Canon Powershot SD20 (silver)
When a manufacturer uses terms such as exquisitely compact and undeniably chic to describe its digital camera, you can expect an emphasis on form over function. The Canon SD20's tiny 3.5-by-1.8-by-0.7-inch metal body comes in four colors to match any wardrobe and fits inside the smallest clutch purse or tuxedo pocket without causing an unsightly bulge. It weighs a mere 4 ounces with an SD memory card and a lithium-ion battery loaded.
However you'd better be seated close to the dais to grab your celebrity snaps, because this 5-megapixel shooter's fixed-focal-length 39mm lens (35mm-camera equivalent) has no zooming capability beyond a 6.5X digital zoom that produces highly pixelated results. Nor is there an optical viewfinder: You'll need to compose your shots using a tiny 1.5-inch LCD panel that is bright but easily washes out in the glare of full sunlight.
While eminently portable, the SD20 lacks the manual controls enthusiasts look for. There are no manual exposure or focus settings available, beyond exposure value adjustment (plus or minus 2EV in 1/3EV increments) and five scene modes (Portrait, Landscape, Night, Indoor, and Underwater), plus Macro, Stitch Assist for creating panoramas from multiple shots, and manual mode. The last simply unlocks a modest range of adjustments accessible from a back-panel Function key, including exposure compensation; white-balance controls; sensitivity settings (ISO 50-400); special effects (saturation, sharpening, sepia, and black-and-white); and a choice of evaluative, center-weighted, or spot exposure metering.
A separate Menu/Set key produces three pages of other options for shooting and setup when the camera is in Recording mode. When the SD20 is in Review mode, this key offers an additional set of choices for protecting or rotating images, displaying slide shows, and creating print orders. There's also a print/share button that simplifies making hard copies using Canon Direct Photo and PictBridge, when connected either to a computer or directly to a compatible printer.
The SD20's top surface features a large shutter-release button flanked by a tinny speaker and a recessed power button. Those with unfashionably large hands may have some difficulty curling their fingers around the camera to trigger the release. The back-panel layout uses a four-way rocker switch to navigate menus and select basic shooting options such as flash settings, self-timer/burst mode, digital zoom, and quick delete. A sliding switch changes between Review, Movie, and Recording modes.