Blast From the Past

A few weeks ago my wife and I were cleaning out our storage closet. We worked through the typical flotsam and jetsam which tend to pile up in such spaces without incident. That is, until she held up an object in her hand and said, “What should we do with this?”
Canon PowerShot A550
It was a blast from past, our old Canon PowerShot A550 point and shoot camera! I hadn’t used it much since I got my first iPhone in late 2009. The my 3GS was the first camera phone which made carrying around a point and shoot irrelevant. The photos weren’t as good but they were always with me, and that was enough.

I’ve since gone back to carrying a DSLR around with me, and photograph with my iPhone camera only on occasion, but today I wanted to see how my old PowerShot stands up to an iPhone 6S+. It may now be a dinosaur in phone years, but the Powershot is a invertebrate in the digital photography evolutionary chart compared to it.

I took both photos on as base settings as I could 1, and I did no post processing. Everything is straight off the camera. First, let me show off the PowerShot in action.

Book cover taken with Canon PowerShot A550

Not bad, the under-exposure was due to settings, but the detail is pretty good. The color representation isn’t great, and I see a good deal of lens distortion 2, but it’s an acceptable photo, no doubt. In sunlight this would probably be a nice little camera to have out and about.

Now let’s look at the iPhone 6S+.

Book cover taken with iPhone 6S+ rear camera

This is much better. The iPhone handles the details and color representation better than the A550. There is also a noticeable reduction in lens distortion. This could be because the iPhone is a fixed lens, or because the default camera app in iOS 11 applies some lens correction, but lines which are straight in real life remain straight in the photo.

I didn’t show this comparison to point out the flaws in the A550, that would be unfair as there are generations of technological progress between that and the iPhone 6S+. Rather, I wanted to show this because I am amazed at how far digital photography has come. The first digital camera I ever used, shortly before my daughter near the turn of the millennium, was .2 megapixels. It was slow, the resolution was terrible, the colors were horrendous, and we transferred images through a serial cable or CF Reader. The A550 upped that to 7.1 Megapixels, boasts a mini-USB port, and ditched the larger Compact Flash for an SD card. I used AirDrop to retrieve my sample photo from my iPhone, and no one cares much about megapixels anymore.

We’ve seen so much change, but because we’ve been watching it go by in real time it’s seemed like a normal progression. But, in reality, we’re going through a revolution. No wonder we so tired all the time.


  1. The PowerShot flash kept going off in auto, so I switched it to manual. It’s a little under exposed but the quality is better. 
  2. The bulge along the bottom edge of the cover gives it away. 

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  1. So, what did you do with it? Kept it or. Gave, it to the museum of cameras ?

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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