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on June 22, 2007
For a point and shoot camera, this little gem packs a lot of advanced features. It's definitely not a DSLR but it's sure convenient when you want to conceal it and carry it with you in your pocket.

Pros:
1) Red-eye correction. No more red-eyes! It automatically fixes them.
2) Image stabilization. Will correct your hand movements but will not stop action.
3) Face Detection. Automatically finds and focuses on faces, and sets the proper exposure.
4) LCD Screen. The 2 1/2 LCD screen is very high resolution.
5) Lots of choices concerning picture quality and color.
6) Image and video quality are very good for such a small camera.
7) Optical viewfinder. Many cameras do not have this. It comes in handy when you do not want to use the LCD screen such as in theaters.
8) Auto White Balance is much improved over the older Digic II processors.
9) There is a manual setting where you can treak your photo settings. My preference is "Positive Film," "ISO 100," "+1/3 exposure," "flash on." The photos look fantastic.

Cons:
1) Noisy pictures with ISO settings over 200. (Pretty much what you get with any point and shoot camera.) Auto setting usually selects ISO 200, which is a little noisy. You're better off to go with ISO 80 or 100.
2) Lens is wide enough for most purposes but it's definitely not a "wide angle" lens. There is some barrel distortion on the short end, meaning that straight lines, buidings, walls, etc, appear a little curved.
3) Battery/SD Card Door can slide out and pop open easily.
4) Cannot chose aperature or shutter speeds manually.
5) No battery life meter. The LCD screen only displays a "low battery" warning.

Bottom Line:
This camera is a great little convenient camera, which is able to be concealed easily, and taken about anywhere because it easily slips into a purse or pocket. It's a great camera for taking indoor portraits with flash, as well as outdoor photos. It is not good at stopping action. Pictures of kids and pets running around will often be blurry because of the 1/60 sec. shutter speed. If you are needing to take low-light or action/sports photos, you would be better off purchasing a cheap DSLR. The only reason I don't give this camera 5 stars is because of the noise at higher ISO's.
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on December 4, 2007
Since October I have been researching to find the fastest (for fast moving small kids) low light (for evening indoor pictures) P&S camera. I also know 99.9% of my prints will be 4x6 or 5x7, never bigger. And I want the red-eye reduction to work! I refuse to do touch-ups. Before I review, let me say a THANK YOU, to all who do post their reviews, because I have read them ALL, and a really big THANK YOU to Steves-Digicams and the CNET staff, who test and provide shutter speeds with flash.

I have visited all local stores (BestBuy, CircuitCity, Target, Sears, Frys, Wolf, Office Depot & Max, Staples) multi-times to play with all cameras. Yes, I am retired and have the time. Plus I reviewed all CNET P&S reviews from 1/25/07 to 11/15/07. I documented speeds of low contrast shutter and shot 2 shot with flash. From my research, the final candidates, based on low light speeds, were Fuji F40fd, Canon SD 800, 850, 870(*).
* Interesting the Canon SD870 specs say it should be as fast as the 850, but comparing 850 vs 870 under store lights, at 2 different BB stores, the 850s were noticeable faster. I even had the salesperson swap the batteries, between the two, just to be sure.

I purchased(Nov. 20,2007) the Fuji F45fd and Canon SD850. I borrowed a CanonSD800 and had my Canon A610. Without question the Fuji was the fastest for evening indoors pictures. The Fuji was also the fastest for flash recharge. The Canons 800 & 850 did missed some small kids indoors action shots. All cameras had the same brand 2Gb 150x SD. After a week I printed all the shots, as 4x6s, from the same store, as different orders with different names, to ensure no pictures were mixed.

The Canon SD800 had too many red-eyes. My old A610 was to slow for evening indoor shots. For outdoor daylight shots, all 4 cameras had the same speed results.

Overall the 4x6s quality was the same between the Fuji F45 & Canon SD850. Comparing two very similar pictures, sometimes one would be a slight plus over the other, when you looked close up, then on another picture the other camera would be a slight better, but no real difference.

The Canons do have a better long range zoom, at MAX zoom. If your need is for enlarge crops, the Canon AUTO pictures are taken at lower ISO, then the Fuji, see comparison below. I also tested the Canon SD850 with different ISOs in low light conditions. It was at the manual ISO 1600, that the Canon was as fast as the Fuji AUTO(ISO800), but the Canon(1600) pictures had higher noise.

Here are the ISO results, taken with AUTO mode. I believe this to be very important to understand the results. The listed numbers will first be Fuji F40(F45) then Canon SD850.
AUTO mode:
Evening indoors F@800, C@200
Outdoors 10pm Christmas Lights F@800, C@250
Outdoors bright sun, at min zoom F@100, C@80
Outdoors bright sun, at max zoom F@100, C@160
Outdoors cloudy F@200, C@80

Conclusion:
NO one camera is perfect for all people or all conditions!!!!!
Fuji F40/F45 is for those who want a fast, low light, small simple P&S camera, whose prints will usually be normal size(4x6,5x7). It is the BEST P&S available today, to capture fast moving kids indoors. I also appreciate the battery indicator.

Canon SD850 is a great P&S choice for more outdoors(vs indoors) or indoor adults (vs kids) pictures, or if you usually print pictures bigger then normal size.
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on June 24, 2007
After a few comments I decided to rewrite my review and clarify a few things.

This is my 3rd Canon digital Powershot camera. My first was a S110 (2 mega pixle camera) that I bought in 2002. My second was a S410 (4 mega pixle camera) that my wife gave to me in 2004. (I'll refer to these as S series). In addition I've regularly used several profesional SLRs in the past including the Nikon D1-X.

My new Canon Powershot SD850 is superior to my older two S series cameras in almost everyway. But, like everthing else it's not perfect.

Minus 1 star:
The camera seems to experiance increased barrel distortion (where the picture is sharp in the middle but fuzzy around the edges). This seems most noticable in daylight shots without a flash. For you experts out there; yes, I'm aware that barrel distortion is common on these types of cameras. I feel however that it is more noticable with this camera. You can test the affect for yourself if you shoot straight at a flat, textured surface such as a brick wall, etc. without a flash. Note that you may have to use a tripod to avoid camera shake. View the picture at 100% resolution, compare with other cameras and decide for yourself. My comparison was with my older S410 which had only half the resolution and much less noticable distortion.

Minus 1/2 a star:
The camera tells you the F/stop and shutter in the display, but does not let you change it. And, the camera loves the F2.8 setting (lens cranked wide open), especially in lower lit scenes whether you are using a flash or not, which most likely has something to do with the added distortion.

Minus 1/2 a star: (other things)
The power button that so many people have complained about is a little awqured but not something you can't get used to. The A/V out cover that a few others mentioned is fairly low quality and just seems to sit in place without anything really securing it. Also, it is difficult to take pictures without getting fingerprint smudges all over the LCD screen. My older S410 did not have this problem because the screen was much smaller and way out of the way of my thumb.

One more note:
The cameras rounded body is a mixed blessing. On one hand it looks cool, and fits in a pocket much easier. Unfortunately it is also much more diffiuclt to simply set it on objects when you are using the self timer. My older S series cameras were small boxes with flat bottoms and could be placed on uneven objects such as rocks with ease. Because this camera has a more rounded bottom doing that becomes much more of a balancing act. The longer protruding lens does not help much either. Small price to pay I guess..

Overall it seems like a good camera, but the real test will come next week when I take it on its first trip.
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on July 13, 2007
This is my 5th digital camera and I can honestly say that its by far the best. I also own a SD800IS - but this one has more cool features (like being able to zoom in movie mode!). EXCELLENT in low light -- I was able to take pictures in the Sistine Chapel in Rome on my last vacation without flash in a dark room and the pictures are amazing. Great Camera!
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on July 18, 2007
I've owned several Canon Powershots over the years. Most recently I owned an SD700 IS, which I loved. Unfortunately, it got caught by a wave at the beach so I had to replace it. The SD850 IS does not disappoint. It's essentially the SD700 IS with several added features including an extra 2 MP, support for SDHC cards, a new processor that automatically recognizes faces, time lapse video and some other cool lighting effects.

The image quality is great and I haven't had any problems with the camera so far. I really like the time lapse video feature. It's pretty fun to set it up in the corner of the room for a couple of hours and watch all the action replayed at high speed.

The camera itself is small enough to fit in my pocket and it feels sturdy. The large display is really nice and I've always found the menu system Canon has developed over the years to be easy to use.

I would recommend this camera to anyone.
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on September 13, 2007
This is no doubt a great compact camera. I just want to point out a good alternative. I ordered an SD850 but returned it because I found the Canon A570IS was almost the same as the SD850, but at almost half the price. The only major differences are battery and size. The lithium-ion battery on the SD850 allows many shots on a full charge and discharges very slowly. The A570IS uses two AA batteries and traditionally the quick self discharge rate of NiMH batteries has given casual picture takers a big hassle. But with the new low self discharge NiMH batteries like the Sanyo Eneloop, this is no longer an issue. (I have a 4-year old Kodak digital camera and didn't use it often because of the battery problem but after I bought the eneloop batteries, it started to shine again.) The SD850 and A570IS have similar width and height, but the A570IS is 0.65 inch thicker on the right-hand side because of the battery compartment. But I see this as an advantage because it allows you to have a better hand grip while taking pictures. The difference in the number of pixels (8MP for SD850 vs 7.1 MP for A570IS) is ignorable. I did notice that one reviewer pointed out the A570IS is slower in processing image.
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on December 15, 2007
Buy it ...You'll like it !!!

I've been a Canon Digital Camera user since November,1999 ( for those youngins out there, thats the first year digital cameras were availiable to the general public at a reasonable price )

Prior to that, I have had Canon SLR's since 1977 ( I remember because it was the first real camera I bought with the money I earned in the summer cutting lawns ...a lot of lawns ) The Canon AE-1 cost $300.00 which was a lot of chicken in those days...Still have it ...still works 100%

Anyway I digress.... plain and simple this is probably my 4th Canon point and shoot ( I also have the Rebel SLR which I bought for $999 when introduced a few years back ) My most recent digital Canon was the 430SD...Had that for a good 3 years as it wasn't lost, stolen or broken...and did the job with no complaints...Well let me tell you...I should have upgraded 2 years ago. The pictures on this camera are AWESOME..the videos are video camera quality..and the manual overrides are all you need for the perfect custom controlled picture. I am a camera buff and love my SLR, but this one is as close as I've ever been to an SLR with point and shoot portability.

I had been reading the Amazon reviews for months before buying the 850IS and was worried about some of the negative reviews on quality of hardware and true to sight imaging...but after having used it for a few months I can say there is nothing more I expect from a point and shoot...The reviews from the "techno" guys are very useful , but do not reflect what the "commom" guy needs day to day...I'm a mix of techno + common and will tell you this is the one. I just have to push myself in 2 years to buy the newest Canon availiable, even though I will have been totally content with my 850IS ....just because they keep getting so damn better !
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on February 9, 2008
This is an all around great camera. It works as described by other reviewers. The image stabilizer is great. The only thing that could be improved is the quality of the lens. But for the price of the camera, I recognize it's OK, and probably better that in other similar priced products. I made a detailed comparison of similar products and decided to go for this one. At its price, it's one of the best. I have a Canon DSLR 20D, and bought this one as a pocket companion.

My only advice is not to spend extra money for a second battery. I got an extra battery when I purchased the camera and have never used it. One is more than enough because it lasts very long!
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on August 2, 2007
The small size makes it easy to carry around (fits in jeans pocket). The image screen is quite large, making it easy to take pics and review them. The image stabilizer works well. The facial recognition is a nice plus; its never been easier to take people pictures as it focuses on the person and not something else in the background. The included software is easy to set up and use. The only downside was the included memory card (32MB - only holds a dozen or so pictures). I upgraded that to a 2GB card which holds 900+ pics. Overall, a great camera!
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on October 11, 2007
I love ths camera. It is at my side all the time and I have tken thousands of pictures,
It does things that is shouldn't do, like clarity using a zppm up to 15x hand held and sharp. I also own the Canon 400. 700. 300 but the 850 with the wide sngle view is not to be beat. I have bigger more powerful cameras but the 850 goes with me everythwer and a couple of 4 GB SD cards. I shoot tremendious video and the framing of a wide anegl shot with this camera is a thing of joy
The image stabilisation is always right on as is the face recognition focus. Gush, gush, gush, buy it and then tell me I am right.
YOU CANNOT GO WRONG. I load all my pics in Mac Iphoto and shoot many pictures off my Sony HD 1080P Television at a level of 3.8 zoom and frame shots that look like I was in the wild or in the movie, or on Letterman.
This camera walks the walk. Canon PowerShot SD850 IS 8.0 MP Digital Elph Camera with 4x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom
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