Three megapixels was a turning point for digital cameras. Admittedly tiny today, but this number provided sufficient detail for photographers ready to leave the analogue world behind.
Announced in January 2000 the Canon Powershot S20 is essentially it’s a 3.34 Megapixel version of the older S10 with a larger, more sensitive CCD sensor added.
PC Mag said of the camera at the time, “The PowerShot feels like a well-designed precision instrument.
They were absolutely right; it’s beautifully engineered. The camera looks and feels incredible with a genuine lux feel to the whole package. Despite the rapidly evolving digital camera market at the time, the camera feels like it made to last. It has an all metal body, huge optical viewfinder and reassuringly firm buttons and dials.
The images it captures are wonderful, if a little cold in colour reproduction. Admittedly it was miserable December day in Newcastle when I got to take it out. The beautiful blue skies of a few weeks ago are a distant memory.
Canon must be have been influenced by the Contax T2; the high-end, compact camera aimed at professional and luxury consumer markets. It even shares the same champagne hue. In fact, turn off the digital display screen you’d be forgiven for thinking this was film camera. To be fair, it’s pretty important to do this to get more than a smattering of images out of it; the Canon can drain its battery like John Mills necking his beer in Ice Cold in Alex.
Like many cameras in the early to mid 00s the Canon used Compact Flash cars. However, my Powershot came with something extra special; a 1GB Microdrive. As opposed to being solid state, this is actually a one-inch hard drive. Connecting it to a card reader, you can hear the a low pitched whirr as the tiny drive spins up to access its data.
At the time of release IBM said, “”Packing one gigabyte (GB) of data storage capacity on to a disk the size of an American quarter, IBM’s newest Microdrive can hold up to 1,000 high-resolution photographs, a thousand 200-page novels or nearly 18 hours of high-quality digital audio music.”
The additional .34 megapixels of the three megapixel Powershot erodes the four digit claimed capacity of the IBM press release. But the drive still allows the camera capture over nine hundred photos at the highest resolution. No wonder this came with a £400 price tag.
I was amazed when the camera turned up; despite being two decades old it’s absolutely immaculate and obviously very well looked after by the previous owner. Like with the Minolta I needed to spring for a new battery; which somehow are still readily available. This added another £9 to the £15 I paid.
However, when new, with the Microdrive included this would have been a mind boggling £1400 purchase. Roughly what you’d pay today for a Contax T2.
I think I got a bargain.