Rebel vs. PowerShot

Wondering lately where I want to land on the spectrum between convenience and quality when comparing an ultra-portable Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS (Digital Elph) and a Canon Rebel EOS. The PowerShot is the size of a deck of cards and weighs ounces. The Rebel (a DSLr camera) easily weighs five times more and has much more bulk – it’s not going to fit neatly into a belt holster that doesn’t get in your way while hiking or biking. I’m not eager to have several pounds dangling from my neck, but at the same time, wouldn’t mind stepping up my game quality-wise in the photo department. Neither camera at my disposal is the latest model in its respective line, but I assumed the Rebel would take far better pictures by default.

Decided to do an informal test to find out. Running both cameras in fully automatic mode (since that’s what I use most often, and since it’s the only way to compare fairly), I took a handful of shots in the back yard, attempting to make the images as close to identical as possible. Tried to get a range of shots in full sun, mixed shadow, and shadow. Included one flash shot and one macro shot as well.

One significant difference not accounted for here is the fact that the Rebel has a full range of manual options that the PowerShot doesn’t have. On the other hand, the PowerShot has a quite good movie mode, which the Rebel lacks completely.

The results weren’t nearly as clear cut as I expected. Comparing the images below, I have a fairly clear preference for one of the columns, but prefer a few images from the opposite column. Can you tell which column is which camera? Which column do you prefer overall?

a1 b1
a2 b2
a3 b3
a4 b4
a5 b5
a6 b6
a7 b7
a9 b9

4 thoughts on “Rebel vs. PowerShot

  1. Guy D2

    Hi Scot,
    Hope you’re well ?

    IMHO, it’s a bit weird comparing a POS and a dSLR with the latter stuck to auto-mode. That’s like comparing a VW Golf to a Porsche-stuck-in-1st-gear. But I think I understand where the reasoning comes from… I don’t think I need to point you out the main advantages of a dSLR over a POS, but I’ll say it anyway. Its photocell size (dynamic range & less noise) and manual settings, being the most obvious ones, and a choice of superb glass being the oft-overlooked one. The latter is probably the most important reason to go for a dSLR, but unfortunately it comes at a price.

    Did you have a look at Canon’s G11 yet ? Most of the advantages of both types of camera, crammed in a portable but powerful package…

    cheers,
    _guy

  2. shacker Post author

    Hey Guy – Yeah, I know what you say is true. But when I’m out hiking and a shot comes up fast, I don’t have the skills to adjust the Rebel fast enough to really take advantage of its abilities. So I shoot in auto mode most of the time. And the weight factor is really big for me. As for replaceable lenses… I’m just not going to go there – I just wouldn’t take them on the trail.

    As for the glass though – shouldn’t that difference be apparent in these comparative shots? Were you able to tell which column was which?

    Not really in the market to buy a new camera right now – it’s a practical choice for a coming vacation – the PowerShot I’ve got or a borrowed Rebel. But thanks for the tip on the G11. Have also seen great results from the Panasonic Lumix. Sony also has a new camera with a DSLr-sized CCD in a compact form factor.

  3. Jeremy Rue

    I can’t tell the difference. It might be interesting to see what the difference is in low light situations, or high ISO photos.

    I know I have been waffling on this issue, but I’m starting to favor the point-and-shoot, simply for the video capabilities and the portability.

    At any rate, I’m looking forward to seeing the great photos when you return!

  4. shacker Post author

    Jeremy, agreed – would like to see this comparison with more variety of shot types and lighting conditions. Would also like to see a “pro” do a similar test – someone who really knows how to use the manual controls on the Rebel to fullest advantage.

    For the record, Column A are the Rebel shots.

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