Friday, June 17, 2011

Tech Review: Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS

As promised in a previous post, I am here to review my new camera: the Canon PowerShot SD 1300 IS. Let me preface this review by noting that, despite the sometimes torrid thoughts I share on tech products, my experience with digital cameras is very limited. I never really owned my own camera -- did not know about photography when I was younger, did not have the urge to take photographs in high school and college, and now I am too busy to take it up as a hobby. This admission being made, I will attempt to construct as thorough and unbiased a review as possible...

First of all, let's get the specs out of the way. The Canon PowerShot SD 1300 IS features a 12.1 megapixel sensor, 28 mm wide-angle lens, 4x optical zoom, and a 2.7 inch LCD screen. Its other noted features are the capable low light mode and a "Smart AUTO mode [that] intelligently selects from 18 settings". All in all, it is a powerful point-and-shoot camera -- perhaps one of the best in its class. At least the specifications on paper are quite impressive.

What do you do get in the box? The contents are pretty standard in my opinion: the camera (duh!), a wrist strap, battery charger (yes the Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS uses rechargeable batteries), the battery itself, AV cables, instructions manual, and installation software. Admittedly the only items I've touched are the manual, the camera, and the wrist strap.

One of the first things you notice when holding the Canon SD1300 is just how small and compact it is. The camera is about the width of a first generation iPad (assuming you have one of those to compare to) or double the thickness of my Nokia e71x smartphone; weight-wise, it is listed at 5 ounces but feels much less. I think the Canon SD1300 is skin to one of those bigger smartphones -- except of course, it can only take photographs or video. The build quality is also impressive: full-body aluminium build makes the camera feel very solid on hand.

Appearance aside, I like what I've seen thus far from the Canon SD 1300's performance. The camera starts incredibly fast, taking roughly 5 secs from the press of the power button until it is ready to take pictures. This will come in handy for those special yet short-lived moments (hasn't happened here yet). The interface is easy to use. For newbies like myself, the "Smart AUTO" mode is very helpful to automatically select the best mode for certain situations. I have not tested out the entire breadth of the image quality, but so far so good. The images come out sharp and colors very natural. I have only taken pictures of food (self-made fried chicken rice, which I will blog about soon) and a couple of pictures at a recent Washington Nationals baseball game. The photographs came out well.

When I look at tech gadgets, one of the most important things to me is the battery life of the device and versatility (storage-wise). The Canon PowerShot SD 1300 IS takes the standard-sized SD card. I am happy to declare that I have yet to charge the camera -- although I've only taken about 5 pictures thus far. Based on what I have read, a single charge should yield at least 300 photographs; some owners have stated they've taken around 400. In other words, the battery life is solid. One concern I do have is the fact the battery is rechargeable, which means you have to monitor your usage when recharging stations are not readily available. This would apply to long road trips or photograph-intensive events (e.g. a wedding).

In sum, I really like the Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS thus far. It is compact, battery-efficient, and gets the job done. I would recommend it to anyone in the market for a basic point-and-shoot camera. Otherwise new camera technologies like the micro-thirds (?) could be attractive alternatives. Cameras like the Sony NX-3 are said to pack the power of a SDLR in the shape of a point-and-shoot.

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