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Thursday, 20 August 2009


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Both these cameras appeal. I almost bought a G10 just yesterday but decided to go deep instead! It's only money...

Packers should sign Jim Mcmahon. Hell, the Bears should resign him!

I was about to put my G9 for sale on the office intranet notice board on the announcement of the G11 but now think S90 for low light/wide angle, G9 for good light/210mm/hot shoe flash/auxiliary flash/macro

I defer to your expertise of upper midwest NFL rivalries, but aren't the Bears the most hated rival to Cheeseheads everywhere?

I understand the shock of seeing Favre in purple. But count your blessings: The Pack seems to have found a decent replacement -- no small thing -- in Aaron Rodgers. It could've been much, much worse (think Miami post-Marino, or the 49ers post-Montana and Young ...).

Interesting to note the price differential on both sides of the Atlantic. A New York store gives a price of $429.95 for the S90, while a British photography magazine suggests the RRP is £449.

The New York price of $429.95 translates into £260.23. Put another way, the London price of £449 equates to $741.73.

Seems like once again the poor Brits are being ripped off.

You savages aren't going to hang him from the goal post, are you?

This is a horrible horrible mistake by the vikes. Only slightly less horrible than playing Travisty Jackson at QB another year. I expect a typical Favre year. Fast start and then his thoughts will turn towards Del Boca Vista and all will be lost.

Oh, and nice looking canon toys.

Mike, have we mentioned recently that you rock? Great post, great pictures.

Favre? A champ. Sign me,

- "New Vikes Fan"

If only any camera manufacturer could come up with the idea of including wireless flash control in compacts. That would make flash photography feasible even without a hot shoe.

So is Brett trying to rip the camera out of your hands, 'cause he's sick and tired of Wisconsin paparazzi??

Sounds good, but does the S90 offer AEB? Canon's web site is silent on that matter, only stating that exposure compensation is available at +/- 2 EV. Not the same as Auto Exposure Bracketing, however.

I've been wondering through this whole post what a "true Packer fan" could be -- imagining a secret society of aging Sokoban lovers, maybe.

Surely a link would help, this being the internet and all... The Wikipedia entry for Brett Favre did it for me. ;)

Regarding the S90, this $430 camera will probably not be completely up to the $600 LX3, but *my* call is that it will at least be widely available at your favourite electronics retailer, instead of being back-ordered for months at most specialty photo shops.

Packer fans? Like, fans of backpacking? And this guy in the photo - is he a healer? I had to google to discover that your cryptic comments were completely unrelated to photography.
Mike, please note that not all your readers are American football aficionados. Whoever heard of this what's-his-name outside the US? He's not Usain Bolt, you know.

Reducing pixel count on the G11 from the G10 is a very positive development. But boy, is it fugly...

Considering the progress in sensor technology since the days of the Fuji F31fd, there is no reason why the S90 shouldn't have decent ISO 800 performance.

Well, finally I can throw the G9 in the bin, pocket the S90, which looks like the friend I need to comfort me after evil Olympus promised so much and delivered so little. But I tell you my friends, they better not give up on that 4/3 standard just yet, because once they've created a real digital rangefinder I'll be first in line.

"aren't the Bears the most hated rival to Cheeseheads everywhere?"

Well, yes, but it will increase Minnesotans' joy and glee over signing Favre if we say we hate them the most. And they're all so nice up there, it's just nice to be nice to them.


Packer fans shouldn't sweat this one too much. Favre's touchdown to interception ratio was atrocious last year, and at his age, it's not going to improve. Packer DBs should be licking their chops.

As for the S90, it makes me wish I had waited a few months to buy a compact to carry to work with me. Are the MP wars really over?


Since you've lived in Chicago and Wisconsin, where are your football loyalties?

Just asking.

Even though I spent my formative years growing up 50 miles from Green Bay and through some sort of osmosis I suppose was able to guess the name of the "team that true (yes, true) Packer fans hate above all others," it might have been nice to spell it out for us non-American-football devotees.

So for the rest of us, here it is according to Wikipedia: Brett Favre is an American football player of some note with the National Football League, who signed with the Minnesota Vikings on August 18, 2009. Sheesh. I'm afraid I'll never really understand obsessed fans of professional team sports.

Am I reading this post correctly that the sensor is not a new one, but the old G9 sensor, resurrected with the help of new image processing chips?

"Since you've lived in Chicago and Wisconsin, where are your football loyalties?"

Washington. I lived in D.C. during the first Gibbs era, from Jack Pardee all the way through the glory years. It was the only time in my life I've really followed football closely, and it was a heck of a lot of fun. I knew all the players, watched every game, went to the Super Bowl celebrations in Georgetown.

It was interesting how it unified the city, too. I remember once standing in a bank line. There were two lines, and standing across from one another in front of me there happened to be a young white lawyer-type in a very expensive suit and, next to him, an elderly black man in grubby coveralls, obviously a working man. I was standing there, musing to myself as I often do, thinking how very little those two people and their worlds had in common, when, as if in answer to my thoughts, the black man noticed that the white man was reading the sports pages, and made a comment about the previous weekend's game. Well, those two guys proceeded to have an animated and detailed conversation about the game that went on for ten minutes, while we waited, and they parted laughing and wishing each other well like they were the oldest of friends. An object lesson for me....

I couldn't even really root for the Bears when I was in Chicago, because the Bears are a rival of Washington's too. I don't really follow the 'Skins any more, but once a fan, always a fan.


P.S. Whenever the 'Skins play the Packers, I root for the 'Skins. Have to.

I gave up on football after leaving the Badger state many years ago. I'll admit to hanging out with a couple of shareholders from time to time but that's all. The camera? Not bad.

I must be a fair weather sort of fan. Born and lived in Chicago, there for the 85 Bears. The Art Institutes lions wearing Bears helmets was quite a sight, but I live in Indiana now, and am a Colts fan. Baseball, Cubs, but with a certain amount of "disdain ?".

The S90 is beginning to sound very interesting, not to derail the topic. :-)

Even Letterman is getting in on the Favre act. Last night, while cracking jokes about him during the monologue, news bulletins from CBS kept interrupting announcing Favre's retirement again from Vikes, unretirement again, etc.

He still has a "canon" (sic) for an arm...just to keep this on topic... but I stopped being a fan, despite living in Wisconsin 5 years, when he seemingly became all about Brett.

Look forward to the Ravens game on Oct. 18th.

Argh. This wont go down well here but what's with the obsolete video res? If Canon can put 720p in a camera half the size (and price) why not in this saucy piece of work.

If you want amazing ergonomics try the Ricoh GRDs. Excellent grip, two control wheels (one depressable), rocker switch and extensive customizability make it a joy to operate with one hand.

GRD III was recently announced, pricy but well worth it.

[[Am I reading this post correctly that the sensor is not a new one, but the old G9 sensor, resurrected with the help of new image processing chips?]]

The sensor is brand new. Here is the data sheet:

[WARNING, link is a PDF download]


"If only any camera manufacturer could come up with the idea of including wireless flash control in compacts. That would make flash photography feasible even without a hot shoe."

Some of the big names used to add this capability to their more serious-minded "bridge" cameras, but I've never heard of anyone doing it with a compact. With the relatively low power output of a compact camera flash I'm not sure how practical it would be either.

True Packer fans will understand when they see the gift given to them by Favre as he throws more interceptions than touchdowns, collapses mentally and physically near the end of theseason and disrupts team chemistry to the point where he hands Green Bay the division.

As a Jets fan, I know the feeling too well.

"Are the MP wars really over?"

John - I would guess that they aren't, and not by a long shot. I would say that they are taking advantage of the market seeming to want some increased dynamic range and better low light capability. As soon as they can match those parameters with more pixels, there's no reason not to. And I don't see any sensor manufacturer not working to that end.

So if the G12 is back up to 15 or even 20 pixels, it's likely they've made some strides in dynamic range and/or noise with small pixels, or the market has changed and people don't seem to care about those features. Although I'd think the former is much more likely.

I'd link to Ctein's musings about >100 MP sensors if I had more time...

Hmmm... According to DPR the S90 can do 1/3 ISO stops while the G11 only does full stops. Can this be correct?

It does look like a tasty camera...

This is nothing to the pain of seeing Michael Owen in a Manchester United shirt ... and we have to pay twice as much for our cameras.

Close but no cigar (once again) While it may work for Yanchik for climbing, you won't see me toting one around in the hills.

No viewfinder makes it all but worthless for my climbing use. On rock it MIGHT be ok, depending on the screen, but on snow - forget it. I have yet to find a screen (on any camera, let alone a compact) that I can see worth a damn with sunglasses on. The problem is even worse if you are using dark glacier glasses!

While I understand the limitations of putting viewfinders on compact cameras, it pretty much eliminates a host of otherwise intriguing cameras for my use. That and the fact that the majority also focus/handle way to slow make them worthless for climbing in my opinion.

Jim Couch


Stop complaining, you could be a Bills fan.


Football first, then cameras. It's that time of year anyway. Bears a Washington rival? That must be from the 1950s. Washington has plenty of rivals in its own division, and so too do the Bears. For teams that meet every three years (regularly), I'd say Giants for the Bears, and Raiders for the 'Skins. In recent history, anyway.

As for Favre, he is certainly beatable in his football dotage, as everyone has noticed, but what matters at the end of the season is how many games you won, not whether you won them early or late.

Cameras: The S90 is officially drool-worthy, and I expect the price to rise as Canon too discovers that its camera for photographers is always out of stock at dealers. I recall drooling over the LX3 and recommending it to a friend who bought it preorder for around $400. The prices since? Maybe they'll fall to earth when the S90 finds photographers's hands. I've always liked how Canon processes what the sensor picks up over Panasonic anyway.

But mostly I'm waiting for LX3 prices to fall as a result of this. That 24mm-e lens is too yummy to pass up. I barely stray outside of normal, and when I do, it's toward wide.

P.S., I am looking forward to the price war that results when the A850 comes out. Can we say $800 used 5D?

I like the looks and specs of the S90, but ever since I sold my soul to the Strobist cult I can't buy a camera without a hot shoe for either a cord or radio trigger to fire an off camera flash. My 9 ounce LX3 and 4.4 ounce Sunpak PF20XD are just about the lightest off camera flash setup available.


Agreed, even the S70s viewfinder was "good enough" to frame the snowy alpine shots. Looks like the S90 would need some very determined squinting.

Likewise, looks like that sliding front cover has vanished too.

570GBP in the UK ? Lucky I get to Michigan a few times a year. Crazy money.

Of course, there are possible workarounds. Various sites offer re-written firmware which will get RAW data out of many of the range of Canon compacts. But then, they don't have the S90 optics...


..just another camera, ok it's not it's the recession model

Favre to Harrison for ANOTHER 3rd and 5 conversion... Now they have one more chance for a 65 yard rushing TD by the best running back in the league, and someone who might just be able to complete a pass to the better than average receiving core. If nothing else, it's pure entertainment. I gave up caring if he came or not a while back, but it sure is entertaining. Since football is there for entertainment, well, bravo Favre, bravo.

I have to say that S90 sounds VERY appealing. I can't wait to hear more about it.

not a comment to this column, per se, but a comment to the direction of TOP:

sigh..... I guess it is hard to resist all the hits whenever you throw another Canon post out to the pack.

along with the rest of the recent guaranteed-to-create-lots-of-reaction-from-the-usual-gang stuff that is not so interesting and certainly not unique from all the other photography blogs that are competing for the exact same crowd.

I think a terrific - and brave - topic would be for you to analyze how your columns have changed since you started TOP. How has the financial motive impacted your choice of subjects?

I'm not accusing you of 'bias' - I'm saying that your choice of topics has been swayed by the potential for hits over time.... over a short time. Less photography, more gear.... less thoughtful, more calculated.... less interesting, less unique, more expected and same old, same old....

thankfully, you still have Ctein to contribute interesting subject matter that doesn't appear to be designed to rile up or raise up the party faithful.

Given the nature of this site, how come no one has looked at the Brett Favre picture and said, "bad bokeh". I feel compelled, actually. :)

I don't know whether anyone has noticed this already: the Canon S90 has pretty much exactly (!) the size (and color) of my favorite compact film camera - the Olympus XA.
That is really brilliant!

I am curious to see how the S90 image quality holds up at ISO 800, especially in comparison with the Fuji Finepix F31fd.

Well, for a guy who is supposedly selling out, I am sure doing a crappy job of it. August is a horrible month financially, the worst (unless February is the worst).

The *only* reason I put up a post about the S90 was that so many readers mentioned it in the comments to the post about the G11. That's it. Despite the site being inundated with hundreds of pocket digicam reviews, I probably wouldn't have mentioned it otherwise.



I'm poised to order my S90 from Amazon, but the Canon site does not show RAW format in the S90's specs. Can you positively verify that it includes the RAW format?

By the way, I love your site and visit it almost daily. Thanks for all the good work!


"Can you positively verify that it includes the RAW format?"

The following is on the Canon USA site:

More Modes for the Advanced Amateur.
Full range of shooting and recording modes including RAW + JPEG for the ultimate creative control.

The PowerShot S90's RAW mode lets you shoot images without JPEG compression. It gives you clearer images and complete creative control in editing. RAW images are transferred directly to the computer where they can then be edited using image adjustment software or a processing application to adjust your images as you please. The camera can also be set to allow the simultaneous recording of both RAW and JPEG images while shooting.

That sounds like confirmation to me....


Hey Mike,
TOP doesn't need me to defend it from comments by Roberto but I feel compelled to make a comment of my own. I could care less about equipment reviews but where else are we going to hear about:
Emmit Gowen
Kyle Cassidy
Marcey Jacobson
Mario Neto
Lillian Bassman
Julius Shulman
John Lowengard
Davis Pye
Vlad Artazov etc, etc, etc, Not to mention all of the random excellence and bits of photo related trivia. For my measly subscription contribution I get more here than any other photography site/publication. Keep up the effort and I will just continue to skip right on past the equipment reviews I am not interested in and learn more than I could get any place else.
Thanks, John

The S90's lens is 6-22.5mm. Please fix that.

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