Canon Powershot D10 Review
By Mike Flacy
The PowerShot D10 is Canon's first ever Waterproof, Freezeproof, and Shockproof digital camera. They boast that you can drop this model from about 4 feet, take it out in 14 degrees freezing weather, explore underwater up to 33ft without any optional accessories or cases. The D10 also offers a JIS class IP6X dustproof rating. On the inside is a typical 12-megapixel Canon digicam, featuring a 3x optical zoom lens, 2.5-inch LCD, Digic 4 processor, VGA sized movie capabilities, Image Stabilization, Face Detection, i-Contrast, SD/SDHC/MMC type memory card slot, and a Li-ion battery pack. Canon designed this camera to go Anywhere, and to be used by Anyone. With Smart Auto, 18-pre-programmed scene modes, and Program AE, there's an exposure option for everyone in your household, not matter what their experience level.
The body design of the D10 is great. This camera is compact enough to be tucked into a small handbag or backpack, yet still fits rather well in your hands; even for those of us who have large ones. To keep water out, the D10 is fully enclosed, with only two port doors. These doors are secured with a locking system, which seals the doors tight with rubber gaskets. One 'cool' feature on this camera is the wrist strap mounting system. No longer do you have to loop a small piece of string through a small eye. Each corner of the body has a special 'socket' that the wrist strap connects to. Not only does this add to the degree of comfort, but also to the uniqueness of the camera. I found that all of the camera controls on the back are well positioned, however I do wish Canon would have mounted the zoom controls around the shutter release; like they do on most of their PowerShot models. The 2.5-inch LCD is a bit smaller than one would find on a typical compact camera these days, however it serves the D10 well with a good clear live image. When shooting in dim lighting, the display gains up well to help you see your subject. In bright environments, I did notice the screen's finish did reflect some light, however it never caused any problems with me seeing my subject. My only real complaint is that this LCD is Very prone to collecting fingerprints. The D10 uses Canon's classic menu system, which has since been updated on several of their newer models, like the PowerShot SD960 IS. If you've owned a Canon in the past, you'll be right at home. For those who have just entered the digital age, you will find that the menu system is logically organized, making it very easy to navigate.
Performance from the D10 was very robust. It took only 1 second to capture the first image after pressing the power button. Shutter lag was less than 1/10 of a second when the camera is pre-focused and between 1/10 and 2/10 of a second when allowing the autofocus system to work. In single drive mode, the shot to shot delay averaged 1.8 seconds between frames with the flash off and about 4-5 seconds with the flash, depending on subject distance and battery life. The D10 also offers a continuous shooting mode, which allowed me to capture 10 full size images in 7 seconds (1.4 fps: Canon claims 1.1fps) without the flash and 10 images in 14 seconds with it. All of our tests were completed using a 1GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card, Program Auto, ISO Auto, review on, flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
The image quality of this camera is up to par with other 12-megapixel cameras in this category. Outdoors the D10 produces realistic photos that show good exposure and true colors. Images are nice and sharp in the center, however I did notice a bit of edge softness along the left and right hand sides. The 3x optical zoom lens offers a typical range of about 35-105mm (equivalent). This will work well for most snap shots, however it will not afford vast landscapes, large group shots, or bring that distant subject up close. When shooting indoors, the flash offers a good amount of power, with a maximum range of about 10ft. at wide angle (using ISO Auto). Our individual portrait photos looked great, with sharp facial detail and accurate skin tones. There is a bit of noise present in the dark shadow areas, however this is because the camera selected an ISO setting of 250. Even though this is present, there is very little chance you are going to see this in you prints or even when viewing images on you computer at full screen. When shooting underwater, we found using the dedicated Underwater Scene mode produced the best results. Check out our Samples page to see for yourself.
The D10 is one of the only 2009 models from Canon that does not feature one of their HD format movie modes. I think this would have been an awesome addition to this camera. You have options for the typical VGA and QVGA (640×480 and 320×240) screen resolutions, with a real-time frame rate of 30fps. I found the D10 captured pleasing video both indoors and out. There was very little compression noise with our indoor sample, and I was impressed with how well the exposure system handled the extreme contrast in the room. Just remember that you can not zoom while recording, so be sure to preset the desired focal length before hand.
I was surprised to see that the D10 is powered by a Li-ion battery pack. When I first saw this model, I thought it was going to use AA type cells, like most of Canon's A-series line. This NB-6L pack offers 1000mAh of power, which Canon claims will allow you to capture up to 220 photos. We were able to capture about 130+ samples, with several short video clips as well as complete our normal testing before the pack needed to be recharged. The included AC charger is a very nice unit that has fold-away prongs. This means you can tuck it in your bag quite easily. While the D10 displayed good overall battery life, I still recommend you look at purchasing a spare to keep charged and ready at all times.
Bottom Line - The Canon PowerShot D10 is a very appealing 'Go Anywhere' digicam. With the ability to capture pleasing images no matter what the conditions are, this is one versatile little camera. On top of that, the D10 offers blazing fast performance, so you can be confident that you are going to capture that shot when you press the shutter button. With a street price of about US$329, the PowerShot D10 is obviously more expensive than your typical 12-megapixel compact digicam. However, in this weatherproof category, the D10 is competitively priced, and rivals the performance and quality of many of its competitors.
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