Most helpful positive review
1,663 of 1,695 people found the following review helpful
great little cam, some improvements from earlier powershots, some quirks
on April 22, 2009
The SD1200 has some big changes over its predecessor SD1100, and is the smallest, best designed Elph I've used thus far.
I've owned many models of Elph, this is my 6th or 7th, so my review is aimed especially at other serial Canon owners. I mostly compare the SD1200 to the SD1100.
* The big changes: Digic4 and a larger CCD sensor. The slight increase in CCD size (1/2.3" vs 1/2.5") should make for "cleaner" photos. And Digic4 promises faster/cleaner shots also.
* You get 10MP vs 8MP on the SD1100, and "medium" (M1) size is now 6MP. JPG quality is down to 2 setting: Fine or Normal.
* SD1200 is only slightly smaller than the SD1100, but feels notably smaller by virtue of curved edges and the LCD being flush with the body (no bump-out).
* The 1200 now feels as small as this design can shrink. Good news: my average-sized male hands can still comfortably hold it, barely not covering lens, flash, or resting on the LCD. But the round power-button is now almost too small to press if you had big fingers and no fingernails.
* 1200's new battery is a higher capacity 1000mAh (vs ~760mAh for SD1100). There's also a new charger (not compatible with the old batteries), a glossy white-colored model to blend into your wall.
* The buttons and menus are streamlined. There's now a button for review mode, pressing it a 2nd time takes you back to the previous state. Handy. The slider has dedicated AUTO and Manual settings, no longer need to use menus for that switch.
* Continuous mode and ISO now are in the Function Menu (on the SD1100, they had dedicated buttons).
* A SD card is no longer included. This makes sense to me, a 32MB card is barely useful, and with the downward pressure on electronics prices, I can't imagine Canon wanting to bundle a more expensive/bigger card. Some people will find this lack annoying.
* The A/V output is gone, and the USB connector now serves both purposes (both kinds of included cables now have a USB-end)
* A new version of Canon software is required for this model, Zoombrowser 6.3. Canon typically requires a new release for each new family/season of cameras. Unfortunately, the CameraWindow software has been intentionally dumbed-down in the 6.x software and no longer offers the options to delete your photos (have to go through the OS), nor to chose custom naming for the downloads. I say intentionally, since I asked Canon customer-support about it and they stated the changes were not bugs. The last Canon software to still have that functionality was 5.x, corresponding to the SD1000 and other cameras released that season.
* In casual indoor tests, the 1200 seemed more ready to go to ISO400 (often too "noisy" to be useful) when the SD1100 would have chosen ISO200.
* The SD1200 and SD1100 have identical specs on their optics. However, I noticed a more pronounced barrel-distortion on the 1200 at extreme wide-angle. (still only noticable in close-up shots of straight-edged items at wide-angle)
* In a casual speed test, the SD1200 took/stored photos notably faster the SD1100 (same scene, continuous-mode, same brand SD card), despite the 1200's image size being larger.
* Canon's paper manuals have been shrinking steadily. With this model, the only manual included is a quick-start guide, the rest is on CD-ROM.
* The packaging is even more efficient than before, about half the size of the SD1100's box.
* Sadly, there is no HD video mode, although all of the other Elphs released this spring had HD. SD1200 owners are stuck with 640x480 video.
Canon has several sub-series within the compact Elph line, varying mostly by asthetics and optics. The SD1200 is successor to the series that included the SD1100, SD1000, and SD600. These all favor a classic, slim design. If you're unfamiliar with Canon's Powershot cameras, there's lots of good material out there on camera sites such as dpreview.
In general, the small sensors and optics in all ultra-compact digital cameras lead to some optical quirks (such as barrelling), chromatic aberrations, over/under-exposure in bright sunlight/shade, and underpowered flashes. That's intrinsic to the size of camera, and vendors try to correct these effects in their on-board processing. My opinion is that Canon does a good job of correcting for these issues and the Elphs including the SD1200 take very good photos for their size.
It's questionable that a SD1100 owner would specifically find this a compelling upgrade other than the Digic4, but this is an excellent compact camera in all ways. Apart from the noteworthy quirks: the lack of HD and the limited features in the download software, this camera is Highly Recommended.