Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS
Color is the name of the game with compact digital cameras, as more and more subcompact models debut not only in standby silver or no-nonsense black, but come in a host of vivid hues that make them as much a personality statement as an imaging tool. The Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS isn’t about to be outdone at this game, as it comes in one of six color options, which include green, blue, hot pink, and a spicy orange in addition to the more modest black and silver options. But aside from its fashionable flair, the PowerShot SD1200 IS backs up its looks with true-blue Canon technology, from an intelligent Smart Auto mode to Face Detection to Optical Image Stabilization. It also features a capable 10-megapixel CCD and improved PureColor LCD monitor for even better image review.
The Canon SD1200 is definitely intended for those who want the luxury of a few manual exposure controls, but really want to let the camera do the work the majority of the time. Its Smart Auto mode senses available lighting, faces, color, and distance to select the best preset Scene mode it has to offer (one of 17). Alternatively, you can place it into standard Program mode, and set options like white balance and exposure compensation. But given the highly portable, fun nature of this digital camera, and the very good performance of its Auto mode, why would you? This is definitely the camera to throw into a bag or a pocket, head out the door, and just have some fun.
On the nuts and bolts side, the Canon PowerShot SD1200 is equipped with a fairly standard 3x optical zoom, encompassing a zoom range equivalent to 35-105mm. An additional 4x digital zoom is available as well. Canon’s Optical Image Stabilizer Technology is an automatic feature on the SD1200 IS, coming into play whenever the camera senses that an image could be blurry due to slight camera movement – such as minor shakes at full telephoto or in dark conditions where the shutter speed is a little too slow for safe hand-holding. Also built into the PowerShot SD1200 is Canon’s powerful DIGIC 4 Image Processor, which has even more finely-honed Face Detection and subject tracking, and incorporates this into a Face Detection Self-timer option.
Tiny and super-compact, the Canon SD1200 measures only 3.48 x 2.16 x 0.86 inches (89 x 55 x 22mm) and weighs in at a trifling 4.23 ounces (120g). Definitely pocket friendly. The Canon SD1200 is currently available at a suggested retail price of US$229.99.
Canon SD1200 User Report
by Stephanie Boozer
The Canon SD1200 continues the long line of ELPH digital cameras that have become a mainstay in the subcompact digital camera market. Known for quality, value, and overall good performance, the Canon ELPHs are typically a sure-bet. The latest generation of ELPHs features improved processing, updated LCD displays, and intelligent automatic modes that do all of the work for you, underscoring the line’s appeal to consumers.
Look and feel. Because of the Canon SD1200’s very tiny size and smooth body panels, it’s definitely a pocket-worthy model that can go anywhere. But that small size also means you’ll want the security of the wrist strap, as there’s really no hand grip to speak of. Your fingers might find some purchase on the slightly raised Canon logo on the front panel, but there’s no strong thumb hold, and larger hands might have trouble getting a firm grip. Still it was quite comfortable in my medium sized hands, though even I had to switch to a two-handed grip in many cases to make settings changes. I definitely recommend picking up a small camera case for protection.
When powered off, the Canon SD1200’s lens retracts flush with the camera body, and there are really only very minor protrusions elsewhere (such as the Shutter button up top), so the camera shouldn’t hang on pockets. Controls are very limited, due to the mostly automatic design, and the few present are clearly labeled.
Controls. Powering on the Canon SD1200 is done with a small silver button on the top deck. It’s not exactly easy to reach one-handed, since its basically flush with the camera and a little close to center in a one-handed grip, but this also makes it hard to accidentally trigger. Zoom and the Shutter button are really the only controls easily reached one-handed, since the zoom ring surrounds the Shutter button. Instead of a Mode dial, the PowerShot SD1200 IS has a sliding Mode switch in the top right of the rear panel, which is pretty difficult to accidentally actuate when shooting. The only control I found myself accidentally hitting was the Playback button, and that was infrequent.
There is no thumb rest to speak of on the PowerShot SD1200’s rear panel, and I had to frequently fight to keep my thumb off of the top right corner of the LCD monitor where it created a large smudge. There are always some tradeoffs with tiny cameras, and the PowerShot SD1200 IS’ are really very trivial. A small but usable optical viewfinder is available just above the LCD monitor, though framing is much less accurate, as the LCD gives you a much better sample of what you’ll get when you press the shutter.
A small flash resides just above the lens, which becomes a problem in super macro shots, as the lens blocks part of the flash. The left button of the multi-directional rocker button controls flash mode, and the flash is powerful enough for use within about 14 feet in Auto mode at wide-angle, but only to just shy of 8 feet with the lens at full telephoto.
Lens. Ranging from 35 to 105mm equivalent, the Canon SD1200’s 3x zoom is pretty run-of-the-mill, but offers good quality overall. Featuring Canon’s Optical Image Stabilizer technology, the PowerShot SD1200 IS automatically counteracts any blurring that might occur from minor camera shakes. It has four modes: Off, Continuous, Shoot only, and Panning. Optically, the Canon SD1200 exhibited a few characteristics that are not unusual for a pocket camera. At wide-angle, we noticed some fairly strong blurring in the left corners of the frame, and barrel distortion was noticeable, though results at telephoto were much better (see below).
Modes. The Mode switch in the top right corner of the rear panel features only Smart Auto, Program, and Movie modes, as the Playback mode is activated by a separate button just left of this switch. The Playback button also powers on the camera, and you can instantly switch to Record mode by pressing the Shutter button halfway.
The Canon SD1200’s Smart Auto mode is the one a lot of users will prefer to stay in, as the camera automatically assesses the scene and chooses from a long list of preset modes before taking an exposure. The camera employs Face Detection to determine if any people are in the shot, but also automatically assesses color, distance to the subject, contrast, and movement. The available scenes are Portrait, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Fireworks, Aquarium, Underwater (for use with a housing), ISO 3,200, Indoor, Kids & Pets, Night Snapshot, Long Shutter, and Digital Macro. In Program mode, the user has access to the same scene selection (through the Function menu), but also has the ability to adjust things like white balance, ISO, color mode, metering and exposure compensation.
The PowerShot SD1200 IS’ Movie mode can capture VGA and QVGA movies with sound, at 30 frames per second for up to one hour (or 4GB per clip). Video quality is pretty good, easily replacing the family camcorder for simple video snippets.
Menu. The Canon SD1200′ menu is basically the same as preceding Canon PowerShot models, with a vertical list of options and a couple of tabs across the top. You simply scroll up and down with the arrow keys and hit the center of the multi-controller to make a selection. Pretty straightforward. The more commonly-accessed options are available through the Function menu, which includes the Mode setting (Program or the Scene modes), ISO, White Balance, My Colors, Metering, and the Quality and Resolution choices. Overall, it’s a straightforward design that shouldn’t take too much time to learn, whether you’re already familiar with Canon menu systems or not.
Storage and battery. The Canon SD1200 stores images on SD/SDHC memory cards, for a current maximum capacity of 32GB per card. That’ll be sufficient for most needs with this camera, and indeed a 4 to 8GB card should be sufficient unless you plan to shoot a lot of video with the PowerShot SD1200 IS.
The Canon SD1200′ battery is a 1,000mAh, 3.7 volt lithium-ion design, model number NB-6L. The rectangular battery latches in place next to the memory card beneath a small hinged door. A single charge is good for about 260 shots. That’s about average for its class, so definitely consider picking up a spare battery.