The View From 32


JULY 25, 2007  

Learning curve: sound

Yesterday I talked about image quality from my new Canon SD1000. Today I've been experimenting with sound recording. Clicking through the camera's menu to get to "Sound Recording" is definitely slower and more cumbersome than turning a dial on the Casio, but it's manageable. I'm less happy that there doesn't seem to be a way to review the sound in-camera. Sound files don't show up on the screen, only images and movies. I haven't found much information in the Owner's Manual, and searching online didn't help a lot.

When you plug the camera's USB cable into your Mac, the memory card doesn't show up on the desktop, so there's no quick way to see the files on the camera. With my Casio I could see all the files: images, sounds and movies. With the Canon you have to install the Camera Window/Image Browser software to get at the files individually. It's the only way I've found to get at sound files.

I thought I'd get around this limitation by removing the memory card and plugging it into a card reader. No such luck. When I tried to copy a file this way it got seriously corrupted.

When you look at a sound in software like SoundStudio, Audacity, etc., you see what's called a waveform that looks something like the one on the left below. What I got using the card reader was the one on the right. You don't need to be an expert to see this isn't good.

Normal sound file waveformWaveform of distorted sound

So, no shortcuts via a card reader. I'll have to use the Canon software if I want to get sound. That's the bad news. The good news is that the Canon's sound quality is a bit better.

I set both cameras on my back porch to record the sound of crickets (and my neighbor's air-conditioner). Both have a fairly high level of background noise, but the cricket sounds seem clearer with the Canon.

CANON:       CASIO:  

So the upshot of all this: I guess I'll keep the Canon, especially since I've leaving for Finland in two days and want to take a fully-functioning camera. I'm disappointed in the picture sharpness, some controls, lack of sound review capability, and the fact that the Canon doesn't show up as a disk when connected to my Mac. I like the small size, most of the controls, sound quality, and the optical viewfinder. My broken LCD screen taught me how important that optical viewfinder can be, yet many newer model cameras have eliminated this feature.

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