Review: Canon PowerShot SD10 Digital ELPH
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: October 10, 2003
October 11, 2003
a regular Digital ELPH just isn't small enough for you, then
Canon's newest and smallest model will definitely get your attention.
Keeping them same all-metal body as the other ELPHs, the PowerShot
SD10 Digital ELPH ($349 street price) is probably 1/3 the size
of the SD100 and S400. Of course, you lose the zoom lens and
optical viewfinder in the process, but those are the tradeoffs
necessary to make a camera this small. So how small is it?
the SD10 next to a typical compact camera, in this case a Minolta
to learn about this take-anywhere camera? Read on!
SD10 Digital ELPH is known as the Digital IXUS i in some countries.
in the Box?
PowerShot SD10 has an excellent bundle. Inside the box, you'll
4.0 (effective) Mpixel Canon PowerShot SD10 camera
Secure Digital card
rechargeable Li-ion battery
featuring Canon Digital Camera Solutions and ArcSoft Camera
page camera manual + add'l software manual (both printed)
includes a 32MB Secure Digital card with the camera, a good starting
point. Even so, you'll definitely want a larger card right away.
SD cards come as large as 512MB as of this writing. You can use
MultiMediaCards as well, though they are not supported by Canon.
SD10 uses the same NB-3L lithium-ion battery as the SD100. The
NB-3L battery has 2.9 Wh of power. Canon estimates that you'll
be able to take about 190 shots, or spend 140 minutes in playback
mode. Since there's no optical viewfinder on this camera, you
must use the LCD, which decreases the battery life.
time readers of this site know that I'm not a big fan of proprietary
batteries, but it's unavoidable with these ultra-small cameras.
An extra battery will set you back $45.
Battery charger + battery
thing I love about these little PowerShots is the battery charger.
It plugs right into the wall, with no cables to worry about.
95 minutes later your battery is fully charged.
SD10 has a (tiny!) built-in lens cover, so there is no lens cap
to worry about. This shot gives you another idea of just how
small this camera is!
only real accessory for the SD10 is the AW-DC10 all weather case.
Note that this is not equivalent to Canon's other underwater
cases -- the camera can get wet, and go up to 9.8 feet underwater,
but no deeper.
that you cannot buy an AC adapter for this camera, as it lacks
a DC-in port.
ImageBrowser in Mac OS X
includes version 14 (!) of their excellent Digital Camera Solutions
software, as well as ArcSoft's very capable Camera Suite, with
the SD10. The main programs in the DCS software package are ImageBrowser/ZoomBrowser
(Mac/PC names), PhotoStitch (a great panorama creation product),
and RemoteCapture (which lets your Mac or PC control the camera
over the USB connection).
PhotoImpression in Mac OS X
ArcSoft package includes PhotoImpression 4 for Mac and Windows,
as well as VideoImpression (1.7 for PC, 1.6 for Mac). Despite
its somewhat cheesy interface, PhotoImpression is a nice program
for retouching and organizing your photos.
software bundle continues to be a lot nicer than what the competition
includes with their cameras. Best of all (for us Mac users, at
least), all the software is Mac OS X native.
camera manuals also are some of the best out there. You'll get
a full, printed camera manual (that actually makes sense), as
well as a separate manual for the bundled software as well.
PowerShot SD10 is a tiny, all-metal camera that you can take
anywhere. But size isn't the only unique thing about the SD10's
body -- you can choose from four colors as well!
can choose from bronze, white, black, or silver bodies. If you
want people to notice your camera, get the bronze one!
SD10 is essentially a one hand camera, though you can use two
if you like. As you can imagine, it fits in any pocket. One thing
you need to watch out for is scratches: these metal cameras can
get messed up quickly if you're no careful.
official dimensions of the camera are 3.6 x 1.9 x 0.7 inches
(W x H x D, without protrusions), and it weights just 100 grams.
Compare that with 3.3 x 2.2 x 0.9 inches and 165 grams on the
next largest Digital ELPH, the SD100.
take a closer look at this camera now.
SD10 has a fixed focal length, F2.8 lens. The focal length is
6.4 mm, which is equivalent to 39 mm. The SD10 uses Canon's 5-point
AiAF autofocus system. The lens is not threaded.
the upper-right you'll find the built-in flash. The working range
of the flash is 0.3 - 2.0 m.
there's one thing I like about Canon, it's that they have AF-assist
lamps on all their cameras -- even tiny ones like this. This
little lamp helps the camera focus when lighting is dim.
the right of the AF-assist lamp is the microphone.
better like the SD10's LCD display, since it's the only way to
frame pictures on the camera. Though this 1.5" LCD only
has 78,000 pixels, you wouldn't know it by looking at the screen
-- it's quite sharp. It's also bright, and images on it are fluid.
The LCD brightness is adjustable in the setup menu as well.
no optical viewfinder on this camera, which may be a deal breaker
for some people.
the LCD is a switch which moves the camera between playback,
movie, and record mode.
the right of the LCD are two buttons, the four-way controller,
and a status lamp. The two buttons are for menu and function/set
("enter" for menus). What does the function menu do?
The function menu
function button is the way to change the shooting settings on
the camera. The available options on this overlay-style menu
mode (Auto, manual, long shutter, macro, stitch assist)
compensation (+2EV to -2EV in 1/3EV increments)
balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, fluorescent
(Auto, 50, 100, 200, 400)
effect (Off, vivid, neutral, low sharpening, sepia, black & white)
(Evaluative, center-weighted, spot)
size/compression - see chart later in review
few random notes about those. First, manual mode really isn't
a true manual mode -- it just unlocks all the menu options. In
fact, only the shooting mode and image size/compression options
above are available in auto mode.
long shutter mode is really the only manual control on the camera
(no manual white balance here!). Switch to this mode and you
can choose a shutter speed ranging from 1 - 15 seconds. Stitch
Assist is a helpful tool for making panoramic images.
photo effect feature lets you change the color between regular,
vivid, and neutral. You can use photo effects in movie mode,
function button is also used to delete a photo in playback mode.
the right of the Function button is the four-way controller,
which is used for menu navigation and more. The "more" includes:
- Digital zoom in
- Flash (Auto, auto w/redeye reduction, flash on, flash off,
- Digital zoom out
- Drive (Single shot, continuous, self-timer)
that using the 5.7X digital zoom will lower the quality of your
shooting mode will take shots sequentially at around 1.6 frames/second.
I was able to take six shots in a row at the highest quality
last item of note on the back of the camera can be found under
that rubber cover at the lower-right. This is where you'll find
the I/O ports for A/V and Digital (USB) out. Canon is still using
USB 1.1... I'd like to see them adopt the new high speed USB
2.0 standard one of these days. As I mentioned earlier, there's
no DC-in port on the SD10.
the top of the camera, you'll find the power button, shutter
release button, and speaker. You have to hold the power button
down for a second to actually turn the camera on or off, which
prevents you from doing so accidentally.
to see on this side of the SD10, other than its thin profile.
this side of the camera are the battery and SD card slots. They
are kept under a somewhat flimsy plastic door that feels like
it could bust off if you force it.
included 32MB SD card and battery are shown at left.
on the bottom of the camera you'll find a metal tripod mount.
Some of these tiny cameras don't have one, so it's nice to see.
the Canon PowerShot SD10
PowerShot SD10 starts up faster than almost any camera I've used.
The camera is ready to go in just 1.4 seconds
lag is about average, with the camera taking around a second
to lock focus in most cases, and slightly longer if the camera
has use the AF illuminator. The SD10 did a good job focusing
in dim lighting conditions.
lag is minimal at fast shutter speeds, and noticeable at slower
shutter speeds (where you should be using the flash or a tripod).
SD10 has a feature called Quick Shot, which lets you take a picture
without having to half-press the shutter release button first.
Keep in mind that it works best when the subject is further than
1.5 meters away.
speed is very good: about 1.5 seconds pass before you can take
another shot, assuming you turned off the post-shot review feature.
If you have the review feature turned on, half-pressing the shutter
release will ready the camera for another shot.
a shot is taken, you can press the function button to quickly
delete the photo you just took.
a look at the image size and quality choices available on the
shots on 32MB card
2272 x 1704
1600 x 1200
1024 x 768
640 x 480
no TIFF or RAW mode available on this camera, unlike some of
Canon's more expensive cameras. The camera names files as IMG_####.JPG,
where # = 0001 - 9900. The camera maintains the numbering even
if you erase or format the card.
SD10 uses the same menu system as other PowerShot cameras. It's
basic, and easy to use. Items in bold are only
available in manual mode. Here's a look:
Shot (on/off) - lets you take shots without half-pressing the
shutter release button. May not work for close-up shots.
turns multi-point autofocus on and off
(2, 10 sec)
(Off, 2-10 sec) - for showing image on LCD after it is taken
the exception of the aforementioned long shutter mode, this is
a totally point-and-shoot camera.
SD10 also has a setup menu, with the following options:
(on/off) - turn the beep sounds off
- set the volume for the various sound effects the SD10 makes
display - choose what is shown on LCD in various modes
info (Off, standard, detailed)
brightness (-7 to +7, increments of 1)
power down (on/off)
off (10, 20, 30 sec, 1-3 min) - delay before LCD is turned
display (0 sec - 3 min) - length of time that clock is shown
number reset (on/off) - maintain file numbering
(English, Deutsch, Français, Nederlands, Dansk, Suomi,
Italiano, Norsk, Svenska, Español, Chinese, Japanese)
system (NTSC, PAL)
SD10 has a rather strange feature -- a built in clock. To view
the current date and time, you just hold down the Func button.
The clock remains visible for the amount of time you chose in
the setup menu. Pressing another button brings the camera back
into shooting mode.
is also a "My Camera" menu, which allows you to customize
the startup screen and various noises that the camera makes.
You can also turn them all off, thankfully.
enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.
SD10 did a nice job with our macro test subject, with accurate
color and good detail. You can get as close to your subject as
3 cm -- very impressive.
night test shot results were mixed. On one hand, the long shutter
mode allowed the camera to capture plenty of light. The image
is nice and sharp as well. However, noise levels are a little
high on this 6 sec exposure, and there are several hot pixels.
That was surprising, since the camera has a noise reduction system
that is activated on exposures longer than 1.3 seconds. There
was also some purple fringing in the image.
you'd expect with a tiny camera, there was some redeye in our
flash test shot. It can be removed pretty well in software.
distortion test shows mild barrel distortion and no vignetting.
I was very surprised at how good the photo quality was on the
SD10. There are no tradeoffs here, like you'd find on other cameras
(blurry corners being an example). Images are very sharp, color
is good, and exposure was accurate most of the time. I did see
some purple fringing, but it wasn't bad enough to be considered
just take my word about all this, though -- have a look at the photo
gallery and let your own eyes be the judge!
SD10 has an average movie mode. You can record up to 3 minutes
of video at either 320 x 240 or 160 x 120, both at 15 frames/second.
Sound is also recorded.
are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec.
have what is possibly the world's most boring sample movie for
to play movie (2.8MB, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
SD10 has the same, excellent playback mode as seen on other Canon
SD10 has all the basic playback features that you'd expect. That
includes slide shows, DPOF print marking, image protection, thumbnail
mode, and zoom and scroll. It took me some fooling around to
find the thumbnail mode -- hold down the Func button and it'll
switch to 9 photos per page.
zoom and scroll feature (my term) lets you blow up the picture
up to 10X, and then scroll around in the zoomed-in area.
Sound Memo feature lets you add a 60 second sound clip to an
image, in WAV format.
can also rotate your photos in playback mode using the Rotate
viewing a movie, you can use the Movie Edit tool to trim unwanted
footage from the beginning
or end of the clip.
SD10 provides a decent amount of info about your photos, including
a histogram. To turn this information on, you must adjust the
Info Display: Replay Info option in the setup menu.
camera moves through images fairly quickly as well -- around
one second elapses between high res photos.
Does it Compare?
long as you don't mind losing the zoom lens and optical viewfinder,
the Canon PowerShot SD10 Digital ELPH is a really nice ultra-compact
camera. It takes excellent pictures, with none of the blurry
corners or "video capture look" of some other cameras
in this class. It has a beautiful metal body, available in four
colors. It starts up quickly, and the Quick Shot feature lets
you take photos without prefocusing. The camera's AF-assist lamp
helps it lock focus in dim lighting. The cameras playback mode
and software bundle are both top-notch. Downsides include the
fixed lens, missing optical viewfinder, and almost total lack
of manual controls (though I do like the long shutter speed mode).
Some scene modes would've been nice as well. The only photo quality
issues of note were some redeye, and several hot pixels in the
night test shot, where there shouldn't have been any. My final
complaint about the SD10 is the price: you're paying a premium
for style. You can buy the much more capable Canon A80 for the
same money -- but then again, you couldn't wedge it into your
pants pocket if you tried. The SD10 is a tiny, take anywhere
camera that I can definitely recommend.
elegant metal body
photo quality for such a small camera
Shot mode lets you take pictures without prefocusing
of the best software bundles out there
I didn't care for:
average noise, several hot pixels in night test shot
plastic door over battery/memory card compartment
manual controls, or at least some scene modes, would be nice
optical viewfinder or zoom lens
mode looking a little dated
other tiny cameras to consider include the Casio Exilim EX-S20, EX-S3, EX-Z3,
Pentax Optio S and S4,
and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-U50 and DSC-U60.
There are other, slightly larger cameras too, so check the Reviews & Info
section for those.
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try
out the PowerShot SD10 and it's competitors before you buy!
how the photo quality stacks up in our photo
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due
to my limited resources, please do not send me requests for
personal camera recommendations.