Top positive review
176 people found this helpful
Remarkable little camera!
on September 30, 2009
My last digital camera was a 3.1 MP Kodak EasyShare DX6340 -- a nice little point and shoot in its day, but that was seven years ago! Though it still works like a champ, I decided it was time to upgrade to something a little more compact that also offered better picture quality *and* HD video. I spent over a month shopping around, looking at Canon, Panasonic, and Sony models, and toyed with the idea of sacrificing small size (and HD video) to go with the new Canon G11. Finally, I settled on the new SD940 IS as a reasonable compromise between size, features, and picture quality. I'm very happy I bought this thing -- so far it has really impressed me!
This thing is TINY -- it's about the same size and weight as my old Motorola RAZR cell phone (when folded closed). Still, it feels quite solid. Despite the compact size, it delivers amazing performance. It boots up quickly, menus are snappy, and shot-to-shot delay is minimal. Picture quality is very good -- nothing extraordinary, but nothing to sneeze at either. I shot a number of test photos over the past couple days and I'm quite pleased. Macro mode shots are amazingly crisp and detailed. Outdoors in medium sun, I did notice some tell-tale "purple fringing" around high contrast areas (the dark green leaves of a tree against a white cloud had a discernible purple halo around them when I zoomed in on the image). I don't know that other P&S cameras of this size will necessarily do any better with the purple fringing, but I didn't find it to be too bothersome. On my monitor colors looked quite natural, not overly-saturated nor washed out. I tried some of the manual ISO settings and below 400 I didn't notice any grain or problematic fuzziness. Obviously, you can't expect SLR quality with a P&S, but I'm very happy with the pictures this thing turns out.
The aspect that really sold me on this camera is the HD video. Of course, I mostly wanted this to take stills, but I wanted the flexibility to switch to video when the moment calls for it. For such a tiny camera, the HD video quality is stunning! Very fluid motion, sharp picture, and remarkably clear audio! The video is best in brightly-lit situations of course, but it does quite well in low light too if you don't mind a little grain in the image. You can choose between several memory-saving standard-def settings and high-def (which switches to widescreen format automatically). While the optical zoom cannot be used in video mode, you CAN use the digital zoom up to 4x while recording -- a nice little bonus. The video files produced are .MOV files which I was able to import into iMovie on my Mac with complete ease (and very quickly too!).
The control buttons are indeed small and flat, but I have had no trouble managing them (it helps if your fingernails are not trimmed too short). People with larger hands or very short fingernails might have a little more difficulty. I'm still getting used to menu navigation on this, but it seems fairly intuitive. I spent ten minutes reading through the "getting started" guide that comes with it, and that was helpful in outlining the basic features, but there are a lot more that the guide doesn't cover. This *does* use a proprietary battery, but the charger is fortunately very compact and charges the battery to capacity in 90 minutes. It doesn't bother me that the battery has to be taken out of the camera for charging. So far, after two days, I have not depleted the battery, so I can't comment yet on how long battery life is, but mine has already lasted through several hours of use and is still going strong.
This may not be the most versatile camera on the market -- full manual controls are limited -- but for a simple-to-use, high-quality P&S camera with crisp pictures and HD video, I think it would be hard to beat the SD940 IS. It is extremely small and lightweight and does all that most casual users could want. It may be a bit pricey compared to some others, but it's worth every penny. By the way, if you plan to use the HD video feature, be sure to get a Class 6 or higher SD memory card for best results. (Lower-rated cards may not be fast enough to capture the stream of information being written to the card). Don't skimp on the card -- cheap off-brands are not always reliable and may soon die, taking your irreplaceable photos and videos with them. I got a few SanDisk Extreme III 8GB Class 6 cards to go with this and they work great!