Canon PowerShot SD780 IS review: Canon PowerShot SD780 IS

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The Good Very small; simple operation; very good photo and HD movie quality; HDMI out.

The Bad No optical zoom in Movie mode; generally soft photos; mixed performance.

The Bottom Line If you need an ultracompact camera for your pocket or purse, strongly consider the Canon PowerShot SD780 IS.

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

Man, the SD780 IS is small. It is the "slimmest Digital ELPH Canon has ever created," but you really don't get a full feel for how diminutive that is until you're holding it. It's really small. Its width and height are about that of a credit card; it's just barely thicker than an Apple iPhone (and oddly enough has similar body curves).

The SD780 IS updates the SD770 IS, getting a resolution bump from 10 megapixels to 12, the company's Digic 4 processor, a slightly wider lens, and the ability to capture movies in HD. For its size, it's an impressive camera. You won't mistake its photo quality for that of a larger, more expensive camera, but it ranks in the top of its class. Its video quality is very good, too. If you need a tiny camera for your pocket or purse, strongly consider the SD780 IS.

Key specs Canon PowerShot SD780 IS
Price (MSRP) $279.99
Dimensions 3.4 inches wide by 2.2 inches high by 0.7 inch deep
Weight (with battery and media) 4.7 ounces
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 12 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD
LCD/Viewfinder 2.5-inch LCD, 230K dots; optical viewfinder
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 3x, f3.2-5.8, 33-100mm (35mm equivalent)
File format (still/video) JPEG/MOV (H.264)
Highest resolution size (still/video) 4,000x3,000 pixels/1,280x720 at 30fps
Image stabilization type Mechanical and electronic
Battery type, rated life Lithium ion rechargeable, 210 shots

Despite the SD780's slight build, it feels very sturdy. However, if you plan to keep it loose in a bag, invest in some manner of protection or risk scratching up its beautiful body and screen. The model is available in silver, gold, black, and a satiny red with pink typography. The lens barrel color matches the body, too, giving it a peculiar uniform look.

Using the camera is remarkably comfortable, even for large hands. Well, maybe using the viewfinder isn't so pleasant because of its miniscule size, but there's always the bright LCD to fall back on. All of the controls are flat and flush with the body. It gives the camera a very smooth appearance, but using the four-way directional pad and center Func/Set button was a bit difficult because of this and led to frequent mispresses on the center button when trying to adjust the ISO sensitivity, macro, flash, or drive mode from the outer ring.

General shooting options Canon PowerShot SD780 IS
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600
White balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom
Recording modes Smart Auto, Program/Scene, Movie
Focus Center AF, Face AF, Servo AF
Metering Evaluative, Center-weighted, Spot
Color effects Vivid, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Custom
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) Continuous unlimited

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.

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