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User Report: Canon SD30 digital camera
I have been using a Canon SD30 for about a week now. Here are my
observations. I have used a few other digital cameras, and so I will
compare performance when I can.
I will appreciate corrections and criticisms of this post. That's why
I'm putting it out on usenet.
I programmed the camera to use its lowest ISO setting (50), spot
metering, spot auto-focus, largest image file size, and highest image
compression quality. The rest of this post assumes these settings.
1. The camera is quite fast, faster than my old Canon SD10. Both
shutter button response time, and shot-to-shot delay have been
improved significantly. Nice going Canon!
2. With "spot" autofocus selected, the camera seems to do very well.
With my old SD10, I would regularly obtain photos that were
grossly out of focus. It does not seem to happen with the new
SD30. Thank you Canon!
3. The "deluxe" kit features a very nice soft case. It fits perfectly
and looks good. I consider this to be a "must" for a tiny,
carry-it-everywhere gadget. All of the stores I checked stocked
the "deluxe" kit, perhaps there is no other kit for sale. But I
suggest that you confirm that you are getting the Canon SD30 soft
case with your purchase.
4. The flash intensity cannot be adjusted, as far as I can tell. It
is therefore difficult to photograph certain shiny objects, such as
circuit boards and small machinery. This is giving me fits. The
available flash power is not much either. This is no shame for Canon
really, since the size of the tube must be small in a midget camera
like this. By comparison, the Casio Exilim EX-S500 can produce
significantly more light.
5. After some practice, I am very pleased with the image quality that
I am getting from this camera, at least when there is adequate
lighting. The SD30 produces what I have come to regard as the "Canon
look." I'm not sure if the photos are especially true to life, but
they are extremely pleasing. I see highly saturated colors, sharp
focus, low noise, and pleasant "warm" skin tones. I also detect this
"Canon Look" in photos coming out of the Sony Cybershot DSCP200. I
suspect that Sony and Canon use the same image sensors. I compared
photos of the same objects taken with the Canon SD10 and a Casio
Exilim EX-S500. The pictures coming out of the Casio are fuzzy by
comparison. The side-by-side comparison also makes the Casio pictures
look a bit washed out. The Casio pictures have much more chroma
6. The macro capability is excellent. The camera has a feature which
puzzled me at first. Now I understand that it is pure genius: the
best macro performance occurs when the lens is zoomed to its maximum
(2.4x). With the zoom at maximum tele, I can reliably fill the image
frame with an object that is 5 cm across (left to right) or smaller.
Where does the genius come in? Most other cameras are engineered so
that the most extreme macro performance is achieved when the lens
is at its full wide angle setting. If the SD30 was designed this
way, then the camera would have to be positioned very close to its
subject matter. When this occurs, shadows from the camera and the
photographer's hands would interfere with the photogaraph. The
performance of the flash unit would also suffer. Good job Canon! I
have taken some really amazing macro shots of ears, for example. It
sounds disgusting, but I was able to discern incredible detail in
the subject matter and learn how to use the camera's macro mode.
It was almost like working with a microscope. My macro photos
were all "hand held," no tripod used. Nevertheless, most of them
turned out well. Many looked "razor sharp."
7. The camera feels solidly durable. The various buttons and other
controls are especially firm. I also like the Casio Exilim EX-S500
in this regard, but the Canon controls are more solid, with no
8. The SD30 is not as amazingly small as the old SD10. I would not
want to carry it in the breast pocket of a man's dress shirt, for
9. You must use the (included) cradle to charge the camera's battery.
Although the cradle is reasonably small, it still sucks for
travelling light. There is probably an accessory you can purchase
that travels better than the cradle and power cable that is
included in the "deluxe" kit. I haven't shopped for such
10. The camera retains a feature of the SD10 that I absolutely HATE:
it resets its metering mode to "evaluative" after every power cycle.
Like all other digital cameras, the only metering mode that works
worth a damn is "spot." At power-up, it takes me 8 button pushes to
get the camera to "spot" meter. The main value of a tiny camera is
that you can carry it everywhere, and capture unplanned events.
Those 8 extra button pushes really detract from the value of this
type of machine. (Sorry for venting).
11. When connected to a computer, the camera will NOT emulate a disk
drive, the way many other cameras do. It is still an easy matter
to transfer pictures to the PC, but I prefer the increased
flexibility of disk drive emulation.
12. The quality of the motion video in the SD30 is pretty bad. There
is a 320x240/20fps mode and a 640x480x15fps mode. The 320x mode
has bad spatial resolution. I don't like looking at the "movies"
produced in this mode. The 640x mode looks jerky, because of its
15fps rate. By comparison, the Casio Exilim EX-S500 does a bit
The Canon SD30 is one of the smallest digital cameras available today.
This type of camera, by its nature, must have compromises. I find it
interesting to compare the different approaches to design evident in
the Canon SD30 and the Casio Exilim EX-S500. I believe that these two
are the best of the tiny cameras, though in different ways.
Both cameras are fast (shutter lag and shot-to-shot delay). Both are
handsome and appear to be constructed nicely. Both cameras use SD cards
for storage, which I prefer. This card format is physicallly small, and
it is not controlled by a single vendor, like Sony and its Memory Sticks.
Canon offers excellent image quality. Like the old Canon SD10, the
photographs have a certain "Canon look" that is very appealing. I suspect
that this "look" is the result of high color saturation, sharp contrast,
and low noise. White balance is nicely done too.
The user interface of the Canon is spare. There are not a lot of features
for the user to play with. The simplicity will be a godsend for some
users. Personally, I would have preferred to have more control.
I believe that it is useful to compare the Canon SD30 to the Casio Exilim
EX-S500. The Casio offers a TON of features! It has more "scene" modes.
It can function as a sound (only) recorder. It can photograph documents
and force them to look rectangular (remove keystone effect). Best of
all, the Casio can be programmed to remember some of its settings, and
reset others, when it is powered off. The customer gets to choose which
settings are remembered. Too bad about the chroma noise and soft focus
Before I obtained the Canon, I already had an EX-S500. I had planned to
keep one of these cameras and give away the other. But frankly, I don't
like the thought of parting with either of them. Comparing these two
cameras has made me appreciate both of them. A few monthes ago, I wrote
a review of the EX-S500 that was fairly negative, due to image quality
issues. Oddly enough, I respect Casio more now. This, in spite of the
fact that the Canon SD30 does produce superior photographs, as I expected.
Both cameras are engineering marvels! The Canon produces beautiful
photographs and stunning macro images. The Casio is a "Swiss Army Knife"
of useful features that can be customized to match the tastes of the
owner. Also, the Casio has a superior shape for carrying everywhere.
In the next few monthes, at least two new cameras will appear that are
in the same size class as the Canon SD30.
Sony will soon deliver its Cybershot T9. The reviews that I have seen
indicate that the previous "T" cameras had pretty bad image quality.
This includes the T7, which is probably the tiniest camera available.
The T9 will be somewhat larger. Perhaps Sony will do a better job with
Casio will replace the 5 megapixel Exilim EX-S500 with a 6 megapixel
EX-S600. The feature set won't change much, but it is already superb,
as I have claimed above. Perhaps the new camera will offer better image
quality? Increasing the pixel count is not likely to solve any noise
problems. But until the camera is delivered, who knows?
In my opinion, it is reasonable to buy now, rather than wait for these
new cameras to arrive. Both the Canon SD30 and the Casio Exilim EX-S500
David Arnstein |
User Report: Canon SD30 digital camera
I just purchased an SD30.
Do you notice a hiss (or other background noise) in your video?
I am quite impressed with camera overall but the terrible audio may be
a deal breaker for me.
I would like to know if it is a universal problem or just my particular
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