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Canon Camera shootout: Maitland Bay,
Bouddi National Park, October 2004

Matthew, Colene, Jocelyn, Danny

Matthew borrowed an EOS 300D (with the EF-S 18-55mm kit lens) and an S1 IS from work, while I bought along my trusty Powershot S330 and the Sigma 28-80mm Macro and 100-300mm lenses from my girlfriend's film SLR. So we went out to Bouddi National Park to see what we could see -- and how well we could photograph it.

Note: Thumbnails link to larger images. All photos are handheld.

It was overcast and drizzling all day, which constrained us but did provide a test of low-light camera performance. While waiting for Jocelyn to turn up, we had a play with the toys.

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[S1 at 380mm (eq), f/3.5, 1/60s]
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100% crop
The image stabilisation on the S1 really works! You can see a tiny bit of chromatic aberration if you view the crop, however.

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Matthew [S1 at 38mm, f/3.2, 1/60s]
When Jocelyn arrived we walked down to Maitland Beach -- taking our time, with Jocelyn and Colene botanising and Matthew and I trying our hands at macro photography. The Sigma macro lens, with an effective magnification of 0.8x on the 300D, was particular fun, though with the poor light we couldn't stop it down to get a decent depth of field.
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Orange Thorn, Citriobatus pauciflorus
[28-80mm macro: 80mm, f/5.6, 1/39s]
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100% crop
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[28-80mm macro: 80mm, f/5.6, 1/99s]

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botanising
[18-55mm kit lens: 24mm, f/5.0, 1/79s]
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creek [18-55mm kit lens: 18mm, f/9.0, 1/249s]
Down on the beach we sheltered from the rain in a little overhang. Entertainment was provided by a cormorant fishing offshore. I dug out the tripod for the only time on the trip and tried to use the 100-300mm lens -- 480mm equivalent on the 300D -- but with the poor light, a not terribly convincing tripod, and the cormorant just too far away, nothing much came of it. (I did however, manage to put the camera into continuous drive mode accidentally -- 2.5fps in 4 frame bursts is pretty scary!)

Leaving the beach we came across a brush turkey -- or rather, it came to check us out, possibly expecting to be fed! (Matthew managed better shots of it with the S1 than I did with the 300D and 28-80 lens.)

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our turkey [S1: 170mm, f/3.5, 1/60s]
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Brown Cuckoo Dove
[S1: 380mm, 1/99s, f/3.1]
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100% crop

I didn't have the telephoto lens on the 300D when this Brown Cuckoo-Dove (Macropygia amboinensis) landed on a branch overhead -- the all-in-one S1 had an edge there. But with the bird and branches against the bright clouds, the chromatic aberration is terrible.

We walked out and went back to Matthew and Colene's place to look at photos and eat cake. It started pelting down at some point, and my trip back to Sydney was slow motion on the freeway.

Camera Evaluations

Coming from a P&S background, I found the EOS 300D extraordinarily responsive. It was also comfortable to use, though it did feel bulky (I have small hands). I'm pretty sure I do want to buy a DSLR - though perhaps I should try a prosumer like the Canon Pro 1 first - but they're still expensive and I'm a bit flummoxed by the lens choices. (And spending a day in the rain made a weatherproofed Olympus E1 seem like a really attractive option!)

The EVF (Electronic View Finder) on the S1 IS was frustrating, especially with the 300D right there for comparison. More surprisingly, its LCD wasn't nearly as nice as the one on my S330, with inferior dynamic range and vividness. The S1 does a reasonable job of closeups, but lacks a dedicated macro setting and can't compete either with a DSLR plus macro lens or with digicams that can focus down to a couple of centimetres.

On the plus side, the image stabilisation really works. It was useful even at wide-angle in the dim lighting under the trees.

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Styphelia longifolia
[S1, 38mm, f/2.8, 1/24s]
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100% crop

And my trusty Powershot S330? It's a great little camera: it's easy to use and takes perfect photos.

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lichen [S330]
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Brush Turkey, Alectura lathami [S330]
What do I want that the S330 can't give me? What happened in the end? Read Why I bought a DSLR and why I bought an Olympus E1.
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