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Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS Digital Camera

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS Compact Camera

Like its Digital Elph predecessors, Canon's new PowerShot SD1100 IS looks and feels great. Its price tag of about $249 puts squarely in the realm of midrange point-and-shoots, but its robust features--including Canon's fast DIGIC III processor, a maximum aperture of f2.8, and outstanding image quality--allow it to compete with cameras that cost significantly more.

Although the SD1100 features a number of improvements on the older SD1000, the new model has a few minor drawbacks. First, Canon shaved 3mm off the wide-angle end of the 3X optical zoom, giving it a 38-114mm focal length--which means ciao, wide-angle shots. The SD1100 also shoots a hair slower than its predecessor (though faster than its lower-priced competitors), with a burst capability of 1.3 frames per second. Finally, Canon softened up the Elph's formerly square edges, which I find detracts from its sleek design and, surprisingly, its comfort in the hand.

Still, the SD1100 is an outstanding little camera. Not only does its streamlined chassis make for one of the most striking and seemingly durable point-and-shoots around, the model is perfect for the pocket and downright fun to use. The SD1100's buttons are logically placed, and its menu items--except for some of the more esoteric settings--are easy to find. Video is standard, and movie lengths are limited only by your memory card's size.

Although the SD1100 lacks true manual functionality--it has no aperture or shutter priority, per se--its shooting modes and "manual" settings are stellar. It offers nine scene modes, including an excellent Macro mode, a Kids & Pets mode, and a new Sunset mode (infinitely more practical than the Aquarium and Fireworks modes). Both the Night Snapshot mode and the Slow Syncro flash setting produced well-lit night shots (in the bar and on the street). For more control, the Long Shutter setting slows shutter speed to as much as 15 seconds. 

As for white balance, I rarely had to rely on anything but the SD1100's Automatic setting, although the camera has six white-balance modes, plus a custom mode. However, I found Canon's new 'Face Detection Technology' and 'Face Selection & Motion Selection' modes cumbersome and ineffective, and relied instead on the handy Focus and AF (autofocus) Locks and its excellent spot metering mode. (Call me old school.)

In our lab tests, the SD1100 scored higher on overall image quality than nearly all of its competitors. On the sharpness scale, only a handful of the cameras we tested beat the SD1100 (including Kodak's EasyShare V1253, Fuji's FinePix F50fd, and Casio's EX-Z1080), but they all cost more. To combat camera shake in low-light situations, Canon added its Optical Image Stabilizer feature, but I found its presence pretty unnoticeable--as it likely would be on most point-and-shoots.

Despite a few minor issues, the SD1100 IS is a joy to use, and it produces superb photos for its class. If you can get by without a truly wide-angle lens, you'll be more than happy with the SD1100 IS. And, man, does it look cool.

Visit our Digital Cameras Info Center for our comparison charts, news and reviews of the latest models, and shooting and shopping tips.

--Danny Palmerlee

This story, "Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS Digital Camera" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • Sleek design, superb image capability and intuitive controls make the SD1100 IS a solid buy.

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