My review: The Hot Puppies - The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful

Originally titled - ''Women Destroy Men: Official'' (re: sleep)

2006-07-20My review: Canon Powershot S45 digital stills camera

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Got this one second-hand, and the seller wasn't kidding when he said it'd taken a beating. He also wasn't kidding when he said that it takes great pictures — and there's a reason I wouldn't buy a camera of this type full-price, even if I was otherwise going to lay down retail price for one. But I'll get into that a bit later.

This was £36 all in... which, presuming I can find the manual to my existing Powershot or write a convincing listing (the manuals are available as PDFs; I can just burn it onto a CD) should be recouped, if I decide to part with that.

A 4mpx model with 3x optical zoom, the S45 is part of Canon's prosumer range, sitting between entry-level models and professional kit — a cut-down G3 in fact. Practically, this means it uses a proprietary rechargeable battery rather than AAs, and the CCD capturing the images is very low-noise, allowing around 100 photos to fit onto a 128Mb compact flash card. It can also capture in raw format. It came with a charger, and I had a card, but I shall probably get another plus a spare memory-effect free battery (cloned NB-2Ls are about six quid by now) and stick with compact flash for future cameras if anything happens to this one.

Because, as mentioned barely a paragraph above, there are disadvantages to this type of camera mechanism — specifically, the construction that allows for optical zoom. When switched on (simply by sliding the lens cover, a useful feature of many Powershots) the lens rolls out from inside the camera body. This can jam, resulting in dreaded E18 errors and a nonfunctional device. Sometimes it can be solved by a sharpish tap to dislodge any dust or gently massaging the rotary widget back into place — I wouldn't recommend simply wrenching the piece, as this can knacker the camera's ability to focus — but sometimes the only practical next step is dismantle in the hope of freeing things.

Since any warranty period will expire quicker than you expect, the idea of dismantling an otherwise pristine and cared-for camera or having to replace one at full price is a more-than-slightly-sickening gut feeling. A competitively-priced A430 (4mpx, 4x optical zoom) from eBuyer is still £110 plus shipping, plus there's a distinct lack of current Canon models and cameras in general not having the moving parts around a lens. High resolution point-and-click devices just aren't a big market. Whereas I won't feel too guility about trying to fix this should I have to, nor will I have sunk too much into the purchase. It'd still be incredibly irritating should it fail at a vital point, so I'm considering keeping the old one, investing in a pack of disposable cameras, or snapping up a no-brand without any optical zoom assembly as a second.

But on the bright side, the pictures are very nice. And it lets me get even more sloppy with photography, in the knowledge I can crop effectively afterwards rather than pay too much attention to framing — so I'm likely to take more photographs. For monitor resolution, 4mpx shrunk to 2mpx is considerably sharper than 2mpx capture resolution. And the optical zoom, even at 3x versus the more powerful zooms on more recent and expensive models, identifies details I don't by sight. All of which elevates this to being a geek toy as well as simply offering excellent quality regular prints.

One other downside if you're picky: it's heavy due to the sturdy metal case.


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