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Old 10th of June 2008 (Tue)   #1
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Default A650 vs SD950 w/ CHDK firmware

I'm trying to decide between the A650 and the SD950. From various reviews and a lot of comparing full resolution shots under identical conditions (reviews at www.imaging-resource.com) the overall quality of the two cameras is very close. So that just leaves the features. The A650 is bigger, heavier, more zoom, and manual features (Tv, Av, M, etc). The SD950 is slimmer, lighter, and uses a rechargeable Li-Ion battery.

However, using the CHDK firmware (http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK), shouldn't I be able to use every A650 feature on the SD950? Using CHDK, shouldn't I be able to use Tv, Av, bracketing, etc?

Assuming my understanding of CHDK is correct and that I would use it on either camera, what is the ultimate difference between these two cameras?
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Old 10th of June 2008 (Tue)   #2
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Default Re: A650 vs SD950 w/ CHDK firmware

At a minimum, CHDK won't compensate for the A650's greater zoom range or the flip-out LCD display. But as yet, CHDK doesn't support the SD950; in fact the situation's described as:
Quote:
Firmware dump available, but uses a new OS that is fundamentally different from all previous cameras that were successfully ported. Porting to these cameras will require a lot of analysis and work.

Since the A650 uses the same OS and there is a version for that, I take this to mean that someone's applied themselves to the A650; someone (else?) could build on that to support the SD950, but as yet that hasn't happened successfully. If you go with the SD950 now, you will have the basic SD950 until such time as someone makes the port, and then you'll only get such features as they've enabled. If you get the A650, you'll get the P, Av, Tv and M which are built into the basic A650, plus all the CHDK features right from the start.
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Old 10th of June 2008 (Tue)   #3
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Default Re: A650 vs SD950 w/ CHDK firmware

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At a minimum, CHDK won't compensate for the A650's greater zoom range or the flip-out LCD display. But as yet, CHDK doesn't support the SD950; in fact the situation's described as:
Since the A650 uses the same OS and there is a version for that, I take this to mean that someone's applied themselves to the A650; someone (else?) could build on that to support the SD950, but as yet that hasn't happened successfully. If you go with the SD950 now, you will have the basic SD950 until such time as someone makes the port, and then you'll only get such features as they've enabled. If you get the A650, you'll get the P, Av, Tv and M which are built into the basic A650, plus all the CHDK features right from the start.
Thanks for the quick response. I didn't realize that particular camera wasn't supported yet. Well for the purposes of discussion, let's assume that someone will get CHDK working on the SD950, and that some of the obvious initial features would be Av, Tv, M, and bracketing. Under those conditions, and aside from the obvious things like the fold out screen and the additional zoom, what do you think would be the ultimate differences between the cameras? (If you haven't figured it out, I'm basically looking for an excuse to go with the smaller, lighter, fits in my pocket camera, but without sacrificing manual controls and image quality).
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Old 10th of June 2008 (Tue)   #4
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Default Re: A650 vs SD950 w/ CHDK firmware

Judging from the current writeup, enabling those modes isn't in anyone's plans. THere are functions that allow you to set a shutter speed, or an aperture, but I'm not clear that those functions will give you good exposures in a "fully automated" mode as the SD950's limited to, or that you'd be able to meter with the camera for full manual mode. In either case even if the functionality was there, you'd find it much more tedious to set Av, Tv or M shooting on the fly. If you really want those features, get the camera that offers them out of the box. If you think they might be nice to have but you're not really committed to using them, and someone gets a version running for the SD950, and you write some scripts to simplify the shutter speed selection process, the SD950 would offer that, but I'd be willing to bet that you'd quickly abandon efforts to set shutter speed/aperture or else move up to a camera that has them built-in. If you want manual controls and a smaller camera than the A650, look at the A720 or venture outside the Canon line.
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Old 10th of June 2008 (Tue)   #5
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Default Re: A650 vs SD950 w/ CHDK firmware

Well, usually I'd be using the camera in automatic. One fun thing I'd like to do is force the aperture wide open to blur out the background and have only my subject in focus.

But I really want to have some fun making HDR images. The easiest way to make HDR images is with auto bracketing (which neither camera has for some reason, but which is a highly customizable feature of CHDK). Even cameras that don't have exposure bracketing often allow adjustments around +/-2, but sometimes a larger range is beneficial and it's always nice if you don't have to touch the camera between exposures.

Generally, there isn't a lot of fiddling with the camera to do this. Once exposure bracketing is set up, you can just point and click (on a tripod of course). And of course it's not like I'd be doing HDRI all day long. That's really something you do when you notice a view that you just know would really look amazing with HDR processing. So even if it takes a bit of fiddling to get it going, I don't think it would be very prohibitive.

By the way, a lot of the information I've written hear is merely what I've gleaned from hours and hours of reading and what experience I've gotten using my old Canon A1, so it's very possible I'm horribly misunderstanding a few things.
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Old 10th of June 2008 (Tue)   #6
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Default Re: A650 vs SD950 w/ CHDK firmware

Don't expect too much DoF even wide open with either of these. Take a look at the On-line DoF Calculator.
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Old 10th of June 2008 (Tue)   #7
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Default Re: A650 vs SD950 w/ CHDK firmware

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Don't expect too much DoF even wide open with either of these. Take a look at the On-line DoF Calculator.
Using the appropriate circle of confusion and the actual focal length (not 35mm equiv.) as instructed at the site, it looks to me like the cameras could easily produce a very long or very short DoF.

Any opinions on my intention to use one of these cameras for HDRI?
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Old 10th of June 2008 (Tue)   #8
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Default Re: A650 vs SD950 w/ CHDK firmware

HDR, sure, just remember the noise factor of the small sensor. But DoF - we must have different definitions of shallow DoF. And you'll really be better off with the A650 regardless.
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Old 10th of June 2008 (Tue)   #9
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Default Re: A650 vs SD950 w/ CHDK firmware

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HDR, sure, just remember the noise factor of the small sensor. But DoF - we must have different definitions of shallow DoF. And you'll really be better off with the A650 regardless.
Well this is where I was trying to get. Judging from your own experience, you think I'll be better off with the A650 regardless. Now do you mean regardless of what I said about only needing manual controls on rare occasions (like for HDR etc) and usually sticking to automatic? If so, then why? Sorry if it seems like I keep asking the same questions, but I don't have the benefit of your experience so I'm just trying to get as much information as possible before I make a decision.
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Old 10th of June 2008 (Tue)   #10
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Default Re: A650 vs SD950 w/ CHDK firmware

I'm extremely dubious about your being able to set aperture or shutter speed and still get auto exposure on a camera that doesn't provide aperture and shutter priority. Why not get the camera that will give you those out of the box? My wife's never going to want to set aperture or shutter; she's got an SD600. I want that control available without setting 6 different settings; I have an A620 and an A630 for that.
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Old 11th of June 2008 (Wed)   #11
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Default Re: A650 vs SD950 w/ CHDK firmware

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I'm extremely dubious about your being able to set aperture or shutter speed and still get auto exposure on a camera that doesn't provide aperture and shutter priority. Why not get the camera that will give you those out of the box? My wife's never going to want to set aperture or shutter; she's got an SD600. I want that control available without setting 6 different settings; I have an A620 and an A630 for that.
It seems that this particular thread can't move forward until information about the actual capabilities of CHDK are made more clear. So I've read a lot there and posted a few questions on the forums. I'll post back here when I get some answers.
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Old 11th of June 2008 (Wed)   #12
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Default Re: A650 vs SD950 w/ CHDK firmware

Well I've gotten a lot of information and it looks like CHDK can indeed add features such as priority modes to cameras that didn't have them (as opposed to simply modifying or extending existing priority modes). More information is available in my thread: http://chdk.setepontos.com/index.php/topic,1671.0.html
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Old 16th of June 2008 (Mon)   #13
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Default Re: A650 vs SD950 w/ CHDK firmware

Of course I'm used to the manual controls of my SLR but am looking for something compact I can always have with me. I was glad to see the Manual mode on the SD950 but am disappointed to realize it doesn't have Av and Tv modes. The manual modes it does have are shown here: http://www.steves-digicams.com/2007_...sd950_pg3.html

Still, I think I'm willing to give that up to get everything else offered in the SD950 package (at that size). It surprises me, then, that the SD950 offers RAW when the A650 doesn't.

Comparison here:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/remote-comp...000V1VG2E&bf=0
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Old 16th of June 2008 (Mon)   #14
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Default Re: A650 vs SD950 w/ CHDK firmware

That Amazon comparison is incorrect. Neither offer RAW. The A650 accepts the CHDK hack which gives you a form of RAW; the SD950 doesn't, as yet. Without a hack, you'll have no direct control over the shutter speed or aperture on an SD950. All you'll be able to do to control exposure are set ISO and EC.
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Last edited by Jon : 16th of June 2008 (Mon) at 15:20.
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Old 16th of June 2008 (Mon)   #15
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Default Re: A650 vs SD950 w/ CHDK firmware

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That Amazon comparison is incorrect. Neither offer RAW.
Ok, thanks. Should have known. But then I see the CNET review dings the SD950 for sluggish performance:
http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-came...tag=prod.txt.1
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