This is a hybrid camera - a cross between a point and shoot and a digital SLR. It delivers a lot of options, but requires a long learning curve to make use of all the features.
I purchased this camera in February. It was clear that my beloved old SLR Pentax camera was dead, and not worth fixing. I looked at digital SLR’s but their weight put me off instantly, since I want a camera for backpacking. But I wanted more features than on a simple point and shoot camera.
I am not proficient with this camera yet. All I’m going to be able to say in this review is some generalities.
Some of my first positive impressions were:
It has a full AUTO mode, so you can take good pictures even before you understand how to make the fancy stuff work right.
You can look either through a viewfinder or use the screen. The viewfinder is electronically faked to be SLR, and has a diopter adjustment to focus for your own eyes. What you see is what you get, and if the lens cap is on, you will only see black.
The screen can be opened, flipped or swiveled- great for taking pictures in crowds over people’s heads, etc.
It has automatic image stabilization- this reduces the number of blurred pictures you get.
You can set the time lag between shots to have several seconds to review the picture you just took, or you can set it to zero.
Some of my first negative impressions were:
There are too many buttons near the on-off switch that are too easy to push by accident when you are handling the camera. It is very difficult to take a picture with one hand because of this. Anyone with large fingers is going to find these buttons a real problem. I think they are a real problem and I have small hands.
The strap is fine for me, but would be too short for anyone large.
The lens cap is worthless, and I lost it almost immediately.
The brackets for the strap are too tight.
The camera has quick specialty settings for portraits, scenery, night shots, and sport shots (taking pictures in quick succession). I have tried all of these and they seem to work well.
The camera has a macro setting with a lot of flexibility. This also makes it more complicated to use. I haven’t managed to get good results consistently yet.
The camera also allows you to manually change all kinds of things- if you can learn how, you could take pictures on full manual, just like an old film camera.
The flash is built in but you must raise a small hood to reveal it.
The zoom is amazing. It is supposedly the equivalent of a 500mm lens at its full zoom extension. This should be good enough to get wildlife photos, and I have taken some good bird and small animal pictures that I never could have gotten with my 210mm lens on the SLR. But it needs time to focus at those lengths... if you want a fast picture you may get lucky and you may get garbage.
I took this camera on a rugged backpacking trip. I was careful to keep it dry and out of the dirt, but it fared well and I have no complaints about it being too fragile for outdoor adventures.
One of the things I’m most unhappy about is that when the background is busy the camera can’t always decide how to focus. For example, a bird against the sky comes out nice. A flower against a grassy field may not be focused on the flower. You can press the button halfway to set the focus on the area you want and then take the picture, but I don’t seem to get consistent results with this. I have not had good luck with the manual focus option yet, at all. I keep thinking that this must be me, not the camera, but so far, I’m no expert with that feature! To overcome this I currently take several shots and hope that one of them is focused where I want it. This is NOT a good solution.
I had heard good things about the Canon lens quality. Yet with flower closeups- comparing them to some other people’s pictures- I don’t see the crispness that I would like. To be fair, I may be comparing my pictures to some taken with a camera that cost three times as much money, I really don’t know.
This also takes movies. I have taken a couple and they seem ok. I don’t have movie-processing software, so I haven’t really ventured here yet.
The menus are easy to access and aren’t complicated to navigate or understand.
The screen is good sized, but is not backlit, and is difficult to see in sunlight.
The manual is better than average. You can actually find most of the information you are looking for in it, and more or less understand it.
It comes with utility software, and a cord to transfer pictures to the computer. I’ve never used these since it takes a standard SD card, and I just pop that into a card reader. It has NO internal memory. If you forget a card, you can't take even one picture.
This review doesn’t begin to cover all the things this camera will do.
I think that I am happy with this purchase although I am discouraged at how long it is taking me to make it do what I want. I don’t even know whether to recommend this camera. I suspect that real photographers will want the full DSLR features, and that most people would be satisfied with a much simpler, smaller point and shoot camera. Yet, if I could just figure more things out I think that this hybrid provides a good middle ground, just as it should.
I am trying to explain the features in detail as I learn them at one of my blogs. I’m linking here to one of the posts. To find all the posts about this camera, enter Canon SX10IS, or camera, in the search box.