Nikon shooters can go ahead and skip this article, because this is all about Canon’s entry-level DSLRs, and the three best beginner lenses for Canon Rebel cameras. When you bought your Canon camera, it probably came with a lens – an 18-55mm lens, or in some cases an 18-135mm lens. Most photographers will be very satisfied with the included (or “kit”) lens, but for those who find themselves limited in their output would do well to consider these three very useful (and inexpensive!) options.
Three Beginner Lenses for Canon Rebel Cameras
Canon EF-S 10-18mm f4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens
The most expensive lens on our list of beginner lenses for Canon Rebel cameras (and perhaps the most useful), the 10-18mm offers a wider angle of view for expansive landscape and architecture shots. If you prefer street or event photography, using this lens will allow you to photograph your subjects at arms-length, while still getting everything inside the frame.
Bonus Features: image stabilization (IS) for better low-light performance, stepping motor (STM) for better auto focus when shooting video
Where to Buy: due to the IS and STM features, this lens has a lot of gears and wires inside of it – so pick it up from an authorized dealer so you can get the Canon warranty on it
Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II Lens
If you find your photos fuzzy or un-sharp, or if you get blurry photos when photographing in low light, you may want to consider the 50mm f1.8 II. An all-plastic lens, this is Canon’s cheapest lens. However, the portraits that come out of this baby are absolutely STUNNING. Why? That f1.8 aperture lets in a lot of light, allowing you to get a tack-sharp subject and some creamy, out-of-focus backgrounds. The f1.8 aperture also gives this lens a decent edge in low-light scenarios where a flash may not be preferable.
Bonus Features: none, but in all honesty, this lens is still excellent without them
Price: $125.00 ($105 after mail-in rebate)
Where to Buy: because it is so cheap, buy this lens anywhere – and if you purchase from an authorized dealer you not only get the warranty, but also a $20 mail-in rebate
Canon EF-S 55-250 IS II Lens
A great telelphoto zoom lens for a wide variety of subjects, the 55-250 IS II lens more than earns its place our list of beginner lenses for Canon Rebel cameras. It handles portraits, wildlife, and sports with ease, thanks in no small part to some well-implemented image stabilization. Videographers may want to skip this model and pick up the Canon EF-S 55-250 IS STM lens for $50 more, and which features a motor optimized for better video performance. Those on a budget, or those who prefer to shoot in bright sunlight or on a tripod, could save $50 and pick up the Canon EF-S 75-300 III lens to get a longer zoom range but no image stabilization (and thus marginally-worse performance in low light).
Bonus Features: image stabilization (IS) for better low light shooting, and for hand-held shooting at longer focal lengths, like 250mm (where camera shake is more noticeable in the form of blurry subjects)
Price: $249 (the STM version will cost you $299, while the cheapo 75-300mm will cost you $199)
Where to Buy: just like the 10-18mm IS STM, this lens (and it’s variations) all feature a LOT of gears and wires, so DO NOT purchase this lens from anyone other than an authorized dealer
Olympus detractors continue to lose ground, and the Olympus m.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO isn’t helping them one bit. But for those of us out there who love Olympus, is the $1500 price tag worth it, and how does it fare in regard to the Olympus hallmarks of image quality and portability?
Olympus m.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO: PRObably Worth It
Let me level with you right now, folks: I am not a huge fan of telephoto lenses, because I no longer do a lot of distanced work. An 80mm lens is an extreme for me nowadays, as most of my stuff is shot on the street, a few yards (tops) away from my subjects. That being said, a few years ago when I lived out in the country (North Central Pennsylvania aka Coal Country), I used to loooove telephoto lenses. Well, if I knew then what I knew now…it probably wouldn’t have helped all that much because I would still have had to wait five years to get my hands on this lens. Because I would wait for this lens. Why? Because it’s that kind of lens. It works well – so, so well – with the OM-D E-M1, to the point where it feels as though the two of melded together to form some sort of super camera.
The Olympus m.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO is built like a PROverbial brick house. A quality build all-around, you can feel it almost instantly when you pick up the lens. That metal body and all that glass inside give the lens some weight, though, and definitely detracts from the portability that so many people associate with Micro Four Thirds cameras. That being said, it is best to view this lens as a truly professional piece of equipment on par with an equivalently long lens from Nikon or Canon: it ain’t built for convenience, but for durability and performance. Included with the lens is a nice tripod color, but the real nifty amenity to this lens is the inclusion of a kind of shotgunning lens hood. You simply lock it onto the lens like any other lens hood, but then there’s this rubber grip around the hood. Twist and pull towards the camera and the hood slides back on it’s circular mount, allowing for easier stowing inside your camera bag or lens case. Twist the rubber the same way and push away from the camera, and the hood springs back out, protecting you from pesky flare. I know, I know: totally badass.
Well, the heaviness is a down side. But, the heft does help stabilize for handheld shooting. This characteristic, coupled with that f/2.8 constant aperture, makes shooting in sub-optimal conditions easy as pie. For instance, most of the images in this review were shot on a windy, cloudy day while the camera was handheld. Some images were shot at a higher ISO and faster shutter speed, but I did end up pushing the camera to a shutter speed of 1/200th. What I got was fantastic, considering.
Here, the Olympus m.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO really PROves itslef worthy – not only of the price tag, but also of your adoration. Like every other top-of-the-line offering from Olympus, this lens yields excellent results. It handles portraits, it handles nature, it handles action. It does everything you need it to do, with no PROblems whatsoever. Chromatic aberration/color fringing is non existent on this baby. And once you pop on that no-hassle lens hood, flares are rendered moot. So are there any real down sides to the Olympus m.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens? No, not really. Even though my test was brief, the samples will speak for themselves.
Need telephoto zoom? Need PRO telephoto zoom? Shoot with a Micro Four Thirds camera? If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, give the 40-150mm PRO a look-see. Hold it in your hands. Gaze into its depths. Seriously, though, consider this lens if you do a lot of distance work, especially if doing so in low light or where faster shutter speeds are needed. Sports photographers, I am looking at you.
Sample images below. Click on any image to see full resolution.
Bridge cameras tend to play second fiddle to DSLRs and Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras (ILCs), but the Canon PowerShot SX60 HS offers the discerning photographer an enticing package.
Canon PowerShot SX60 HS: Z to the O-O-M
Facing competition from DSLRs and ILCs as they become more user-friendly, Bridge Cameras still offer one unassailable benefit to any photographer: serious range right-out-of-the-box. With interchangeable lens cameras, long telephoto lenses are expensive and heavy. Compact cameras sometimes feature big zoom ranges, but image quality may suffer from smaller sensors.
Enter the Bridge Camera, built with an expansive zoom range, DSLR-like functions, in sizes ranging from moderate to tiny.
The Canon PowerShot SX60 HS is all of this and more, featuring 65x optical zoom (equivalent to 21-1365mm focal range in 35mm or Full Frame), custom user modes, built-in WiFi, 6.5 frames per second continuous shooting, and a built-in electronic viewfinder. So with all these bells and whistles, does it perform well?
The camera handles like you expect it to: a tad bulky, but with plenty of controls at your fingertips. Feeling like an easy-to-use point and shoot, but with plenty of advanced manual controls, the Canon PowerShot SX60 HS is more than enough camera for all but the most serious of amateurs. And thanks to Canon’s easily-accessible and ultra-intuitive menus, changing functions inside the camera are a cinch as well. Zooming in and out can seem a little slow, and there is no sensor around the viewfinder to automatically turn it on when you look through it, but despite these two drawbacks, the camera operates quite well.
Compared to other bridge cameras with a long zoom range, this camera is in most respects top-of-the-line. Olympus and Panasonic (and most other brands, it seems), give you an eye sensor on the viewfinder so that it automatically turns on when you press your face up against it. The PowerShot SX60 HS it just doesn’t offer you that, and instead you find yourself hitting the “Display” button and cycling through different variations of displays on the LCD or electronic viewfinder. This probably won’t be a big deal for many shooters who prefer the LCD anyway, but for those of us who like the viewfinder, it can be a nagging pain.
Here the Canon PoweShot SX60 HS squarely beats out the competition, with some fantastic image sharpness, as well as excellent color rendering. Even the Auto White Balance is decent.
Zooming in, there’s some minimal loss of quality, but in general, you’ll see stellar results until you start using the digital modifiers at the end of the zoom range. In close areas, you may even find all that zoom a little too intense, but the quality is still there should you need it.
Automatic Mode in the camera tended to result in some clipped highlights for me, even without exposure compensation. This is the only issue, but even then, the clipping wasn’t too extreme. For those who like the best image quality possible, the Manual Mode will come in very handy in some situations.
Who It’s For
This camera is a prime candidate for anyone who is looking for the best zoom range out-of-the-box, or for someone who wants a relatively inexpensive camera that they can grow with. Portraits and landscapes will be easy pickings for this camera, and any beginner looking to get a leg up in these areas will be happy with the results out of the Canon PowerShot SX60 HS.
Who It’s Not For
People who want to photograph at night without a tripod, and those looking for a good sports-shooting experience should skip this camera. Why? Canon does a lot of things right with its bridge cameras, but the SX60 HS is lacking in ISO compared to the competition. If you want a bridge camera for night shooting, check out some offerings from Olympus or Fuji. Zooming in and out with the lens (and trying to follow action) can seem a bit difficult – for such situations, a manual zoom would be much handier (and that’s where one might consider a Mirrorless or DSLR camera).
The Canon PowerShot SX60 HS offers excellent image quality and convenient handling in an affordable package, and may offer certain photographers a welcome alternative to pricier point and shoots or heavier, more cumbersome DSLRs. However, little faults here and there may limit the appeal of this camera to old-school shooters, or people looking for the most capable of setups.
Brand new to Canon’s L lineup, the EF 16-35mm F4 L IS USM is a stocky addition promising improved sharpness in a slightly-weighty package.
Shooting with the Canon EF 16-35mm F4 L IS USM
This lens is designed for Canon’s full-frame DSLRs. If it’s unparalleled image quality you’re after, and not necessarily a super wide lens, it could still make an excellent companion to any Canon DSLR with a cropped sensor. For the sake of this review, though, I matched it up with a Canon 5D Mark III and took to the streets of Midtown, heading over to Times Square to see this sharpness for myself.
The first thing that strikes me about this lens is the weight – it’s lighter than the 16-35mm F2.8 L, but heavier than the 17-40mm F4 L. It feels like a lens should, but may not be portable enough for everyone.
One of the biggest features on this lens is the Image Stabilization, making it the first of Canon’s wide-angle zoom lenses to sport such a feature. Obviously, this makes a difference for handheld, low-light shooting. If you plan on slapping this puppy on a tripod (which would not be such a horrible idea, given the weight), the IS seems a little superfluous.
Shot at f/4
Shot at f/5.6
Shot at f/8
Holy F Stops, Batman! Starting at F4 and working my way up to F8, I was flabbergasted at how sharp my images were. While the bulk of my samples were street work, it was nice to see detail close in, across the frame and well into the corners. For daylight shooting, F8 is the perfect aperture. For less light, F4 is still workable, but a little hectic. Aperture performance is going to hinge on the intended use of the EF 16-35mm F4 L IS USM, which brings us to our next point…
Who It’s For
Not everyone is going to love this lens. Ain’t that always the case? Canon is essentially courting two groups of photographers with this lens – architecture or landscape junkies, and street photographers.
Those shooting architecture and landscapes will love the lens, and will find it most useful at F8, smack-dab on a tripod mount. IS won’t need to be there, but it will probably be a welcome feature.
Street photographers, on the other hand, will find themselves shuffling between F4 and F8 depending on the aperture needed, and for night shooters, that IS is going to make a world of difference. The convenience of having your standard focal lengths right there at your fingertips only sweetens the deal.
Who Should Buy It
Not sport photographers. Sorry dudes, but you guys already have the 16-35mm f/2.8 L, and it gives you faster performance when you use that wide, wide aperture. Instead, this lens is ideal for street work, architecture, and landscapes, and might be of interest to anyone already invested in the 16-35mm f/2.8 L, but who also might want sharper results.
Announced earlier this year at CES, and following the innovative design of its predecessor the PowerShot N, the Canon N100 is nice enough camera with a few quirks that might need working around…or just plain understanding.
Shooting with the Canon N100
Controls and Handling
The Canon N100 looks and feels mostly like a real camera. Not that square monstrosity that predated it (the Powershot N). Gone is the weird shutter-release-on-the-lens design. Gone is the…well, not much else. But just be thankful they got rid of that lens design, sheesh.
You still get built in WiFi, but now you also have a rear-facing camera. Taking these features into account, along with creative filters (and even a film-simulation mode), one can tell this camera is meant to be fun, even if that comes at the price of performance.
Despite this relative emphasis on ease-of-use over performance, we can’t write the Canon N100 off completely: a 1/1.7” sensor puts it just a smidgen above some of the competition out there, and with some nice IS and a decent f/1.8 aperture when the lens is at its widest (a 24mm equivalent).
In other areas, the performance seems a little handicapped, with a relatively low ISO range (80-6400), no outward controls for rapidly changing shooting modes, and that weird screen that only flips up 90 degrees (Why Canon? WHY?).
The lens on this camera is does not offer a lot of zooming power. Aimed predominantly at people who want to take portraits of their friends and family, this camera doesn’t really need the zoom range that other manufacturers are putting into their products. However, if you’re looking for some zoom, the Canon N100 has 5x optical and a little digital left over (though I didn’t use it, ’cause who wants to see that eyesore?). If you’re looking to shoot distant birds, or photograph people from half a block away, there are other cameras out there that might suit you better.
ISO performance on the N100 isn’t terrible, with decent results up to ISO 800. For dimmer situations necessitating higher sensitivity, I would still try to stay at 3200 or under, as ISO 6400 does show a fair amount of grain.
Like most Canon point and shoots with built in WiFi, the N100 is easy to sync to a smartphone using the Canon Camera Window app, which allows transfer to smartphones and tablets, as well as remote shooting and geotagging. The remote shooting functions were fairly bare-bones with the N100, and silent mode is co-opted by some weird beeping that goes on with the camera when the shutter is triggered. So, the WiFi isn’t ideally suited for any sort of candid captures, but works great if you just want a basic remote or wish to share photos with smart devices.
The Canon N100 has a rear-facing camera, so you, the photographer, can still have pictures of yourself when you’re presumably photographing your friends. I don’t have any friends, but I do love Zeikos camera gear, so I shot that with me making ducklips in the corner of the frame. CLASSIC.
Like almost every point and shoot or compact camera out there these days, the Canon N100 also comes with a plethora of artsy filters. Now, normally these filters suck on small sensors. Something just seems off, whether it’s the way the image processor handles them, or some curse that befell all smaller sensors by some sort of full-frame warlock. At any rate, the 1/1.7” sensor and the Digic 6 Processor seem to work in tandem to deliver moderate results, even when using the Toy Camera filter. (These images were also shot using the camera’s macro focusing mode, which is quite nice, but not as good as some of the competition.)
Image quality on the N100 is surprising to say the least. Even though I was working with JPEGs, there was still a little room for tweaking, and I even managed to save one slightly under-exposed photograph. In general, the automated performance seems intelligent enough to do it’s job, while the hardware (and software) give you images with a teeny bit of leeway. Colors are very nice, and you won’t find a real need for the Vivid Effect unless that’s really your thing.
The Canon N100 is a decent little camera with enough features, gizmos, and doohickeys to keep younger photographers on top of their passion. Canon has pushed this camera as a “story camera” and there’s a lot going for it in that niche. The social inclination of the N100, from the rear-facing camera to the built-in WiFi, speaks to the denizens of Twitter and Facebook. However, a lack of prosumer features, and the half-implementation of some decent ideas (again, a 90 degree articulating LCD…) means this puppy isn’t going to see the audience that the SX700 will, even though both cameras sit at around the same price.
If you’re in the mood to try something new and fun, or you want to be connected while you shoot with your compact, this camera might just be the One.
The first impression you might have pulling the Olympus SH-1 out of the box is how much this camera looks like a Pen Camera. For better or for worse, it isn’t. Instead, the SH-1 is decidedly a point and shoot camera with a large zoom range and excellent video. But what else does the Olympus SH-1 boast? And is the camera’s price tag a fair indicator of image quality?
Shooting with the Olympus SH-1
So it isn’t a digital Pen, but is it still worth buying? For some, the Olympus SH-1 will make a big difference in terms of what can be captured, and when it can be captured. The biggest feature on this small camera is, without a doubt, the 5-axis image stabilization, which is being implemented in compact FULL HD video for the first time (so Olympus says, at least).
At any rate, that IS is really helping out video and Image Quality and long ranges, so it’s safe to say that those looking for a compact megazoom – or a pocketable camera that also delivers excellent video – will find this little runt appealing.
Like most compacts, especially Olympus compacts, the controls and their layout are minimalist but functional. Missing are any dials for shutter and aperture, and between the mode dial on top and the concise menu layout, it’s plain to see that the Olympus SH-1 is an easy-to-use camera streamlined for a more automatic shooting experience.
Built in WiFi is easy enough to sync to your smartphone or tablet, and the relative ease with which one can change shooting modes (set the mode dial, then press the “ok” button to select different options), gives this camera a certain appeal not readily found in other brands.
What can I say, the reach on this sucker is fantastic. From a 25mm equivalent at it’s widest, to a whopping 600mm equivalent at it’s furthest in, the lens is great. That 5-axis image stabilization only bolsters the performance.
Manual Mode on the Olympus SH-1 is a bit of a pain. Like most compacts, here you’re working with a D-Pad to adjust your settings – from Shutter Speed and Aperture, to ISO. If you’re working in a location with constantly-changing lighting, it may not be the easiest way to use this camera, but if you can set it and run with it, you won’t be disappointed.
As usual, Olympus throws in some nifty art filters for certain effects. While most might seem gimmicky, I personally like the Grainy Black And White effect, which tends to offer extreme contrast for a love-it-or-hate-it feel.
Panorama mode allows wider images with decent stitching. It works best with still subjects, and if you wanted a panoramic shot of architecture or landscapes, this feature would prove itself useful. If you’re looking to capture busy scenes with lots of movement, you may want to look elsewhere, as the stitching software still seems to mar some difficult, moving subjects.
Image quality is the big bust on the SH-1, and while it might not be perfect, it certainly isn’t abysmal. As with most small-sensor cameras, the big point one should keep in mind when considering this camera is that you’ll want to get the image right while in-camera. TRYING TO SAVE A SHOT IN POST IS VERY DIFFICULT.
That being said, I’m still surprised at how this little puppy held up. I especially enjoyed setting up the WiFi and using my old iPhone as a remote LCD while I held the camera nonchalantly, taking some pretty nice candid shots of people walking by.
It’s no RX-100ii, but the Olympus SH-1 may be the compact to look at. Generally, it strikes you on paper as being a go to workhorse for stable handheld video, and long-distance lens performance. With the added WiFi and some minimalist design, however, it could lend itself to almost anyone who wants a basic camera with some decent output. In general, I would say it performs about as well as – if not better than – Fuji’s X20. You might lose a viewfinder and a lot of manual controls, but a more portable design will have many right in the Olympus Brand pocket.
New to the scene in March, the Canon PowerShot SX700 HS may seem a little pricey at $349, but the overall performance of this compact superzoom is worth every penny.
CanonPowerShot SX700 HS: Superzoom Superstar
These days, it isn’t hard to find cameras that give you a lot of zoom. However, hunt around for a point and shoot camera offering a range of 25-750mm, and you may not have very many options. One of those options, though, will be the Canon PowerShot SX700 HS, which not only delivers the range in focal length, but does so with stunning results.
Of course, there are other features at play here, and not all of them are aimed at the novice. For seasoned pros, one of the coolest pros to this little camera is a mode dial not unlike those found on DSLRs, with Manual and Auto exposure modes, as well as Aperture- and Shutter-Priority modes. There’s also a nice video recording mode (with FULL HD), and built-in WiFi (with a dedicated button for syncing to tablets and smartphones).
For newbies (and even for seasoned enthusiasts like myself), there is is a fairly entertaining “creative shot” feature that makes variations of a single shot, experimenting with filters and crops in the process.
ISO performance is tolerable, and the macro features on this camera are also worthy of note. To be fair, there are lower-priced options on the market for better macro shots, but the SX700’s big draw is that nifty zoom lens.
So who is the SX700 HS for? It’s not a beginners camera (too many manual options), and it’s not a professional’s camera (not enough pro features). Instead, the SX700 is a mid-range compact camera designed at those who don’t need the most serious of camera bodies, but would still like something to learn and grow with (without purchasing any lenses).
Because of the camera’s overall versatility, this can be accomplished pretty well, and some folks may want to consider this camera as a lightweight option for day trips or casual photography.
Conclusion: if you need a camera with a great lens and some a full range of manual overrides, seriously consider this camera. If you’re looking for something casual to grow with and learn through, again this is a prime camera. Only those looking for the most rudimentary or most professional cameras should dismiss the Canon PowerShot SX700 HS.
Recently out in stores (since early March), the Fuji 10-24 f/4 R OIS is a lens of great construction with pretty awesome performance. Is it worth the $999 price tag, though? Here are some sample images and some personal input on a lens I became addicted to the moment I used it.
Fuji 10-24 f/4: Classy Camera Companion
This review’s setup: the Fuji 10-24 f/4 on the X-T1.
When it comes to wide-angle lenses, I’ve almost always used primes. I’ve handled some nice Tokina wide angle zooms, and I’ve personally owned the Sigma 10-20, and I’ve sometimes been impressed by the performance I’ve experienced or the samples I’ve seen. Well, Fuji’s new lens has its hooks in me. It’s truly a great lens. It may not be worth the money, though, depending on who you are and what you shoot.
I found the easiest way to use this lens to be setting the camera to aperture priority mode. On the X-T1, this simply meant setting shutter speed and ISO to auto, and trying desperately not to fudge the aperture ring too much.
The Aperture Ring
This is the only negative thing I really have to say about the lens: the aperture ring sucks. Okay, maybe not sucks. But it’s just too easy to move inadvertently. Some basic prep time spent memorizing the position of the three rings – aperture, zoom, and focus, probably would have helped, but I’ve got too short of an attention span for that so I hit the streets and cursed at the camera in my head every time I scrambled to get a shot. In summation, it’s not so much a deal-breaking flaw as it is something you can learn to work around, or work with. Just be prepared to drop one or two mental f-bombs.
Astounding glass can be found in this lens. Maybe it’s the quality of the glass itself, or the coating they’ve put on the glass, or a spell cast by wizard from another dimension, but the performance here is fantastic. There is some drop in sharpness at the extreme corners of the lens, but when you shoot at f/8 and up, you can kiss that hiccup goodbye. And given that this lens is primarily aimed at landscape and architecture photographers, I don’t image many people would be shooting at f/4 to begin with.
Probably having just as much to do with the fact that I’m using the X-T1 as it does the lens, the colors and image quality are still impeccable with this camera. Given the choice of pairing the Fuji 10-24 with the X-T1, or sticking with the kit lens, I would pick the 10-24. Mostly because I love shooting wide, and photographing on the street, but also because I personally feel the images that I am getting with the 10-24 maybe be just a little better.
Again, the Fuji 10-24 has some great construction, with a mostly metal exterior and interior (although there is still a little plastic on the front and rear inside barreling). The heft of the lens is nice, with what I would say is just the right amount of weight. It may put off some prospective buyers, especially those looking for a lightweight mirrorless setup. Luckily, most of those people tend to go for Olympus and Panasonic, so this lens shouldn’t be disappointing to them.
Who It’s For
Generally, I’d recommend this lens to people who love the wide-angle look. Duh, right? But that price tag ($999) can be a bit steep for some, and it really is a specialty lens. Couple this with the fact that you still get a keystone effect in shots of architecture, and it may not be everything Fuji has claimed it to be. Definitely a high quality beast, but more suiting to people who can live with distortion than those who can’t or just outright abhor it. Also, as I mentioned above, it isn’t very light, so weight may throw some people off. I would say this is ideal for street photography and landscapes, but I would definitely suggest you try before you buy.
I’m addicted to this lens. I love the 15mm focal length, I love the weight (it doesn’t feel like it’s another plastic lens with an over-inflated price tag), and I love the image quality. I still detest the aperture ring, but maybe I’m just becoming a crotchety old man. Who knows.
Just for fun, here’s a Toynbee tile I found while testing the lens.
It’s not for everyone, and straight out of the box it will disappoint anyone who has already handled anything better.
However, you can still get some great images out of the ELPH 150 IS.
Shooting with the Canon Powershot ELPH 150 IS
Menus and “Ergonomics”
The menus are okay. You probably won’t need to read the manual if you use cameras fairly often. Personally, I think Canon has the most intuitive menus for beginners, and this camera is no exception.
I put ergonomics in quotation marks because there are no contours to this camera, really. It’s a little box that has an on/off button on top, and a shutter release with a scroll for the zoom. There are some buttons on the back and the thing isn’t as tall or wide as most smartphones, but maybe a little thicker.
Takeaway: anyone can use this camera.
The lens on the ELPH 150 IS is pretty decent, with relative sharpness at it’s widest focal length (24mm equivalent). Aperture is automatic, with f/3 at the wide end, and f/6.9 when the zoom is fully extended. Due to the mostly-automatic nature of the camera, the default ISO of 800 at its 240mm equivalent focal length leads to a fairly grainy picture, but working with decent lighting will allow you to override the ISO in Program Auto mode. Then you can set your ISO to a clean 100 and get fairly smooth shots.
Takeaway: the lens is great at the wide end, even in auto. Zooming way out to the maximum distance will leave you with grainy shots unless you adjust ISO in the menus.
A little grain is a given when using any camera. Most of us accept that. But thanks to a diminutive sensor, and the automatic tendencies of this camera to set ISO to some of the grainier extremes, it’s going to behoove most users to stick with 100 ISO if they don’t want a grainy look. Personally, I found the image quality at 400 and 800 to be workable, but I would still keep away from 1600 unless I really didn’t care about grain/noise.
Takeaway: change the camera mode to Program and adjust ISO to 100. And leave it there.
I can’t use “exposure control” because that is misleading. You’re in for a struggle when you want to change shutter speed on this camera. That’s okay – you can easily adjust exposure compensation, but finding the in-menu controls for shutter speed is tough. Very tough.
Takeaway: memorize how to get back to your exposure compensation for quick adjustment when taking photos.
Well, it’s a fairly simple point and shoot flash. It does seem to have some nice range on it, but it’s positioned to the left side of the lens.
Takeaway: good most of the time but forget using it for extreme closeups.
Probably the best thing about little point and shoot cameras these days are those stunning macro shots. In fact, it’s one of the niches that point and shoot and ultra compact cameras still excel at. The ELPH 150 IS has a close-focusing distance of 1 centimeter (or .39 inches). Decent, to say the least.
Takeaway: if you like taking macro shots, shell out $150 for this camera and have some fun.
I guess this is Canon’s attempt to cash in on the same things Fuji and Olympus are doing so well. The problem with these effects in a point and shoot body is that they wind up looking far, far, far…far far far worse than the same effects from Fuji or Olympus. Sorry Canon…but you just can’t do it in a body this small. There is a grid display that users can enable to see a rule-of-thirds guide, but nothing that will save the this camera from the pitfalls of its creative filters.
Takeaway: avoid cancer of the retina and don’t use these filters. The rule-of-thirds grid overlay (hidden in the menus) may actually be of more use to creative photographers.
It’s a compact camera with images stabilization (hence the “IS” in ELPH 150 IS), but it’s a tiny 1/2.3” sensor. And it is only HD – not FULL HD. So yeah. Video is kind of there. It’s wonderful, I guess, if you want video in your camera. Otherwise, yeah.
Takeaway: um, yeah.
All in All
Final opinion? Not a bad little camera. Clearly an automatic package for someone who just wants to “take good pictures” but might not have heard about camera phones yet.
You do get better image quality if you take the ISO down to 100 and utilize the flash a little, and macro is amazing on this camera. But since most of the people who are buying this camera probably aren’t going to know how to overcome its quirks, I don’t expect it to hear much about it or see it flying off of the store shelves.
In all honesty, it reminds me of the people who used to buy family cameras and let everyone in the family use it to take pictures. It would probably be nice for a picnic or a family reunion, but even the 10x optical zoom seems to have a hard time grabbing distant subjects with the kind of clarity most can find in marginally more expensive compacts.
It’ll be interesting to see where this camera goes, and if Canon might start making niche macro point and shoot cameras for those of us who would like something small and portable for unexpected situations.
Since its announcement and fairly rapid release, the Fujifilm XT1 has been turning heads – and with good reason. Sporting a solid retro design and cutting-edge technology, this camera has vaulted to the forefront of the mirrorless pantheon. But how does it perform?
Shooting with the Fujifilm XT1
First, let me say that I was very hyped to get my mits on a Fujifilm XT1. Mirrorless has been growing on me as of late, no doubt helped along by the Olympus E-M10 – a stunningly capable camera in a small, lightweight package. So it stands to reason the that this newcomer from Fuji would have me on tenterhooks, but reason abandoned me when I actually took one out for a test drive.
Truth be told, the Fujifilm is impressive on paper. The pixelpeepers and gearheads out there know this. You probably know this. The full specs are intimidating. The viewfinder is A-MAZ-ING. It feels like any camera should. You get a drive mode dial like on my Nikon D2Xs, complete with a freakin’ double-exposure setting. There’s two (2!) kinds of focus peaking. And let’s not forget that mouth-watering APS-C sensor.
But then you might use the Fujifilm XT1, and feel something vanish.
Let me elaborate.
For my review, I used an XT1 with the 18-55 kit lens at f/2.8-4. I had my misgivings about shooting with the standard kit. Much more enticing to me was the 27mm f/2.8. But as most people just getting into Fuji might purchase the whole kit, I decided to review the body and the 18-55 together.
That being said, you’ll be impressed that a camera manufacturer supplies you with a lens that’s reasonably bright when compared to the competition. Heck, you even get a lens hood. But when you start to use the kit lens a couple things happen.
First, there’s the finicky fake-feeling “aperture ring” on the barrel of the lens. It moves when the wind blows. So you’ll find yourself changing aperture without meaning to, and missing several shots. I tried putting adjusting aperture with one of the on-body control dials, but despite my menu telling me that’s what the dial was set up for, nothing ever happened. So, yeah, that sucked.
Having an f/2.8-4 zoom lens is great an all, but with that crappy plastic aperture ring on there, it just sort of ruins the whole experience. Some people are used to manual aperture rings. You set the ring, and when you move your lens, the freaking ring should not change. On this lens, it does. And it screws you up. And you just want to use manual lenses again.
I talked about control dials. Now let’s talk about the shutter speed dial. You set your shutter speed at full stops – 1/250, 1/500, 1/4000 – and then you can use a control dial below on the body to fine-tune that shutter speed to say, 1/300, 1/600, and so on and so forth. I guess this stems from Nikon’s design faults with the DF, where users could change the top shutter speed dial to 1/250 and then move the control dial on the camera body to a shutter speed of 1/500 (without the top dial registering the change). That being said, it makes shutter speed clunkier and more annoying to adjust.
ISO is great if you’re shooting JPEGs only. You get a range of 100-51200. Then if you shoot in RAW, you get a diminished range of 200-6400. Aside from that, you’ve got your ISO speeds on a dial that locks every time you have to move it. So it doesn’t change accidentally, but you no longer get to rapidly change your ISO speed, either.
Here the Fujifilm XT1 has made some nice headway. You get all the drive modes you would expect, plus a bracketed setting, a double exposure setting, a panorama setting (which stitches quite well), and an “advanced” setting.
The Viewfinder and LCD
Both of these are phenomenal. You can get lost in that viewfinder. It’s big, it’s bright, and it doesn’t let in any extra light. It makes optical viewfinders look shallow and dark. The LCD is crisp and bright. It tilts. It does everything a good LCD should do these days.
Image quality on the Fujifilm XT1 is what you would expect – sharp and crisp with excellent resolution and astounding color reproduction. The added film simulator is a joy to play around with – more so than the Olympus art features, which seem aimed at amateurs, not film buffs.
Film simulation modes include a black and white mode simulating certain filters, like red (used in the two photographs above), blue, green, or yellow.
Velvia/vivid film simulation.
Astia/soft film simulation.
Menus are very intuitive, especially for those coming from a Nikon background.
The Fujifilm XT1 has some wonderful features going for it – the best EVF on the market, a rather large sensor, and stunning image quality, as well as a love-it-or-hate-it retro design. For those willing to learn with the camera, and harness the potential of new interfaces for shutter speed and aperture, disappointments will be few and far between. For the rest of you old codgers out there, you might actually want to go the Olympus or Sony route, when it comes to mirrorless.
Note: One thing I did not touch upon in this review was low-light performance. A review specifically aimed at night-shooting with the XT1 will be coming soon.
UPDATE: To see how the Fujifilm X-T1 performs with the 10-24 f/4 R OIS, check out this review.