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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Canon PowerShot SD30

Canon Digital Cameras


Canon PowerShot SD30 Review

Review Date: Feb 13, 2006

Category: Point-and-Shoot

Canon PowerShot SD30


Clown: 1/60 sec., F4.0 and ISO 50
9.1mm, Manual, Evaluative, 1/60 sec., F4.0 and ISO 50
Flash On

The Canon PowerShot SD30 Digital ELPH is ultra compact and fashionable. It's built solid, looks elegant and the different textures give this camera a nice tactile feel. It can easily be carried in a jeans pocket and small fashion handbag. Startup and shot to shot time is fast at just above 1 sec., and there is no practical shutter lag. Autofocus is fast and precise.

- Colours: available in 4 colours (Rockstar Red, Tuxedo Black, Glamour Gold, and Vivacious Violet) with silver / chrome accents
- Looks: elegant and fashionable
- Comfortable to hold and operate in spite of small size
- Controls & FUNC. menu are intuitive to use
- Ultra Compact: fits in a jeans pocket
- Dimensions: 96.1× 45.1×23.9 mm (3.78×1.78×0.94 in.) (excluding protrusions)
- Weight: Approx. 105 g (3.70 oz.) (camera body only)
- Takes 1 rechargeable Li-Ion Battery (included); comes with a Camera Station.
- Startup with lens extending about 1.5 cm (0.6 in.) and LCD turning on in about 1 sec.
- Shot to shot time in about 1.2 sec.
- No practical shutter lag

Camera Station and Remote Controller

Included in the box are a Lithium Battery Pack NB-4L, a Compact Power Adapter CA-DC20, and a Camera Station CS-DC1. The USB, A/V and DC-IN connections are not found on the camera but on the Camera Station. To perform any transfer or to view your images directly on TV, you must first place the camera on the Camera Station; at that time, the battery inside the camera automatically recharges.

Turn on the camera while it is sitting on the Camera Station, and your images are automatically transferred to your PC (if that's how you've set it in ZoomBrowser). When transfer is finished, just unplug the USB cable (no need to "eject" first).

Included in the box is a remote controller with a lithium battery. With the camera on the Camera Station (and presumably connected to the TV), you can basically do all the same Playback functions using the remote controller: call up the menu, erase all, or erase single image, print, zoom in, etc. [Sliding the battery compartment open on the Remote Controller is a bit tricky. Here's how to do it: grab the top edge and bottom edge of the battery compartment tight with thumb and third finger (of right hand); using the nail of the index finger (of same right hand), move the notch toward you and simultaneously pull out. Good luck! P.S. We're not responsible for any damaged finger nail.]

Battery Life

A rechargeable Li-Ion battery is standard and has a CIPA shooting capacity of approx. 160 shots using a fully charged battery. Playback time is approx. 240 min. We recommend a second spare battery if you plan longer shooting sessions.


Almost all the functions are accessible through the Canon standard FUNC. button. On top of the camera are the Power button, Shutter Release button, and built-in loudspeaker. On the front of the camera are the Flash, AF-assist Illuminator (does double duty as the selftimer light) and microphone.

The AF-assist Illuminator is very effective and I've found auto focusing to be quite fast and precise in low-light situations (even though you might not quite see what you're taking).

The flash has only a max. 6.6 ft reach but works very well at close portrait range, giving well exposed images. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the flash pictures. [Beware of shining the AF assist light directly into your subject's eyes.] An optional High Power Flash HF-DC1 can be used to supplement the camera's built-in flash when the subject is too far away for proper illumination; the shooting range is then extended approximately twice as far as with only the built-in flash.

Macro is as close as 10cm (3.9 in.) at the full telephoto focal length, covers quite a small area, and is tack sharp. The flash works very well at this close range. [I believe there is a mistake on the BeBit site where it lists macro at wide-angle at 1 in.: it's more like 1 ft at the wide-angle focal length.]

All other controls are on the back. The Mode Switch has only 3 settings: Playback, Movie and Shooting. I find the Mode Switch with its smooth raised notch a bit difficult to slide.

You can record movies with monaural sound (until the memory card is full, but the max. size is 1GB per movie clip) at either 640 x 480 pixels 10fps (you'll be able to record about 736 sec on a high-speed 512MB SD card) or 320x240 20fps (record about 1,041 sec on a high-speed 512MB SD card). You cannot use the optical zoom, but can use digital zoom, during movie recording.

A 16MB MMC (MultiMediaCard) comes with the camera. You can select to save images as Superfine (S), Fine (F) or Normal (N) Image Quality, and Large (L), M1, M2 and Small (S) Image Size. In addition, a Postcard size is also provided.

SD Memory Card Storage Capacity (approx. # images)
Quality Pixels 16MB MMC 1GB SD
S-L 2592x1944 5 391
S-M1 2048x1536 9 607
S-M2 1600x1200 14 967
S-S 640x480 56 3644
F-L 2592x1944 10 695
F-M1 2048x1536 16 1086
F-M2 1600x1200 26 1720
F-S 640x480 88 5633
N-L 2592x1944 21 1376
N-M1 2048x1536 33 2136
N-M2 1600x1200 50 3261
N-S 640x480 138 8852
Postcard 1600x1200 26 1720

As the above table shows, at S-L, only 5 images can be saved on the supplied 16MB MMC card. We recomend that you purchase either a 512MB or 1GB SD card, depending on the number of images you normally shoot in one session.

Canon SD30 Top View
Canon SD30 Back View

FUNCTIONS ACCESSIBLE BY CONTROL BUTTONS (clockwise starting from the Mode Switch)
- Mode Switch: Playback, Movie, Shooting
- Print/Share button (with direct print to any PictBridge-enabled printer)
- 4 Way Arrow: Tele, Flash, Wide, Self-timer (incl. Sequence)
- The camera records successive images as long as the shutter release button is depressed. Recording ceases when the shutter button is released or the memory card is full.
- Approx. 1.3 fps
- The drive mode resets to Single when the camera is turned off and on again.
- Once set, the Exposure Compensation Indicator conveniently stays displayed on screen until it is reset to "0"
- Range: -2 EV to +2 EV (13 steps in 1/3 EV increments)
- The screen brightness will increase or decrease to reflect the value you use
- Note: the exposure compensation value selected is retained even when mode is changed or camera is turned off (so remember to reset to "0" after using it or the next time you turn the camera on, your shots may be over- or under-exposed.)
- The Histogram displays only in Playback mode.

LCD & Menus

There is no optical viewfinder, and the slim elongated design means that you can only fit a 1.8-in. LCD monitor with 118,000 pixels resolution. The LCD has a fast enough refresh rate for a smooth display. The LCD monitor's brightness can be adjusted in MENU, and the display is bright and clear. The LCD does not gain up in low-light.

The MENU button gives access to the Menu, Setup and My Theme settings, and a FUNC. button gives access to all shooting settings.


- AiAF: On, Off
- Self-timer: 10 sec., 2 sec. Custom (0-10, 15, 20, 30 sec., 1-10 shots)
- AF-assist Beam: On, Off
- Digital Zoom: On, Off
- Review: Off, Hold, 2s-10s.
- Grid Lines: On, Off
- Date Stamp: Off, Date, DateTime (only in Postcard Date Imprint Mode)
- Long Shutter: On, Off
- Vert. Shutter: On, Off (allows the FUNC./SET button to release the shutter when the camera is held vertically)
- Stitch Assist

SETUP 1 of 3

- Mute: On, Off
- Volume: Startup, Operation, Selftimer, Shutter, Playback
- Info Display: Shooting, Review, Replay
- LCD Brightness
- Power Saving: Auto Power Down (On, Off), Display Off (10 sec., 20 sec., 30 sec., 1 min., 2 min., 3 min.)
- Time Zone

SETUP 2 of 3

- Date/Time
- Clock Display
- Format
- File Numbering: Continuous, Auto Reset
- Create Folder
- Auto Rotate: On, Off

SETUP 3 of 3

- Language
- Video System: NTSC, PAL
- Reset All


- Histogram is displayed only in Playback mode

Even though this camera is ultra compact, the elongated design affords extra space for the thumb at the back of the camera. Handling is more or less secure, with the raised "Canon" letterings providing an unorthodox non-slip grip. This is a beautiful digital camera with a quality finish and construction, and it should fit in any occasion.

The Canon PowerShot SD30 Digital ELPH is like every other Canon digital camera I've used: easy to operate and intuitive to use. Even though you need to access shooting functions on the FUNC. screen, I've found this to be well implemented. Operations are fast with an AF that works very well even in low-light. Flash pictures come out flattering. You can display a framing guide to help with horizontal and vertical compositions. An optional All Weather Case AW-DC40 allows underwater shots at depths of down to 3 meters (9.8 ft.) -- and can also be used to take worry-free pictures in the rain, at the beach, or on the ski slopes.

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