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Be Sure To Understand The Trade-Offs
, June 3, 2012
This review is from: Canon PowerShot D20 12.1 MP CMOS Waterproof Digital Camera with 5x Image Stabilized Zoom 28mm Wide-Angle Lens a 3.0-Inch LCD and GPS Tracking (Blue) (OLD MODEL) (Electronics)
It's easy to be mislead by the marketing hype and glowing reviews, as I was, that this is a high-end general purpose pocket-sized 12 megapixel camera that takes stunning photographs and just happens to also be waterproof. But after evaluating the camera - and very nearly returning it in disappointment - I just want to caution others that this isn't the case.
This is a specialty camera for taking passable snapshots underwater and under inclement conditions. Significant concessions in image quality were made to "ruggedize" the camera, and these are apparent even under ideal conditions. This is true of all cameras of this type to date, and this camera is no exception. Shadow and background areas are suffused with noise pixels. Focus is soft, especially in low light. Chromatic aberration (colored fringes) is/are easily visible in areas of high contrast, even when images are reduced in size. Unless your standards are fairly low, I doubt you can get prints larger than 8x10 from the images the camera takes, under ideal outdoor daylight conditions. For pictures taken indoors, there's so much noise, even using the flash, that 5x7 is probably the limit.
If you're content to use the camera for what it's made for, it's a lot of fun. It works in the rain. It works under the lawn sprinkler. It works in the pool. It works at the beach. You can prop it up or set it down on wet or snowy or muddy surfaces to stabilize a shot, and just rinse it off later. It can sit in the puddle at the bottom of your kayak between shots. It's certainly adequate for uploading proof of your adventurous nature to Facebook. It has a very nice feature set, although it can be hard to figure out what some things are for, and hard to remember where some settings are located. It takes surprisingly nice video for a pocket-size camera, with zoom available while recording (the sound is mono though.) I actually like that the camera is fairly large - pants pocket size, not shirt pocket size - well suited to large hands, or gloves. It feels very solid. (The strange grip on the left is weird though. I couldn't possibly hold the camera the way the manual shows, but I make do.)
If you also want to take tack-sharp pictures, especially indoors, or make big enlargements, or be able to crop the pictures down a lot later, you're going to need a second camera for that. If you don't want two cameras, you need to decide what you want more, and how often you'll benefit from a waterproof camera. If rainproof is all you really need, you might be better off making strategic use of a ziplock bag. (Cut a hole in one side for your hands, and point the camera toward the zipper opening, like a poncho.)
If you truly need a rugged waterproof camera, this is a very nice option. If waterproof is just a "sounds-nice-to-have" for you, the image quality may be a big disappointment.
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