What do you all think of a Canon A650 for Pano's

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Melinhead
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What do you all think of a Canon A650 for Pano's

Post by Melinhead » Fri May 30, 2008 2:09 pm

Just wondering what you all would think about a Canon A650 for use with a Panosaurus? Currently i am using a Rebel XT and I need to get a new camera for a project I am working on and wonder what kind of results I would get using a Canon A650 on a panosaurus. Other than the obvious brawbacks of a lack of a remote and stable way to trigger the camera, and several other points the A650 does boast a 12 mexapixel image at way less than half of a new XSI, and a screen to be able to compose the shots better. Any thoughts?
Thanks

Eric
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Post by Eric » Wed Jun 04, 2008 1:29 pm

I can't speak to the A650 specifically, but new point and shoots can do very respectable quality pics. Many people here have done some very good pics with those kinds of cameras. There are a few drawbacks that could prevent you from making very large, high quality panos.

One is exposure and focus lock. I think (not sure) that most of your P&S cameras will calculate a new exposure and focus for each shot, potentially ruining your image consistency shot to shot. It's not good exposing for background highlights in one shot and foreground shadows in the next. Without shooting RAW it's hard to correct for differing exposures as well. Some cameras have better manual controls, check to see if the A650 is one of them.

The main advantage of an SLR is you can get higher quality glass and a higher quality, larger image sensor. Also the SLR will give you a better dynamic range and the ability to shoot raw, which lets you save highlights and shadows to a greater extent. Do you need the higher quality? Up to you. Print some shots with the A650 and 300dpi. Do they make you happy? If you're looking to make pictures with interesting, wide perspectives you might find it perfect. If you want gigapixel images where you can zoom in to see the nose on a mosquito a mile away, maybe you won't like it so much.

maxlyons
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Re: What do you all think of a Canon A650 for Pano's

Post by maxlyons » Tue Jun 10, 2008 10:36 pm

Melinhead wrote:the A650 does boast a 12 mexapixel image at way less than half of a new XSI, and a screen to be able to compose the shots better. Any thoughts?
I'm not sure that the screens on the XSI and A650 are much different, but I'm pretty sure that 12 megapixels from the XSI are superior to 12 megapixels from the A650. Assuming a decent lens on the XSI, I think you'll find that the results from the XSI are sharper, display less softening in the edges, display less noise, and have greater dynamic range than the images from the A650. I say this having recently spent a week shooting several thousand frames with both the Canon XSI and Canon G9 (which I believe shares the same sensor as the A650).

Having said all that, I still use the G9 all of the time. Because it is so much smaller, lighter and portable than any DSLR/lens combination, I find that I carry it with me much more frequently than the DSLR...particularly on any strenuous hikes or any time I don't want to lug around a backpack full of equipment. My completely unscientific, totally untestable, very unspecific estimate is that the G9 pictures are 85% as "good" as the XSI pictures. There are obvious differences that can be seen on screen at 100%, and less-obvious-but-still-noticeable differences that can be seen in large prints that give the edge to the DSLR. I haven't made a "small" print (less than 11x14 inches) in several years, but my bet is that for most subject material the two would be hard to tell apart. However, factoring in the cost of one or more decent lenses, if the question was what provides the most the most image quality per dollar, I think I'd give the edge to the point-n-shoot camera (i.e. the G9 or the A650).

Max

dsp
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Post by dsp » Wed Jun 11, 2008 10:09 am

Hey Max, didn't you recently get the 40d? Are you running the taps with Canon? More seriously, what is your unscientific 40d vs XSi comparison?

cheers, Darcy

maxlyons
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Post by maxlyons » Wed Jun 11, 2008 9:54 pm

dsp wrote:Hey Max, didn't you recently get the 40d? Are you running the taps with Canon? More seriously, what is your unscientific 40d vs XSi comparison?
Well, they are both excellent cameras in their own way.

I suspect that many will think this odd, but for the type of photography I do, I believe that I'm trading "up" to the Canon 450D/XSI from the 40D. The Canon 450D has more megapixels and is considerably lighter and smaller than the 40D. These are two very important considerations for me. The 40D certainly has more in the way of bells and whistles (ISO 3200, much larger buffer, faster frame rate, probably longer shutter life expectancy, more weather proof, more custom functions, etc., etc.), but after I gave careful consideration to how I use the camera (ISO 100 on a tripod, rarely more than 1 frame per 5 seconds, center focus point only, never in the rain, etc.), when I use the camera (frequently after lugging it around for several hours on long, strenuous hikes), and why I use the camera (to create high resolution images), I came to the conclusion that the 450D was a better choice for me!

So...I've put the 40D up for sale.

As for the image quality question, I haven't done a serious apples-to-apples comparison. But, the images look superb from both cameras, and I can't imagine that the extra 2MP in the 450 will hurt!

Max

touristguy87
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wow

Post by touristguy87 » Thu Apr 23, 2009 3:06 pm

I would never trade a pro-series Canon DSLR for a Rebel, the AF quality and consistency on them is a joke. The 10D and 20D are unreliable enough as it is.

Not to mention the MP difference between the 450 and the 40d is what? 2MP? 4MP? 5MP? A difference of 50% over an entire frame, at most? Something I can easily get just by shooting raw and running a mild interpolation?

Or ok the 450d is a few ounces lighter and has a slightly smaller frame & uses a smaller, lighter battery...that doesn't last nearly as long as the 40d battery. The viewfinder is smaller and poorly-positioned as well.

I suspect that you'll regret this "upgrade" soon. The weight, if you're really interested in cutting weight why not just use a G9 or G10? If you want MP why not use the 5DMk2 or the 50D, or make the investment in an A900 and a suitable lens?

maxlyons
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Re: wow

Post by maxlyons » Thu Apr 23, 2009 8:25 pm

touristguy87 wrote:I would never trade a pro-series Canon DSLR for a Rebel, the AF quality and consistency on them is a joke. The 10D and 20D are unreliable enough as it is.

Not to mention the MP difference between the 450 and the 40d is what? 2MP? 4MP? 5MP? A difference of 50% over an entire frame, at most? Something I can easily get just by shooting raw and running a mild interpolation?

Or ok the 450d is a few ounces lighter and has a slightly smaller frame & uses a smaller, lighter battery...that doesn't last nearly as long as the 40d battery. The viewfinder is smaller and poorly-positioned as well.

I suspect that you'll regret this "upgrade" soon.
Not at all...it was an excellent choice, one that I'm very glad to have made. The 450 produces images that have 20% more pixels, weighs almost half as much as the 450 and does (almost) everything I need. I would easily make the same choice again between the 40D and 450.

Over the last several years I have owned 5 different Canon DSLRs (2 rebel varieties and 3 "D" series varieties). I have sent almost all of these cameras and a similar number of lenses back to Canon on multiple occasions as I have added/sold requipment to have their "focusing" adjusted. For me, focus imprecision (both sloppy official tolerances and the ability of Canon's tech/repair folks to reliably produce results that measure up to the official specs) is the big achilles heal of the Canon DSLR system (and perhaps other manufacturers as well...I don't have enough experience to say).

For me there is only one important metric by which I judge the "quality" of the camera's AF system...accuracy. I only ever use one focus point (center), I never use the servo/tracking AF modes, and don't really care how long the camera takes to acquire focus (anything under about 10 seconds to acquire focus is fine with me about 90% of the time). By this criteria, I have found all of the Canon DSLRs I have owned to be about the same. Perhaps the 40D focuses quicker than the 450, or not. I've never noticed any difference, but I'm not sure, and don't care. It certainly doesn't focus any more accurately.

I believe that Canon's official specs are still that the camera should focus to within one "depth of focus" (DOF) for "normal precision focus sensors" and within 1/3 DOF for "high precision sensors" (like those found in the center of the Canon 450 and 40D) when used with lenses that have a maximum aperture of F2.8 or larger.

With all that said, I have been considering the 50D and new Canon 500 (T1i) rebel. Both offer 15 megapixels which, for me, is a big attraction. I understand that it is fashionable to lament the "megapixel race" in some corners and to profess a desire for cameras with a "sensible" number of pixels, but excellent high ISO performance, greater dynamic range, etc. but not me...call me a contrarian! I understand the tradeoffs involved when adding more pixels to a sensor. But, I'm happy to take that tradeoff.

However, I'm having a hard time choosing between the two (50D and 500). In my view the 500 would be the easy choice for me...cheaper, lighter, same pixel count, video (an unexpected bonus). In fact, the 50D only offers one feature over the 500 that I value...but it is a big one: the ability to "micro adjust" the focusing with each lens. It looks like a tough decision!
if you're really interested in cutting weight why not just use a G9 or G10?
I do. When weight is critical (very long distance hikes or bike rides), then the G9 goes with me. If I can tolerate carrying around all the baggage, then the DSLR goes with me.
If you want MP why not use the 5DMk2 or the 50D, or make the investment in an A900 and a suitable lens?
The 50D offers higher pixel density than any of the full frame DSLRs. This means that with any given lens one can produce a higher resolution composite image with the 50D than the full frame cameras. Of course, the "cost" is that you need to take more frames....again a tradeoff I'm willing to make more often than not!

There is a lot more I could write on this subject, but I think that the summary version is that, for me, the desirability of any given camera is a function of a number of different variables (weight, pixel count, cost, and more). For me, the 450 was far superior to the 40D, given my set of criteria. The choice between the 50D and 500 is less clear.

Max

touristguy87
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Re: What do you all think of a Canon A650 for Pano's

Post by touristguy87 » Fri Apr 24, 2009 7:04 pm

[quote="Melinhead"]Just wondering what you all would think about a Canon A650 for use with a Panosaurus? Currently i am using a Rebel XT and I need to get a new camera for a project I am working on and wonder what kind of results I would get using a Canon A650 on a panosaurus. Other than the obvious brawbacks of a lack of a remote and stable way to trigger the camera, and several other points the A650 does boast a 12 mexapixel image at way less than half of a new XSI, and a screen to be able to compose the shots better. Any thoughts?
Thanks[/quote]

Having had both the a650 and the G9, I'll admit this is a late reply...the a650 is a nice camera especially for the price and with the swivel LCD, but the lens isn't as sharp in the corners as the G9 lens. it's not bad, though. I just sold mine because I got tired of screwing around with the chdk hack when it came to shooting raw, and the G9 focuses somewhat better in low light. But for a knockaround camera the a650 is hard to beat, especially shooting raw.

*then* I found out that the G9 works with Canon's remote-control API and the A650 doesn't. It's a shame, really. I liked the a650 all around, Canon has definitely dumbed it down. Plus the A650 is *much* lighter than the G9. It tends to eat batteries, though.
Last edited by touristguy87 on Fri Apr 24, 2009 7:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

touristguy87
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Re: wow

Post by touristguy87 » Fri Apr 24, 2009 7:20 pm

I completely agree with you about the importance of AF accuracy which is why I'm shocked -shocked, I say!- that you'd even consider using another Rebel after your experience with the first (my 400d was just a disaster, it would only focus accurately on black/white transitions)...I just don't see them as all that much lighter than a D series Canon to be worth the issues with the viewfinder and AF. Certainly not with a lens that's nearly as big & heavy as the camera.

But if you really care that much about AF accuracy and reliability (and I shoot center point also) then the way to go is definitely the Nikon series, the D300 and D700 have it all over the Canons now. Of course, that would mean a new lens as well...and neither of those two bodies are light :)

...and certainly the D3X has quite a lot of pixels ;)

But really for most day shooting/panos I get adequate results out of a G9, maybe I'd get a G10 for the 28mm but certainly I agree with you, given the G9 it's hard to justify a DSLR for landscapes if you're going to shoot during the day or use a tripod. That's a very high bar for them to hurdle.

I just wouldn't even bother trying to hurdle it with a Rebel. And if you want simply outstanding AF the Nikon has now clearly taken the lead on that. In my opinion Canon made a huge mistake in not tweaking the 5Ds' AF system. It's "ok", not "great" and I have the shots to prove it...some would argue that they would have been better off leaving it at 12MP and focusing on the AF and the microlenses (after all, it *is* a fullframe camera)...and the D700 is simply much better in both noise and AF accuracy plus the microadjustment, even the D300 shares that system and the a900 is pretty good and more all-weather reliable, so I understand. I think they are resting on their lens-base. But then again so much of the market is moving to CDAF away from phase-detect anyway so maybe they foudn themselves stuck in the middle.

Anyway it's still an awkward rationalization, a few ounces and a crappy AF system in exchange for a few more MP. Hm. But as they say, "to each their own". I'm glad that at least one Canon now supports microadjustment (and proper auto-ISO), that is going to make a lot of Canon shooters sigh in relief.

They still simply will not AF as well as the new Nikon system.

maxlyons
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Re: wow

Post by maxlyons » Fri Apr 24, 2009 11:51 pm

touristguy87 wrote:I completely agree with you about the importance of AF accuracy which is why I'm shocked -shocked, I say!- that you'd even consider using another Rebel after your experience with the first
Out of all of them the one that gave me the most grief, and spent the most time in the back of a UPS truck between Virginia and New York was one of the "D" series cameras.

In fact, the rebel is the best of the bunch in the respect that when used in live view mode with contrast detection autofocus it is by far the most accurate Canon DSLR I have used. The difference between the phase detect autofocus (i.e. the normal focusing mode used when not in live view), and the contrast detect autofocus (used in live view mode) is quite significant.
(my 400d was just a disaster, it would only focus accurately on black/white transitions)
A sample of one camera may not be enough to make a reliable generalization about the larger population. My sample of 5 cameras is still too small as well, but I haven't found the D cameras to focus any more reliably, in general, than the rebels.
I just don't see them as all that much lighter than a D series Canon to be worth the issues with the viewfinder and AF. Certainly not with a lens that's nearly as big & heavy as the camera.
I've never noticed the viewfinder as an issue. In fact, I've always been a little puzzled about the amount of time folks spent worrying about viewfinders. If I can see through it, its fine. Bigger, smaller, whatever. Don't notice, don't care. The weight is important to me. Partly for carrying around, and also partly because it means less weight on the end of panoramic head tripod head, and less wobbling around. I never noticed any problem with battery life in practical use. Its rare that I ever have to change the battery when shooting (even on a full day of shooting hundreds of frames). In fact, now that I think about it, I don't think I have ever had to change the battery during a day's shooting. More than good enough for me.
But if you really care that much about AF accuracy and reliability (and I shoot center point also) then the way to go...
I bet there are better options. However, one of my variables is cost. And the thought of selling all my Canon lenses, and Canon remote controllers, and Canon batteries, and Canon accessories to start over with a new system is not something I want to deal with.

Anyway it's still an awkward rationalization, a few ounces and a crappy AF system in exchange for a few more MP.
Just to be clear...I don't think there is any evidence to suggest that the Canon D series should focus better than the Rebel (based on Canon's own specs), nor has my experience led me to conclude that the D series do focus better. It sounds like your one Canon rebel didn't work too well (and I understand how exasperating this can be...particularly after a ffew trips back to Canon with no improvement), but I'm not sure that one can conclude that this means that the Canon D series cameras focus better than the Rebels in general.

However, I have hope that the micro adjustment feature in the Canon 50D may improve things considerably, and the contrast detect auto-focus available in the recent cameras does appear to be much more accurate (albeit slow and cumbersome to use).

Max

Darv
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Post by Darv » Sun Apr 26, 2009 11:43 am

The Canon 450D is absolutely fantastic and produces fantastic images at base iso which I believe to be comparable with more expensive cameras.

I also have the Nikon D700 to compare it to which has greater dynamic range but less pixel density...for landscapers I think the more pixels and the denser the pixels, the better - as long as noise is kept under control

Max, when landscaping with the 450 I usually use live view for focussing - would that not negate the need for focus alignment in camera...

Regards,

Darv

maxlyons
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Post by maxlyons » Sun Apr 26, 2009 2:16 pm

Darv wrote:for landscapers I think the more pixels and the denser the pixels, the better - as long as noise is kept under control
Yes...I agree. And, at ISO 100 the images from the 12 megapixel Canon 450 look great. I think there is quite a long way to go in terms of adding pixels to sensors of this size before noise at ISO 100 becomes much of an issue in practice, for most scenes.
Max, when landscaping with the 450 I usually use live view for focussing - would that not negate the need for focus alignment in camera...
Yes...that is my workaround as well. And, the results are great. But, I have to admit that it is a clunky workaround. It involves pushing several buttons, and takes some time. It isn't easy in the dark (when I do quite a lot of shooting), or with gloves, etc. Possible, but less than ideal.

And, while most of what I shoot is stationary, I am also a casual snapper like everyone else -- taking pictures of family and friends, who aren't always stationary. It would be nice to have a camera that doesn't require live view mode to focus accurately!

It really is a tough decision between the 500 and 50D.

Max

touristguy87
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Re: wow

Post by touristguy87 » Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:07 pm

...well, as they say experience is a good teacher...it's been my experience in switching from a brand-new OEM 400d to a 30d that the 30d was far better in terms of AF, the 10D much the same as the Rebel...the 5D on par with the 30D, and the Nikon D300 & D700 better than the Canons.

Now ok maybe that's just my experience. But I've read plenty from Canon owners and camera review sites to support this. But if you're happy with the AF on your Rebel why worry about what I say? :)

And I completely agree with you, lenses don't come cheap and replacing them and a lot of peripherals, not something to do lightly...especially when you're happy with the performance that you're getting. Why chase 2 birds when you have one in hand :)

Anyway I just got through reading this:

http://theory.uchicago.edu/~ejm/pix/20d ... se-p3.html

Thought that you might find it interesting. Funny how the imaging world divides into camps :)

enjoy

touristguy87
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Re: wow

Post by touristguy87 » Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:19 pm

[quote="maxlyons"]
I've never noticed the viewfinder as an issue. In fact, I've always been a little puzzled about the amount of time folks spent worrying about viewfinders. If I can see through it, its fine. Bigger, smaller, whatever. Don't notice, don't care. Max[/quote]

...sure, as long as it provides sufficient coverage, brightness, magnification and comfort, and is well-calibrated. I found the 400d viewfinder to be fairly uncomfortable, another advantage in switching to the 30D. Besides I'm not a big fan of LV although it is useful for off-axis framing, of course. But then, why not a swivel LCD?

In any case if you want a light DSLR, the A200 is definitely a good way to go. I'm sure that there are plenty of "better options" for everything ;)...it's one thing to be happy with what you have, another to hear that something is better, a third to actually give something different a try. We can't spend our time & money in a constant chase of perfection...otherwise I'd recommend the new Panasonic G1, and its successor and *its* successor, and so on :) But there are good ways to skin a cat and bad ways and every day there's a longer list of each.

touristguy87
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more=better?

Post by touristguy87 » Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:35 pm

one other thing...I think that more pixels are better only up to a certain point.

Generally speaking, taking things to an extreme usually highlights the problems with the "more is better" approach. Is the "sweet spot" 8MP, 10MP, 12MP, 15MP, 20MP, even 24MP? It had better be, or else I'm going to have to buy a medium-format digital back, or else start to shoot film and get a high-resolution scanner! :)

At least I can buy digital cameras at those MP, at an affordable price. So for right now, you're talking about switching from a 10MP DSLR to a 12 or 14MP DSLR and as I said before you can get a p&s with that level of resolution. But I personally find shooting panos at 12MP to be a pain, especially since I almost never print out any of my work. To take a 20mm equivalent pano I need to take 16-24 shots...I mean, that gets tedious. The wider, the worse it gets. And I have to ask what would I get if I put a 14mm lens on a 5DMk2 or A900 and upsampled the image. Is it going to look *that* much worse? I know it's a lot easier to work with and a hell of a lot faster to "stitch" :)

And for images that I'm just showing on the web, 24MP is vast overkill. 12MP isn't a lot better. I'd much rather have 4MP and never have to use a tripod. And I think that's why the LX3 is selling out 3 months in advance of delivery. For the occasional high-resolution 8x10" print 10MP is fine, it's also ok for large-format at decent viewing distances, but the camera is more than fast and clean enough to shoot just about anything of interest handheld. I'm not worried about getting a pano head and higher MP, I'm worried about getting a faster & wider lens :) It only makes sense to worry about MP in the camera if you're in the business of producing high-resolution large-format prints. For the rest of us, 3-5MP is enough. I want more, I can shoot a pano, and at worst shoot film and scan it. Get a 9600dpi film scanner and generate all the pixels that you could reasonably ask for :) Of course then you lose the convenience of LV etc but I know quite a few guys who will be happy to show you GP panos shot with film.

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