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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


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.

2.4x Optical Zoom Range
Wide-angle 38mm Tele 90mm
Wide-angle 6.3mm [38mm] Tele 14.9mm [90mm]

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
AWB Custom (Manual) WB
AWB 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.

ISO Comparisons
ISO 50
ISO 50
ISO 100 ISO 200
ISO 100 ISO 200
ISO 400  
ISO 400  

The 100% 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.

Chromatic Aberrations
CA (Purple Fringing)

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 right).

Long Shutter Speed
Long Shutter Speed
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 focus lock.

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 ft).

My Colors Mode
Macro with Flash, Normal Mode Macro with Flash, Color Accent Mode
Macro with Flash, Normal Mode Macro with Flash, Color Accent Mode
The photo effects can sometimes be hit-and-miss,
but by careful selection, you can have some "Wow" effects.
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 bandwidth. Thanks!


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