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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Canon PowerShot SD10

Canon Digital Cameras

   


Canon PowerShot SD10 Review

Review Date: Dec 22, 2003

Category: Point-and-Shoot

Canon PowerShot SD10 Digital ELPH - Gold colour
Photoxels Awards
JeansPocket Certified: Easily fits in the front pocket of a pair of jeans

Image Quality

The Canon PowerShot SD10 Digital ELPH is a digital camera targeted to point-and-shoot photographers and its image quality is comparable to other 4 megapixels resolution digital cameras.

For this review, I use the following settings as my preferred settings:

  • Shooting Mode: Auto
  • Metering Mode: Evaluative
  • ISO: Auto
  • Image Size: 2272x1704 (Large)
  • Image Quality: Superfine
  • White Balance: Auto

All the pictures on this and the other pages (including the navigation pictures at the top of each page) have been taken by the PowerShot SD10 for this review. The pictures on this page provide a good sample of what the PowerShot SD10 is capable of and I have provided the 800x600 version. Remember that this version is of slightly lesser quality than the original 2272x1704 version. Please open and download only once to your hard drive -- and save me some precious bandwidth. Thanks!

Clicking on a picture will display the 800x600 version image in a separate window. Leave that separate window up for all the other images will also display in that same separate window.


School Bus: 1/250 sec., F5.6 and ISO Auto (File size: 1.7 MB)There is nothing like a school bus with its bright yellow body, red and orange lights, and black markings and wheels to check out the colour capabilities of the PowerShot SD10. Here, colours are faithfully reproduced. We can also see the dirt and grit, and even the electric wires and tiny pebbles under the bus. Focal Length 6.4mm, Auto, Evaluative, shutter speed 1/250 sec., aperture F5.6 and ISO Auto. [File size: 1.7 MB]

Playground: 1/160 sec., F2.8 and ISO Auto (File size: 2.5 MB)Here is another "colour test" since most playgrounds are the same colour (at least here in Toronto -- perhaps fabricated by the same firm?). The sun is low in the sky, but the colours again come out faithfully. This is also our "tree branches against bright sky test" and the SD10 suffers the usual chromatic aberration (the purplish colours along the branches) as most other digital cameras. Unless you take lots of similar type pictures (subject against bright sky), this is easily corrected in any image editing software and certainly not a problem if you print 4x6 in. or view on a screen monitor. Focal length 6.4 mm, Auto, Evaluative, shutter speed 1/160 sec, aperture F2.8 and ISO Auto. [File size: 2.5 MB]

Santa's Sleigh: 1/160 sec., F2.8 and ISO Auto (File size: 1.8 MB)Here is a view of the skylight above Santa's castle. The Auto White Balance is fooled a bit here with all that natural light streaming in, rendering the castle a slight greenish tint. Exposure itself is right on the mark with Evaluative metering, keeping details in both shadows and highlights. Focal length 6.4mm, Auto, Evaluative, shutter speed 1/160 sec, aperture F2.8, and ISO Auto. [File size: 1.8 MB]

Pebbles In The Snow: 1/800 sec., F5.6 and ISO Auto (File size: 1.8 MB)Though not an interesting composition in itself, this pictue nevertheless demonstrates that the SD10's Auto White Balance and Evaluative metering works quite well outdoors. Because the snow reflects so much light, a camera's meter is easily fooled and tends to underexpose the shot. But, here, the SD10 faithfully reproduces the glaring white of the snow and exposes the pebbles correctly. You can almost taste the snow. Focal length 6.4mm, Auto, Evaluative, shutter speed 1/800 sec, aperture F5.6 and ISO Auto. [File size: 1.8 MB]

Famous Players: 1/60 sec., F2.8 and ISO Auto (File size: 1.8 MB)Driving past in my car, it just seems too dark in the day to take a picture of the Famous Players movie theatre. I make a U-turn and pull into the parking lot to try it anyway. Imagine my pleasant surprise as to how well this shot turns out! The 1.5 in. LCD is approximately 100% coverage, but somehow I miss the tail ends of the two parked cars and include them in the picture, doh! The movie titles are clear enough to read. Focal length 6.4mm, Auto, Evaluative, shutter speed 1/60 sec., aperture F2.8, and ISO Auto, with Flash. [File size: 1.8 MB]

Sunset: 1/100 sec., F2.8 and ISO Auto (File size: 1.8 MB)With sunset shots, you have to be quick or they are gone in an eyeblink. This is right in my neighbourhood as I was about to turn into my street and call it a day. I make a last minute decision and veer toward the park. I like the fact that the PowerShot SD10 has managed to properly expose for the setting sun, bringing out the colours really well. A bonus with the presence of snow on the ground: footsteps and the blades of grass pushing through add to the composition. As far as composition is concerned, I used The Law of Thirds here, giving the sky about 1/3 of the frame. Focal length 6.4 mm, Auto, Evaluative, shutter speed 1/100 sec, aperture F2.8 and ISO Auto. [File size: 1.8 MB]

Premium Gasoline: 1/60 sec., F2.8 and ISO Auto (File size: 1.4 MB)"Premium gasoline at 50 cents a gallon." Look closer and you see this is not just a decorative piece of an age gone by, but it is also a working clock. Check out the sale price! Even though this may be a classic, I'd rather spend the money on the SD10! The PowerShot SD10 handles this indoor shot with flash pretty well, though the dark patch on the left indicates the reach of the flash does not extend past that distance (2m / 6.6 ft). Focal length 6.4mm, Auto, Evaluative, shutter speed 1/60 sec, aperture F2.8 and ISO Auto, with Flash. [File size: 1.4 MB]

Reflections: 1/200 sec., F2.8 and ISO Auto (File size: 1.5 MB)This is not an easy shot since the late sun is shining straight into the glass. I move to the left and use one of the columns to hide the sun. With strong shadows and bright sun, this is a good test of how the PowerShot SD10 handles this kind of two extremes exposure situations. Details are kept in the shadows but the highlights are blown. Faced with this kind of extreme lighting situations, you may want to switch to Manual and dial in a negative exposure compensation (say, -1/3EV) to save details in the highlights. Then regain the details in the shadows in an image editing software. Focal length 6.4mm, Auto, Evaluative, shutter speed 1/200 sec., aperture F2.8 and ISO Auto. [File size: 1.5 MB]

Peppers: 1/60 sec., F2.8 and ISO Auto (File size: 1.7 MB)Bell peppers come in the most beautiful colours: green, red, yellow and orange. The Auto White Balance is spot on here even under fluorescent lighting, as is the SD10's auto exposure using flash. In some ways the simpler the camera, the easier it is to take lots of pictures of everything you see, anytime, anywhere. Focal length 6.4mm, Auto, Evaluative, shutter speed 1/60 sec, aperture F2.8 and ISO Auto. [File size: 1.7 MB]

Engraving: 1/125 sec., F2.8 and ISO Auto (File size: 1.6 MB)This is not quite a close up shot. I simply walk in as close as I can so as to get the engraved numerals to fill the frame. The Richmond Hill Library is celebrating 10 years of existence. I like that the PowerShot SD10 manages to capture even the minute details in the concrete wall. Focal length 6.4mm, Auto, Evaluative, shutter speed 1/125 sec., aperture F2.8, ISO Auto. [File size: 1.6 MB]

Fish: 1/60 sec., F2.8 and ISO Auto (File size: 2.2 MB)Everytime I visit this particular restaurant in Mississauga, I try to take a couple of pictures of the fish swimming in the pond. I have so far not been able to obtain good pictures because either the flash has been too strong or the shutter lag too long. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I take out the SD10 from my pocket and snap away just out of habit. Could have been sharper (probably camera shake), but I just like the effects of the water ripples and streaks of light. Focal length 6.4mm, Auto, Evaluative, shutter speed 1/60 sec, aperture F2.8 and ISO Auto. [File size: 2.2 MB]

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A Personal Word

The Canon PowerShot SD10 Digital ELPH is very easy to use and produces quality 4MP pictures in Auto mode. It is really a "You Press the shutter, the camera does the rest" proposition with properly exposed pictures even in the most difficult lighting situations -- outdoors and indoors (though be prepared to deal with "red eyes" with flash indoors).

In Playback mode, you can select to view detailed information about your captured images, including a histogram. All you really need to know about using the histogram is on Page 41 of the User Guide: by reviewing the histogram you get instant feedback on whether your image is too dark or too bright. If it is too dark, retake the picture again and give it a positive exposure compensation (say, of +1/3EV); if the histogram says the image is too bright, give it a negative exposure compensation (say, of -1/3EV). [More details in our tutorial on Understanding the Histogram.] This is a nice feature to have and may tilt the balance when more advanced photographers are considering which ultra-compact take-anywhere digital camera to purchase.

The Canon PowerShot SD10 looks extremely good not only on the outside, but it also performs to expected Canon quality. As a point-and-shoot camera, pictures come out consistently good. Advanced amateur photographers looking for an ultra-compact digital camera will appreciate the limited Manual mode as well as the high image quality it provides.

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