Right. Ok. Well I took some more pictures in low light and it wasn't too bad. Just aggrevating when a 1.3 MP cheapo camera takes sharper pictures in any situation. I'll figure out the manual focus a little more and just be patient, and bracket my shots to learn how to take better pics.
I think a lot of cameras have trouble shooting in low light. My previous camera - the Nikon Coolpix3200 was just as bad as the S1 in taking pics in lowlight (but the S1 was much better at everything else... =P).
The fixes are: -Turn on more lights -Either stay wide, or move closer to your subject instead of maxing out the zoom. -Lock focus on a high-contrast part of the subject or lock focus on another object at same distace and then reframe. -Switch to manual focus.
Additionally, choose a target that has reasonably vertical line elements -- that works best for these compacts. Also, if you're not doing so already, go w/ single-shot, single-spot AF (instead of continuous AF or whatever other fancy AI AF). Try to choose a target that fills the entire AF spot whenever possible so the camera doesn't get confused by a distant background. Also, make sure your technique is good all-around especially for the long tele shots since the AF is slow, eg. make sure camera/handshake is not an issue, etc.
As for comparing to an old 1.3MP cam, well, there are fewer pixels there to see. If the image capture process is flawed, whether optics are soft, AF is off, etc., each pixel will naturally still *appear* sharper when looked at up close compared to a higher MP cam -- there isn't enough res for it to look soft -- if that's how you're comparing them. The lower res hides those flaws/weaknesses. Print both at same size and see if the higher MP images are really noticeably softer.
There are also other factors that can come into play like the image processing of the cams, eg. some will apply heavier doses of sharpening than others.
And really, that's what you get w/ a cheap superzoom lens, especially at such low costs. You called that old 1.3MP cam "cheapo", but honestly, that old cam probably cost about as much in its day as the S1 do now, if not more, and it probably wasn't burdened by the compromises of a superzoom lens. There's a good reason why people spend big $$$ on smaller zoom ranges and fixed focal length lenses in the 35mm world afterall -- whether digital or film.
Really, there's just no free lunch although you can always learn to work around many weaknesses to get the results you want. And at some point, you'll just have to pay $$$ for more/better capabilities -- but it never really ends.
Just to follow up on someone's 8x10 questions.. I've printed several.. they came out very nicely. Not a huge difference at that size even when compared to the NikonD100 I've been using (outside of unrelated SLR improvements).
Still using the S1 IS in AUTO mode....(cups ears to avoid hearing the cussing)...and its working fairly well. Main concerns are still focus, low light focus and noise. Sometimes there is a bit of noise in shots that aren't even very dim. Still a great camera working well overall. Video's are a blast.
So has anyone seen the news of the up-coming Canon S2 IS? Potentially a killer camera! 5 MP 12x zoom version upgrading the S1 IS should be a real contender vs the Panasonic FZ 20. The S2 keeps the full video mode too! Phew!
Well I took the plunge and purchased an S1 tonight. Stepped up from a 1.3MP Sony (That was a good cam for it's time). I got it for $250 + tax at Walmart. They were clearancing them for $278 and then I got 10% off since it was the display. I'm assuming they were clearancing them because the S2 is coming out real soon.
Anyways, I heard nothing but good things about this cam. I thought about the Fuji s3100 or a Kodak 4mp but this cam kept drawing me back because of all the features it has. I can't wait to get out in some good light and start taking some shots!
After living with this camera for awhile I have mixed feelings. It's a good outdoor camera but I've been pretty disappointed for indoor use. Using the AUTO mode indoors I have the usual poor focus issues plus a lot of over-exposing. I've missed a lot of photos at family gatherings, weddings etc because of these issues.
At this point I'm thinking of getting a second camera for "snap-shot" use. Any recommendations for something that is not too spendy but with a quick, accurate auto-mode that does well in lower-light indoor situations? Since this would be a second camera it would not need too many manual controls.
I'll try the flash adjustment...too bad you can't adjust the power of the flash in auto mode (I think you can only turn it off or on in AUTO?), but I use the portrait mode sometimes also so I'll try it in that mode.
Zooming in a slight bit will reduce some of the barrel distortion but this is pretty common with most digital cameras. In the case of the S1 its optics were mostly designed for the long zoom so there was a little give / take with the wide angle.
Also reading through the complaints about the auto focus / low light focusing thats common in 80-90% of P+S and Pro-Sumer digital cameras. Practice using the focus lock, manual focus and also look into the hyperfocal settings for that camera. Hyperfocal settings should be covered in the manual at least they are for my Canon A95.