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Camera Reviews > Canon PowerShot SD30
Canon PowerShot SD30 Review
Date: Feb 13, 2006
The Canon PowerShot SD30 Digital ELPH
is a digital camera targeted to point-and-shoot
photographers. It has 5.0 megapixel resolution
on a 1/2.5 in. CCD image sensor.
We find the overall image quality of the Canon
PowerShot SD30 to be good to very good, with highlights
tending to be blown, and excellent flash portraits.
In the above pictures, we show the coverage for
38mm and then 90mm (35mm equivalent).
The Canon SD30 lens allows you to focus as close
as 10cm (3.9 in.) at max. telephoto. If you have
AiAF on, the camera will select one of nine AF
frames. If you find that the Canon SD30 is selecting
to focus on a different part of your macro subject
than what you intended, we suggest that you turn
AiAF off and use the center AF frame to ensure
focus locks in the center of the frame. AF locks
precisely and fast, even in low-light (using the
AF-assist Illuminator). I used flash here: notice
the even illumination even at this close distance.
|Auto White Balance
||WB = Custom
As the above pictures show, the auto white balance
gives warm colours indoors under artificial light
[I have those special white light fluorescent].
Best results are obtained with Custom WB; being
able to set White Balance manually guarantees
true colour reproduction under artificial light.
You won't find this feature in most entry-level
models. Outdoors, under natural light, the AWB
works very well.
crops above (area delimited by the white square)
demonstrate the noise at the available ISO Speeds
of 50, 100, 200 and 400. At ISO 50, noise is very
low. At ISO 100, noise is visible but still usable.
At ISO 200 noise is quite visible and is noticeably
present as splotches of colours at ISO 400.
Note that as the Canon
SD30 Photo Gallery shows, noise is not apparent
when images are displayed for the Web at 800x600
pixels and should also print well at 4x6 in.
There is little to no CA in everyday shots. In
the high contrast shot above, there is no CA at
all (the corner delimited by the red square at
top right is reproduced at 100% crop at bottom
|6.3mm, Manual, Evaluative,
10 sec., F3.2, ISO 50
Custom WB, Macro ON, Self-Timer (10 sec.),
Tripod Used, 100% Crop
The Canon SD30 allows the use of a long shutter
speed of up to 15 sec. but only in Long Shutter
Mode (set in MENU and available only in Manual
and other select shooting modes). This allows
you to take some very nice night shots. Generally,
with CCD image sensors, noise usually becomes
more prominent at slow shutter speeds. The Canon
SD30 has special noise reduction (NR) algorithms
that automatically kicks in at shutter speeds
slower than 1.3 sec. and you'll notice a slightly
longer processing time before the next picture
can be taken (approx. twice the shutter time).
To test this noise reduction algorithm, we take
a low-light indoors shot using a long shutter
speed of 10 sec. [There is no exposure indicator
to help you achieve correct exposure, so we use
trial and error.] The NR works quite well. The
AF also works very well in low-light, and the
AF-assist Illuminator makes for precise and fast
You'll also notice that we have taken this shot
further out than we usually do. This is because
Long Shutter Mode is not available in macro mode,
so we use Manual Mode (really, Programmed Auto)
instead and back off to the requisite 30 cm (1
with Flash, Normal Mode
with Flash, Color Accent Mode
|The photo effects can sometimes
but by careful selection, you can have some
Here I used "Color Accent" and selected
the red of the pen to be the one
colour I wanted to keep. All the other colours
are turned to B&W.
Pretty neat, eh? All done in camera.
The Canon SD30 also allows you to select a number
of photo effects in camera: besides the customary
Vivid, Sharpening, Sepia and B&W effects,
a My Colors mode allows you to subtly influence
the image toward making skin tones look lighter
or darker; emphasize the blue, green and red found
in nature; accent one colour and turn the rest
of the image to B&W; transform one colour
to another; and to freely adjust the color balance
between red, green, blue and skin tones. The Canon
SD30 may be a P&S digital camera, but there
are enough practical image adjustment options
there to satisfy many advanced photographers and
make your friends wonder how you did it -- without
even coming close to an image editing software!
The last feature we will mention is the histogram.
The histogram is in Playback Mode only. You can
see the histogram by pressing the DISPLAY button
(on the Remote Controller) until the histogram
displays -- or pressing the MENU button on the
camera, select the SETUP tab, and select Replay
Info = Detailed. The histogram is invaluable to
give an indication of under- and over-exposure
(don't rely on the LCD/EVF since the brightness
is adjustable and may be misleading).
Overall, good to very good image quality for
a 5.0MP digital camera: sharp pictures, great
image detail, vibrant colours, well-exposed --
though highlights tend to be blown -- and very
good portrait flash images.
The pictures in the Canon
SD30 Photo Gallery page provide a good
sample of what the Canon SD30 is capable of. I
have provided samples at 800x600 pixels (compressed
to Quality 60/100 in Photoshop Elements). Remember
that this version is of slightly lesser quality
than the original 2592×1944 version.
You can safely assume that most macro shots
and slow shutter speed shots required the use
of a tripod. Any image that is adjusted for levels
in Photoshop has "_adjusted" appended
to the file name.
I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels.
For those who have their monitor resolution set
to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit
and you should not have to scroll to see the whole
image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels
resolution, start the slide show and then scroll
to the right to position the image within your
screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using
Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode,
and the image should fill your screen nicely.
Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor
display back to normal mode.
To return to this page from the Photo Gallery,
click on the animated graphics of the camera.
Please open and download the original size version
only if you need to and only once
to your hard drive -- and save me some precious