Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS review: Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS

The Canon SD1200 is a reasonably fast camera. The time from power-off to first shot is a brisk 1.4 seconds. Shutter lag in good lighting is at the high end of acceptable, at 0.5 second, but it fared better in dim conditions, at 0.7 second. The SD1200's shot-to-shot times were decent, at 2.1 seconds without a flash and 3.2 seconds with one. The camera has no burst mode, but it has unlimited, continuous shooting capable of 1.4fps.

Photo quality is very good for its class. Better than most, actually, the photo quality is probably why this camera costs a bit more than the competition. Colors are generally excellent, as is exposure, though there was occasional highlight clipping. As with most compacts, the SD1200 turned in its best results at ISO sensitivities below ISO 200. At ISO 400, fine detail starts degrading, as shots turn less sharp, more smooth, and fuzzy. Though there is lens distortion primarily on the left side, purple fringing was at a minimum. For a majority of my testing, the camera remained in Canon's Smart Auto mode, which was really reliable at picking the correct scenes and settings.

Most of the 2009 camera lineups start with a 10-megapixel compact with a 2.5-inch LCD and 3x optical zoom. The PowerShot SD1200 IS is that camera for Canon. It doesn't offer much more than the competition in terms of features, with the exception of a viewfinder, but it probably has the best photo quality of the bunch (though not by much). Then again, the competition is also selling its models for less. You'll have to decide which is more important.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time (flash)  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS
1.4 
3.2 
2.1 
7 
5 
Canon PowerShot A1000 IS
2.5 
6.7 
2.5 
7 
5 
Kodak EasyShare M1093 IS
2.8 
1.4 
1.2 
1.0 
5 
Nikon Coolpix S230
3.5 
3.3 
3.0 
1 
5 
Pentax Optio P70
2.5 
4.0 
3.9 
1 
5 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Mar. 15, 2009
  • Digital camera type Ultracompact
  • Optical Zoom 3 x
  • Optical Sensor Type CCD
  • Sensor Resolution 10.0 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical
  • Optical Sensor Size 1/2.3"
  • Lens 35 - 105mm F/2.8
About The Author

Joshua Goldman is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering cameras, camcorders, and related accessories. He has been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 2000.