The Memoirs of Jim 'ung

New Camera – Canon IXUS 870 IS

New Camera – Canon IXUS 870 IS

A Digital Compact, ugh…

After the untimely demise of my Sony DSC-W100 to the heat and sandy environment of Moreton Island back in 2008, I decided that I probably didn’t need a digital compact camera anymore as Polaroids and my DSLR did me nicely most of the time. Photos in clubs have never been that kind to me, so I didn’t exactly miss it on a night out.

HOWEVER. I stumbled across something called CHDK, the Canon Hack Development Kit, which allows you to override pretty much all the controls on your compact and even adds support for scripting and all sorts of other abilities. At the very least it provides a manual mode to compliment the usually Auto/Program-only Canon compacts.

The 870IS isn’t exactly top of the range these days, but as CHDK is open-source and community driven its development lags somewhat behind the release of new cameras, resulting in a gap in support for the newer models. As such, this camera was reasonably cheap for it’s spec and supports CHDK which is perfect for me.

It takes nice photos, the built-in modes are what you’d expect from a Canon and seem to work pretty well in most conditions. Here are a couple of examples I took the other day:

There are a few niggles though: the noise is pretty strong even at ISO 80, although some degree of that is to be expected from digital compacts. The fact that CHDK can shoot RAW should allow important photos that I’ve got some time to set up to be captured at higher quality and with less noise. Also, the touch wheel on the side is nice when you’re using it, but its really easy to nudge when you’re shooting, flicking between Auto and Program modes accidentally.

Some of the more extreme abilities of CHDK allow you to shoot at shutter speeds of 1/60000 and have ridiculous custom ISO’s. Mog (who got the 870IS also) had a pretty decent stab at capturing a droplet with a synched flash at 1/10000:

All in all it should be pretty handy out and about in Tokyo in about 3 weeks!


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