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Canon Civil War – SD880IS vs SD990IS – part two

Through the eyes of the Combatants… (aka Sample Photos!)

Seeing is believing and this battle aims to expose what each competitor is made of. So, I took many many auto shooting-mode photos to simulate the typical life of the point and shoot camera. that is: no tripods, no ideal lighting, no expert photographer (me.)

The best practice for sample shots, as determined by the sum of various intarweb photologists, is to take a crop of a 100% untampered photo (i.e. not resized.) In most cases, the size of my crop is 1280×900 and the flash is disabled. I am not a fan of the flash as it often seems to bleach the subject. But because of this, you will plainly see that a lot of these shots fair on the too-dark side. None of them have been photoshopped in anyway.

Let us begin with one of my favorite subjects both to blog about and photograph, the motorcycle.
Default focus, outside, night-time, cropped, flash on sample shot:

  • rain drenched motorcycle handlebars
  • SD880IS:
    handlebars crop sd880is
  • SD990IS:
    handlebars crop sd990is

We see the SD990 capture more sharply the intricacies of each shape than the SD880. Additionally the 990 has more accurate and less washed-out color representation, partially attributable to the greater focus it has on the subject, versus the 880’s blurry concentration.

Moving on, lets see some holiday season detail:

  • tree top crop
  • SD880IS:
    xmas tree top crop sd880is
  • SD990IS:
    xmas tree top crop sd990is
  • tree top, crop with flash
  • SD880IS:
    xmas tree top crop sd880is
  • SD990IS:
    xmas tree top crop sd990is
  • full tree no crop
  • SD880IS:
    xmas tree no crop sd880is
  • SD990IS:
    xmas tree no crop sd990is

Again, like the handlebars, the tree top crop shots make it obvious that the SD990IS certainly captures greater detail than its lesser Megapixel sibling. Although I prefer the 990 in these shots, the differentiation of detail is simply not critical for a majority of users needs (myself included.)

macro focus sample shot:

  • a free-range brown egg
  • SD880IS:
    egg macro no crop sd880is
  • SD990IS:
    egg macro no crop sd990is

This macro sample is quite interesting, as it appears to expose each camera’s IQ precedence – the SD990 seems to focus on the background whereas the SD880 on the egg itself. However, the more likely explanation is user error in aiming the camera itself. I have little doubt that had I taken more shots, we would see the same or greater amount of detail on the egg from the 990 as the 880 displays here. I am blown away by the sheer detail in each grove of the table cloth and the 880 holds up admirably as well.

land and cloud scape horizon sample shot:

  • 100% cropped, default zoom
  • SD880IS:
    horizon crop sd880is
  • SD990IS:
    horizon crop sd990is
  • max optical zoom, 100% crop
  • SD880IS, 4X:
    4x optical zoom crop sd880is
  • SD990IS, 3.7X:
    3.7x optical zoom crop sd990is
  • max optical+digital zoom, 100% crop
  • SD880IS, 16X:
    16x zoom crop sd880is
  • SD990IS, 15X:
    15x zoom crop sd990is

These shots highlight the dramatic difference a lens makes on each cameras overall offering. SD880IS’ wide-angle lens offers, obviously, more photo width. While the standard lens (in terms of 35mm) equipped in the SD990IS captures less width but greater magnification. This results in a complicated and seemingly contradictory conclusion: the SD990IS at 15x, has superior zoom than the SD880IS at 16x. Unlike most of the samples, I prefer the 880’s photos overall in this last sample set.

Continued here: part three – choosing the victor, usage and conclusion.

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