S50. It is for that reason why many people prefer the G3 over the G5 and the S45 over the S50. Personally, I think it is like comparing Kodachrome 64 and Kodachrome 25 in the old days. 64 is more versatile and produces amazing results, but 25, while harder to use, is just that much better.

Another important issue is price. When I bought my S50 the price was only about $40 more than an S45, so I went for it. Back when I bought my G3 brand-new for $400, a G5 would have cost $200 more. Were the price difference as small at the time, I wouldn't have hesitated to buy the G5, just as I didn't hesitate to buy the S50 this time. If any of you G5 owners who read this far really don't like the limitations of the 5MP sensor, drop me a line privately. G3s are getting very hard to find new, and S45s will soon become scarce as well, while the CA and noise complaints have driven S50 and G5 prices down to very attractive levels.

Finally, most of the buzz on this forum is about the A80, which I have played with (my friend has one). Owners of any product tend to really push others to buy the same product, perhaps to validate their own purchase. The A80 is not, as many would suggest, a replacement for the G3 or S45. The A80 is a CONsumer, instead of PROsumer model, and the cost-cutting is visible. Yes, it has the articulating LCD like the G3, but it is a VERY inferior LCD, at only 1.5" (same size as on the tiny ixus/elph cameras) and very low-resolution. The 1.8" high-res panels on the G and S cameras are detailed enough to really compose, focus and view photographs, the A80's is good enough only for composition, and you may still miss details. The LCD alone really turned me off.

The A80 is in between the S50 and G3 in size, and takes accessory lenses like the G3 does. This is a great feature, and the hand grop, like the G3's, makes the camera very comfortable to hold and easy to use one-handed.

Unlike the G3, the A80 has no hot shoe. The hot shoe on the G3 is one of the features that really sets it apart, and that omission on the A80 prevents it from being a good substitute. Of course, the S50 fails here as well, and that is why it too is a poor substitute for a G3/5.

The A80 uses a slow, 3X lens instead of the fast 4X lens of the G3/5. This gives it the same limitations as the S50 described above. Also, the A80 doesn't use a bladed iris, which combined with the slow lens means that you will not be able to blur the background in portraits as you can with the G3.

The A80 and S50 cost about the same these days. The S50 is an older model than the A80 (though still current), and in my opinion, represents a far better value. The A80 was designed to be the best $400 camera Canon could make, and corners were cut to get that price (the LCD). The S50 was designed to be the best $600 camera, and that $200 premium means far fewer corners to cut. The body is all metal and of obvious quality. The lens is superb and of course electronically, its a G5 in a compact case. The fact that reviews have driven prices down to A80 levels just makes S50 an exceptional value, as it clearly belongs in the next class above the A80.

Finally, the A80 uses AA batteries. This debate goes on and on, with AA fans espousing the virtures of buying spares anywhere from Arkansas to Zimbabwe, while LiIOn proponents cite compact size and fast battery swaps. Personally, I can't stand fumbling around with 4 AA batteries in my pocket or bag and trying to swap them out with 4 dead ones. Plugging four AAs into a charger is also a pain. Proprietary cells are expensive if you buy Canon brand, but cheap for generics. Actually, even the Canon ones aren't that bad at $50 for S50 and $70 for G3, as they last a very long time. You decide, this is a personal preference issue and everyone has a valid opinion for why they prefer what they prefer.

In the end, I really enjoy using both of my Canon digital cameras. Both give spectacular results, are a pleasure to use, and thanks to the consistency of their interfaces, it is easy to switch back and forth between them. I'm a very happy camper.
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Old Nov 18, 2003, 1:29 PM   #2
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Not agree in all points but you are right that S50 is better than A80 (picture detail in S50 is better and fine)
You forgot to tell us that S50 and A70 A60 S100 S400 ...all have lots of problem with the zoom (E18 error message).
I has bought S50 for 2 days and have to return it back because of E18 ERROR
I'M VERY SURPRISE THAT ANY BODY TALK ABOUT THIS E18 ERROR MESSAGE ON CANON DIGITAL CAMERA

I don't know if the A80 has this same annoying error.
You forgot to tell us that at WIDE ANGLE on G3 or G5 you can see through the optical viewer the lens barrel.
A shadow appears on down right corner of the photo taken with Flash...
Quality image is better with G3 or G5 but i think G2 is enough good although quality image under G3 or G5 i think

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Old Nov 18, 2003, 3:32 PM   #3
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I've never heard of E18 error, and have neer seen it on any of my three Canon cameras (S200, G3 and S50).

Andrew


Quote:
Originally Posted by Digimonk
Not agree in all points but you are right that S50 is better than A80 (picture detail in S50 is better and fine)
You forgot to tell us that S50 and A70 A60 S100 S400 ...all have lots of problem with the zoom (E18 error message).
I has bought S50 for 2 days and have to return it back because of E18 ERROR
I'M VERY SURPRISE THAT ANY BODY TALK ABOUT THIS E18 ERROR MESSAGE ON CANON DIGITAL CAMERA

I don't know if the A80 has this same annoying error.
You forgot to tell us that at WIDE ANGLE on G3 or G5 you can see through the optical viewer the lens barrel.
A shadow appears on down right corner of the photo taken with Flash...
Quality image is better with G3 or G5 but i think G2 is enough good although quality image under G3 or G5 i think
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Old Nov 18, 2003, 3:32 PM   #4
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I've never heard of E18 error, and have neer seen it on any of my three Canon cameras (S200, G3 and S50).

Andrew


Quote:
Originally Posted by Digimonk
Not agree in all points but you are right that S50 is better than A80 (picture detail in S50 is better and fine)
You forgot to tell us that S50 and A70 A60 S100 S400 ...all have lots of problem with the zoom (E18 error message).
I has bought S50 for 2 days and have to return it back because of E18 ERROR
I'M VERY SURPRISE THAT ANY BODY TALK ABOUT THIS E18 ERROR MESSAGE ON CANON DIGITAL CAMERA

I don't know if the A80 has this same annoying error.
You forgot to tell us that at WIDE ANGLE on G3 or G5 you can see through the optical viewer the lens barrel.
A shadow appears on down right corner of the photo taken with Flash...
Quality image is better with G3 or G5 but i think G2 is enough good although quality image under G3 or G5 i think
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Old Nov 18, 2003, 3:32 PM   #5
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I've never heard of E18 error, and have neer seen it on any of my three Canon cameras (S200, G3 and S50).

Andrew
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Old Nov 18, 2003, 3:32 PM   #6
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I've never heard of E18 error, and have neer seen it on any of my three Canon cameras (S200, G3 and S50).

Andrew
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Old Nov 18, 2003, 3:33 PM   #7
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I've never heard of E18 error, and have neer seen it on any of my three Canon cameras (S200, G3 and S50).

Andrew
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Old Nov 18, 2003, 3:33 PM   #8
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I've never heard of E18 error, and have neer seen it on any of my three Canon cameras (S200, G3 and S50).

Andrew
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Old Nov 18, 2003, 3:33 PM   #9
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I've never heard of E18 error, and have neer seen it on any of my three Canon cameras (S200, G3 and S50).

Andrew
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Old Nov 19, 2003, 1:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asiafish
I've never heard of E18 error, and have neer seen it on any of my three Canon cameras (S200, G3 and S50).

Andrew
do a search for "e18 error" (without the quotes) over at http://www.dpreview.com/forums/forum.asp?forum=1010

The A80 is a great little camera. It is not considered to be high end like the S45/S50 or G3/G5. The A80 would not be a good choice as the main camera for advanced users or photography students. For many people who are considering S400 or A70 who may want to learn more about photography it is a very good choice. It is also a great family camera. An excellent choice for people have a family member as the main user who will only use a camera in full auto mode and have another family member as an occasional user that who is more familiar with photography.

There is a market for the A80. There are markets for the S45/S50 and G3/G5. Different people have different needs. Different needs equals different cameras.

The S45/S50 and G3/G5 are great cameras, but are not the best choice for everyone anymore than the A80 or S400 are.

Some people even find that a brand besides Canon is a better choice for them.

Dedicated batteries are great!! But they are not the ideal choice for everyone anymore than AA batteries are.

Some people are quite happy with a proprietary computer such as a Dell or Gateway; others like me build their own with higher end parts. AOL is preferred by some people, but I prefer to have no software from an ISP on my computer. Some people prefer a steak, others prefer vegetables, chicken or fish. Beers is enjoyed by many people but I prefer whiskey while others do not drink at all (there are plenty of people who should not drink too). It is all about what best fulfills someone’s personal needs and preferences whether it is a camera or a car. I prefer an automatic transmission for driving in traffic but a 5 speed is a lot more fun at times. You can argue on and on but a"one size fits all" approach on anything just does not work, even on camera batteries.

• Know the toe...
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