Revisiting the Canon PowerShot S80

At the encouragement of fellow blogger Dan James I got my Canon PowerShot S80 out and have been shooting it. This 2005 camera is positively ancient as digital cameras go, but it still works and delivers fine shapness and color in its eight-megapixel images. It’s been frightfully cold so I haven’t been out shooting much, but now that it’s March it should start warming up.

The S80 was a gift from a reader. (Lone Primate, are you still out there?) It became my chief road-trip camera, such as on a trip exploring all the old bridges of Putnam County, Indiana, in 2010. (Read about that trip here and here.)

Hibbs Ford Bridge
Hibbs Ford Bridge, Putnam County, Indiana.

I also used the S80 as I explored US 50 across Indiana in 2010. It’s a spectacular road.

View from US 50 in Martin County, Indiana
View from US 50 in Martin County, Indiana.

If you ever get a chance to drive Indiana’s US 50, do. It’s lined with charming little towns with plenty of great old architecture.

Hillforest, Aurora, Indiana.

This wooden bridge was on US 50’s original alignment in Jennings County, Indiana. It’s been demolished in a road realignment. Never delay taking a road trip — what’s here today might not be tomorrow!

Wooden bridge
Wooden bridge on Base Road, Jennings County, Indiana.

I made this quick shot in my hometown of South Bend while there on business one afternoon.

Ready to Strike
At South Bend’s Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument.

When each of my sons turned 13 I took them on the train to Chicago, just son and father, for a weekend of sightseeing. My older son and I explored Millennium Park one foggy morning.

The Bean
The Bean, Chicago.

The S80 whetted my appetite for a high-quality compact digital camera. Canon had recently released the S80’s successor, the S90, which they shortly updated as the S95. That’s the camera I went for in late 2010; my S80 days were brief in comparison to all the years I’ve used the S95. But when I charged the S80’s battery and inserted it, the camera fired right up. Let’s see what it can do.

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17 responses to “Revisiting the Canon PowerShot S80”

  1. Stuart Templeton Avatar

    He’s done it to me as well – that’s one of the reasons I picked up an old G3. looking forward to seeing what new photos you take with your S80 Jim.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve been shooting with it here and there for a week now and it’s taking some relearning. The S95 is objectively a better camera to use; I miss some of its features on the S80.

  2. brandib1977 Avatar

    Never postpone a road trip- that’s great advice!

    I live just a couple of miles off Route 50 in Ohio and can tell you there’s some fun little towns along the route over here too!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      50 looks fabulous in Ohio, esp. in SE Ohio where the terrain is so interesting. One day I’ll make that trip!

      1. brandib1977 Avatar

        I live in southeast Ohio so I can provide some tips if you ever decide to make the trip. Someday, right? That’s what I say about every place!

  3. Dan James Avatar

    Jim, delighted to hear you’ve dusted off the S80. A number of photographers’ opinions I’ve read suggest that 6MP is the optimum for digital compacts with smaller sensors (typically 1/2.5″ to 1/1.7″, your S80 is near the larger end of the spectrum with a 1/1.8″ sensor) as any larger and the actual pixels become too small and start to impact the image quality. I don’t know the exact science, but it makes sense overall that if bigger pixels give better results then too many MP in a small sensor means each pixel is smaller.

    Anyway, so at 1/1.8″ and 8MP your A80 is close to optimum, especially with a great lens on it too. As these pictures already show.

    Keen to see what new images you come up with.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve been shooting it for a week now. The weather here stinks so I haven’t shot it very much. I miss very much the ability to dial in 28, 35, 50, 85, and 105mm directly as I can on my S95. I didn’t realize how dependent I’d become on that feature. I’ve tended to shoot the S80 at its default 28mm all the time as a result, which doesn’t lead to realistic proportions. I’ve found that the S80’s narrower ISO band (over the S95) means I’m muffing some shots I’m used to getting. But here’s a good shot I made of one of the stained-glass windows at church.

      1. Dan James Avatar

        That’s a lovely photo. Good to know that the S95 has the focal length options, I’m soon to publish a new post about this and how I’ve figured it out with a new (old) camera. Mostly I just use digital cams at their widest, and forget about the zoom, as I don’t like not knowing what focal length I’m at.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          If you can pick up a used S95 do.

          I’m tending to just shoot the S80 at 28mm all the time, because I too like to know what focal length I’m using.

          1. Dan James Avatar

            Just had a look on eBay and the cheapest sold recently was £35, most go for £50+. So a bit over budget for my current project (with a £20 cap, though nothing has gone over £15 yet!) but perhaps in the future. So many Powershots, so little time…

            I really don’t understand why more zoom cameras don’t tell you the focal lengths and just have a next to useless 1X, 2X etc come up on the display…

        2. Jim Grey Avatar

          It’s a nice camera but it’s not worth that much.

  4. Angie Sapphire Avatar

    Very cool photos

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Why thank you!

  5. M.B. Henry Avatar

    An ancient digital camera perhaps, but it still takes wonderful pictures I see! :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I did cull a few of the best for this post – but this camera is capable to be sure!

  6. Peggy Avatar

    I have the Canon S90 and love it. I gave it to my sister, but after seeing she didn’t use it I quickly took it back.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Righteous reclamation, as the S90 (and later S95, which I have) were outstanding in their day and still mighty good today.

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