Canon makes some of the most consistently appealing compact cameras around, mostly because they don’t skimp on image quality. With the new PowerShot SD630 Digital ELPH, that steady attention to imaging detail continues with several new small but substantial improvements. In particular, the SD630 tackles one of the hottest issues in digital cameras right now: low-light shooting.
To allow flash-free photography in low light, the Canon SD630 offers selectable ISO settings up to 800, an extraordinarily high sensitivity rating, previously available only on higher-end and professional cameras. If you’re less inclined to be fiddling around with ISO while taking pictures, there’s also a new High ISO Auto setting (along with regular ISO Auto) which automatically sets exposure using the higher (400 and 800) ISO levels. For quick access to these settings there’s a dedicated ISO button on the multi-controller on the back of the camera. While improving low-light performance has the potential to be revolutionary for consumers, in other areas, the SD630 plays it safer.
Canon SD630 User Report
The new PowerShot SD630 features a lot of the same digital ELPH design elements we’ve seen over the years, but the SD630’s design is enhanced by a slightly more elegant appearance. Super thin and sleek, the SD630’s controls are extremely low profile and subtle, directing your attention back at that good-looking case. The rear panel sports a very large 3.0-inch LCD monitor that’s clear and bright, leaving room for only a sprinkling of control buttons, and eliminating the optical viewfinder entirely. The SD630 and its cousin, the SD600 are virtually the same camera, though with a few modifications on the SD630’s design. Both feature 6.0-megapixel sensors, 3x optical zooms, Canon’s DIGIC II image processors, and all the high ISO capabilities that make them ideal for shooting in low-light without a flash. However, at just $50 more than the SD600, the SD630 offers the larger LCD monitor, and its more stylish body will definitely turn more heads.
The SD630 is trim and compact at 3.56 x 2.24 x 0.80 inches (90.3 x 56.8 x 20.2 millimeters), discreetly slipping into shirt pockets and tiny evening bags with ease. The largely metal composition of the SD630 also gives it enough weight — about 5.71 ounces (162 grams) with the battery and card — and balance to let you know you’re not dealing with a toy. Because the SD630 has very few protrusions with the lens retracted, there’s no danger of it getting hung on a pocket, making it quick on the draw when combined with its quick startup speed. While the SD630’s larger 3.0-inch LCD offers more real estate than its cousin, the SD600, it has the same 173,000 pixels of resolution, which means playback and live view won’t appear as sharp as on the SD600’s 2.5-inch LCD monitor. However, in terms of playback, both cameras come equipped with great new transition effects. One setting darkens and then brightens each image as you scroll through, and another slides one image over the other like shuffling through a deck of cards. It has a high cool factor. In the same coolness category, the SD630 also sports a Touch Dial feature. What this means is that the camera’s multicontroller on the rear panel can be set through the Setup menu to respond simply to the touch of a finger. Merely touching the dial displays a digital replica of the dial in the LCD monitor, with the function icon closest to your finger enlarged. While this doesn’t really speed up the actual process of changing menu selections, it’s a quick way to verify you have your finger on the right button. On such a small controller disk, it’s actually helpful. Once the icon is enlarged, pressing down on the button lets you change the setting. Again, not a super important innovation in the world of digital cameras, but definitely an interesting feature that adds a sense of grace to the SD630.