Canon Powershot SD20 Review

Steve's Digicams

Canon Powershot SD20

Review posted 10/14/04

Click to take a QTVR tour of the SD20

Canon's five-megapixel PowerShot SD20 Digital ELPH features excellent image quality with style in a slim (3.6 x 1.9 x 0.7 inches), lightweight and highly durable stainless steel body. With the power of an all-glass Canon lens and the precision of DIGIC technology, the new PowerShot SD20 elegantly combines function and fashion.

The PowerShot SD20 incorporates a full range of high-performance features including a high-quality four-element 6.4mm (equivalent to 39mm in 35mm format) f/2.8 single focal length lens and a 6.5x digital zoom. The camera also features an easy to read 1.5-inch color LCD Screen, a 9-point AiAF autofocus and an Intelligent Orientation Sensor that provides the user with a horizontal image during playback, even if the picture was taken vertically. The shutter speeds (mechanical and electronic) range from 15 seconds to 1/1500th of a second and there are 6 white balance modes including Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent and Fluorescent H settings.

Settings on the PowerShot SD20 include: five new scene modes, including portrait, landscape, night snapshot, indoor and underwater; Macro mode which supports auto-focusing on subjects as close as 1.2 inches from the tip of the lens, resulting in impressive close-ups; and Quick Shot mode, which reduces the time lag between pressing the shutter button and starting the exposure, thus improving the SD20's ability to capture spontaneous moments and Photo Effect Mode.

Canon Powershot SD20 Digital ELPH

The PowerShot SD20 comes in four new, exclusive colors: Silver, Garnet red, Midnight Blue or Zen Gray. The SD20 cameras exude style. These new models replace last year's highly successful PowerShot SD10 Digital ELPH cameras.

The SD20 stores images in Super Fine, Fine and Normal JPEG compression modes with resolution settings of 2592 x 1944, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200 and 640 x 480 (VGA) for still images. The SD20 can also shoot AVI movie clips with sound up to three minutes at resolutions of 640 x 480, 320 x 240 or 160 x 120.

The Print/Share button, found on most of Canon's new PowerShot models makes it easy, quick and convenient for anyone to produce high-quality photos without the need for a computer. Direct printing also speeds and simplifies printing to compatible Canon and PictBridge- enabled printers. The Print/Share feature also enables one-touch Direct Transfer to Windows XP, Me, 2000 and 98 computers, uploading to the Internet or emailing. Once connected, the Print/Share button will light up blue, indicating that it is ready to print. When used with Canon's portable Compact Photo Printers, consumers can make 4 x 6 inch photos in 85 seconds from virtually anywhere.

Powershot SD20 Features

  • 5.0 Megapixel CCD imager for up to 2592x1944 pixel images
  • 39mm f/2.8 lens with 6.5x digital zoom
  • 1.5" color LCD with up to 10x playback zoom
  • Ultra-compact and durable stainless steel body (3.6 x 1.9 x 0.7 in.)
  • Advanced TTL AiAF 9-point autofocus system
  • Program AE automatic and Manual exposure modes
  • Movie mode w/sound 320x240 up to 3 minutes long
  • Evaluative metering on focus point or Spot
  • Stitch Assist mode for perfect panoramas
  • Exposure compensation: +/-2EV in 1/3-step increments
  • White Balance: Auto, 5 presets or Custom
  • Photo Effects: Low Sharpening, Vivid Color, Neutral, Sepia and B&W
  • Low-light focus assist illuminator
  • Shutter speeds of 15 seconds to 1/1500 second
  • Auto noise reduction with 1.3 sec or longer shutter speeds
  • Selectable ISO settings from 50 to 400
  • Voice memo (up to 60 secs) can be attached to images
  • Built-in microphone and speaker
  • Lithium rechargeable battery and charger included
  • Direct print with PictBridge compatible printers
  • USB connectivity for PC and Mac
  • Secure Digital (SD) card storage
  • Optional Waterproof Case

The Canon PowerShot SD20 Digital ELPH kit includes an ultra-compact 32MB SD memory card and features video out and USB cables and will be available through authorized dealers in October for estimated street prices of $349.99.

Dedicated accessories will include Battery Pack NB-3L, Battery Charger CB-2LU as well as a matching soft leather case with the purchase of a SD20 Digital ELPH a different color to match each camera and an optional, attractive All-Weather Housing AW-DC10 that is designed for popular outdoor activities such as snow boarding, snow skiing, water skiing, and boating as well as underwater photography at depths up to 9.8 feet.

Physical Views

Canon Powershot SD20 Digital ELPH

Canon Powershot SD20 Digital ELPH

Canon Powershot SD20 Digital ELPHCanon Powershot SD20 Digital ELPH

Canon Powershot SD20 Digital ELPH

Canon Powershot SD20 Digital ELPH

Canon Powershot SD20 Digital ELPH

The SD20 compared to a standard CD disc.

Canon Powershot SD20 Digital ELPH

The small Powershot S410 and the tiny Powershot SD20.

Canon Powershot SD20 Digital ELPH

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Features & Controls

Powershot SD20 Specifications

Type of Camera
Compact digital still camera with built-in flash and 6.5x digital zoom.
Image Sensor
1/2.5 inch Charge-Coupled Device (CCD)
Total Pixels
Approx. 5.4 Million
Effective Pixels
Approx. 5.0 Million
Lens Focal Length
6.4mm (35mm film equivalent: 39mm)
Focusing Range
Normal: 3.9 in./10cm to Infinity, Macro: 1.2-3.9 in./3-10cm
Autofocus System
9-point AiAF/1-point AF (Fixed to center), AF-assist Beam (On/Off selectable)
Optical Viewfinder
LCD Monitor
1.5 inch low temperature polycrystalline silicon TFT color LCD
LCD Pixels
Approx. 78,000 pixels
LCD Coverage
Maximum Aperture
Shutter Speed
15-1/1500 sec.
ISO Sensitivity
Auto*; ISO 50/100/200/400 (equivalent ISO) *Camera automatically sets optimum speeds.
Light Metering Method
Evaluative, Center-weighted average or Spot* *Metering frame when spot is center fixed.
Exposure Control Method
Program AE
Exposure Compensation
+/-2.0 stops in 1/3-stop increments
White Balance Control
Auto, Pre-set (Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H), or Custom
Built-in Flash
Auto, Auto with Red-Eye Reduction, Flash on with Red-Eye Reduction, Flash On/Off, Slow-sync
Flash Range
Normal: 1.0-6.6 ft./30cm-2.0m (When ISO is set to AUTO)
Recycling Time
Approx. 10 sec. or less
Flash Exposure Compensation
Not available
Shooting Modes
Auto, Manual, Portrait, Night Snapshot, Indoor, Underwater, Macro, Stitch Assist, Movies
Photo Effects
Off, Vivid, Neutral, Low Sharpening, Sepia, Black & White
Operates with approx. 10 sec. or 2 sec. Delay
Wireless Control
Not Available
Continuous Shooting
Approx. 0.9 shots/sec.
Storage Media
SD Memory Card (32MB supplied)
File Format
Design Rule for Camera File System Exif 2.2 (JPEG)
Print Order Format
Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) Version 1.1
Image Recording Format
Still Image: JPEG (Exif 2.2 compliant)
JPEG Compression Mode
SuperFine, Fine or Normal
Number of Recording Pixels
Large: 2592 x 1944
Medium1: 2048 x 1536
Medium2: 1600 x 1200
Small: 640 x 480

Movie: 640 x 480, 320 x 240 or 160 x 120

Playback Modes File
Single, Index (9 thumbnail images), Enlarged
Erase Modes
Still images: Single Image, All Images
Movie: Part of Movie, All Movie
Computer Interface
USB (mini-B, PTP), Audio/Video Output (NTSC or PAL selectable)
Menu Languages
English, German, French, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, Simplified/Traditional Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Portuguese, Korean, Greek, Polish, Czech, Hungarian and Turkish
Video Out
SD memory card slot. Direct connection to Canon CP Printers and BJ Photo Printers (no computer required), using camera's USB cable.
ID Photo Print, Movie Print
Power Source
Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery (NB-3L)
Shooting Capacity
NB-3L: LCD On - Approx. 120 shots
Playback Time
Approx. 140 min.
Operating Temperature
32-104° F/0-40° C
Operating Humidity
Dimensions (W x H x D)
3.56 x 1.85 x 0.73 in. / 90.3 x 47.0 x 18.5mm
Approx. 3.53 oz./100g (camera body only)
(Specifications as stated by the manufacturer)

Package Contents (U.S./N. America)

  • Powershot SD20 Digital Camera
  • Wrist Strap WS-500
  • Battery Charger CB-2LU
  • Battery Pack NB-3L
  • SD Card SDC-32M
  • AV Cable AVC-DC300
  • USB Interface Cable IFC-400PCU
  • Digital Camera Solution CD-ROM
  • ArcSoft Camera Suite CD-ROM
  • User Guides

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