Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Canon S90 vs Nokia N8

Here it is, the Canon S90, arguably one of the best digital compact ever released. Forget what Nokia told you about how phones (like their flagship imaging phone N8) has surpassed digital compacts. The S90 not only spanks the N8 but does so in such a manner than one should laugh at anyone who ever treated the N8 as more than it is - yet another camera phone.

Where to begin. Well the S90 is easier to use. The N8 is a touchscreen smartphone with an awful camera application, that does not even bother to remember the settings you last used. There are no manual controls on the N8, where as the S90 has full manual controls and features that makes even some entry level DSLR blush with envy. More importantly, the S90 has buttons, and buttons always beat touchscreen. Always.

The S90 has two rings of control.The control ring allows you to easily control whichever function you want. Simply spin it and that's it. I've set the S90 onto Aperture Priority mode, and use the ring to select the aperture, and the back ring to exposure. The Canon is such a genius this almost always works. It is easier to use than my Nikon D90!

I hate writing about specs, but the S90 has the specs where it matters most. It has a very fast lens - in fact faster than Canon's flagship G12 prosumer digital compact. The lens on the S90 allows twice as much light as the G12, Nokia N8 and even my £500 Nikkor 20-35mm f/2.8 lens.

The Canon has the same sensor as the S95, G11 and G12 - a 10MP 1/1.7" CCD sensor, far bigger than those found on most none-EVIL compacts. The N8 on the other hand contains a smaller1/1.83" and packs more megapixels. Because of the S90's superior lens and sensor, the S90 can capture more detail on its 10MP sensor than the N8 could, and to do so with very little noise.

So what's missing. Well the S90 does not do HD videos, which will be a bummer to YouTubers - but a blessing to me. I like it that my D90 is shit at doing HD videos, and the same applies with the S90. I am glad that it doesn't, because digital cameras should shoot images and video cameras should shoot videos. Convergences means having to apply trade-offs. What next? MP3 playback in cameras?

The S90 isn't equipped with a hot shoe. This irked me at first, but then I thought why bother with a hot shoe on such a small compact. Besides the S90 is so brilliant at low light photography that I don't even bother with its xenon flash most of the time.

So what is this 'review' really about? Well, it is about busting the myth that smartphones are close to even succeeding good compact cameras. Yes, a N8 is convenient in that it allows me to only carry one device. But if you value memories, then you wouldn't mind carrying an extra photographic device. Sure the S90 isn't cheap, but you can easily augment the purchase by getting a cheaper phone.

All in all, if you are in the market for a pocket camera you can do a lot worse than the S90. While the S90 has since been surpassed by the S95 - it is still pretty much 99% the same camera, one that has retained plenty of value and sought after by photographers.

The Canon S90 vs Nokia N8 macro sample below is a real eye opener. The differences between the two cameras are astounding:

Auto, no flash, f/2

Auto, no flash, f/2.8
More Canon S90 samples:

AV mode, f/5.6, ISO500, 1/500sec

auto, flash, f/2, ISO800, 1/30sec

Manual, no flash, f/2, ISO400, 1/30sec

Manual, tripod, f/2, ISO400, 1sec


Anonymous said...

I have a Canon S90, and it is the best pocket camera ever made.

zaphoto said...

to sum up the subject quick, mobile phns will not replace pocket cams but their sales growth and user base will drop because the tech will reach this stage before end 2012 and no one will be bothered to carry a compact when their phns are more than capable of capturing quality images of landscapes, friends photos and other happy snappy pix. See more of my mobile pix at the link below. I'm a photographer and a realist. The future is coming and you cannot slow it down.

Anonymous said...

I do not think Jon is arguing against mobile phone cameras, merely pointing out that current mobile phone cameras are far behind compact cameras.

It is true that while mobile phone cameras will outsell digital compacts (if they haven't already), serious photographers will always use dedicated cameras. The law of physics apply a lot in photography technology. You can never get a sensor big enough, or a lens big enough in a mobile phone.

laBlueBoy said...

you're just saying how a DEDICATED camera is better at doing his SUPPOSED job than N8 but you didn't even showed the pics captured by the N8. what a comparison... you should study about making comparative analysis first mate.. btw, N8 camera is, if not better, almost as good as any dedicated digital cam out there.

Anonymous said...

what a lame review..
yr topic is VS,but there is no comparison pics at all..
ohh and between,if you do not know nokia well..stop posetin unreal fact like this
The N8 is a touchscreen smartphone with an awful camera application, that does not even bother to remember the settings you last used
under camera setting,go scene mode n select user define...

this is the worst comparison ever
think u r just byass dude.
get a life pls

Anonymous said...

Haha, people posting above about no comparison picture. There is one. Perhaps this proves you are blind. The difference is huge.

Minesel said...

The picture taken by the N8 is nice, but the one taken by the Canon blows it away. WOW.

The N8 has far less detail, washed out colour and contrast while having a significant amount of noise.

laBlueBoy said...

you can't call it comparison with only just one sample each can you? :P

Anonymous said...

A pity you did not try see the bigger picture....

The only comparision that I know of was that the sensor was bigger than a lot of cameras NOT all cameras.

So you think phones previously took bad photos (from your comments that is a YES). So Nokia try to recify this with the best camera phone available.

(We all know which phone you would want in your pocket the day you forget you camera.)

And yes there are a lot of shitty cameras out there that are worse than the N8.

I think you need to approach this from a more broader perspective and not be so puritanical.
It has its market segment so do Cameras.

Anonymous said...

I have a Nikon P80 bcz initially I wasnt sure if I'm happy to carry a bulky DLSR everywhere. It is a great camera for outdoors (not like DSLR, obv.) but still takes great pictures with 18x Opt zoom. But I had to carry it for small parties & get-togethers, and I felt it was to bulky to carry it around, hanging from my shoulder. Now I bought an N8 and the moment I clicked the first pic, I knew I'm gonna dump my P80 fr indoor/party instant snaps. For outdoor, it's time for a DSLR. So bye-bye P80.

Anonymous said...

the cannon costs Rs4000-4500 (100-130$) more than the N8
wtf are you thinking mr. jonchoo?
and to add to its load of shit;
it does not even do 720p

xmangerm said...

Interesting review. Nonetheless, my Nokia N8 fulfills almost every photograph moment I find myself involved in. I won't be purchasing another compact camera as long as Smartphones of the N8 caliber are available.

madhu said...

I think this is worst comparison...

Nokia Mobile Phones

Anonymous said...

what a stupid review, didnt even show the nokia n8 photos why???? because they are so good at photography that he didnt wanna be put down by the nokia n8, trust me this is a reall digital camera in a smartphone.... how can he even say that it is no good??? he just dosnt wanna face the facts and accept that technolagy is growing.....

Anonymous said...

The s90 is one of the best pocket cams out there!...but you cannot deny the N8 is capable of taking great pictures.