Which of the SDxxx Series is right for you?, April 18, 2005
Let me begin by saying that Canon makes exceptional digital cameras; the
best in the market right now. This is because they have always used high
quality components since they began manufacturing digital cameras. This
one is no exception.
Now that I've sold you on a Canon, which one should you choose?
First off, let's see if you really need an SDxxx camera, or would be
better suited with a cheaper non ultraportable camera.
The SDxxx Series offers several key advantages over less portable models:
-Beautiful, sleek design and metallic body will wow anyone who sees it.
-Gorgeous 2 inch LCD screens
-The excellent Dig!c 2 processor (other Canons only have dig!c 1)
-Much better movie mode than previous Canons
-Small light, easy pocketability
On the other hand, there are some significant drawbacks due to the
components Canon had to use to get the camera so small:
-Few manual controls.
-Pictures are not as sharp as those of similar non ultraportable cameras.
-The flash is very close to the lens (lots of redeye problems)
-More purple fringing issues than other Canons
-Proprietary batteries that are expensive to replace
-The LCD is very fragile. Read the SD200 and SD300 reviews to see lots of
unhappy people whose LCDs broke. Canon's warranty does NOT cover this
either. My suggestion? Buy using a credit card that offers a warranty in
addition to the manufacturer's. If your lcd breaks, many CC companies will
replace the camera no questions asked!
If you don't need the ultra portability and flashy looks of the SD
cameras, a slightly larger camera with more features might be right for
you. I would highly suggest Canon's A510 or A520 if you don't need an SD
If you still want an SD model, which one should you choose? The SD200 with
3.2mp, the SD300 with 4mp, the SD400 with 5mp, or the SD500 at a whopping
Your first instinct may be that more megapixels is better. Today, however
megapixel ratings are similar to Ghz ratings in the computer world: They
used to mean a lot, but they don't mean as much anymore. More megapixels
do NOT mean a better image. They mean a larger printable image. Unless you
have to have huge prints, you simply do not more megapixels. In fact, the
3.2mp of the SD200 is enough for anyone who doesn't plan on printing
pictures larger than a standard 8.5x11 sheet of paper.
That having been said, there are some differences between each SDxxx
model. In order to get the larger 7.1mp sensor in the SD500, Canon had to
make the camera larger. Thus, it is around a quarter inch thicker and 30%
heavier than the other 3 models. The larger size did enable Canon to pack
more features into it, however:
Features unique to the SD500:
-1/4 inch thicker
-50% longer flash range
-14% more battery life
The SD400 and SD500 also share these benefits over the SD200/SD300:
-New "Night Display" feature which brightens the LCD in low light
-My Colors feature lets you highlight or swap colors right on the camera
-USB 2.0 High Speed support
The following are shared by all the SDxxx Cameras:
-Beautiful, eye catching design
-Great image quality, though not as good as non ultraportable models
-New Dig!c 2 image processor
-Excellent Movie Mode
-3x optical zoom is adequate for most people
-Excellent, intuitive manual controls
-Huge 2.0 inch lcd that looks great under various lighting conditions
-Uses widely available and cheap SD cards
Cons (most of these are minor quirks):
-Some purple fringing problems
-Proprietary batteries are expensive to replace and inconvenient at times
-Lots of issues with fragile LCDs
-No RAW support
-Few manual controls
If you do choose this product, the first thing you should buy is a larger
SD memory card. The camera comes with a 16mb card (32 in the SD500), which
is pretty much useless.
You should also immediately purchase a case and some screen protectors to
protect the LCD.
Back to Canon SD500