Canon PowerShot SD300 Digital Elph
Generally stellar performance figures, great battery life, and an ultracompact design will score points for the Canon PowerShot SD300 with the point-and-shoot crowd, but its lack of manual controls, limited selection of scene modes, and anemic flash put a crimp in this Digital Elph's versatility. Minimovie fans will love the ability to shoot continuous high-quality clips limited only by memory card capacity, as well as the unusual 60-frames-per-second slow-motion mode.
Canon shrank the dimensions of the 5.5-ounce PowerShot SD300 down to an ultraslim 3.4-by-2.1-by-0.83-inch package that can slip into any pocket. This Digital Elph is made even more easily pocketable by its reduced number of protrusions, starting with the hand-strap lug, which is now recessed into the body. The camera's exterior is all metal, except for plastic doors covering the battery/SD memory card slots and A/V and USB ports.
While you can operate the PowerShot SD300 with one hand, a two-handed grip makes it easier to work the zoom lever, which is concentric with the top-mounted shutter-release button. A recessed on/off button and a green power LED are the only other adornments on the top surface. The major controls are concentrated on the right side of the back panel, which is dominated by a brightness-adjustable 2-inch LCD viewfinder. A three-way sliding switch lets you select recording, movie mode, or playback, and three other buttons provide access to the three-page menu system (with shooting, setup, and customization options), display options (status info, no info, and monitor off), and print/share features.
As with other point-and-shoot Canons, most shooting settings are taken care of by the four-way cursor pad with embedded OK/Function button. For example, pressing the Up button switches between spot, center-weighted, and evaluative metering; Down selects single-shot mode, burst mode, or the self-timer. The left key cycles through Normal, Landscape, and macro focus modes, while the right button selects a flash mode.
The pad's center button invokes menus for choosing a scene mode; adjusting exposure compensation to plus or minus 2EV in one-third-stop increments; selecting white balance, ISO, resolution, and JPEG compression ratio; and applying a unexceptional number of special effects that include vivid color, low sharpening, sepia, and black-and-white.