Thursday, August 6, 2009

Smackdown SONY HX1 vs Canon SX1 / SX10

Compare manual focus
The Canon enlarges part of the center while the Sony enlarges the full frame.
It takes a while to focus the Canon because of the stepless wheel you don´t know if a bit more ore less will make a focus difference. The thumb wheel of the Sony lets you hear and feel the steps between the single focal points and you see the difference instantly between steps.

Compare manual mode
It takes a while to get the changes to show up because of the stepless wheel. If you turn to fast it will skip over points or , like on your radio if you spin the volume to fast, it will not register at all. If you turn to slow nothing might happen or even the Canon exits the mode as seen on the video. In Manual mode the Sony´s thumb wheel is automatically set to speed, aperture and ISO.  You choose by pressing the thumb wheel. The thumb wheel lets you hear and feel the steps between the settings, you see the difference instantly between steps. If you hesitate, the HX1 stays in the mode until you press the thumb wheel to jump to the next mode. If you turn it to slow it registers, if you turn to fast it might skip a step.

If there would be a scale from "they just got it right" to "it must have been invented by drunken monkeys" the HX1 is absolutely at: "they just got it right".  For the Canon you can make up your own mind where to put it.
Please do not get me wrong, If you read this bolg so far you know I come from a couple Canons who did the majority of my shootings from 2001 to 2007. And the little Canon A60 was just a jewel (sadly she died when her Sony ccd failed me just a week after I got the Ricoh R6).
This is a macro from the Canon A60 and yes these 2 mega pixel cameras were sure sharp.
I really wanted to like the Canon SX, in my opinion she is still the better styled camera. So I try here to be as honest as possible and show you the facts so you can make up your own mind what matter for YOU.

Macro mode
The Canon can focus even when the object hits the lens. The Sony needs a minimum of 1 cm. WRONG! Both Cameras focus when the object hits the lens. The Sony might not show a focus lock, but see for yourself.

come closer, baby

No need to press any macro or super macro button. The HX1 finds the macro position instantly.

There you have it, just turn on the camera, press the shutter and this is the picture from the video above with the Sony HX1.

super macro Canon SX10

Do not compare the colors or other detail, the set up was totally different in the macro shootings. Just concentrate on the area of the spring to compare.

SX10 macro lossless crop

HX1 macro lossless crop. Different shooting environment than above.  Just look for sharpness and not color accuracy.

Now lets put Homer and a dictionary into a dark box and put a towel over it to block out most of the light. The HX1 instantly focuses the 5 cm macro.

You will notice that some of the clips and fotos here in this posting have a red or greenish yellowish hue. They been shot under an orange or lime green sun shade. So please look over the fancy colors, there where it is important to judge, pictures are shot in a neutral environment.

4 cameras to compare the distortion from a macro subject 1 cm in front of the lens.
Sony HX1 macro mode 28mm

The Sony macro was shot under less than ideal light settings, so discharge the uneven brightness please.

Canon SX10 macro mode 28mm

Canon S2 macro mode 36mm

Ricoh R6 macro mode 28mm

High speed shooting
The Canon SX1 shoots 4 fps permanently while the Sony shoots only a burst of 10 images and is then blocked for 16 seconds until all the pictures are safed. So you will loose any moment if you shot to early because of the long writing time.
The HX1 can shoot up to 10 pictures in one second and with this speed is one of the fastest cameras who shoots in full resolution 10 frames in a second.

So you missed your shot and have to wait?  Nope, just cancel the saving of the pictures anytime and instantly shoot again. Or shoot with 5 fps for 2 seconds or 2 fps for 5 seconds. Or in HD 30 fps for 30 minutes. But the SX1 can do that too. Its called video mode and you just grab a frame from there.
See, faster is better. Or do you shoot in high speed for more than 5 seconds? Your object might be out of focus in that time, because neither camera can auto focus during the high speed shooting.

Compare display and viewfinder
The Canon SX1o viewfinder is large and sharp The SX1 is smaller and has low resolution.
The Sony HX1 viewfinder is tiny but very sharp. You can not make out single dots. They are right in your face with the SX1 and acceptable small in the SX10
This is a copy from my SX10/SX1 blog:

The viewfinder is wide screen as stated by Canon Europe
Viewfinder EVF (0.40" type), aspect ratio 16:9, approx. 148,000 dots
Just got my hand on the SX1 manual and it seems I am right

If you shoot 10mp with the SX1 you have a 2.17" screen (something between the 2" from the S3IS and the 2.5" from the S5IS) with a 172.000 pixel resolution and your viewfinder will have a 0.31" with 110.000 pixel resolution and that is worse than the Canon S1IS from 2004 with EVF (0.33" type), approx. 114.000 pixels
Don´t believe me? Here is a 1:1 pixel count chart I made to believe it myself.

Since the viewfinder of the S2IS is even a bit better than the one from the SX1 in 10mp mode I made a side by side comparison so you will get an idea. Please concentrate only on the sharp parts of the image the unsharp is distortion of the picture taking camera not the actual clarity of the viewfinder.

Ok, so why am I so obsessed with the low resolution viewfinder you might ask.
When I brought my brand spanking new Canon S2 I wanted a camera with manual focus but with that low resolution viewfinder and the low resolution display what was too small (1.8") also I was not able to use successful the manual focus. It did frustrate me so much that most of the time I did not use the S2. Now 3 and a half year later I will not make the same mistake.

end of copy

Well, I did not make the same mistake. Even if the viewfinder is small on the HX1 it is very sharp. No problem to use manual focus and get it right. Here is a picture. Please just look for the sharp areas in the foto, it is very hard to get a halfway descend foto via macro through the viewfinder. But at least you get the idea.   

well to better compare I made the same shot from the Canon S2 viewfinder to give you an idea. Both fotos were done with the Rico R6 directly pressed onto the eyepiece. Both are 100% lossless crops of the viewfinders.

When you flip between the 2 pictures you get a good Idea about size difference. The SX10 viewfinder is even a bit bigger than the S2. They are saved in proportion to each other.
The Viewfinder SX10
(MACRO SHOT) the border unsharpness is from the macro camera

The HX1 filp display saved in proportion to the SX10

The Swivel Display SX10

The Swivel Display SX10 in bright sunlight
(the sun shines directly onto the display)

both screens should be display wise in proportions

Since the Sony screen can not be flipped around for protection, Sony put a sturdy pane over it. Sadly you get some bad reflections if you have it in the wrong angle (easy to fix just turn it out of the glare).
Compared by several reviews  they all come to the conclusion that th SX1 display is even a fraction better than the SX10. So judge accordingly.

The next 4 fotos are all shot from the same position and are lossless crops from 10 mp Canon or 9 mp Sony. They are shot at different times as yo can judge by the difference in grass color.
canon sx10 20x zoom lossless cropshot from a tripod with 2 sec timer delay to avoid any shaking

same shot but handheld

HX1 handheld
All subjects are roughly 200 meters (200 yards) away.
P Mode

Anti motion  blurrrrrr mode

Pee mode
(sorry could not help myself with this one, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy)

So, for every thing else to compare these cameras look into the different reviews (see sidebar).I think I covered what is important but not to find in the reviews. I also miss when they compare high ISO shootings to include the HX1 Handheld Twilight Mode. I bet in a direct competition it would leave all the other superzooms far behind and would even look good compared to the basic DSLR´S.
If one of you guys or gals out there have the chance to do a low light shootout between a DSLR and the HX1 Handheld Twilight Mode please let me know. Just post into our little forum here.
Since you have been so patient with me, here a couple dinos to end this post.
(cropped and resized)

and I let you go eye to eye with my dinos. The official name is Lagato for that species and they are on our island since long before a human set foot here.
So enjoy the little clip where the HX1 is on ground level.

P.S. After I finished writing this blog entry my time to "borrow for testing" was over. So did I return the Sony HX1 as I did with the SX10?
HELL NO the SONY HX1 is the most fun camera I ever had and I made even peace with the memory stick because on the SX1 I would need a 32 GB SD card to get the recording done I can get on the 8 GB memory stick.
( I believe this will be the last superzoom from SONY whith a memory stick since like with the phones SONY is leaving their memory stick behind)

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