Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS review: Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS

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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Good looking, easy-to-use design; very good photo quality.

The Bad Basic feature set for its price.

The Bottom Line If all you need or want is to point and shoot, the Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS does that well.

7.2 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Performance 7.0
  • Image quality 7.0

As the starting point for Canon's Digital Elph ultracompact cameras, the SD1300 IS is decidedly basic. For example, one of the big selling points is that it's available in several color choices. It has other positive attributes, but nothing that makes it stand out in a very crowded space.

It is a perfectly fine midrange point-and-shoot with a 28mm-equivalent wide-angle lens, however; particularly for those who never leave Auto and don't care about HD video or other shooting options. But with manufacturers like Sony and Panasonic beating it on features and shooting performance, it's a hard recommendation. More so considering its one edge, photo quality, is not that much better than some of its competition.

Key specs Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS
Price (MSRP) $199.99
Dimensions (WHD) 3.6 x 2.2 x 0.8 inches
Weight (with battery and media) 4.9 ounces
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 12 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD
LCD size, resolution/viewfinder 2.7-inch LCD, 230K dots/None
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 4x, f2.8-5.9, 28-112mm (35mm equivalent)
File format (still/video) JPEG/Motion JPEG (.AVI)
Highest resolution size (still/video) 4,000x3,000 pixels/ 640x480 at 30fps
Image stabilization type Optical and digital
Battery type, CIPA rated life Li-ion rechargeable, 240 shots
Battery charged in camera No; external charger supplied
Storage media SD, SDHC, and SDXC
Bundled software ZoomBrowser EX 6.5/PhotoStitch 3.1 (Windows); ImageBrowser 6.5/PhotoStitch 3.2 (Mac)

The design of the SD1300 IS doesn't change much from its predecessor, the SD1200 IS, with one exception: the optical viewfinder is gone. However, the LCD is larger on the SD1300, bumped up from 2.5 to 2.7 inches.

Available in five colors (silver, green, pink, brown, and blue), the SD1300 is small, but still comfortable to use. Controls are standard Canon. A switch on the back moves you between shooting modes. To its left is a Play button above a four-way directional pad centered by a Func Set button. Below that is a Disp button for changing the information shown on the LCD, and a Menu button. A shutter release with a zoom ring and power button are on top. The only issue with the arrangement is that the buttons are all flat, so if you've got big fingers there's a chance you'll have trouble accurately pressing them. (It was never a problem during testing, however.)

Navigating the menu system is straightforward. The Func Set button opens a simple context-sensitive shooting option panel, while the Menu button sends you to more general shooting controls and operational settings. The only thing that's a bit funky is accessing half of the Scene mode options. At first you'll only see the most common scene selections, but when you get to the far right of the list, you'll have to hit the Disp button to open a secondary list of scenes. If you're not paying attention you might miss the fact that you have all the other options available to you. Also, the helpful Hints and Tips option on other PowerShots that gives you in-camera shooting and setting assistance is absent; this is weird considering it's Canon's entry-level Digital Elph.

On the right side is a little flip-down door covering a Mini-USB/AV port. The battery/memory card compartment is on the bottom, covered by a slide-open door with no lock. The battery is a small rechargeable pack with an average battery life for its class. It cannot be charged in camera; an external charger is supplied.

General shooting options Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600
White balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom
Recording modes Auto, Program/Scene, Movie
Focus modes Normal AF (Face, Center), Macro, Infinity
Metering modes Evaluative, Center-weighted average, Spot
Color effects Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Custom
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) Unlimited continuous

The SD1300 IS's basic shooting options are not entirely unexpected, but given what the competition are offering at this price it's more noticeable. Even Canon offers more on its slightly chunkier, but cheaper A3100 (though the SD1300 has a wider lens, too). The shooting mode switch on back of the camera has three options: one for Auto, one for the standard-definition Movie mode, and a camera mode (that's what I'm calling it since it's designated by a picture of a camera). The camera mode gives you access to a Program Auto mode allowing you to set things like white balance and ISO. That's also where you access the camera's scene modes including Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Beach, Underwater, Foliage, Snow, Fireworks, and Long Shutter. There's also a Face Self-Timer option that will wait until the camera detects a new face in front of the camera before it fires off a shot. Lastly, Canon has renamed its High ISO mode to Low Light to help alleviate confusion about what it is used for. The mode captures 2-megapixel photos at ISOs from 400 to 6,400. As to be expected, the results are grainy and there's visible yellow blotching in the darker areas, but at least you'll capture something if that's all you're after.

Shooting performance is average for its class heading toward slow. From powering on to capturing its first shot is 1.4 seconds, which is decent. Its shot-to-shot times are OK, too: 2.7 seconds without the flash and 4.9 seconds with. The shutter lag in bright lighting conditions is average at 0.5 second; in dim conditions it does well, though, at 0.7 second. Lastly, the continuous shooting speed from the SD1300 IS is somewhat pokey at 0.6 frames per second. These speeds are by no means fast, making it best for still subjects such as portraits and landscapes.

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