Canon PowerShot SD100 Digital Elph
At a Glance
With small, stainless-steel bodies and beautifully finished construction, Canon's Digital Elphs are often described as elegant cameras--attractive to digital photographers with sophisticated tastes. The SD100 fits that description nicely, but with a more modest price than its predecessors'--just $300. This is a camera that's a pleasure to hold, use, and look at. Less than an inch thick and just 3.4 inches long, it's a bit smaller than previous models and it slips easily into your pocket, which means you're more likely to have it with you when unexpected photo opportunities crop up.
It's probably not the best camera for novice photographers, or those who want extensive creative control over their shots. The Canon has few of the scene modes so common in most point-and-shoots today--no manual exposure controls here, either. But it does come with the usual basics such as spot metering and exposure value, plus higher-end offerings like white-balance calibration and a panorama assist. And its combination of short-cut buttons and Function menu controls makes changing settings relatively quick. We especially liked the focus indicator: a small blue-framed box that tells you where, within your shot, the camera is focused.
Our two complaints with the SD100 are its zoom range--2X optical is just not enough--and the fact that it does not show you what exposure values it will use when you are taking a photo.
In our image quality tests, the only 3.2-megapixel camera to outscore the SD100 was Nikon's Coolpix 3100--which didn't outdo it by much. Canon's camera scored well in exposure and color accuracy, and overall image quality. On the other hand, it received relatively low scores for image sharpness; well below those of the Nikon.
This camera includes a couple of new features for Canon: It's the first Canon to use SD card media, commonly found now in many point-and-shoot cameras, PDAs, and MP3 audio players; and it supports the new PictBridge standard, which reportedly will allow one brand of cameras to connect directly to printers of another brand.
Rugged and compact, this would make a very nice second camera, for those times when you'd rather carry a small, light snapshot model.