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Using a ten year old camera?


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Jan 21, 2016
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Hi, I have just taken out my old camera for use again, it is a canon powershot IS S2 5Mpixel and it must be ten years old by now. I would like to pick up photographing once again and now I wonder, how much have the technology for cameras improved in ten years?
Would it be such a big difference to buy a new camera that I should unhesitately do it or is the difference reasonably not that big so I can tag along with my old one a little while longer?
Would the picture quality be super-lousy compared to a camera of today?

Here is a pic I took with the camera yesterday in the beautiful Swedish winter we have atm.
Thanks for any advice,

The thing to remember about old gear is that it's only old now. Once, it was the cutting edge of technology, and the thing everyone wanted, and that the reviews were gushing over for its outstanding quality! In other words, it's as good now as it ever was. Has camera technology improved? Absolutely, by many orders of magnitude, but so what? Do you need that technology? Probably not, at least not right away. Your camera has both automatic and manual modes, as well as a decent zoom range. IMO, it's ideal for 'getting back into it' and if you find that your skills grow to the point where the camera can't keep up? THEN is when you buy a replacment.
The big thing you will find that you want, if you really start back up, is more instantaneous response. I see specs on that camera of about .7 seconds between shutter off to full press and getting a picture. If you half-press to focus, then full press, the half press is still half a second. The one that hurts is shot-to-shot is 1.6 seconds.

You'll find yourself wanting the image to take NOW instead of half a second from now. Shots are missed in that amount of time. And you'll find yourself wanting several consecutive shots inside a second.

Doing that will mean spending money. Shoot a bit, decide if you like the results. If you get frustrated, determine if it's the results or the equipment that causes the frustration. If it's worth it to you to improve your equipment, you'll know in a little while.

I was so happy when I moved from the Sony point-and-shoot to a Nikon D50 (replacing my film camera,) and the D50 is a camera I wouldn't be caught dead with now. :)
Great answers, thanks!
I am thinking mostly about quality of the pictures, if the lenses have improved a lot so it would be quite disappointing shooting a lot of pictures now and then find out they would have been a lot much of better quality if I had had a new camera...?
Shutter lag was never noticeable with my old DSLR (~2005) but newer cameras cope MUCH better at low light levels, they also invariably have higher resolution (more MP) but unless cropping I've never found that an issue. 6MP is perfectly adequate for A4 & 10x8 printing.
Taking picture when its bright outside and camera is working very easy is not really a way to compare new to old cameras.
Test it at home where light is minimal and your current camera that can go as high as 400ISO max will not be able to produce nice images of the kids running around.
So in perfect lighting condition your camera is ok, in all other lighting condition modern cameras especially with APS-C and FF sensors will leave it far, far, far in the dust behind.
The quality of the photographs any camera can produce is mostly about the skill and knowledge of the photographer.
In the case of a 10 year old DSLR camera the photographer just needs to use the camera with in the camera's capabilities.
Light direction and quality are key aspects of making quality photographs. Bright mid-day light outside usually is from to high an angle and has less than good light quality because the Sun is an apparently small light source.

I made these photos with a 10 year old consumer grade camera and a lens at least 17 years old.
The light was way far from being perfect so I had to use a high ISO setting.
1600 ISO photos
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I can't believe it's been 10 years since the Nikon D40 came out, but yes the state of the art has progressed so much since then that it's difficult to believe.

Have lenses improved that much? No. Physics are physics. Your posted pic is a wonderful shot, and proof that a 10 year old camera can capture lovely images.

Still, when I moved up from the 2006 D40 to the 2015 D5500, the advancements made my head swim- I was just giddy with the possibilities! I could still adequately shoot with a 2006 camera, but I am SO happy to have the benefits of the ensuing tech.
The most common problem with any electronic component pulled from a decade long storage situation is dis-use is actually much harder on electronics than is constant use. Lubricants begin to dry up when they have been placed in storage and electronic parts can drift to the point of failure. Somewhat surprisingly, failure doesn't typically occur on first use but waits for awhile ( a few weeks is common) before the old gear simply shows it age and its lack of attention over time.

Now, your camera may work indefinitely or not so indefinitely. No one can predict such things.

Your camera is/was, however, a less expensive compact from Canon's line of products. How do you build a less expensive product? By using less expensive parts usually. Expensive parts don't necessarily equate to longevity since higher quality typically comes with tighter tolerances and, at times, it is quite literally the "slop" of lower tolerances that assists older components in staying together.

So, IMO use your camera for now but look for something newer and more up to date in the future. The issues of rather slow auto-focus speeds have been mentioned. Newer cameras respond much more rapidly and accurately to your input. That can mean the difference between getting the shot and not. And, certainly, with a long shutter lag after pressing the release, camera shake is all too common. Camera shake results in blurred images.

The image file format used by your camera is ten year old technology Jpeg. If you get serious about your photography, you probably wouldn't use Jpeg files. The "compressed" nature of a Jpeg file means the camera has controlled a good deal of your final image quality and you are left with little to do to make corrections or improvements to the image.

Jpegs created with today's technology are generally considered to be adequate for posting shots on the web or on social media. Smart phones today shoot in Jpeg. Most smart phones of today would have higher quality file management than your current camera is capable of producing.

Seldom would a "serious" photographer print from their camera's Jpeg file. Therefore, when you go hunting for a new camera, be on the look out for a model that includes "RAW" capture as a file format.

The LCD screen on your present compact is very small and the image quality displayed via the LCD is not so great due to a fairly low pixel count. This is another area where a modern smart phone would provide higher quality than you are getting from this camera. The tiny screen and low resolution image makes judging your shots rather difficult compared to the larger LCD's of today with considerably higher resolution. That applies to a phone's camera or a modern DSLR/compact. And, there are several modern, somewhat less expensive "compact" cameras that can turn out very high quality images, even in low light conditions.

The fixed lens on your older compact does answer a lot of your question whether cameras and lenses have improved over time.

First, with a single fixed lens, you may find you are never quite capable of finding the desired focal length for the shot you see in your head. Whether you wish to get in very close or shoot at great distances, these are the limitations of your current camera; it won't do either well. And you are rather "stuck" with that one single lens for either style of photography.

Second, you are using a digital camera. Consider where other digital products were at the time of your camera's design and where they are now. I can't think of any digital product that is built today that isn't faster and "more powerful" than a similar component from a decade prior. To your camera this means, yes, today's digital cameras have come a long way in improving image quality. Digital cameras rely on "error correction" circuits just as a digital music player would. The more powerful digital circuits found in today's cameras makes the camera and the lens less prone to errors occurring in the final image.

Now, just as I can't predict what you consider to be sufficient image quality, I can't say whether you will immediately notice any difference in a photo shot with your current camera and a brand new DSLR.

As with digital audio components, it is often a matter of experience with the "better" product which informs the user of the limitations of older and less expensive equipment. But, technically, yes, I would say today's digital cameras, even on the lower end of the price range, have come a long way since your camera was designed.

My guess would be, if you took some photos with more colorful subjects filling more of the frame and then you blew those images up on your computer monitor, you would begin to see the limitations of your camera in both color accuracy and in image sharpness once you looked beyond the center of the frame. Corner to corner sharpness and color resolution are the result of today's more powerful digital circuitry.

In the end, however, these are only technical considerations and good photography comes more from the photographer than from the gear.

Your current camera is perfectly acceptable for use in establishing, first, your continued interest in photography. Not everyone who picks up a camera sticks with it. There are rules and techniques to master and some people find them to be burdensome. There's little point in investing in another camera if it will end up sitting as long as your current camera has.

Your current camera has a sufficient amount of user control which can be exploited to move you away from simply shooting every image in full automatic mode. The TV and Av modes are where a more imaginative photographer will spend most of their time with their camera.

Many photographers have a difficult time grappling with composition and exposure values. Your present camera is adequate for "composition" lessons.

If you do not get frustrated by the equipment's ability to place in a frame what you see in your head as "the shot", then you are on a good road to learning composition.

Exposure is covered adequately for now by your camera's Av and Tv modes. You can begin to learn the basics with your camera.

As mentioned ISO values - those higher values you would require for low light photography - are far superior in today's cameras. The "exposure triangle" all photographers must use relies on the ability of the equipment to raise ISO values in certain conditions. Nudge your current camera upward even slightly and you will begin to see digital noise occurring in your shots. This noise will be ever more evident as you increase the size of the display or print. This is yet another area where a modern smart phone will out do you current Canon.

Therefore, use your present camera as the learning tool you have at your disposal. Most of what makes a photograph interesting can be accomplished with this camera.

And "new" doesn't necessarily mean it will be the best for you.

Do your research and gather ideas regarding what is important to you and your "style" of photography. If you stick with this, you will certainly want a more advanced camera.

You can then keep using this one as a day to day carry around that will be with you when the shot appears. Better to carry a less expensive version of a camera around for that than to always haul out the big guns.
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I've seen two responses about 10-year-old dSLRs, but his ten-year-old is a compact, not a dSLR. It's much better than a basic point-and-shoot, but it ain't no D40, even.
I've seen two responses about 10-year-old dSLRs, but his ten-year-old is a compact, not a dSLR. It's much better than a basic point-and-shoot, but it ain't no D40, even.
True, dat. I've never owned the OP's camera, so I just gave him the best answer my experience (the D40) could supply.
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I still have my first digital camera from about ten years ago. It's a fuji bridge camera. The jpegs that come out of this thing are so good, I'll shoot with it any day.
My first digital was a 5-MP Sony which came out in early 2003, and it took almost 2 seconds sometimes to shoot after pressing the button! It had wonderful IQ, though, and hooked me on the feedback of the screen vs the waiting for film to come back.
I LOVED my Sony 7.2MP! It took beautiful pictures right up until the day my wife knocked it off the table.
Only recently did I switch to a XE-1 from my a700, which is about 10 years old as well. With older gear you do have to be more mindful of noise, but really, that's about all that I notice. There are some really nice, very useable cameras from this time period that going for well under what they're probably worth. Canon 5D, Sony a700, Nikon D300 and D2 and so on...

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