Out & About with the Powershot SX260HS [2]

Today I had the second instance of use of my new toy. I went into town and took some red zone pictures. The camera’s battery couldn’t last the distance, although I haven’t charged it after the last time I used it, so in theory it should have been about half used. I did manage to squeeze 200 shots out of it which makes for 300 all up on the first charge, a pretty good effort considering its rating. The point of that was that I wanted to see how it would last, and how good the battery meter is. In fact the battery meter is pretty disappointing: it shows three bars when full, then it dropped down to two bars, then at one bar it basically starts to flash red and warn you. At that point I started to turn the camera off after every shot instead of leaving it on until the next shot. Not sure how long this got me but it could have been worth as much as another hundred photos from the time the meter first started to flash. Right at the end though the camera was turning itself off and telling me to change the battery, I would leave it a few minutes then turn it on again for a very quick shot and then off again just as quick. So I really did push that battery to the limit because I had no other battery with me (and won’t for a few weeks yet). But next time I go out I will have it charged up beforehand.
Of course the charge would not be an issue if the power issues with these cameras were not such a limitation. As far as Canon goes you can only fit the camera with their proprietary battery and the only charger available for it runs off the mains. There is an AC adapter available as well, and that’s it for power choices. And this story would be repeated all across the Canon range. So with Micro USB being adopted as a standard for power and charging for smartphones, we want to see camera manufacturers following suit and allowing batteries to be charged in-camera so how about it Canon. There are third party chargers available for the battery type but so far I only found ones that can charge off a car.  USB charging is a big thing in the EU because they want to eliminate the need for manufacturers to produce proprietary chargers. This would eliminate the separate battery charger that many Canon models now ship with, in favour of in-camera charging via a USB socket. Ideally an external charger also USB powered would be an option for charging without the camera. This is all very relevant because Canon has made a strategic decision to change nearly all their P&S camera range away from AA batteries to lithium. The latter locks you into proprietary batteries with limited charging choices unlike AAs. If I buy an A2200 as I currently am considering, there is another battery type with its own charger.  I would not buy any additional batteries for this camera to save on costs. I could then eliminate the need for AAs and chargers but would be locked out of the versatility from them. We have come a long way since the time when nearly all Canon’s P&S range used AAs, even four at a time in the S1 and S5 for example.
Almost all of today’s photos were taken on Manual. Among other things you have complete control over the ISO setting. On the Powershot A2000 there are two different auto ISO settings. There is the standard one which keeps the range of auto ISO low, and there is the ISO HIGH setting which can bump it up a lot higher if it’s too dark. On this camera there is only one Auto setting and it can push as high as it wants, this is how it works on Auto or PAS modes. But on Manual it stays at whatever you set it to, in this case 100. So I put the camera on Manual and dialled in a shutter speed each time, leaving the aperture fixed at whatever it was. Sure, you have to make the adjustment before each shot, but that’s pretty easy with the turn ring on this camera. So that is how the 200 photos went today.
Now, if the price of this camera is a bit steep, I just checked out the specs for the Powershot SX150 today, and it’s basically the budget version of this camera, and well worth looking at if you want something cheaper (it costs about 60% of the price of the SX260). For that you get a shorter lens (12x), lower end processor and probably the sensor too, uses AAs instead of the lithium battery, made of plastic, bulkier, lower res display, no GPS… on the creative side you get full PASM modes and manual focus just like the SX260. It’s quite a few year since Canon made such a cheap camera with the PASM and manual focus capabilities (I can still remember how disappointed the market was when the budget A-series PASM cameras got dropped from the line. Canon had nothing anything like $300 that could do manual exposure and focus).
Have a look at my photo blog for pictures. I’ve started migrating my albums to my new Google profile as well. We will have to see how that goes because of the 1 GB per month upload limit which I might have almost used up already. It will take the rest of the year to get all the albums uploaded, for sure, but there could also be a problem with getting photos I take this month uploaded if I already used up my cap.