Zoom Zoom-Canon SX1 IS

april-30-2009-new-cam-030-2Let us play with the new camera, the Canon Powershot SX1 IS that was our recent birthday present from The Financier. He gets the word *the* capitalized for this astute gifting.april-30-2009-new-cam-008-2Before this new camera, there was, and still is, the dear to our heart Canon Powershot A720 IS. Click here to read more about that camera. Even though it took several months to finally become one with the 720 (there must be abbreviated nicknames to refer to these cameras for the sake of brevity), finally reading the user guide online was the key, the 6x zoom limited the scope of photos we were able to take. Especially the bird shots, since we could not get close enough to use the superb macro function of the 720 without frightening our feathered friends.
The above two shots are Papaver orientalis, passalongs from our dear neighbors long ago. The second shot is to show a good pairing for this brilliant orange color, Spiraea bumaldi ‘Magic Carpet’.april-30-2009-new-cam-025-2The 720 makes a distinct whirring sound on the macro setting when it has focused nicely with the camera held quite close to the subject. The SX1 does not, although there may be a setting to make that audible. There are many settings. The SX1 is also heavier, difficult to hold perfectly still with little weak arms. Enter the tripod. We do have a good quality tripod that was purchased with the very first video camera in 1984. That old gigantic camera is long gone, but the tripod condenses into a neat package, easily moved from state to state through the years. The photos on this post were all taken with the SX1 on said tripod.
Above is a native deciduous azalea, Rhododendron alabamense.april-30-2009-new-cam-039-2There is no squatting with weight balanced on one knee to use the SX1, there is standing upright looking at the movable LCD screen that swings out and tilts. Aiming at Ferngully, click here to read his story, and the Lonicera sempervirens climbing his carcass, well above my height, let us try the different settings.april-30-2009-new-cam-016-2The macro setting is not up to snuff. But Ferngully’s replacement can be seen clearly, oops, fuzzily to the left.april-30-2009-new-cam-017-2Using the 20x zoom function brings the flowers to us, rather than we getting close to the flowers. If the lever is pushed all at once, the speed of the zoom literally takes your breath away. The very first time it was used, standing on the drive through the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina facing the mansion, more than 100 yards away, it took me right inside the front door. Better to ease it a little at a time to maintain sanity.april-30-2009-new-cam-001-2Easing the zoom allows a whole new perspective of the garden views. I normally take shots of the landscape here from the paths or decks. Using the zoom will allow different angles and enable insertion of the lens into heretofore unseen avenues.
Above is R. ‘Arneson Gem’.april-30-2009-new-cam-027-21It will take some practice to be comfortable with this method, and to feel in control of the shot.
Above is one of two no ID yellow deciduous azaleas that flank the steps to the knot garden. Longtime readers may remember the story of how offspring Chickenpoet’s puppy chewed both of these newly planted shrubs to the ground right after the house was purchased and planted, in 1996. When we, the parents, moved here and began renovation the shrubs had regrown and evidence remained of flowering. They were carefully dug and transplated to the slope where they now reside in 2000.april-30-2009-new-cam-018-2The thought of seeing the garden through new eyes is stimulating to say the least. New horizons and the clear unjaded lens of the SX1 reveal things not noticed before, like the giant dandelion growing next to R. ‘Golden Lights’.april-30-2009-new-cam-033-2The timing of the new camera could not have been better, since my signature plant, the deciduous azaleas are putting on their best performance. Click here to read more about them. From left: R. ‘Admiral Semmes’, past peak, R. ‘Mandarin Lights’, R. ‘Primrose’, R. ‘Crimson Tide’, R. ‘White Lights’, also past peak.april-30-2009-new-cam-032-2For the very first time, the hedgerow of deciduous azaleas are all in one shot. Some are summer bloomers and some did not bloom this year for various reasons. There are more of these azaleas scattered about the garden as well. The evergreen conifers behind are all Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Gold Mops’. The redesigned heather bed is even shown below the path. This was not even taken using the wide angle setting. I am not much for fiddling with the settings, but will have to learn to optimize this new piece of equipment…april-30-2009-new-cam-041-2…For we are on a mission of the greatest importance, the holy grail of garden/nature photography, the clear closeup of the ruby throated hummingbird that regularly dines at the feeder made just down the road in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The tripod was set up on the upper deck, a chair was positioned for proper viewing of the LCD screen. The feeder was clean and filled with fresh sugar water. The lighting was overcast. The wind was still. I waited. And waited.

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29 Responses to Zoom Zoom-Canon SX1 IS

  1. Gail says:

    Frances, Oh you devil you…I might have to zip out for this zoom zoom camera! I love using the zoom to capture a closeup. Micro is cool to use, but these zooms of the honeysuckle are great. Isn’t the 28mm wide angle shot fun to use! I’ve begun playing with the f-stop features on my camera, now I can blur the foreground and background. On to your gorgeous signature plant! The azaleas are looking fantastic… I love the golden flowers best, they just seem to shine…But I can see why you like them all…I can imagine their fragrance. Delicious. Maybe the rain will calm down today! gail

    Good morning Gail, thanks. The sx10 is sufficient for that zoom. This sx1 has HD movie capabilities that I will never use. The Financier thinks he might make some movies though! I have not used the side angle function yet, but will if it ever stops raining. The gauge was full at five inches so we really had even more than that, more to come?

  2. Darla says:

    What a great gift! The photos are fabulous!! I will continue to use my old camera until, well, it no longer works…….

    Hi Darla, thanks. It was a great gift, and not really a necessity at all, especially this particular camera. The one I had my eye on was much less of a camera, but still had the 20x zoom, the sx10. But no complaints here. πŸ™‚

  3. Rose says:

    Your photos are great, Frances, but I kept thinking well, her other camera did such a good job in taking supermacros…And then I came to the end and realized its true purpose! I am sure this will be the year you find the Holy Grail, Frances. Good luck in your quest!

    Hi Rose, thanks. I may get to the point that the zoom shots with the big camera are equal to the 720, but the tripod makes for a lot more work to get them and I am sort of lazy. I also have trouble sitting in one place for a long period of time waiting for the hummers. I have done it several times already and have about decided the shot will have to be made from inside the house through the three panes of not clean glass. Less than the desired shot. Maybe we’ll get lucky one of these days.

  4. Hi Frances, I do love my old Canon Powershot A75–after I looked up the use manual for yours, it dawned on me to read the user manual for mine–HA!–and I found a ton of features I didn’t know it had, like video. Plus if I knew more about photography, I could override a lot of auto settings and use manual ones. The only think I don’t like about mine is that the LCD screen is too small (and often hard to see in daylight, let alone sunlight) so I can’t tell whether macro shots worked or not until I’ve downloaded them. Being my own Financier, I’ve not allowed myself to purchase a new one!

    Hi Monica, I am very lucky with the Financier. Lucky that he loves to purchase electronic gadgets! He cruises Best Buy like I cruise the nurseries. HA I am surprised you had not read your own user manual since you directed me to mine. Or maybe not so surprised, as I would have done the same thing. My eyesight does not let me see if a shot is any good until it is loaded on the computer for any of my cameras. I just shoot, shoot, shoot then run in and load load load! πŸ™‚

  5. gittan says:

    Hi Frances, looks like you’ll have a lot of fun with your new friend =) I think you have the same LCD screen on yours as I have on mine – just love that one! Enjoy and have fun, so far it looks real good / gittan

    Hi Gittan, thanks. I am still not used to anything on the new camera, including that movable screen. Just another step that slows down the snapping! I have to remember that learning new things is good. πŸ™‚

  6. Dave says:

    Looks like a good camera! It always takes time to get used to something new. Although once you spend some time with it you will feel funny about going back to the old camera!

    Hi Dave, thanks. I continue to grab the old camera when the light looks good, it is so much quicker to use. The new camera is a methodical set up sequence since it is so much heavier. I need to lift weights! HA

  7. Janet says:

    Good morning Frances, reading the manual, man, what a concept!! I need to have the manual with me all the time, cuz I forget too often what all the features do. Love the photos with your new camera!! Wonderful gift.

    Hi Janet, HA,thanks. Tt was a surprise that the manual had such useful information. I still have to look stuff up if anything other than auto is used, (it rarely is). πŸ™‚

  8. TC says:

    I hope to upgrade my camera soon. However, my Sony DSC H1 is still holding up and performing exceptionally well. Azaleas are coming in here now, although I think they’re a bit overused, they’re still beautiful nonetheless. Your collection is stunning, as is your photography. Patience really is a virtue. ;~)

    Hi TC, your photos are wonderful and if the camera is holding up, who needs a new one? I wanted the added zoom to get the bird shots, but didn’t really need this much camera. As for the azaleas, I agree that the evergreen types are overused, even though I have lots of them here. It is the native deciduous ones that hold my heart. πŸ™‚ Patience, what’s that?

  9. Robin says:

    Canon ought to pay you for this wonderful advertisement! A new camera does give new eyes to the garden, especially one with a powerful zoom!

    I have no doubt that you will get that shot of the hummingbird! I spent many hours sitting on the patio last year trying to get a good shot of them. It definitely requires patience!

    Congratulations on the new camera! I’m so excited for you and look forward to seeing hummingbird pictures soon!

    Hi Robin, thanks so much. I get no pay, or even free stuff offered to me for some reason. I don’t even get the chance to turn it down! HA I know if I do get a hummingbird shot, it will not even be close to the quality of yours. I would just like to get one period. I don’t know if I have the patience, to be quite honest. It seems the movement of turning the camera on would frighten the little diner away anyway. The best chance will be from indoors, and the glass will distort the shot. Worth the effort though. πŸ™‚

  10. Dee says:

    Fabulous photos, great camera choice, beautiful garden, charming friend. Can’t wait to see you in Chicago.~~Dee

    Hi Dee, that is so sweet, thanks. I look forward to seeing you again too, and everyone else. It is getting closer each day. Gail and I were just discussing wardrobe and shoe packing! HA

  11. Catherine says:

    It takes great pictures! I love all of your azaleas, are any of them fragrant? I tried to grow a deciduous azalea before and it smelled really good. Unfortunately it never came back.
    Good luck on the hummingbird shot!

    Hi Catherine, thanks. They are all fragrant, some more than others. Not sure why yours would not return. They do need water for the first year regularly to get them established. Try a dog chewing them down to the ground too. πŸ™‚

  12. rusty says:

    Fabulous pictures, isn’t fun playing with a new toy? Good luck with your new camera

    Hi Rusty, thanks. I’m not sure fun is the word, but being able to zoom into new little nooks and crannies in the garden does hold my interest! πŸ™‚

  13. Joanne says:

    Frances Thank you so much for your informative presentation here and the link back to the Kodak and Canon cameras. I have now realised I was not using Macro for close ups what a dill. After your comment about Zoom I suddenly realised I should read my manuel and what a difference to my photos. I now need to read and thoroughly digest and practise but I really appreciate the inspiration and information you have given me. It adds a whoe new dimension to blogging and gardening. thank you.

    Hi Joanne, thanks. I remember when my daughter Semi first told me about the macro button, what a whole new world! Funny how that user manual thing works too. πŸ™‚

  14. Wonderful photos, but of course it’s not the camera that decides how to frame a stunning shot but the photographer!

    Hi Happy, thanks and how sweet of you! I really don’t frame any shots, but take so many that one or two might have that certain something. Practice does help in that case also. πŸ™‚

  15. Dirt Princess says:

    I must get one!!! Fabulous!

    HA Dirt Princess, thanks. I like your style! πŸ™‚

  16. skeeter says:

    Congrats on the new camera! I love the zoom but wish mine were a bit quicker plus a repeat snapper! Not really getting back to visiting blogs just yet as there is still so much to do to get caught up from my time away from home, but just wanted to pop in here and say how sorry I am to hear about your dear neighbor. I know they are truly special people in your life…

    Hi Skeeter, thanks. There is a setting that makes the picture take faster, on my old one anyway. I have it set to the fastest speed since I am so wobbly. I do appreciate your condolences. It was a loss for us all.

  17. I love all of your photos Frances. It will take some time to get used to the new camera. You will be happy with it when you get it all figured out. Love those orangy colors in the garden now.

    Thanks, Lisa. You know I am only showing the best of the best, right? It took me six months to figure out the old camera, let’s hope I can do it faster this time. That orange iris is my all time favorite one too.

  18. Janet says:


    Faire Garden has been a place of peace for me today. My father died last night, and I am in total shock. I chose to come here and look at your beautiful photos, and I’m very glad I did. It is spring, and life goes on…

    Dear Janet, I am so very sorry about your loss. I am glad you found some comfort here too. The loss of my mother more than twenty five years ago is still an open wound that can never heal, but life does go on.

  19. Brenda Kula says:

    It’s all I can do to operate this simple camera on one setting. I don’t use any other lenses. I like simple. I admire those who can discipline themselves to learn more. But I just want to go out to the garden and absorb the beauty and snap away! Your photos are quite lovely, and you should be proud of your skills!

    Hi Brenda, thanks. Your method is exactly what I want to do too. The new camera is not an SLR, I will not be changing lenses, in the foreseeable future anyway. I do want to be able to master the zoom, the reason I wanted this camera. The old Canon is perfectly fine, just had a weak zoom. Skills, I need way more of those! πŸ™‚

  20. commonweeder says:

    Frances, I love the way you play with a camera – and those azaleas are gorgeous. I can’t wait for my sole Pink and Sweet begins to bloom

    Hi Pat, thanks for that, what a nice thing to say. Your Pink and Sweet sounds like a beauty too. πŸ™‚

  21. Barbara says:

    Frances – Was delighted to see your post title and know that I was about to read the latest show and tell about your new camera (and of course garden too!) What a thoughtful gift. You must be soooo excited to get up each morning and experiment – I remember my first digital – could barely sleep. While tripods can be a nuisance, I enjoy the way they slow the whole process down making me frame and think about the shot. I’m so looking forward to seeing the hummer in action!

    Hi Barbara, thanks, hope you weren’t too disappointed in the photos from the new camera. It is going to take some practice to learn how best to use its charms. We have had quite a bit of rain here lately that has affected the photo taking, but no complaints, we need every drop. I am not usually a slow picture taker, one reason I don’t fool with the tripod. This heavy camera will force me to use it, and learn the settings too. Maybe someday a hummer will be captured in pixels. πŸ™‚

  22. Siria says:

    Hi Frances! ~ your new toy will be fun to learn to use. I know you will have it mastered in no time and am awaiting the post on the hummers and other birds! Your garden is glorious!

    Hi Siria, thanks, but don’t hold your breath for the hummer photo. Apparently it takes lots of patience, just sitting there with the camera ready on the tripod. That is not my forte! πŸ™‚

  23. Racquel says:

    What a generous gift from The Financier. Hopefully you will be able to get that much sought after photo of the Hummers in action. Love all the shots you took today, can’t wait to see what else you have in store for us now. πŸ™‚

    Hi Racquel, thanks, he is most generous. Thanks too for the hopes of the hummer shot. I will keep trying. πŸ™‚

  24. Wow! What a wonderful camera. You will be having a Great Time learning to use it… and we’ll enjoy seeing the results of your labors! πŸ™‚

    Hi Shady, thanks. It is a lot of camera! Lots of learning to do about it too, but it will be that Great Time. πŸ™‚

  25. DP says:

    The new camera seems to be doing a great job. Except for that one fuzzy shot, all your photos are great. I especially love the first shot with the close up of red-orange bloom–that’s a shot that a bee would see! It looks so inviting in there!

    Hi DP, thanks. Having the new camera on the tripod and zooming in to the hidden spots amongst the flowers will be fun. A whole new perspective! πŸ™‚

  26. Kathleen says:

    Congrats on the new camera Frances. You definitely had mastered the previous one so I expect nothing less from this one!! πŸ˜‰
    Looks like you’re off to a good start. The biggest secret to hummingbird photos is patience. I have stood for two hours in one spot, barely moving, just to capture a few images. I started with the feeder shots but now prefer more “natural” ones (hummers w/flowers) which is what takes the real patience. Good luck. I have a lot of faith you will accomplish this goal.

    Hi Kathleen, thanks. I am not sure of mastering either camera, but I do have the macro down on the 720! It is not possible for me to stand, or even sit in one place for two hours, methinks it is going to be a lot harder than having a good zoom camera to get this shot. I agree about the shots with the flowers being better than the feeder too. It might be easier for me to hide also. I am persistant though. πŸ™‚

  27. Kanak says:

    Looking at your fabulous photos, even the camera must be feeling honoured. Your images are so beautiful–always. The 20X zoom sounds/looks SO good.

    Hi Kanak, thanks, that is too sweet. The photos from the new camera will leave a lot to be desired, but I will keep trying to get the hang of it. Thanks for the support! πŸ™‚

  28. Randy says:

    You got right up in those flowers didn’t you! Gorgeous shots, you should frame the seventh one, it’s just beautiful!

    Hi Randy, thanks. The zoom takes me to places never before seen, it’s true. The azaleas are very photogenic, aren’t they? πŸ™‚

  29. Pam/Digging says:

    Congrats again on that fabulous birthday present, Frances. I will be waiting eagerly for that Holy Grail shot of the hummer. You’ll get him!

    Hi Pam, thanks for the support. I am not sure I have the patience however. Luck will have to play a part. But isn’t that always the case? πŸ™‚

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