ted & pamela

Archive for April 2010

Thoughts on my Canon S90

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

I’ve now had a few weeks to play with my new Canon S90, so I decided to write up some of my thoughts on it.

First of all, this isn’t intended to be a comprehensive review — you can find those at the imaging resourcephotography blog, etc. I’m just going to mentoin a few things I was surprised by, even after reading all of the reviews.


When I first received the camera, the first thing I noticed was that it was significantly smaller than I expected. It’s about the same size as my old Fuji Finepix f31fd, and significantly smaller than Pamela’s Canon SX200. It fits comfortably in the front pockets of my khakis, and snugly (i.e. not comfortably) in my jeans. For some reason, I expected a high-end compact camera to be larger than the typical point-and-shoots I usually see people with.


One of the interesting things about the S90 is that it has a rotating ring around the lens that imitates the zoom/focus rings on an SLR lens. The ring is programable, such that it can be changed to adjust ISO, white balance, aperature, shutter speed, zoom, manual focus, etc. The idea is interesting, but the imitation is imprecise. For example, if you set the ring to adjust optical zoom, each discrete click of the ring changes the zoom distance some predefined amount, e.g. 28-35-50. Also, there’s a significant lag between the time you turn the ring and the time the lens motor actually kicks in to change the zoom distance.

I found the ring much more useful for controls that are inherently discrete and take effect immediately, e.g. ISO, and ended up leaving the ring at it default setting, which is to control something different depending on the camera mode. For example, in aperture priority mode, the ring controls aperture.

A complaint that I read in several reviews of the S90 is that the exposure compensation control ring on the back of the camera is too loose, which makes it too easy to accidentally change the exposure compensation. I found this problem on my own camera as well. However, it never became a major issue – I always check the camera settings before taking a picture, and it was natural for me to adjust the exposure compensation if it wasn’t what I wanted. In the end, this turned out to be a non-issue for me.


One of the S90’s major sellings points is its f/2 IS lens, and here it really delivers. I managed to capture a lot of low light pictures that my Fuji Finepix f31fd would have choked. Note, however, that the widest aperture is only available at wideangle — f/2 at 28mm, f/2.5 at 35mm, and f/3.2 at 50mm. Still, it was wonderful to be able to take available-light pictures with a compact camera.

Final thoughts

The S90 is a wonderful camera, and handily replaces my old Fuji Finepix f31fd. When I went biking across the Golden Gate Bridge a few weeks ago, the S90 would have been perfect because a DSLR would have been too bulky (IMO) for walking and riding around town.

However, despite all of its manual controls, the S90 is not a DSLR replacement. This was most recently obvious at Pamela’s brother’s graduation last week, where my goal was to capture her brother walking across the stage, shaking hands with important-looking people with lots of medals. Here, I needed a wide aperature at both ~40mm (for the whole stage) and at ~70mm (for the closer shots) at a shutter speed fast enough to avoid motion blur. The S90 doesn’t cycle fast enough (it can take maybe one picture every two seconds), and it was also too slow at its telephoto end. However, it still made for a great video camera to complement the pictures from my DSLR.  =)

Ode to Delta… Not.

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

0 points to Delta for Customer Service this trip.

I’ve had some pretty bad experiences… flights delayed, flights overbooked, flights cancelled, etc… but previous airlines have always tried to make it up to me somehow… getting me a hotel for the night if I’m stuck overnight, giving me a flight voucher for the next time I fly, etc.

Today, I attempted to fly Delta from La Guardia, NYC to San Jose, CA with one layover in Minneapolis, MN.  We were on time for our first flight, which was scheduled to depart La Guardia at 2:28pm.  We were scheduled to arrive in Minneapolis at 4:30 and to depart again at 5:10 for San Jose.

Well, our first flight boarded mostly on time, although it took a little longer than necessary to board.  By the time we were actually ready to leave, we were already 15 minutes behind schedule.  We then sat at the terminal for another 15 minutes.  When we finally pulled out for the runway, we were told that we were facing about a 30 minute wait due to traffic congestion on the runway.  We proceeded to sit on the tarmac for another 30 minutes, in an extremely long line of planes, waiting to depart.

We successfully took off at 3:30pm, one hour late.  We were “rerouted” to take a more direct route, supposedly saving 20 minutes of flight time, and still proceeded to arrive in Minneapolis at 5:30pm, one hour late.

Given that our connection was scheduled to leave at 5:10… and was of course on time, it left without us.  When we offboarded our plane from LaGuardia, we were told to scan our next boarding pass over some scanner and it would print our new itinerary.

The new itinerary said we were now scheduled to depart Minneapolis at 7:05… the next morning, with a stopover in Salt Lake City.  It also said that our seats were unassigned… meaning the flight was overbooked and there was actually no guarantee we would have a seat.

This was sounding somewhat bad.  We asked customer service to check for any other flights that might be departing for the Bay Area, such as to San Francisco or Oakland.  Apparently Delta doesn’t fly to Oakland, and the only flight to SF was completely booked.

Resigned to having to stay in Minneapolis for the night, we asked for a hotel room. Generally, when flight problems have required me to stay overnight somewhere I did not intend to stay, the airline has put me up in a hotel room.  But… not Delta. Apparently it wasn’t Delta’s fault that our plane was delayed, and thus not Delta’s fault that we missed our connection and are stranded for the night… but they can get us a “discount” at their partnered hotels.  The manager honestly looked at me and told me that the mezzanine of the airport was open all night if I needed a place to sleep.

Ok, I can understand it being my fault if I was just late to the airport and missed my own flight… but to tell me it was my fault I missed my connection is asinine.

Further, the customer service representative told us that LaGuardia has been having construction on one of its runways, so a lot of its traffic has been getting rerouted and causing delays.  This tells me… that they already KNEW my flight was going to have delays getting off the runway.  Therefore, they should not have publicized my flight as arriving in Minneapolis at 4:30… because that would imply that it was going to take off right away, which they already knew it would not. Therefore, they were setting me up to miss my connection from the moment I bought the tickets… but it’s my fault.

It wasn’t until we went back later and asked to be put on Standby for the booked flight to San Francisco that they even considered it.  Fifteen minutes later, the lady came back and handed Ted 2 standby tickets saying “here” and then carried on with her evening.  Two hours later, we were finally awarded the last 2 standby tickets on a full flight.  And somehow, the seats were even next to each other.

We have never felt so wronged by an airline, nor so poorly treated by a customer service agent… but we’re home!