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Customer Review

1,365 of 1,384 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid ultracompact camera, March 8, 2008
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This review is from: Canon PowerShot SD1100IS 8MP Digital Camera with 3x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom (Brown) (Electronics)
If you need a solid, reliable, and stylish point-and-shoot ultracompact digital camera that produces high-quality images, then the new Canon PowerShot SD1100IS may be right for you.

I am an advanced amateur photographer and own 2 Canon digital cameras (G2 and 20D). Both have served me well over the years but recently I have found myself needing a decent ultracompact camera that I can easily carry with me at all times for unexpected photo-ops.

Other current Canon models that I also researched before my purchase of the "bohemian brown" SD1100IS included the SD950IS and the SD1000.

Here is my take on the SD1100IS:

- 8MP CCD sensor with DigicIII processor (excellent resolution images with good dynamic range)
- Solid construction (most of body made of anodized aluminum)
- Feels sturdy and well-balanced in the hands
- Easy to use (logical user-interface) with minimal need to consult owner's manual for basic operation
- Multiple shooting modes to fit variety of situations (action/sports mode is a glaring omission but read section below to see possibly why)
- Advanced metering system with accurately exposed pics in even "tricky" situations (great balance of highlights and shadows)
- Tack-sharp images (much more so with sufficient lighting and use of built-in flash)
- Macro mode can result in stunning close-ups with outstanding level of detail
- Optical IS feature helpful when shooting in either low-light conditions with flash off or at telephoto lengths
- Fast start-up with acceptable shutter-lag (when not using flash)
- Bright 2.5" LCD monitor (100% coverage, 230k pixels) made of polycrystalline silicon; fairly scratch-resistant (can't vouch if this applies to keys and coins)
- Optical viewfinder (though only a tiny peephole, it is essential when LCD glare and washout become an issue shooting in bright sunlight or when LCD cannot be used as battery power is nearly depleted)
- Camera made in Japan (at least those from the 1st shipment; this easily may be subject to change)

- Lack of manual control over aperture, shutter speed, and focusing (for the obssessive control-freaks)
- Noise is noticeable beginning at ISO 400 (ISO 800 still useable but probably for only 4x6 images; ISO 1600 mostly unuseable)
- Fastest shutter speed is 1/1500 sec (not fast enough to stop action for some sporting activities)
- Auto-focus speed inadequate to follow fast-moving subjects
- Shutter-lag accentuated with flash on (precious Canon moments lost while waiting for flash to recharge)
- Cannot adjust focus or optical zoom while shooting in movie mode (focus is fixed for distance selected at first frame, and digital zoom is permitted instead, resulting in significant image quality deterioration)
- Battery/memory card cover and hinge made of plastic (no safety latch that needs to be de-activated first before sliding cover out, in order to prevent accidental opening)
- Minor vignetting and chromatic aberration (albeit, difficult not to expect from compact p&s)
- Pincushion and barrel distortion at the extremes of the focal lengths
- No RAW shooting mode

Battery power in camera mode with LCD monitor on is mostly as advertised, allowing for approximately 240 images. If your budget permits, I recommend investing in a few spare batteries as backups and replacing the supplied 32MB memory card with a pair of 4GB SDHC memory cards--vital purchases if you plan to use the movie mode frequently.

Overall Impression:
Even with some serious limitations inherent to virtually all digital cameras in this class, I am recommending the Canon PowerShot SD1100IS. It does what it's supposed to do. This camera allows one to take beautiful photographs in an ultracompact, reliable, and elegant device that is both easy and fun to use.

[UPDATE: Since this review, Canon has recently announced 3 new ELPH models that will be released time for Grad & Dad's Day: the PowerShot SD770IS, SD790IS, and SD890IS. All are redesigned 10MP digital cameras with Optical Image Stabilizer. The saga of the MP race continues. If the same sensor is found in these units as their predecessors and without improving the noise reduction technology, then adding a few more MP can potentially result in noisier images. We'll have to wait and see. The most intriguing of the bunch appears to be the SD790IS, which replaces the SD750 by adding the very useful Optical IS feature and showcasing flat control buttons. Hopefully, the QC has been remedied on this unit as many consumers experienced the dreaded "lens error" nightmare. The SD890IS replaces the SD850IS and may appeal to vacationers and wildlifers needing more reach at the telephoto end. The SD770IS seems a bit curious as it may be in direct competition with the new SD1100IS (which is the natural successor to the wildly popular SD1000); it has 2 additional MP but the feature set appears at first glance to be nearly identical to the less expensive SD1100IS. I would've preferred to have seen upgrades to the SD870IS and the SD950IS, but those will be rolled out undoubtedly later this year....conveniently before the Holidays.

SD770IS: 10MP, 3X Optical zoom (35-105mm), 2.5" LCD monitor, Optical viewfinder, ISO 1600, MSRP $299.99.
SD790IS: 10MP, 3X Optical zoom (35-105mm), 3" LCD monitor, no Optical viewfinder, ISO 1600, MSRP $349.99.
SD890IS: 10MP, 5X Optical zoom (37-185mm), 2.5" LCD monitor, Optical viewfinder, ISO 1600, MSRP $399.99.]
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Tracked by 1 customer

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Showing 1-10 of 24 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 8, 2008 7:41:36 PM PST
T. Marquand says:
I have been undecided which digital camera to buy the Canon 1100is or the Canon 950is. Which one would you suggest?

Thank you,

Posted on Mar 31, 2008 6:11:40 PM PDT
Reviewer says:
how long can you record in 60 fps? It says 1 minute limit... is this true. SD600 can record in 60 fps for extended periods... can the 1100IS record for longer than a minute?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2008 6:34:41 PM PDT
Deciding between the two can be a tough choice for some. Indeed, myself included. As the flagship digital ELPH, the SD950IS has received universally positive reviews from most end-users. The way I see it, it has several advantages over the new SD1100IS. The SD950IS features a tough-as-nails titanium body with 12MP, 1/1.7" CCD sensor, while the SD1100IS offers a solid, anodized aluminum body with 8MP, and smaller 1/2.5" CCD sensor. The SD950IS has a zoom range of 36-133mm (vs. 38-114mm), up to ISO 3200 (vs. ISO 1600), and XGA movie mode (1024x768 pixels) at 15 fps, which the SD1100IS lacks.

Distinguishing which model offers higher quality images required viewing side-by-side comparisons of the digital output from these two units at a local camera store down the peninsula. A friendly salesman (a professional photographer) and I both agreed that both P&S units are capable of producing high resolution JPEGs without too much in-camera tweaking or post-processing. Where the SD950IS clearly outperformed the SD1100IS was not at routine 8x10 or even 11x14 prints, but at much higher magnifications (primarily for cropping purposes and producing large poster-size prints) where we both were guilty of pixel peeking. Keep in mind that the SD950IS is costlier (somewhere around $100), slightly bulkier in all dimensions, and marginally heavier. We both agreed its performance was more sluggish compared to that of the SD1100IS. A non-scientific experiment to test which unit had shorter shutter-lag and shot-to-shot time was more favorable for the SD1100IS.

In my mind, when I researched my latest digital camera purchase, I wanted a solid, pocketable Canon camera that won't burn too much of a hole in my wallet, but yet offers me the luxury of taking high-quality, casual, everyday pics without lugging my camera backpack with me. The SD1100IS certainly has filled that void. It truly is a fine camera. The different color offerings (though exclusively a marketing ploy) immediately helps distinguish this model from the other PowerShots. I absolutely love my "bohemian brown" unit. At the present time, I shoot with the SD1100IS extensively alongside my venerable 20D and G2. Good luck!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2008 6:35:29 PM PDT
The SD1100IS has 4 movie modes, but fast frame rate (60 fps) is not one of them. The SD600, among older PowerShots, had this option which allowed one to shoot QVGA (320x240 pixels) for up to 1 minute. I appreciate how you were able to tweak the firmware to allow for longer shooting time.

The standard movie mode on the SD1100IS shoots VGA (640x480 pixels) at 30 fps for up to 4GB or 1 hour, whichever comes first. It gives the highest quality video this camera can offer, but at a steep price. Be prepared to have plenty of fully-charged spare batteries and additional high-capacity memory cards on hand if you plan to shoot movie clips of substantive length. Personally, I find the video from shooting in this mode to be more than adequate for me. It is smooth, sharp, and clear when filming outdoors (and indoors with adequate lighting). The camera will adjust the exposure and white balance automatically. The Optical IS offers assistance to those with unsteady hands (made much more noticeably given the small size of the camera). However, the audio could be better. And, of course, one of my pet peeves is that Canon has still yet to provide optical zooming or auto-focusing while shooting movies with their ELPHs. Perhaps one day soon.

Posted on Apr 23, 2008 10:50:14 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Aug 12, 2013 12:16:54 PM PDT]

Posted on May 7, 2008 6:42:33 AM PDT
Craig says:
I am curious. Does the SD1100 have a burst mode setting? How many frames per second would that be? I'd like to take sequence shots. Thanks.

Posted on May 13, 2008 7:54:15 PM PDT
N. Squires says:
After searching through many cameras, I am highly considering purchasing a Canon. I want high quality pictures, but I also go to a lot of concerts and am interested in taking high quality videos. It seems they all have video with audio. Which one would you suggest would be the best to take lots of videos? How long does the battery usually last? (I am mainly interested in the SD1100 IS and SD770 IS). What would you suggest?

Posted on Jul 17, 2008 12:35:20 PM PDT
Question currently have a FinePix F700 unfortunately the lense has a major problem so I intend to replace it either w/ the SD 870 or 850 photos would be of friends and family transfered to my computer want something easy to use recommendations

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2008 11:32:16 PM PDT
Bob says:
My 1100is can record exactly 60 seconds of video... It will let you zoom in and out too. I just returned from a 6 week trip to Europe and the short videos came in handy for recording organ concerts or the lights of the Eifle Tower at night.

Posted on Sep 18, 2008 9:36:59 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 18, 2008 9:39:38 PM PDT
S. Powers says:
I have several different Canon Digital caemras, from the XTi "down" to the SD790IS. When I don't feel like getting out and carrying the XTi and it's different lenses with me (like for a simple indoor family party) I take the SD790IS. I have always gotten amazing pics from it since it is a 10.1 mega pixel like my XTi is. The pictures have been extremely clear, and the colors turn out just as I actually saw them - no distortion. I have only had the SD790 IS for a month or so, but thus far I am extremely happy with it. It slips into a pocket or my purse without feeling like I am carrying half of the house with me. It seems like Canon has done it again!
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