Cue! – Camera! – Action!

No, this isn’t about Prince Harry’s strip billiards nude romp*

This is a brief review of my new (birthday present) Canon PowerShot Sx220 camera.

First glance: smooth operation, everything to hand, light weight, remarkable zoom for its size, rather worryingly complex manual (dial, toggle, buttons – eek).

On auto, basic point-and-click photos are easy and excellent quality. However, macro is not intuitive and the auto-focus has a mind of its own. I try to focus on something and it decides, ‘No, this leaf is far more interesting than your butterfly.’

A hornet was buzzing around a pine tree in the ruined fort above Parga. ‘Collecting wood for pulp for nest building,’ I suggested as it spiralled the trunk, occasionally alighting. A moment later it homed-in on a camouflaged cicada a couple of centimetres bigger than itself. The cicada attempted to fly; entwined in a struggling mass the two bodies dropped to the dust beneath the tree, the hornet grappling and stinging until the cicada was paralysed. Several cicada bodies already lay there. While we watched, the predatory hornet added a couple more corpses to the scene.

The autofocus refused to cooperate so the best picture I have is focused on the leaf litter not the battling insects.

Later, I discovered AF-tracking, a mere flick of a toggle on AUTO, doh, silly me. A tiny box appears in the centre of the screen; a half-depress of the shutter focuses on the box contents and keeps track of it even if it moves – this rabbit bolted as I started to take the picture.

However, at full zoom (as in the rabbit picture, above) it’s a struggle to keep the camera steady – especially on a moving target; juvenile buzzards playing were beyond our capabilities (even at full zoom they would only have been small dots, anyway) and the focus can slip if the contrast between object of interest and background is not definite enough (full zoom again: raven in cedar tree – black bird, dark tree – when the raven moved, camera refocused on a similar-size branch).

Yes, I am pushing its capabilities unfairly; it’s fun! I love it! The pictures are, compared to my last camera, brighter (my late Pentax Optio S4i’s pictures generally needed brightening and lighting to be useable), sharper (excellent lens and inside techy gumph) and good colour (though the extremes of light and hazy distance in the Greek mountains produced a few shots with an unreal blueness to the darker distances).

All in all, it’s a satisfying replacement for my crushed Pentax Optio 4Si (R.I.P.).


*Though why, when his pals in the forces are being laid off is he cavorting in a resort where chaps in multi-thousand dollar suites go to get laid? And aren’t English tarts fare enough for our Royal knaves these days? And who is paying for all this? Would it happen to be us, either direct through the (un)civil list or via fat-cats who’ve creamed themselves on our spendings so they can brown-nose to the blue-bloods?

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