New Camera: Canon Powershot SD890IS

My family recently bought a new point-and-shoot digital camera and I decided to write a little article about it. We decided upon a Canon Powershot SD890IS which met all the requirements my family had within the right price range. This is not a review of the camera since I don’t know enough about photography or camera technologies. Rather, this is just an article for me to show off a brand new gadget and write some initial impressions from the viewpoint on an uneducated consumer, so here goes nothing.

Before buying the new Canon, my family had been using a five-year-old, 4 megapixel Toshiba digital camera. The camera withstood all of our abuse and still works today, but it’s obviously pretty outdated. Compared to current point-and-shoots, our Toshiba was a clunker that lacked features and ate AA batteries like nothing. Four AA batteries didn’t last 100 shots with this camera, and the batteries made the camera somewhat unwieldy. Given the shortcomings of our old camera, my family made a few requirements for a new point-and-shoot:

– => 10 megapixels
– => 3x optical zoom
– light and easy to handle
– rechargeable batteries
– use SD memory cards
– anti-shake, auto-focus, and other modern amenities
– preferably =< $200 Cdn My family only uses the camera for casual outings and maybe some close-up flower photos, so the requirements aren't really high or specific. Even if we wanted something other than a point-and-shoot, our price bracket limited us to that segment. Most of the requirements are met easily met by modern cameras. Due to our old camera's habit of consuming lots of AA batteries, we wanted a new camera that's rechargeable. Since our old camera uses SD cards, we wanted the new one to use the same format as well so we can still use the cards we have. After doing a bit of online research, we found that Canon seems to be the best brand. Unfortunately Canon also carries a bit of a price premium over the other brands, so finding a 10 megapixel model for $200 wasn't easy. In the end the choice came down to two models: the SD1200IS or the SD890IS, both part of the Canon's Digital ELPH compact camera line. The SD1200IS was a little cheaper (at ~$200 vs ~$230 for the SD890IS), slightly more compact, and came in different colors, while the SD890IS had a better zoom lens (5x vs. 3x in the SD1200IS). In the end my family decided to get the camera with the better zoom and bought the SD890IS. Here are the specifications for the SD890IS. Basic Specifications

Resolution: 10.00
Megapixels Lens: 5.00x zoom (37-185mm eq.)
Viewfinder: Optical / LCD
LCD Size: 2.5 inch
ISO: 80-3200
Shutter: 15-1/1600
Max Aperture: 3.2
Mem Type: SDHC / SD
Battery: Custom LiIon
Dimensions: 3.8 x 2.3 x 1.1 in. (95 x 57 x 27 mm)
Weight: 6.5 oz (184 g)

The camera came in a nice green box that was easier to open. Inside the box were the camera, one rechargeable battery, the charger, video and USB cables, a couple of manuals, a software CD, a small capacity SD memory card, and the usual warranty information. The camera also came with a small flexible tripod as seen in the picture. When they said “mini” flexible tripod, they really meant the “mini” part, but despite the small size it’s a pretty cool little piece of equipment, and I’ve already used it to help shoot some timer shots.

The SD890IS box
The box. (Click to enlarge)
SD890IS contents
The contents. (Click to enlarge)
SD890IS contents laid out
The contents laid out. (Click to enlarge)
The mini tripod
The mini tripod. (Click to enlarge)

The camera is the typical silver grey and similar in size to other current compact cameras, which means it’s a lot lighter and smaller than the old clunker my family had been using. The shape is slightly curvy, but otherwise nothing really stands out as you can see from the picture below.

The SD890IS
The camera. (Click to enlarge)
SD890IS back
The back. (Click to enlarge)
SD890IS top
The top. (Click to enlarge)
SD890IS on the mini-tripod
The SD890IS on the mini-tripod. (Click to enlarge)

Given that I’m the only technologically inclined person in the family, I got to play with the camera first. First thing I noticed about our new camera is how fast it starts; the old camera needs four seconds to start up, but this new Canon is ready to go in about a second. Compared to the old camera, the SD890IS is compact and easy to handle, but the controls took a bit getting used to (especially the “wheel”). Moving onto actual camera performance, after taking a few shots I found the auto-focus works reasonably well for photographing people and general scenes, but photographing flowers requires a switch to macro mode to get good results. Although taking close-up flower photos still take some work, it is a lot easier to do it with the SD890IS than the old camera. With the old camera I could take 10 pictures and they could be all blurry, but I can usually get the shot I want in five attempts with the new camera. I have yet to play with the more advanced settings within the camera, but overall the first impression is pretty good. Of course, I am comparing the SD890IS to a five-year-old camera, so it would be really bad if I wasn’t impressed.

To end this article, here are two photos I took with the new camera.

Fuchsia Bumblebee

Cypress Vine

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