As with most compacts, photos are best from the SD980 at ISO sensitivities below ISO 200. At ISO 400, fine detail starts degrading as shots turn less sharp, more smooth, and fuzzy. For a majority of my testing the camera remained in Canon's Smart Auto mode, which was really reliable at picking the correct scenes, but plays things safe by going with higher ISOs. At the two highest full-resolution sensitivities--ISO 800 and ISO 1,600--noise/artifacting and softening from noise suppression are both visible, but the balance is good so all detail isn't lost. However, there is some color shifting and yellowing, which makes shots at ISO 1,600 of questionable use.
Color, white balance, and exposure are generally very good at ISO 400 and below, though highlights have a tendency to blow out--typical of compact cameras. Despite the wide-angle lens there is little barrel distortion at the lens' widest position and no discernable pincushion distortion when the lens is fully extended. Photos exhibit an average amount of purple/blue fringing in high-contrast areas. Depending on the shot there is a chance it will be noticeable at print sizes of 8x10 inches and above.
The PowerShot SD980 IS is Canon's first attempt at a touch-screen interface for a Digital Elph and it feels like it. That's not necessarily a bad thing because the result is a camera with useful touch-based functions that doesn't completely abandon comfortable, familiar physical buttons. The SD980 lets you get a touch-screen camera and decide for yourself whether you want to use it without the fear of having to use it.
(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)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Find out more about how we test digital cameras.