Canon Powershot SD770 IS Review

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Canon Powershot SD770 IS

Steve's Conclusion

Canon has created another successful ultra-compact digicam with the release of the PowerShot Digital ELPH SD770 IS. It features a 2.5" PureColor II LCD screen, optical image stabilization and motion detection technology. This combined with all the usual features that you have come to expect from an ELPH like face detection, VGA movie mode, full auto and various pre-programmed scene modes make this camera incredibly easy- to-use for anyone.

Keeping with the traditional look and setup of the classic ELPH cameras, the SD770 IS is an ultra-compact model with a metal body, giving it a very durable feel. Operating this camera is a breeze, as the buttons are well thought out and labeled. They also make it easy to navigate through the logically organized camera menus. The 2.5" PureColor II LCD screen is an excellent addition to Canon's models this year. It has a better resolution, better color and contrast than the previous PureColor LCD screens, and is viewable from any angle instead of just straight on. They have also given the screen an anti-reflective and scratch resistant coating to make it more durable than ever. However, as we found during our testing, the display is not as scratch resistant as Canon claims. Using the camera as any normal consumer would, we tossed it into our pockets/purses often. As a result, we did find some small scratches on the surface of the LCD, proving that this display is not as tuff as they say it is; you'll want to treat it with care. This model is also one of the few new cameras available today with an optical viewfinder, giving you another option for shooting in bright light, as well as a way to extend battery life.

Performance from the SD770 IS was very good for an ultra-compact. It was able to capture the first image in just 1.4 seconds after being turned on! The shutter delay, the amount of time between you pressing the shutter release and the time the camera captures the image, was almost instantaneous when the prefocused and just 4/10 of a second including autofocus. The shot to shot delay was approx. 1.3 seconds between shots without the flash and 2.7 seconds between shots with the flash. The camera also has a continuous shooting mode that was able to capture 10 images in just 6 seconds, about 1.6fps (surpassing Canon's 1.4fps claim). This mode also works with the flash, capturing 10 shots in 18.2 seconds, almost twice as fast as the regular shooting mode with the flash. All of our tests were completed using an ATP Pro Max 4GB SDHC Class 6 memory card, manual mode, flash off, ISO auto and all other settings at the factory defaults, unless otherwise noted. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.

The quality of our outdoor images was excellent for a camera in this category. The majority of our samples showed pleasing exposures, and the colors were nice and vivid when shooting in bright sunlight. The focal range of the 3x optical zoom lens (35mm equivalent of 35-105mm), coupled with the Optical Image Stabilization system, makes this camera perfect for shooting landscape and group portraits on the wide end, while the telephoto end is good for assisting in the framing of your scene and portrait type shots. As with any 3x zoom, it is not powerful enough to single out a distant object. The lens does produce a moderate amount of barrel distortion on the wide end, but chromatic aberrations (purple fringing) were well controlled; we only noticed a small instance in one of our shots.

When shooting indoors, we found flash coverage was good, producing nice exposures as long as you are with in its limits. The camera's auto white balance setting was also very accurate. When shooting portraits, our samples showed good flash exposure and natural skin tones. There was no evidence of red-eye in most of the photos we capture, even without the Red-eye Reduction mode enabled. The flash has a range of up to 11' at ISO auto, and we found the camera does a pretty good job at keeping the ISO settings low in typical indoor lighting conditions.

Movie mode performed well, capturing smooth video and clear audio at 30 fps. There was noise in the video due to the moderate lighting, however, this is something we typically see with most consumer models. The camera did seem to have a little trouble with the auto white balancing, which you can see in our sample, as the color constantly changes through the 8 seconds. While in movie mode you are given the option of capturing video in standard mode at 640x480 30fps, 640x480 LP 30fps, and 320x240 at 30fps or in compact mode at 160x120, which is great for sharing on the web or in e-mail. There are also several color modes that you can record in to be a little more creative as well as a time-lapse feature.

Powering the SD770 IS is a small 3.7v 1000mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack. The camera also comes with an external quick charger with fold-away prongs, allowing you to quickly charge a battery anywhere. Canon claims you can capture up to 300 photos on a single charge. I found the battery does an excellent job powering the camera. It allowed me to capture all of our sample images, videos and complete all of our other tests on single charge without even worrying about the battery running low.

Bottom Line - The Canon Powershot SD770 IS Digital ELPH is everything that you would expect from this line, especially if you have had any experience with them before. It is incredibly simple to use with the full auto and pre-programmed scene modes, and the combination of style and performance make this an excellent ultra-compact 10-megapixel digicam. With a MSRP of US$299, this is a great deal. If you are looking for a camera with similar features and a larger LCD, check out the SD790 IS with a 3" screen for about $50 more.

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