Steve's Conclusion

Steve's SnapShot

  • 12.1-Megapixel Imaging Sensor
  • 2.7-Inch LCD Screen
  • 4x Optical zoom lens: 28-112mm (35mm equivalent)
  • Smart Auto mode
  • Face Detection
  • Li-Ion Battery power source
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
  • SD (640x480) Video Capture

  • Good image quality for camera in the Sub $200 category
  • Captures nice VGA sized movies
  • Smart Auto shooting mode is accurate and makes the camera incredibly easy to use
  • Great battery life from the NB-6L Li-ion power source
  • Nice ultra-compact body, offers well-built feel
  • Great "bang for your buck"
  • Comes in various colors: Brown, Silver, Green, Pink and Blue
  • 640x480 max video resolution (No HD)
  • Higher amounts of noise than we'd like to see
  • Has trouble focusing accurately in lower lighting
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 1.6 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused = almost instantaneous
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 1/10 - 3/10 of a second, depending on degree of AF change required
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash =.2.4 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 3.2 seconds
  • Sequential burst wo/flash = 0.72fps
  • All tests taken using a high-speed SDHC card, Program mode, flash off, review on, and all other settings at default unless noted
Bottom Line
The PowerShot SD1300 IS Digital ELPH is a nice little ultra-compact with good performance, useful exposure modes Like Smart Auto, and decent image quality for a camera in its class. Our only gripes are increased noise, has trouble focusing in low light and no HD movie mode.
Pick This Up If...
You're in the market for an affordable, fun and easy to use compact digital camera to take with you, whether on vacation or an adventure in your living room.
One of Canon's affordable PowerShot cameras, the SD1300 IS has to be the simplest Digital ELPH to date. This unit doesn't boast any amazing features or any other "Jazz" like that. Instead, this tiny guy is straight to the point. You get 12-megapixels of resolution, plenty for large prints, a nice wide 4x optical zoom lens, optical image stabilization, 2.7-inch LCD, Smart Auto, and SD (640x480) video recording; that's right, no HD video capture. But, let's face it, the SD1300 was designed to be an affordable ultra-compact, so in order to accommodate a more friendly price tag you're going to have to give up some features.

Using the SD1300 couldn't be easier, thanks in part to Canon's intelligent "Smart" Auto exposure program. Like most all other intelligent auto modes, it not only selects the appropriate exposure settings for your, but also chooses from preset Scene mode settings that best fit the subject being framed. This is all accomplished in milliseconds, which allows you to simply point, then shoot. There are also several (12) Scene modes you can set manually, or Program AE. While still mostly automatic, you do have access to more advanced camera settings for Focus, Metering, ISO, White Balance, etc.

When you pick up the SD1300, it offers that classic Digital ELPH look and feel; tiny, yet stylish and somewhat comfortable to hold. I'm glad to see Canon has kept the zoom control mounted around the shutter release, which in my opinion makes zooming the lens much more comfortable on a camera this size. The rest of the controls are well labeled, and easy to operate. While room on the back of the camera is limited, Canon did a great job of spacing the buttons out so you don't accidentally hit more than one at a time. Framing pictures or video, navigating the menus and viewing your captured files is accomplished on the 2.7-inch LCD. This screen worked well in most lighting, however the anti-reflective coating still allows some reflections when in bright sunny conditions.

Image quality was Ok for a camera in this price range. I wasn't overly excited about our results though. Outdoors the camera was able to capture decent exposures with pleasing colors. Photos are relatively sharp, however there is a good amount of edge softness as well as some detail lose from heavy noise; even at the lower ISO settings. You will see a noticeable difference in both color and contrast when switching from Smart Auto to Program mode. Program mode produces the most realistic colors, however Smart Auto handled details in highlights better. Our indoor results were mixed. While the flash did well for subjects within about 6-7 feet, the camera had trouble focusing in lower lighting (and this unit does offer an AF-assist lamp), and at times produced a "fuzzy" look to our images. Noise was also very noticeable, especially in dark areas of the photo. However, with 12-megapixels of resolution you'll not really see this unless you are producing large prints or viewing images critically at 100% on your PC. I achieved the best indoor results when shooting from 6 feet or less in a room with "decent" ambient lighting.

The SD1300 utilizes a wide 4x optical zoom, which covers a 35mm equivalent zoom range of 28-112mm and uses optical image stabilization to help steady the camera. The wide end of the zoom is good for nice outdoor photos, like group shots, landscapes, etc. The telephoto end won't bring that distant subject up close, but will help you zoom in tight for macro and portrait style photography.

Recording video clips on the SD1300 is as easy as flipping the mode switch down to the Movie position. Note that the camera only records video at VGA (640x480) and QVGA (320x240) resolutions with mono sound; there is no HD video option. While some may feel this is disappointing as HD is pretty much standard now, we feel this is not that big of a deal. The camera was designed to take photos while being able to slip into your pocket easily; which is accomplishes quite well. Our sample videos play back smoothly, and show minimal noise when in good lighting (whenever you get indoors you may start to see some graininess, which is normal for compact digicams). The microphone is Very sensitive, and not only picks up background noises but even the slightest breeze as well.

Battery life was good for a camera of this size. The camera uses Canon's NB-6L 3.7V, 1000mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. While completing our tests, I was able to capture 200+ images with plenty of battery power left to keep shooting. This confirms Canon's claims of the battery powering the SD1300 for up to 240 images on a single charge. Thanks to the external charger that is supplied with the camera, you can easily keep a spare battery charged and with you for extended shooting.

Bottom Line - I enjoyed using the Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS. The size and layout of the controls are nice, and for the most part the camera takes decent pictures when compared to other models in this price range. There was a bit more noise than I would have liked to see, and some may miss the HD video option. However, for an ultra-compact digicam, I feel the SD1300 IS offers a good value with a street price of $200 US or less.

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