The creative tutorial home of image wrangler, Lesa Snider.

Big Camera vs. Little Camera

January 25, 2006 by
Digital Rebel XT and the PowerShot SD-30

This month, I was lucky enough to carry two Canon cameras cross country to both CES in Las Vegas, and Macworld Expo in San Francisco. The new Rebel XT, the world's smallest digital SLR (as of Feb. 2005), and the PowerShot SD30 Digital Elph, a very compact number that's as much a fashion statement as it is a photo and video camera.

Please bear in mind that this review is not really a quality comparison, though I purposefully took the same shots with both cameras. This review is more from the angle of what it's like to carry a big camera vs. a little one, and the type of shots you can expect from each.

Before you jet over to the photo samples, let's take a moment and chat briefly about both the Elph and the Rebel.

About the Elph

From a female viewpoint, I loved the Elph's "rock star red" paint job, and the fact that I could slip it around my neck and carry it everywhere. The fact that I could take good quality movies (*with* audio!) was outrageously cool, and the way the Elph rotates photos in playback mode in the LCD view screen was a real jawdropper. Not only does the Elph display any shots you've taken at a vertical angle appropriately, but it also senses how you're holding the camera in your hands -- horizontally or vertically -- and adjusts each photo on the fly. I had big fun showing friends photos I taken, them having them watch as I rotated the Elph on its end. That's cool right there, I don't care who you are ;)

I loved the 16 preset shooting modes (close-up, portrait, indoor, fireworks, etc.), all easily accessible through the Function button. Though the camera itself is very small (3.78" w x 1.78" h x 0.94" d) and light (3.7 oz), it sports a respectably-sized LCD (1.8"). I didn't even notice the lack of an optical viewfinder; I just never use them. For me, an LCD screen is a truer way to compose an image. The only thing I didn't like about the Elph was the zoom: it's not all that great; though it really couldn't be, not in such a compact camera. The other drag was that the cradle is required to both charge and offload photos, though photo transfer is fast via USB 2.

All in all, I find the PowerShot SD30 Digital Elph to be a perfect travel camera for me. It takes beautiful shots, and I loved having it around my neck at all times.

About the Rebel

I enjoyed taking pictures with the Rebel; however, because I have zero experience with higher-end cameras, most of the settings were lost on me. Basically, all I did was toggle the flash on and off and use the manual zoom. I got very nice pictures, though sometimes I just could not get subjects into focus, and I've no idea why. What pleased me most about the Rebel was satisfying audio feedback from the shutter, and the speed at which I could continue taking shots.

As I get more experienced with this type of camera, I can definitely see me taking it out on specific photo shoots.

Thanks again, Canon, for letting me test these beauties!