Pros: The best camera out there- color, handling, flash, ease of use
I was shopping for the “BEST” of the current crop of small ultra compact cameras. The ultra compact cameras can't compete with the larger cameras but I wanted one that could be taken in a pocket on a daily basis and still have pretty damn good pictures.
At the time of writing this review most professional and non professional reviewers give the Canon 880 the title of "THE BEST" including the respected CNET.COM.
Color is great, handling is easy, their flash is one of the best which means that unlike their competitors which tend to get about 50% of the people in the picture with their eyes shut- Canon's flash is much more synced to human blinking.
The camera is super easy to use - their automatic mode is dummy proof and their face detection is near flawless meaning that most pictures taking under normal conditions are in focus.
But before going into details, and since I was looking for the best of the moment- I decided to look what's also out there-
Canon are the leaders in the small camera segment so they are their own main competition.
There are a bunch of new competitors on the block - but many reviewers tend to think that the only real competitor to the Canon 880 is the Canon 990. Some might say that you can't compare the two cameras but since they're both currently competing for the title of the champ, I thought this is the natural matchup as for most users these two will make it to the top of their list.
They are both great cameras and for most users using "Auto everything" mode will give great images.
I bought both of them and tested them out. Here's what I found:
What's the biggest difference between them?
990 has a higher megapixel count - nearly 15 megapixel. While the 880 has better lens that are wider. So indeed it's hard to compare.
but since the lens aren't that much wider and the megapixel count isn't that significant for most users .
Advantanges of the 990:
1. Eyepiece to shoot in sunlight rather than look at LCD screen.
2. Higher megapixel to allow larger blowup of images taken (15 vs 10 )
3. Better processor- the new Digic4 which some experts argue will gives a better image at lower light levels.
4. Some manual buttons to allow more control for enthusiasts.
What does the 880 have that the 990 doesn't?
1. Better lens to allow for wider shots. If one needs to shoot large group shots or scenery that is very wide- the 880 would be a better fit.
2. Faster charging between shots to allow more shots per minute and continual shots.
3. A tiny bit slimmer body for easier carrying in jeans.
Both cameras produce excellent image quality so the bottom line, for most people will just be which one of the additions are the mot important: IF-
you want to wait less time between shots for lots of continual photography and get more people into one image and need a wider lens- the recommendation would be the 880. For those wanting better handling in low light, a better picture quality and the ability to make small to medium size posters the answer would be go with the 990.
Testing both cameras for a few weeks it's hard to say which I really prefer. They're very similar in many ways and the pictures come out great on both. Professionals might see a difference in the quality but they're both darn good: SKIN TONE is natural. Everything is in focus. Everything is lit and isn't too dark.
Both cameras are easy to use, and have a lot to offer. I liked the fact that the 990 has an eyepiece that was helpful shooting in strong sunlight where the LCD could barely be seen. I prefer a camera with an ability to get better pictures quality in low light, which the 990 is a little better than the 880. For me it was more important than wide lens or faster charging time for the flash. Since I mainly shoot in events where space is confined and I shoot a few people at a time the 990 was a more natural fit.
As for both their flaws:
* Video only has standard def and not high def.
and perhaps the most annoying aspect:
* Horrible battery life- one should buy an extra battery cause the one supplied doesn't last very long.
* Doesn't come with real memory only 32mb and doesn't come with camera case- both add extra to the as is high price tag.
Canon's are considered by many the best of the small digital cameras and have a huge chunk of the market and I guess there's a reason for that. Unlike Sony which have horrendous customer and technical support and at times it may seem to truly hate their customers- Canon loves their customers and their support is friendly efficient and helpful. Canon have the edge in terms of technology and it's refreshing that unlike other leaders in their respective fields they still care about us the customers.
*What about the other competitors?
I owned an Olympus Stylus and also used a Nikon for a week and the here's what I felt are the main differences.
Color wise- Canon just has truer to life colors. I've shot both at day and at night and at low level night and it looks stunning.
Even shooting with candle lights gave stunning shots. It holds the blacks really well and still gives great colors. Also, some cameras image tends to fall apart at low light. This one holds the image well even at low light and the picture is sharp. Very sharp in normal use.
Focus. Olympus and Nikon's ultra compacts never seemed to focus on the right object to make the entire picture in focus. Canon has several options and they all work. The pictures come out crisp and clear. Their face detector is really efficient focusing on the faces in the pictures.
RED EYE: Olympus and Nikon always had a problem with the red eye even in RED EYE MODE. Canon hasn’t fully solved it but it's much better than in previous models.
CLOSED EYES: Maybe the most important element for pictures. In Olympus, Nikon and even some Sony models I noticed about a 1/3 of the people had closed eyes in the shots. I think it has to do something with the correlation between the flash and the shutter.
Canon managed to solve this problem as in the images I've taken everyone's eyes are open.
Ease of use. It's easy. They have a lot of functions and some of them are a little more challenging- but in terms of AUTO everything- that's just one button and you're off.
Eye piece. They even have the real eye piece that you can see what you're shooting not just watch it on the LCD screen which is great for sunny days.
MENUS: It looks very similar to the other Canon's. It's not the most user friendly - but it's also not a nightmare.
I suggest you go to Best Buy, Costco, etc... and just focus on the 880 and 990 and buy which ever works for you the best. I liked the 990 a little more and got it and I'm delighted with it. For my dad, the 880 was perfect. Canon's are in a league of their own and for the time they're the only manufacturer to really consider. There are rumours that at the end of April 2009 new cameras are coming out including a new version of the 880. That will probably cause the price of both of these models to drop. The resolution of the new camera is 12 megapixel which still puts its behind the 990 but it will have a lot of the 990's features.
Regardless of which one you buy, you'll enjoy them a lot and be truly satisfied by everything from the camera to customer support.
I noticed on many various forums that professional photographers and even those who seem to know what they're talking about have compared the two and claim the 990 is the current champ.
Some forums even have pictures taken by the two cameras.
Personally- trying both - I can say that they are nearly identical.
Don't expect to shoot a billboard picture with either.
But for 99% of the time- these cameras capture the moment in vivid colors in focus and with pleasing results.