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Consider this waterproof camera first
on May 9, 2012
I preordered this camera when it was first announced. I was a little disappointed when Amazon dropped the price before it even reached my house. I anticipated this camera not only for the waterproof capabilities, but also because it is shock proof...and probably because it was a Canon. I live in Hawaii and intend to take this to the beach to take photos and videos in and out of the water. I'm a special education teacher and wanted to have my students to create their own learning stories with photos that they took themselves. I am very reluctant to have them use a DSLR or even a regular point & shoot camera with the fear of them dropping $1000+ worth of equipment.
When I got the camera, I quickly looked over the manual for any waterproof information that I might need to know. Everything was straight-forward with no hard-to-find switches to lock any waterproof seals. In other words, feel free to take this out of the box, put in the card and battery, and take underwater photos. I didn't even charge the battery and was able to take about 100 photos and 15 minutes of video right out of the box. I used this opportunity and the next 2 days to extensively test my camera in order to create this review.
It's feels very sturdy like it should. The blue metal panel on the front is very nice to look at. Unfortunately, I think the shape is a little too "showy". If you want to show off the fact that you have a waterproof camera then this is the one for you. (I sort of liken it to a Prius, which everyone knows is a hybrid. At first glance, many people will know there is something special about this camera.) I'm a little confused about the left-hand side of the camera which is a little curved. You can put a strap there, but I don't really see the functionality of it being that shape.
My biggest gripe is that the included handstrap can be "twisted" on and clicks into a metal plug. It can be EASILY removed with a very light press on the button and twisting it off. It gives me the fear that it could be accidentally bumped and twisted and the camera will detach from your wrist (though you'd probably have to be mighty clumsy to do so). I would have wished that the strap attached directly to the camera instead of this metal knob. The strap clip also protrudes diagonally out of the bottom corner and you need to remove this if you want to lay in on a flat surface to take photos or video.
IMAGE QUALITY: 9/10
I am a camera enthusiast and mainly use Canon DSLRs (5D, 7D, 1D series, etc...) with L lenses. I also have an Olympus micro 4/3s camera and even have a Nikon D2x, so I'd like to think I know my stuff. Prior to this point & shoot, I used a Canon SD1100 before it got stolen. With this SD1100, I took over 10,000 photos and took hundreds of hours of video (which I made into DVDs to view on TV, or straight from iTunes to a TV...it's only 480p) edited with iMovie. I've always gotten compliments on the video quality of this older model P&S, and was quite impressed with it myself.
As far as photo quality of this camera, I've got to say that it's good, but nothing more than what you'd expect from a P&S camera from 2012. Color is nice and even zoomed in at 100%, the image quality is as great as one might expect. As with any camera, keeping the ISO as low as possible will keep any noise or grain to a minimum. Remember, you're paying a premium because this camera can go underwater or in the snow. It would be unfair to expect DSLR quality from this camera because that's not what it's meant for.
The same goes for video quality: the reason you bought this camera and paid more for it than another P&S is because it is waterproof. If you want that IMAX look, you've got to spend thousands of dollars. If you can't afford that, this is the next best thing. The quality of the out-of-water and underwater videos was superb. I took it to our pool and took videos of various colorful toys underwater. It was a sunny day and the quality was great, vibrant, and clear. I wasn't able to test it in low light situations. I also have a Panasonic TS-10 (underwater camera from 2010) and the Canon D20's video and image quality is surprisingly better.
For on-land videos, the microphone is not as good as normal P&Ss. I'm assuming that it has another waterproof protective layer over it. I don't think this should be surprising to anyone.
One last note on video. This camera has a 5x zoom. When shooting video, it can optically zoom in and out. It will also focus all the way from macro to infinity while still recording, which is different from other cameras that I used in the past, where if you started your video, it couldn't refocus or optically zoom. It even adjusts exposure, meaning that if you're recording in a bright area and come into a dim area, it will adjust automatically while still recording video. Thank you Canon!
Buttons are nicely spaced. There is a large thumb rest button that I just can't figure out why it's there except for cosmetic purposes. I thought the playback button on the top was a little strange, but the shutter button is much larger and protrudes so you shouldn't get them confused. It's somewhat on the larger side for a point and shoot, but it probably has something to do with the waterproofing, shockproofing, and freezproofing. It can still fit in pants pockets. I thought the black parts of the camera would have a little more grip, but they are plastic and not rubber. I have no complaints about the design or shape and it felt comfortable to hold. I was able to press buttons underwater very easily.
The screen is very bright at the default middle setting. It is bright enough that it was not necessary to brighten it while underwater. It is very clear and easy to look at. I hope sand or other earth elements don't scratch the screen since I don't know if I'll be able to apply one of those protective sheets over the LCD as it might fall off while underwater.
Snowboarders or divers with gloves might have different experiences than a casual user like myself as far as the button spacing is concerned.
The lens doesn't have a cover. It is in the upper corner, similar to other waterproof cameras. Not much out of the ordinary to comment on this. I got some sunscreen on it and wiped it off harshly with a t-shirt. No scratches at all. I'm hoping it's made of durable glass like other waterproof cameras.
The flash is moved to the middle. I find this makes it easier to avoid covering it with my fingers as I do with other cameras where the flash is in the upper corner. Definitely a plus.
BATTERY LIFE: 9/10
With a full charge I took 150 photos and about 30 mins of videos and still had 1 of 3 power bars leftover (approximately 33%? remaining life). If this is a vacation camera, it should easily be able to last a full day before you need to charge it at the hotel. If you're taking this camping or somewhere with no power, practice using it to gauge how long it will last. When the battery starts flashing, you still have about 10 minutes of video left before it completely dies.
In comparison, the Panasonic TS10 seems to die out before taking even 200 shots with no video. I am not pleased at all with the Panasonic's battery life.
I've used this only a few times so far (though intentionally submerged it in water overnight for this review) and have experienced no leaks. I have never experienced leaks with my Panasonic waterproof camera either. If it did leak it would get a zero, but for now, I can't say. It seems to be waterproof. I was a little skeptical about the latches on this camera and felt that there might be a chance that they could get accidentally opened since they only require one flip rather than use a 2-step safety switch, but I tried rubbing it and dragging it over areas that could possibly open the battery and input/output latches but they seem to stay closed as expected.
As with other waterproof cameras, be careful when taking this out on a boat or to the dock where you aren't in the water yourself. In my pool it took only 4 seconds for it to fall 8 feet. They don't float! Imagine if you're over the edge of a pier in 30 feet of murky dark water. It will hit the bottom before you can take your sunglasses off. The detachable strap (as mentioned above) is so easy to intentionally remove that I feel that it could also be easily removed accidentally. I am highly considering a floating strap.
Uh, I'll trust Canon and not attempt to drop this camera just for the sake of this review. The box says it can withstand a 5 foot drop and I'll take their word for it.
BELLS AND WHISTLES: 7/10
GPS: Works I guess. It has a little trouble getting a signal inside, and this is my first camera with GPS, so I'm not sure how accurate it should be. But it was able to record the coordinates of my outdoor shots (though not all of my indoor shots).
Camera features: It has SMILE DETECTION that seems to wait for the whites of the subject's teeth to snap the photo (a big grin doesn't seem to work). This will work great with my special needs students, who can just hold the camera and ask for the subject to smile. SUPER SLOW MOTION is pretty cool. It needs a lot of light and can only take it at low resolution. It also includes other more commonly included effects such as FISHEYE and MINIATURE. I don't think I'll find myself using these effects quite often. You can go to Canon's website or other review sites to find out more.
Playback features: Includes commonly found features such as slideshow functions and a photobook set-up. What confused me was the ACTIVE DISPLAY which lets you scroll through photos by tapping the corners of the camera with your index fingers during playback. A cool gimmick perhaps meant for snowboarders with thick gloves. I found it easier to scroll with my thumb on the directional keys.
Macro: (added this part in later) Forgot to mention the macro capabilities of this camera. It is unbelievably versatile. It can clearly and easily focus on items even 1cm away from the camera. And it's smart so you don't have to change settings from normal to macro modes (although it does have that capability if it can't detect it automatically). I haven't used any of Canon's newest P&S's, so don't know if this is normal to be this good. Feel free to take macro pictures of bugs, wet plants, or rocks, without worrying about the camera getting wet, dirty, or knocked around.
This is a very solidly built camera that is very eye catching. Image quality is EXCELLENT for a point and shoot camera. After using a waterproof Olympus, as well as a Panasonic one, I would definitely recommend this Canon D20 for the superior image quality. I was originally going to give this a 4-star rating, but that would mainly be because I thought the strap placement and it's funky non-rectangular design were huge issues. However, after reviewing my photos and videos, this is definitely the waterproof camera to buy! The image quality is very exceptional for a point & shoot. If you're trying to capture those underwater photos during a trip-of-a-lifetime, spend a little more and get this camera.
I'd like to add just a few more things since using this camera for about a month now.
Image Quality: No RAW. There are a number of mid to high-range P&S's with RAW. This does not have RAW. I don't want to get into a debate about the necessities of RAW on a P&S. This is what you get with this camera.
I took this to the beach and had it around my wrist for about 3 hours in salt water. The water was shallow, but I did not feel like I might accidentally undo the strap like I had originally thought. I also took it into the pool as well as in a jacuzzi (for about 30 minutes). No leaks, no indications of leaks, no water issues. I've had smaller P&S cameras before, and when looking at the size of this thing, it's quite large for 2012. However, I had it in my pants pocket and swim trunk pocket, and I didn't notice or mind the weight. I was able to take a number of low-light video...of course there's noise, but it was very acceptable and looks great in HD. Over 3 days I took about 12GBs of videos and photos. As I had guessed earlier, the battery should last the whole day until you're able to charge it overnight. I feel that the GPS sucks a lot of battery power, as I did get the flashing red battery towards the end of each day. And I couldn't get any videos of fish. They kept swimming away from me and I didn't have a snorkel. I will try to go to Hanauma Bay one day with this camera.
Students in my class have been able to use it, and it just feels so much less stressful letting them use a shockproof camera versus even a $90 regular P&S. It really allows them to experiment in their own way without restrictions or having an adult pay more attention to the camera than anything else. It's a pricey investment for children (so don't get one just because you'd like your 3 year old to become a photographer), but we used our other P&S for 3 years+ very diligently (until it got stolen) and know that we will use this one just as much as the other one.
Discovered this a long time ago. The GPS uses a LOT of battery power. Personally I'm not at the point where I need to know the exact coordinates of my shots, so I leave it off. If you're going hiking or traveling, you might want to keep it on just for that novelty. Just be sure to bring your charger with you.
The camera is still great. Although it doesn't go into the water on a regular basis, during the occasional dips into water, I feel confident that the seals will hold up (which they have up until now with absolutely no signs of breaking...knock on wood). The LCD screen has minor light scratches on it.