Camera preview: Canon PowerShot SD780 IS

I had the chance to look at the Canon PowerShot SD780 IS Digital Elph camera recently, and was impressed by the beauty of its design, its diminutive size, and its features. This camera is truly small. Being used to holding DSLRs, holding this camera in my hand was an unusual experience for me. It’s so small, I thought I might drop it or break its buttons when I pressed them. But that’s just an initial illusion. It works fine, it’s sturdy, and its matte, non-slip finish means you won’t easily drop, unless you’re Mr. Butterfingers.

I’ve always liked Canon’s Elph line. I owned their 1st gen Elph camera, which recorded images to APS film, and I still have it, though I don’t use it any more. What I like about this camera is how the Elph legacy, combined with modern technology and design cues, all comes together to create a truly wonderful little camera. This camera is a stunner. The logo, the lettering, the buttons, the lens and all of its other building blocks form a beautiful whole where everything falls into place.

And how could I not be impressed by its features as well?

  • 12.1 Megapixel Resolution
  • 3x Optical Zoom Lens
  • Optical Image Stabilizer Technology
  • DIGIC 4 Processor with iSAPS scene-recognition technology
  • Face Detection Technology
  • Face Self-Timer
  • Advanced Red-eye Correction
  • Intelligent Contrast Correction
  • High ISO Sensitivity (up to 3200 ISO)
  • HD Video Recording (1280 x 720 @ 30 fps) with HD output through mini-HDMI connector
  • 20 Shooting Modes and My Colors Photo Effects
  • Smart Auto Mode
  • High-Resolution 2.5″ PureColor II LCD

The only things that bothered me somewhat were the 3x Zoom and the maximum f/3.3 aperture. While the 3x zoom has been standard on the Elph cameras from the start, I’d like to see a 5x zoom already. It would be a helpful feature for many situations. The aperture could also be f/2.8 or who knows, maybe even f/2.2 or f/2.0. I realize the physics of it might get tricky given the camera’s diminutive size, but I’d like to challenge the Canon engineers to do it. It would help greatly in low light conditions, and would add extra bokeh to portraits and macro photographs.

I’d have loved to test out the camera’s HD video feature, as I’ve been looking for a small HD camera, but I didn’t get the chance. At any rate, I was very impressed to see a camera of that size offer HD video. That in itself is an achievement, given that it’s already got a ton of other circuitry crammed in that very limited space. Ideally, one hopes the quality of the HD video is good, without banding or compression artifacts, like that of the HD video from other digital cameras. If anyone’s used this feature on the SD780, please do let me know how good it is.

The SD780 IS comes with all the accessories you see above. You can get a good idea of how small this camera really is by having a look at the charger for its battery, which is a good deal longer and thicker than the camera itself.

The Canon PowerShot SD780 IS is available for purchase from B&H Photo and Amazon. (Amazon is currently selling it for $199, which is a pretty good deal.)

Photos used courtesy of Canon.


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