Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
canon_SD4500is_550.jpg

  • 10-megapixel HS CMOS image sensor
  • 10x optical zoom with UA lens elements: 35mm equivalent of 36-360mm
  • 3.0-inch,230,000 pixel LCD screen
  • DIGIC 4 Image Processor
  • Optical Image Stabilization
  • Face Detection and Tracking
  • Full 1080p HD video capture
  • Intelligent Contrast Correction
  • Handheld Night Scene
  • Blink Detection
  • Li-Ion rechargeable battery
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible

Pros
  • Great image quality
  • 10x optical zoom with Optical Image Stabilization is easy for handheld shooting
  • Full 1080p HD video captures excellent videos with stereo sound
  • Smart auto allows anyone to operate it
  • High Speed CMOS sensor allows for new and powerful shooting options
  • Dedicated video recording button
  • Excellent burst shooting
Cons
  • Chromatic aberrations in most images
  • Sound quality does not compare to Video quality; lacks an audio input
  • Poor battery life

Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 3.8 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = 5/10 - 1.0 second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 2.08 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 3.22 seconds
  • Burst Mode = 2.82fps
  • Burst Mode w/Flash = 1.51fps
  • High Speed Burst = 6.53fps (2.5M)
  • All tests were taken using a 2GB RiDATA Pro 120x SD memory card, Program Mode, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS takes a great step for Canon, adding some great high-speed options to their popular digital ELPH line. Featuring a 10-Megapixel HS CMOS sensor, 10x optical zoom lens and full 1080p video capture, its has the best feature set for any ultra-compact Canon to date.
Pick This Up If...
You have been looking for an incredibly easy-to-use camera with high-speed capabilities and great image quality.
The PowerShot SD4500 IS is Canon's first compact camera to feature full 1080p HD video recording. Leading the way for the Digital ELPH series, it features a  10.0-Megapixel High Sensitivity CMOS image sensor, 10x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization, Smart Auto, High Speed burst and much more. Smart Auto mode allows anyone to just pick up the camera and shoot, without worrying about the settings needed to capture a pleasing photo. It will choose the correct exposure values as well as the correct Scene mode, if one is appropriate for your current shooting situation.  Low-light shooting has also been improved greatly with the addition of Canon's HS system on the SD4500. This combines the high-sensitivity imaging sensor with a DIGIC 4 processor to help reduce noise and speed up processing.

Canon's new high-speed system allows the SD4500 IS to do things that Canon camera's have not been able to in the past. It allows the camera to capture incredibly fast burst images, so you never have to worry about missing that perfect shot. This also works with the best image selection mode, taking 5 images quickly and then automatically picking and saving the best one. Handheld night scene will capture all of these images and instead of just saving the best one, it will combine them all to reduce noise and motion blur while eliminating the need for a tripod. Our sample shows that the SD4500 does capture a descent image, however it still shoots with a very high ISO and you do still get a lot of noise.

While one of the larger Digital ELPH models, the SD4500 is still very compact and well worth the extra size when you take into account all of the new features Canon has added. All of the controls have been simplified and reduced down to a dedicated video record, menu and playback buttons along with a 4-way controller with scroll wheel on the back. On top are the shooting mode, power and zoom controls coupled around the shutter release. Framing and viewing your images is accomplished on the 3.0-inch, 230,000 dot extra-wide LCD screen. With 5 levels of adjustable brightness, this large screen is easy to see in most any lighting condition.

Looking at our outdoor image samples, you can see that the camera produces an overall great looking image with excellent colors and exposure. When looking a little closer, we can see that the camera struggled a little with the high-contrast museum images, as some of the light areas are blown out and the shadows are grainy and patchy. Assisting with the composition of your subjects is a 10x optical zoom lens with a 35mm equivalent of 36-360mm. This is excellent for getting closer to your distant images, but the wide end leaves a little to be desired, limiting the potential of  your wide landscape and large group type photos. In just about all of our images we saw plenty of aberrations along the edge of high-contrast areas.

Our indoor samples show a crisp, well exposed image from edge to edge. But as you look closer, again you will see aberrations around the base of the flash and along other white areas in the image. Noise is controlled very well, giving you an acceptably clear image up through ISO 800. While ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 lose some important fine details, they are still descent for smaller prints. With a flash range of up to just 12ft., this is another spot where the lack of wide end hurts you a little. You will only be able to light a small room, which will limit your ability to fit in a large group of people and still have an effective flash. The flash was also a little too powerful in our macro image, but we did not have any problems with the lens getting in the way.

Portraits couldn't be easier with Canon's Face AiAF and Face Detection modes. The camera finds the best settings for any and all faces detected in the frame and adjusts the exposure for them. Our sample image shows us realistic and soft skin tones, while still providing us with plenty of fine details throughout the image. To make sure you never miss a portrait shot, Canon has developed several shooting modes to make it easier to capture that perfect moment. Smile Self-Timer, Wink Self-Timer and Face Detection Self-Timer all work for you to automatically capture images when someone smiles, winks or enters the frame after the shutter release has been pressed.

For the first time on a Canon compact camera, they have given us the option to record video in full 1080p HD along with 720p, 640x480 and 320x240 resolutions, all with sound. This allows you to make full use of your home entertainment system to watch  your home movies and images by playing them directly from the camera with an optional HDMI cable. The full HD movies captured by the SD4500 IS are descent for a compact camera, but you will see some noise, so don't expect to see the quality of your HD cable service or a Blu-Ray DVD. If you are looking for a camera to capture that quality, you will need to spend a lot more money on a HD video camera or a newer dSLR with HD video options (like the EOS 7D or Rebel T2i). While our videos play back smoothly on the camera, they are a little choppy when the files are played back on a computer (this will all depend on the performance of said PC/Mac).

Powering the SD4500 IS is a 3.5V, 870mAh Li-Ion rechargeable battery. While completing our tests, we were able to capture about 150 images and several videos before the battery was completely discharged. This lives up almost exactly to the 150 image claim from Canon, but with today's technology, 150 images just isn't very good. You will definitely want to have a spare battery charged and on hand at all times. Except for having to buy another battery, this isn't that bad since Canon includes a portable quick AC charger.

Bottom Line - The Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS is a great step for Canon in the compact camera market. The addition of the high-speed features with the large, zoom helps give the SD4500 an edge in the features race. Combining these with Canon's ease of use and excellent image quality make this a very desirable compact. Not to mention the inclusion of its full 1080p HD video mode, which also gives the camera a leg up of the rest of the competition. With a MSRP of US 349.99, you will pay a little more for this camera than most other compacts, but the features, performance and quality are worth the extra dough spent.  

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.

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