The S1 which I have has been an excellent camera. My brother has the S2 and is very happy with it. The optics are very good and the camera takes sharper pictures with less distortion than others with more megapixels. Image stabilization is a must with that zoom (unless using a tripod) and the full-size video is a nice bonus.
Just be careful about the zoom. Although it has IS, taking pictures at high zoom is very difficult and the small lcd seldom show exactly how blurred the pictures are.. You can go a whole day snaping pictures only to find them all worthless at the end of the day. You really need to use a tripod if you are taking a lot of zoom pictures.
Once I took the decision to rest the camera on a steady surface, or use a tripod when zooming more than 25%, then I got much better pictures. The camera can fool you into thinking that your pictures are sharp, but they will not be with full zoom hand held. It is very difficult. On a 3x zoom camera it may not be a big deal, but trust me when I say it is a very big difference on a 12 x zoom camera, and the IS only support, it does not perform miracles. Unfortunately the lcd can fool you a bit until you get back to the computer and view the pictures there.
Also in low light, hand held photography is also very difficult without flash with this camera. Luckily the camera will "warn" you with a red icon inside the view finder (or on the lcd). You think you can get good pictures (the lcd do not show the shaking) but once you get them up on the computer, you can really see the shaking. Taking pictures in low light is not good with this camera, unless you use a tripod, rest the camera on a steady surface, or use flash.
What I especially found great about the camera was the ability to change color setting to 'neutral' which gives much more realistic red colors of roses. Roses and begonias tend to "wash out" (colors simply too saturated to show many details) with most digital cameras. By setting the color scheme to neutral you can preserve a lot of the colors. The colors can be saturated in post-processing on a computer.
The movie function is remarkable useful (something I always hated on most digital cameras .. why provide a movie function if it is not useful). You can take small clips and go right back to shooting pictures. The zoom works with video, too (and quite nicely) and it is priceless if you have kids. Sometimes a short video clip just says more than a picture.
The macro function is good, but not spectacular. The super macro is almost useless due to lack of light that close.
I love taking "macro" pictures with full zoom 3 feet away from the subject. This blurs the background and you can actually "get closer" to the subject (make it fill more of the frame) this way compared to macro. This the camera does very well, but do use a tripod.
Battery life (if you use rechargable batteries) is excellent, bordering fantastic. Really nice.
I do recommend it, but it does take some time getting used to. Especially that you have to keep it very steady. The IS is not a solution to taking 300 mm zoom pictures hand held. Not many people can (I can't). The LCD or view finder is here your worst enemy. The pictures look great in the camera, but on a computer .. !!! uhhh!!!
One nice thing about the picture viewer is that the zoom is active and you can zoom and pan across the photos you've already to taken to verify that they're in focus and not motion-blurred. I rarely use *full* zoom unless I can steady my hand or arm against something.
Note that the focus is just a bit off, locked in on the buds to upper left of the open blossom. I had a few others from this session with better focus, but I liked the composition on this one better, which is why I posted it. No cropping here, just DGs auto-resize.
I use the S2 IS. It is a great camera when you really get to know it. As mentioned though it has trouble in low light if you arent extremely steady with your hand and I find the Macro Dissappointing. It has a lot of features that make up for its short comings though and all in all for this type of Camera it is the best choice ( or the S3 IS now ).
It takes good pictures, very clear...it is taking some getting used to..what I mainly wanted to do, was use it, for taking pictures of my roses...that has required some fiddling with the settings. My old camera was always on Auto and it took good pictures without having to change it...but this one...
The problem described in this thread is my exact problem. Took the camera out of its case after a week of no use and now its iris is dead. Canon Canada has been absolutely useless in helping and at best they say it will cost me 200 to fix it. Not sure if I will even bother to fix it but have been most dissappointed in the quality of the Camera and of their customer support. Just wanted to let others know especially if you are planning to buy a used one.
Bummer! Try going up the food chain with Canon. Don't settle for what the first or even second tier person tells you. Even though it's likely out of warranty, if you can provide documentation that this is a common issue with the camera, there's a chance they will fix it as a goodwill gesture. Sometimes a well-written letter to an executive at a company, followed up by a phone call, can do wonders, too.
I've just read through that email chain of the problems related to the "black screen of death". That is really disappointing. I've had a Canon Rebel 35mm for almost 10 years now and I've recently been looking at purchasing the S3 IS. Knowing all of the issues related to the S2, would you recommend this newer version or would I be better off buying something else?
If you're used to a 35mm, Tricia, I'd suggest you hold out and get a DSLR. You may not like the noise levels (grain) you'll get with the even the most sophisticated point-and-shoot cameras. It's a trade-off, convenience of all-in-one lenses and noise.
Well I had a Canon Rebel for 15 years too, then a Powershot for 3.
In February Henry got me the S3 IS. I like that it's settings are the same as the Rebel. I like the Image Stablization and I love the exact colors it captures.
I'm not the camer and high tech Guru that GW is, but I really like my camera.
The image stabilization is definitely a plus; it lets you get away with hand-held shots in low light situations. I just couldn't stand all the noise in the higher ISO settings, so took my S3 back within a week and got a different camera. But I am picky! :)
I mean 400 on up. Even at 200 I noticed some noise in darker areas of photos. I tend to keep whatever camera I'm using at ISO 100 and use a tripod or flash when necessary, just because I can get better enlargements without much editing. You lose detail at higher ISO's even without excess noise.
I haven't used 400 in so long for just that reason. When I buy film, it's usually 100 ISO, I don't even buy 200 unless I have to. I quit buying the fast film after taking a photography class and seeing the difference it made.
Unfortunately the noise seems to be a problem in a lot of the big zoom camera's. It gets better in the digital SLR's but its gonna cost you. I personally have a small Fuji which I think is the best point and shoot for noise available. F31FD and the F40FD are both great for low noise at high iso. They are however small point and shoots that do not have proper IS.
The reason though for mainly dragging this thread back up for the final time is that I have finally washed my hands of the whole Canon Fiasco. Going up the food chain got me even worse results. I ended up being treated like a scam artist begging for handouts. I am a 24 year old so I have a feeling they felt perfectly fine talking down to me because of my youthful voice. All I wanted was my camera fixed for at least half its value. They wanted 195. That was the lowest I got. The camera sells refurbished for 239 so I wasn't about to bother considering they would warranty the part for 30 days! Meaning if in three months the problem came back I was back in the same problem. I am really disappointed in Canon. I mean horribly disappointed! I will avoid this company for my life and am just shocked at how absolutely rude everybody I dealt with was. I have had to deal with Fuji once over a lost usb cable on a 4 year old Camera that they discontinued years ago. The part was sent to me at no cost. They will always get my business so long as they make a good Camera. As for Canon I will avoid all their products as much as possible because I never want to have to call their customer support team again in my life.
So sorry you are dissappointed. This is one reason I watch for sales and buy new, then I am covered. You are still adjusting to how much it cost to have all the bells and whistles.
Personally I have yet to have any Canon product that didn't knock my socks off.
I (knock on wood) have never had to get one repaired and they are also the only cameras I've owned since 1990.
Secondhand goods cheap are usually that way for a reason.
This was bought new by the way. Cost me 699.99 before tax. It failed 1 month after Warranty and took me 4 months to deal with Canon who repeatedly did not return calls they said they would or would just tell me to phone someone else. The fact it's failing and Canon denies its a manufacturing defect irks me but its how the company treated me that has made me just plain angry. Apparently giving a company 699.99 isn't enough to at least be spoken to in a respectful manner anymore. I bought Canon based on my Dad's flawless track record with their products and for the most part it does appear from most of my friends and business associates that Canon makes good products. However the company I did work for also bought S2 IS in a batch of 6 and gave up on them after a year with either the same defects or assorted other issues. They however switched to Canon Rebel's so they still bought Canon. I just think it was a poorly made Camera and unfortunately technology moves so fast Canon has no desire to stand by a product that it no longer views as relevant. If they had at least been sympathetic and didn't spend half their time accusing me of mistreating my camera ( which doesn't even have a scratch on it. ) or plain lying to them I might have been more understanding. I just feel like I became totally irrelevant to them the moment I bought the Camera and had the exact opposite treatment from Fuji. Sure Canon has an amazing reputation and a good track record but I don't ever want to risk buying an expensive Camera and having it break on me and on top of it just be plain insulted by a company. I feel confident right now that if my old or new Fuji died on me I would be treated respectfully by the company. Yea they may not actually do anything but at least they aren't going to treat me like I am a little brat begging for big kid toys. Up until the last phone call with Canon I bit my tongue repeatedly and put up with the belittling talk I received from their employees but I will not be doing that again.
I am aware that many companies are like this and I am aware Canon does make for the most part good Camera's. This post though is strictly aimed at anyone planning to buy a used S2 IS. I would hate for someone to buy a Camera that already had this problem or one that will develop this issue. Based on my experience you will get no help from Canon and will be looking at a repair bill not much different then a replacement price.