Sunday, February 17, 2008

Inside the SD110 - first steps

(2nd post in this series: jump to previous post)

After my SD110 died I decided to take it apart. Here's the first two views. Canon was nice enough to use regular screws (Philips) so it wasn't too hard to get inside. Getting the metal shell off did involve some prying, even after the screws were gone, but nothing heroic.

Once inside I was quite impressed by how tightly everything is packed in. There's no wasted space, not that you would really expect otherwise from an ultra compact camera.

What was unexpected was just how dusty it was on the inside. Even so, all the mechanical parts continued to work.

Canon uses lots of ribbon cables to attach all the PC boards together. I think that's part of how they manage to have such a high density layout. After seeing how many ribbons were plugged in, I had some hope that maybe there was just a dirty connector, and that if I were to plug and unplug everything the CCD might work again, but this hope was unfounded. I managed to reset almost all the connectors, without making any improvement in the CCD image.

(See next post in this series.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

SD850 - customizable button

The SD850IS does have one nice customization option. There's a button for making your photos print when the camera is connected to a printer, but it is (or was) useless while taking photos.

Canon now lets you assign a function of your choice to the button. The function I was most excited about was turning on or off the LCD, but it turns out to work very poorly for that. You see, whenever you do something that would change one of the status lights on the LCD, the camera helpfully turns the LCD on again. One of the status lights on the LCD tells you which way the camera is oriented. So, if you turn of the LCD with this button, all you need to do is rotate the camera a little, and back on it comes. Also, the button doesn't work in all situations - such as during the 2-N second review of each snapshot you take.

There are other options you can assign the button - such as, start taking a movie, turn on a grid for composing your shot, open up a menu to let you set the EV, or change the white balance. None of which turn out to be that helpful, however.

In a related note, however, turning off the LCD is rather quick on this camera. There is a "DISP" button, which cycles between showing the current settings on top of the current image / just a bare image / LCD off. Which is to say like every other camera's "DISP" button. Except that a quick double click of the button will turn off the LCD (you don't have to wait at all between clicks), which makes it almost as good as having a dedicated button to turn off the LCD.

customization - when and how?

I wish consumer electronics were designed to let you customize how they worked a little bit better. A great example is the "High ISO" option that most cameras have these days. It's nice to have a mode where the camera automatically boosts the ISO so that your photos are not too blurry. But that boost comes at cost, which is grainy and desaturated photos. I wish that my camera had the option where I could set what the maximum ISO boost would be. For instance, ISO 800 looks like crap on my SD850IS, while ISO 400 isn't too bad. But the high ISO mode is happy to go all the way to 800, even when I personally think 400 would do. Let me decide how much noise I'm willing to have in my pictures! Yes, I could set the ISO manually, but it's a pain to do this for each and every shot.

Some photo sites - posts tips and tricks for digital photography, about once a week.