Canon PowerShot SD880 IS review: Canon PowerShot SD880 IS

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The Good Excellent photo quality for its class; optical image stabilization; pleasing interface and design; wide-angle lens.

The Bad Mode dial spins a bit too freely; button positioning might bother some users; very noticeable fringing.

The Bottom Line Simply put, the Canon PowerShot SD880 IS is an excellent point-and-shoot camera.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Image quality 8

At the time of this review, the Canon PowerShot Digital Elph line featured no fewer than 10 models--not even including lingering older models--so deciphering what makes one better or different than another gets tricky (here's our succinct breakdown). The 10-megapixel PowerShot SD880 IS Digital Elph is the follow-up to the popular SD870 IS, and what a worthy successor it is. It's capable of producing truly excellent pictures for a camera of its size and it has nice components for a sub-$300 model including a wide-angle lens and optical image stabilization. There are a couple weaknesses, but nothing that keeps it from being an excellent point-and-shoot camera.

At 6.3 ounces and measuring 3.7 inches wide by 2.2 inches high by 0.9 inch deep, it'll fit more comfortably in a pants or coat pocket than a shirt pocket, but it's by no means big. Compared with the SD870 IS, the SD880 IS has the latest version of Canon's image-processing engine, Digic 4, jumps from 8 megapixels to 10, and offers a few more scene modes. The 4x f2.8-5.8 28-112mm lens is a highlight of the camera; the wide angle is so nice to have on a camera this small, and it's a tad longer zoom than on the SD870. It also records video using the H.264 codec instead of Motion JPEG.

On top of the two-tone body (it's available in gold/brown and silver/black combinations) are the shutter button and surrounding zoom control, a small power button, and a switch for going between Video, Special Scene modes (SCN), and Shooting mode in Auto or Program AE. That mosaic-like design on the right is the speaker.

Scene modes are plentiful--16 in all--and include Stitch Assist for panoramas and Underwater for use with an optional casing. Shooting mode lets you go fully automatic with some minor adjustments, or drop it into Program AE, which gives you control for exposure compensation, white balance, tone, and ISO.

Following the body's curve on the right from top to bottom are Print/Share and Playback buttons, a directional pad surrounded by a thumb dial, and then Menu and Display buttons. At first glance it looks like there's a lot going on with the controls, and there actually is, but operation remains reliably straightforward.

The directional pad is pretty standard; instead it's the thumb dial that adds interest here. In SCN mode, the dial is used for rifling through your options. It's also used for swapping between Auto and Program in Shooting mode and tone control in Video. It works well, but you can barely feel stops when spinning the dial making it just a little too easy to switch out of whichever mode you want. The dial can be used for navigating Menu settings, too. Overall, I like the key design and wheel, but I can also see it confusing new users to the point of frustration.

The buttons have a pillowy, convex shape, which is not only attractive, but makes for unmistakable presses. The Print/Share button can be turned into a shortcut key to access one of nine shooting functions.

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