Canon Powershot SD10 Review

Steve's Digicams

Canon Powershot SD10

Steve's Conclusion

Stretching the limits of style, size, and resolution, Canon have produced (at least for the moment) the worlds smallest 4-megapixel digicam, the PowerShot SD10 Digital ELPH. This tiny, unintimidating (dare I say cute?) point-n-shoot will please beginners with its ease of use in automatic exposure mode, yet it offers a limited range of adjustments in Manual mode that will help the intermediate user deal with less common shooting conditions; exposure compensation (+/- 2EV), White balance, ISO, and metering mode can be set using the logically-organized menu system. Unlike many ultra-compact cameras, the SD10's controls are easy to use and well-placed on the camera body.

The shooting performance of the SD10 is very good. We measured the delay from power-on till the first shot captured at under three seconds. Shutter delay, the elapsed time between releasing the shutter and capturing the image, measured 2/10 second when pre-focused, or 4/10 second including autofocus time. For rapid shooting, shot-to-shot delay consumed 1.4 seconds, while continuous mode captured nine images in five seconds. This performance was observed using a 256MB SD memory card with the camera configured with flash off, Quick Shot on, and image size of 2272x1704, and include viewfinder delay, photographer response time and image capture; you can reproduce this performance in real-world shooting conditions. The SD10 is responsive enough for you to capture many unposed, spontaneous moments, and shots of moving subjects.

We were pleased with the SD10's outdoor results. The 39mm (in 35mm equivalence) lens produced reasonably sharp results, although a bit softer than other 4-megapixel cameras, and the images were consistently well-exposed and richly-saturated. The SD10 has a 5.7X digital zoom, but no optical zoom. The use of digital zoom degrades image quality, so we suggest that you compose your shots by zooming with your feet, or cropping afterwards in an image editor. The SD10 has no optical viewfinder, but the 1.5-inch LCD viewfinder was a pleasure to use outdoors, bright enough to use even in direct sunlight for both composing and reviewing your shots. In Review mode, digital zoom can be used to examine the detail in your captured images on the LCD.

Our indoor shooting results were good. Images were sharp thanks to the SD10's focus assist lamp, and the LCD viewfinder was useful in conditions of low ambient light. Because of the very limited flash range (6.6 feet) your indoor shots will be limited to head and shoulder portraits of individuals and very small groups. You'll be able to include yourself in group portraits because the SD10 is equipped with both a tripod socket and a self-timer. The camera will take good head-shots with accurate reproduction of skin tones, but you'll have to be close to your subject because there's no optical zoom. The SD10's macro mode provides sharp focus on objects as close as 1.2 inches; you can fill the frame with an image of a dime, but the flash is disabled at such close range. In normal (non-macro) mode, the lens will focus on objects as close as four inches, and the SD10 controls its flash well at this range; the SD10 would be a good camera for producing images of objects for auction listings.

Despite its tiny size, the SD10's NB-3L Li-ion battery lasted through over 120 shots and alot of time exploring the setup menus on the LCD viewfinder. There is no optical viewfinder, so you won't be able to extend battery live by turning off the LCD viewfinder. The NB-3L battery is proprietary and you won't be able to buy a replacement in a drug store when it has discharged; we suggest that you have fully-charged backup on hand to prevent the inevitable disappointment when you run out of power.

It's surprising that Canon was able to include a movie mode with sound in a camera of the SD10's size. You'll enjoy its high-quality clips at resolutions of 320x240 or 160x120.

Available in four trend-setting color and surface texture combinations, the Canon PowerShot SD10 Digital ELPH combines style and function in a package that allows you to make a fashion statement while taking photographs. You can carry its durable metal body in your pocket or purse, or wear it on your wrist; you'll no longer ask yourself "should I take the camera". The SD-10 supports the PictBridge standard, allowing you to print photos directly from the camera on compatible printers while you're on the go. If you value form as highly as function, and want an ultra-small high resolution digicam that can produce poster-size prints, the Canon SD10 will fit your pocket.

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