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Camera Reviews > Canon PowerShot SD550
Canon PowerShot SD550 Review
Date: Mar 27, 2006
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Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 - Here's what I receive
in the box:
- PowerShot SD550 (Silver)
- 32MB Secure Digital (SD) Card
- Li-ion Rechargeable Battery & Battery
- Wrist Strap
- Interface Cables: A/V; USB
- Documentation (English and French): User Guide
Basic, User Guide Advanced, System Map, Direct
Print User Guide, Software Starter Guide
- Software CDs: Digital Camera Solution 25.0
The Canon PowerShot SD550 is targeted
to point-and-shoot photographers desiring an ultra
compact take-anywhere digital camera that gives
great results. Build quality is excellent and
it is simply a beautiful camera.
One advantage of getting a digital camera so
late in its life cycle to review is that I get
a good feeling for its durability . It's one thing
to say that a camera seems to be tough,
but quite another to know that it is tough.
A quick wipe with a soft cloth to remove fingerprints,
some lens cleaning liquid on the lens and LCD,
and the Canon SD550 looks as good as new. Well,
there are a couple of faint scratch marks but
these, to me, add to the charm of the camera (it
says, "this camera has been places and seen
lots of photos, and it's still ticking").
More importantly, every controls work precisely,
the AF is tack accurate, metering correct, and
pictures come out looking great.
The Canon SD550 has a "Manual" or M
mode. This M mode is essentially labelled on other
Canon digital cameras as the "Programmed
Auto" or P mode. Well, granted, there are
Long Shutter speeds that are manually selected,
but that is a far cry from calling this whole
mode "Manual." Real manual mode is when
the camera allows the photographer to select both
the shutter speed and aperture, besides eveything
else for that matter. The M mode on the Canon
SD550 simply does not. On the whole, it just serves
to confuse and probably even intimidate the intended
audience of Point-and-Shoot users -- and simply
irk more advanced photographers. A marketing misstep
that Canon will surely correct in future versions
of the Digital ELPH.
By default, Long Shutter Speed is turned OFF.
Using a long shutter speed would invariably result
in blurred shots if the camera were handheld.
But since this option can only be set manually
in M mode [FUNC. - Exposure Compensation - MENU
- Long Shutter Speed], it's not likely there is
much of a danger that long shutter speeds are
inadvertently used. This option should really
be defaulted to always be ON and the option completely
removed from the MENU.
For Canada, Canon has provided both the English
and French printed versions of the Basic and Advanced
Camera User Guides. They are both well illustrated
and written, and the print font is easy to read.
Even though the Canon SD550 is ultra compact,
the controls are placed logically and there's
never any confusion where to access a feature.
New users should take some time to familiarize
themselves with the FUNC. button and screens which
basically give quick access to all the exposure
settings (if, that is, you use the "Manual"
mode). The only disappointment I have is the placement
of Playback on the Mode Dial, requiring that you
rotate the Mode Dial away from your current Shooting
Mode to review your pictures. I'd rather see Playback
have its own dedicated button, perhaps replacing
The Mode Dial is vertically placed instead of
the more traditional horizontal placement. Each
mode snaps securely in place and won't change
on you during a shooting session. However, if
you are carrying the Canon SD550 around in your
Jeans pocket, like I did, you may inadvertently
move the Mode Dial from, say, the M mode to the
SCN mode. Which I did, and that is why a couple
of the image samples have been taken in Portrait
scene mode. The selected Scene Mode displays on
the LCD monitor, so it is wholly my error for
not paying more attention to what's displayed
In the field, the Canon SD550 performed very
well. There was no fumbling with the controls,
no frustration trying to set the functions you
want, and the camera was point-and-shoot simplicity.
Even though most of the functions are accessed
thru the FUNC. menu, I found it well implemented
You can use digital zoom during movie recording.
Sound is recorded. The zoom definitely needs improvement.
There is just not enough intermediate steps; I
counted 6 steps, so it's challenging to stop exactly
where you want to.
To those who like to date imprint their photos
(by that, I mean have the date physically appear
as an integral part of the picture), you can do
that but only in Postcard image size (1600x1200
pixels). The rest of us are well content that
the date and time are always saved as part of
each picture's EXIF info.
The Canon SD550 also has the cool My Colors image
effect that I demonstrated in the Canon
SD30 review, so will not repeat it here.
Transferring images to your PC is simply a matter
of connecting the USB cable and either using the
Canon ZoomBrowser EX to index the images or simply
drag-n-drop in Windows Explorer.
The ZoomBrowser EX software (version 5.5) is
very user-friendly and complete. Each image's
filename is clearly visible and you do not need
to launch another window to view the EXIF info.
You can do basic image editing, re: Red Eye Correction,
Auto Adjustment, Color/Brightness Adjustment,
Sharpness. In the above image, we selected the
Preview Mode. Another included software is PhotoStitch
which allows you to easily stitch images taken
as a Panoramic shot.
The Canon PowerShot SD550 produces very
good to excellent image quality -- and that is
the main criteria that users would (should) be
mostly concerned with. Add in fast operations
with no practical shutter lag, fast and precise
AF that works in low-light, accurate exposure
metering, and one of the most elegant and beautifully
designed body on a digital camera -- and you can't
go wrong if you are looking for a take-anywhere
ultra compact digital camera. Why not check it
or at your favourite camera retail store?