Canon Powershot SD990 IS Review

Canon Powershot SD990 IS

Features & Controls

The SD990 IS features a 3.7x (36-133mm in the 35mm format) f/2.8-5.8 all-glass aspherical zoom lens. When powered down, the lens is retracted inside of the body and a built in shutter closes to protect the lens.

With Canon's Optical Image Stabilization technology (OIS), users have the flexibility of actually shooting at shutter speeds 2-3 stops lower than would otherwise be possible. This camera features multi-mode Image Stabilization - users can choose between Continuous IS (always active), Panning IS (active when vertical camera shake is detected) and a "Shoot Only" IS mode (active when the shutter is pressed all the way.)

An advanced TTL AiAF 9-point autofocus system permits the camera to automatically select the primary subject even when off-center. Focusing range is 1.6 ft. (50cm) to infinity in normal mode and macro coverage is 2.0 in. - 1.6 ft. (5 - 50cm) wide, 1.3 - 1.6 ft. (40 - 50cm) telephoto. There's also a digital macro mode that covers 2.0 in. - 1.6 ft. (5 - 50cm) wide. The autofocus system features an AF-assist lamp that allows it to work even in the complete darkness.

Canon Powershot SD990 IS Digital ELPH

The built in flash offers Auto, Red-eye Reduction, Auto Red-eye Correction, Flash On, Flash Off (FE lock, Slow Synchro). Flash range is 1.6 - 15 ft. (50cm - 4.6m) wide, 1.6 - 7.9 ft. (50cm - 2.4m) telephoto; when sensitivity is set to ISO Auto. The focus-assist lamp also serves as the red-eye reduction lamp.

Canon Powershot SD990 IS Digital ELPH

Unlike most ultra-compact models these days, the SD990 IS offers an eye-level, zoom-coupled optical viewfinder. While small, it is very useful when following fast moving subjects, or when wanting to save battery power. The LEDs on the right indicate flash and focus status.

Canon Powershot SD990 IS Digital ELPH

On the back is a 2.5-inch "PureColor LCD II" monitor which can be used for framing, review and changing settings. Advanced features include new multi-level coating that reduces glare, a protective layer which resists scratches, smudges and fingerprints as well as a "Quick-bright" function which switches the brightness to the highest setting by pressing the DISP button for 1 second. When shooting in dim lighting, the LCD is automatically brightened to make it easier to frame and focus on the subject.

Controls on the back: The Mode Switch with positions for Auto, P/M (Program or Manual), Quick Shot, SCeNE, and Movie. The Print/Share button allows you to easily print and transfer images to your computer (Windows users only). You can also use the Print/Share button as a custom button in record mode; you select the desired function via the Rec. menu. Next is the play button, which switches the camera to playback mode. The 4-way controller or "multi-control dial" is a unique addition to many of Canon's new models. In record mode you press "Up" to change ISO sensitivity (rotate in playback), press "Right" to change flash modes, press "Down" to change the drive mode (image delete in playback) and press "Left" to change the focus mode. It is also a mode dial or "wheel" that allows you to quickly navigate the menu, stored images, and change exposure modes. When the Mode switch in set to the SCN position, rotating the 4-way controller wheel changes the selected scene mode, etc. In the center is the FUNC./SET button, which accepts menu selections as well as gives you access to the Function shortcut menu. The DISP button turns the color LCD on/off and controls the amount of data displayed on it, and the MENU button calls up and dismisses the onscreen menu system.

Canon Powershot SD990 IS Digital ELPH

On top you can see the built-in speaker, Power On/Off button and shutter release button with the zoom controls mounted around it. The zoom lens control also functions as the magnify and index buttons in playback mode.

Canon Powershot SD990 IS Digital ELPH

On the side is a mini-B jack that handles both the AV Out and USB 2.0 (high-speed) connectivity. The AV Out handles the monaural audio and video signal which can be connected to your TV set with the supplied cables, while the high-speed USB 2.0 is used for image and movie download. The I/O port can also be used for direct printing to any PictBridge compatible photo printer.

Canon Powershot SD990 IS Digital ELPH

The Powershot SD990 IS is equipped with a card slot that supports use of SD, SDHC, MMC, MMC+ or HC (High Capacity) MMC+ cards, and comes with a 32MB SD. Shown here with an OCZ 4GB Class 6 SDHC card - see the tables below for the approximate storage capacity.

Number of Recordable Images

Large (L) Medium 1 (M1) Medium 2 (M2)
File Size (KB) 6,348 3,759 1,797 3,888 2,302 1,100 2,503 1,395 695
32MB 4 7 16 7 12 26 11 20 41
2GB 306 516 1,059 499 841 1,707 767 1,365 2,672
8GB 1,227 2,063 4,234 1,996 3,364 6,822 3,069 5,457 10,679

Medium 3 (M3) Small (S) Widescreen (W)
File Size (KB) 1,002 558 278 249 150 84 4,753 2,814 1,345
32MB 29 52 99 111 171 270 5 10 21
2GB 1,862 3,235 6,146 6,830 10,245 15,368 409 690 1,396
8GB 7,442 12,927 24,562 27,291 40,937 61,406 1,637 2,759 5,581

Time of Recordable Movies

Standard, Color Accent, Color Swap
640 x 480 320 x 240
30 fps30 fps
Movie size (KB/sec.) 1,316 394
32MB 22 sec. 1 min. 12 sec.
2GB 23 min. 49 sec. 1 hr. 13 min. 10 sec.
8GB 1 hr. 35 min. 11 sec. 4 hr. 52 min. 24 sec.

Canon Powershot SD990 ISDigital ELPH

The SD990 IS comes with a Canon NB-5L 3.7v 1120mAh lithium rechargeable battery pack. Canon claims the NB-5L can power the SD990 for up to 280 shots with the LCD on or 700 with it Off (using CIPA Standard testing methods). The supplied rapid charger plugs directly in the wall socket and charges the battery "out of the camera" which is very handy if you have a second battery; highly recommended!

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Record Modes & Menus

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