Canon PowerShot Digital Elph review: Canon PowerShot Digital Elph

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The Good Ultracompact; solid battery life; excellent burst capabilities; low shutter lag; versatile movie mode.

The Bad Few manual controls or scene modes; inaccurate viewfinder with no diopter adjustment.

The Bottom Line Putting excellent performance in an ultracompact package, the SD300 should please photographers who don't want manual controls or plentiful scene modes.

7.4 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 6
  • Performance 8
  • Image quality 7

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.