Performance was relatively speedy in our tests. The PowerShot SD1000 took 0.98 second to start up and capture its first JPEG. Subsequent JPEGs took 1.48 seconds between shots with the flash turned off and 2.44 seconds with the flash enabled. Shutter lag measured 0.45 second in our high-contrast test, which mimics bright shooting conditions, and 0.9 second in our low-contrast test, which mimics dim shooting conditions. Continuous shooting wasn't quite as fast as its 6MP predecessor. We measured approximately 1.7 frames per second regardless of image size. Canon's face detection system quickly and accurately detected most of the faces we tried. It seems to rely largely on eyes, as it got slightly confused when one of our lovely models closed hers.
Image quality from the PowerShot SD1000 was excellent in our tests, with accurate colors and plenty of sharpness. The camera's automatic white balance yielded slightly yellowish images with our test lab's Tungsten lights, though the Tungsten white balance preset compensated, producing very neutral colors. Canon keeps noise well under control from ISO 80 through ISO 200, though the company's noise reduction algorithms seem to pull out a minute amount of sharpness at ISO 200. At ISO 400 noise becomes more apparent, manifesting as a light covering of mostly bluish, off-color speckles. ISO 800 brings significantly more noise, though images may be usable for smaller prints (4x6 inch). However, a large amount of sharpness, along with a hefty amount of shadow detail is lost at this setting. ISO 1600 looks like shooting in a snow storm. At this top setting, sharpness becomes a distant fantasy and shadow detail rescinds into another inaccessible dimension. We suggest staying below ISO 800 whenever possible and don't suggest using ISO 1600 at all. Of course, that still puts this camera on par, or better, compared with its competition in terms of ISO noise.
Despite our minor gripes, the PowerShot SD1000 is a top-notch compact camera for its price range. Most users will be pleased with its excellent image quality and the useful, if not extensive, feature set. The most significant feature you won't find here is optical image stabilization, though at this price, you'd be hard pressed to find it elsewhere while maintaining a decent level of image quality at the same time.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance.)
(Longer bars indicate better performance.)