Canon PowerShot SD780 IS review: Canon PowerShot SD780 IS

Not that more is expected, but the SD780 is limited to three shooting modes. A small switch on back moves you between Canon's automatic scene recognition called Smart Auto, Program/Scene, and Movie. The Smart Auto was very reliable and since it's picking from 18 different scenes, the bases are well covered. In Program you can control things such as ISO, white balance, light metering, and autofocus type, or you can switch to a handful of scene options like Portrait and Indoors. The Movie mode is capable of recording at an HD resolution of 720p. (For quickly connecting to an HDTV, there's a mini HDMI output behind a small door where your thumb naturally rests while shooting.) But sadly, the 3x optical zoom doesn't function while recording.

The SD780's performance is mixed. For a camera this size, a fast start-up time is expected and that's what we got at 1.5 seconds. Its shutter lag was decent, too, at 0.4 second in good lighting and 0.6 second in dimmer conditions. Regrettably its shot-to-shot times are a little flat, taking 2.4 seconds without flash and nearly 5 seconds with. In addition, its continuous shooting mode comes in well under some of its competition at 0.8 frames per second.

Photo quality is very good, but still subject to problems characteristic of point-and-shoot cameras of this size and price. Some smudginess from noise reduction starts appearing at ISO 200, but all photos were generally soft. Subjects get noticeably softer and smoother as the ISO gets higher, but detail remains reasonably good up to and including ISO 800. While large prints may be out of the question, the noise is suppressed well enough to make small prints and Web use a possibility. (Click to see a photo comparison of ISOs.) In general exposure, white balance, contrast, and color were very good. However, highlights are prone to clipping. Also, chromatic aberration (purple fringing) is in good supply in high-contrast shots, though it's only really visible when photos are viewed at full resolution, not at smaller sizes.

I may have mentioned this once or twice in this review, but the Canon PowerShot SD780 IS is very small. So little and lightweight, in fact, that there's a good chance you'll forget you have it on you--making it just as easily misplaced, too. Yet, even for my large hands it is relatively comfortable to use. While it would be great if it was just a little bit faster, the SD780 IS is overall a great pocket camera. And with its HD-video-capture abilities, the SD780 is strong competition for pocket HD camcorders.

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)  
Casio Exilim EX-Z250
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T77
Canon PowerShot SD780 IS
Kodak EasyShare M1093 IS
Nikon Coolpix S230

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

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Canon PowerShot SD780 IS (Black)

Part Number: 3590B001 Released: Feb 17, 2009
MSRP: $379.99 Low Price: $279.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Feb 17, 2009
  • Digital camera type Ultracompact
  • Optical Zoom 3 x
  • Optical Sensor Type CCD
  • Sensor Resolution 12.1 Megapixel
    12.1 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical
  • Optical Sensor Size 1/2.3"