It's been a while since I've done a "gadget" blog. But after many years of urging, I am finally trying out a Digital SLR camera instead of the normal point-and-shoots that I do my amateur weather photography with. Today I give you an initial review of the Canon Rebel XS, with much more information and testing coming.
This camera is on loan from Fumfie.com (Fum-fee, named after a guy named Tony). Incredibly, Fumfie is selling this camera today for only $419.95, lower than Amazon's price, which is pretty incredible -- because Fumfie's mission is to sell photo equipment below the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price.
The first test I did was just a point and shoot of the AccuWeather building, with both cameras in auto mode (I'm comparing to my Kodak Z950). Because I forgot to set the Kodak at 10 MP (like the Canon), I didn't get the same area covered when you zoom in completely. First, the Canon, then the Kodak, at native resolution, saved as lossless PNGs. Click for the original photos.
The Canon looks clearer, especially if you look at the diagonal lines in the "W" which the Kodak had some problems with. But if you took the Kodak and resized it smaller in Photoshop, would it look the same as the Canon? Kind of:
But the detail on the pipe above the "C" still looks better with the Canon, and the white dots on the "C" and "U" aren't there either (not sure what those were - snowflakes, bad pixels in the Kodak, or what -- needs further testing).
After this comparison didn't show a huge difference, the question I had was: Why go DSLR? I've taken some great photos with my point-and-shoot cameras. CNET explains:
"The SLR design allows one camera to accommodate a very wide range of lens focal lengths, and that's the biggest reason that SLRs dominate serious photography. With a non-SLR camera, you have to match the angle of view of the "taking" lens with that of the "viewing" lens... [which] requires increasingly complex and expensive viewfinder mechanisms."
Auto-shots of the sunset tonight led to similar results - the big story was that the Canon gave a more attractive, smaller lens flare from the sun (if I decreased the shutter time to something lower I could have gotten rid of it).
Even with only initial testing, I can tell you two ways that the Canon kills the Kodak -- first, the XS has a "bulb setting" where you can leave the shutter open for any amount of time, something the Kodak restricts to 16 seconds. This means that lightning photography will be a lot easier with the Canon. The flash is also much stronger than the Kodak, going to the other side of my street on a snowy night, while the Kodak struggled to get across my driveway.
Photographers will also argue that the SLR is a camera for "serious photographers" because it allows you to tweak all the camera's settings like you had to do in the old days with early 35MM cameras. There is a presumption that DSLRs take "clearer" or "more detailed" photos.
What I hope my testing will uncover is whether or not this is worth it to the amateur weather photographer such as myself. I live by the mantra "it doesn't have to be perfect." So in my mind, if I can take a picture that's 90% awesome for less than half the price and half the trouble, I'm probably satisfied. Over the next few months I'll be putting this camera to the test to find out if it's worth it.
YOU TELL ME: What do you think the difference is when using DSLR for weather photography? Sound off in the Comments below.
After the extreme, widespread reports of sleet from the March 3 storm, I wondered if it might be a new record... but sleet stats are hard to come by.
The mid-Atlantic had never seen a March morning as cold as this one... the Great Lakes ice and U.S. snow cover set records, and more.
Elliot Abrams said: "Rather than centering near the I-80 to I-70 corridor, the snow was centered on the I-70 to I-64 corridors." So what he's saying is...
It's been a heck of a season, but winter is not over yet. Historic cold and snow is coming once again.
I was lucky enough again this year to have AccuWeather send me to Social Media Week in New York City and even luckier to get these awesome photos.
I'd like to present our latest promo video which explains what AccuWeather, the company, does.