Top positive review
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So far so good. ATTENTION: Do NOT use this camera is "AUTO" mode!!!
on December 23, 2010
Let me preface this review by saying I have a Canon SD750 which both my fiancee and I LOVE and have owned for about 4 years now. However it has been dropped many times and doesn't quite work the same anymore, although in proper lighting it still takes amazing pictures. Having said all that, there are a few flaws that really nagged me about the camera which the SD4500is fixed.
Now for a few thoughts on the Canon SD4500is.
1) Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, use this camera in the AUTO mode. I'm not quite sure how they ever let this camera get released with the AUTO setting the way it is. It literally takes at least 5 seconds or more for it to decide how and when it wants to take a picture. And when it does the pictures come out terrible. When I first opened up the box and took out the camera, I tried taking a picture of my Christmas tree from about 4-6 feet away. Well the camera came out of the box with the AUTO mode on. I pressed the button to take the picture... and waited... and waited... the camera tried its hardest to focus, then the picture went all blurry until it was just huge blobs of lights and tree, and then it finally snapped the picture. The picture was just horrible. I later realized that for some reason the camera was trying to take the picture in the "macro" mode, which doesn't make sense at all and is probably the reason the picture was big blobs of lights. Anyway to make a long story short, when shooting almost anything, the AUTO mode seems to take way too long and screws up most of the time anyway. Don't use it, just use the middle mode, the picture of the camera on the switch on the top of the camera. The regular mode works perfectly fine.
2) I read a few complaints about the start-up time for this camera on the reviews here. Let me compare some times for you. I did a quick search online and found an online stopwatch and timed the startup times for my old SD750 and for the new SD4500is. The startup time for the SD750 was 1.5 seconds. The startup time for the new SD4500is was 3 seconds. So its about double the time. It seems fairly quick when you are starting it up but the fact is its about double the time than my old camera. Right now I don't see it as such a big deal but maybe when I miss that once in a lifetime shot b/c of the extra 1.5 seconds I'll think differently about it.
3) One of my problems with my old SD750 was the lack of Image Stabilization (it usually took great pictures anyway but it would have helped in several different picture-taking scenarios). Well the new SD4500is has it and it seems to work great, all the pictures in well-lit areas or with flash come out very clear. Big plus for the new SD4500is.
4) Now for the money feature, the feature you SHOULD be buying this camera for or else you might as well just get the $100 Canon powershot. The 10x optical zoom. Yes, its real, and its fantastic. The 10x optical zoom takes really nice pictures and the zoom is usually more than enough. My old SD750 only had a 3x optical zoom I believe. So basically anything after that it was hit-or-miss on whether it'd take a clear picture or not. With the SD4500is you don't have to worry about that, with the zoom your pictures will be clear.
5) Size DOES matter. Our old SD750 was nice and small, lightweight, you could fit it in your pocket and just go. When I ordered the new SD4500is, I was afraid it'd be a lot bigger. Well it is bigger, but not as much as you'd think. Its still small enough to fit in your pocket. I was pleasantly surprised, to the eye it almost looks to be about the same size as our old camera. The punch this camera gives you for its size is simply amazing. Pleasantly surprised in this area.
6) Look and Feel. The new SD4500is does feel a bit heavier than the older SD750, but its not going to be a problem. It sort of makes it feel more solid and expensive if anything. The SD4500is looks great. We bought the brown color because it was the cheapest ($270 on amazon at the time), and my fiancee was worried it would look stupid. But when it came we were both pleasantly surprised, it looks better than it does in the picture in the product description. Its a nice deep brown color, the back is lighter. The whole camera looks nice though. The back of the camera has what looks like a 3" widescreen lcd display.
7) Button layout. The layout is similar to my old SD750 but with some improvements. The separate video record button is a welcome addition. The button for just viewing your pictures is also great (I've seen other cameras where you have to turn a dial just to see your pictures and it gets really annoying). I also love having the option to either press the dial button or turn/rotate the button. Pressing the button can get annoying after a while, especially when viewing photos you've just taken. Turning the dial is much easier and intuitive.
8) Features. There are a ton of photo-settings on the camera, you will probably use less than 10% of them. One feature I love is the ability to control the flash. With my old SD750, I could only choose for it to be on AUTO or OFF. It was so annoying not to be able to put it to ON. Well with the new 4500is you can choose AUTO, ON, OFF, or some other low-light option.
9) Low-light Pictures. I've seen some reviews on here and blast the low-light pictures this camera takes. I tried the low-light picture-taking setting (with the flash OFF) and the reviews are correct, the photos come out grainy and not quite in focus. Or maybe just grainy. Either way they're not that good. Forget using the low-light option. Either take the picture like normal with the flash off (which come out a little better), or turn the adjustable ISO to 800 or 1600. This lets a bit more light in but is quick enough to take a nice picture. The pictures don't come out perfect but they seem to be about the same or better than my old SD750 would take with the flash off in low-light conditions (with the "high iso" setting). About as good as you can get from a pocket-digital camera in my opinion. If you put the ISO any higher you will need a tripod or set it on a table or something to get a clear picture. So in summation this camera CAN take pretty good pictures in low-light conditions, you just can't use the low-light setting because then the pictures come out terrible.
Let me add this. With the flash ON in low-light conditions, it takes great pictures. Flash is amazing.
10) Macro Mode is great. Just like with my older Canon, this camera takes great pictures of things really really close up.
11) Battery meter. Even though I've heard the battery life is pretty bad (I haven't drained it fully yet as I keep stopping for the night and throw it back on the charger), this camera has a BATTERY LIFE METER!!! Thank god! My old Canon sd750 did NOT have this feature and it drove me crazy. With my old camera, all of a sudden it'd say "low bat" and then turn off a few pictures later. There was no warning! With this camera you can at least see the battery life going down and adjust accordingly. Great feature I wished my old camera had.
12) Video. I have only shot about 15 seconds of 1080p video, I hooked it up to my LED tv for playback and the picture is great. I took the video inside, the area was lit but not well-lit. Sound is really good and I didn't have those focus issues other people were talking about (although I only took 15 seconds of video so...). I have a feeling their issues came from either having it in AUTO mode or using the optical zoom in video mode. I will take more longer videos and get back to you guys on this issue...
13) Pictures. Overall the pictures seem to come out very good. I've only used the camera inside so far, I will use it outside and update my review. The pictures seem to have good color and come out clear. Many reviewers talk about it not being "crisp" enough. Honestly I am undecided on the whole thing. They don't really seem to come out "soft" to me, but I also haven't taken many pictures with the camera either. I will take more over the weekend and update my review. As of now the picture quality seems just as good as my old SD750. One thing I did notice is that the pictures on the lcd screen, the color is slightly off. For example, I took a picture of myself against a white background with the flash off. The white background looked a bit yellow-ish on the lcd screen, but when I viewed it on my tv it looked white. So I'm not really sure whats going on here, I think the color on the lcd is slightly off which people may have noticed and figured the camera took poor pictures, but as long as they are correct when printed or transferred to your CPU, then who cares? Like I said I will take a ton more pictures and update my findings.
Bottom line is that you are spending the money on this camera for the 10x optical zoom and ability to shoot full HD video. If that's not why you are buying this camera then I suggest you get a cheaper one. Having said that, its well worth the money for the extra zoom and HD video if that's what you are into. Some of the features (such as AUTO mode and low-light setting) simply do not work. But you don't need them anyway. I will take many more pictures and videos over Christmas and update my review. I just had to write this now because I see all the bad reviews about the picture-quality and I felt I needed to write this to clear some things up.
If this is your first camera and you didn't know any better you'd be very very happy with this camera. But most of the negative reviews are from previous Canon owners that have been spoiled by great quality pictures, and honestly I'm not sure if this newer and more expensive camera gives you as good a picture as my 4 year old Canon SD750 that has been dropped on rocks and had sand in the lens and the lens-cover has been broken off and it STILL takes great pictures. Although after having that 10x optical zoom of the SD4500 in my hands, its hard to let go... really hard lol... but its all about trade-offs i suppose.
One of the most important factors was my Fiancee was just not sold on this camera and that was basically one of the more important reasons in returning it. But other than that, we use the camera 95% of the time for taking regular pictures, no zoom, no video, just pictures. And so I'm strongly considering just paying the extra $100 and getting the Canon S95 as I haven't seen anyone complain about the pictures that camera takes. We end up taking a lot of self-pictures (where I stick my arm out with the camera and take a picture of the both of us) and supposedly the S95 has a wider lens which is better for those type of shots. Not to say the SD4500is doesn't take good pictures, but for the money we're spending we want to have piece of mind that its taking as good or better pictures than our previous camera, we don't want to downgrade in the one area we are mainly going to use the camera for. Also the battery life factors into it as well, by the time you spend the money on extra batteries and the hassle that comes with making sure you bring an extra battery everywhere that just piles on you know?
So I guess that would be my final answer. If you are in love with the 10x optical zoom and 1080p video, get this camera because despite other reviewers it DOES take good pictures as long as you don't have it on the stupid AUTO setting. The SD4500is doesn't take the best low-light pictures but I geuss you could call them passable. Also the slow-mo video is pretty cool and funny. But if you're like me and you've been spoiled by a previous camera that took great pictures, and you're not that concerned about all the bells and whistles of this camera, either spend the extra $100 and get the Canon S95, or if you're not as concerned about low-light picture quality then save yourself some money and get the $100 canon P&S's.