SD200 Digital ELPH ($300) is a totally new design
in Canon's line of compact point-and-shoot cameras.
The SD200 takes everything that made the S410 great
and makes it smaller -- except for the LCD, which
got a lot bigger. Other features on the SD200 include
a 3.2 Megapixel CCD, great VGA movie mode, an AF-assist
lamp, and a couple of manual of controls. For those
who want more resolution, Canon also offers the 4
The old Digital ELPHs were my favorite
point-and-shoot cameras -- how does this all new, ultra-thin
model compare? Find out now!
The SD200 is known as the Ixus
30 in some countries.
Since the SD200 and SD300 are nearly
identical, I will be reusing most of the SD300 review
What's in the Box?
The PowerShot SD200 has an average
bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
- The 3.2 effective Megapixel Canon
PowerShot SD200 Digital ELPH camera
- 16MB Secure Digital card
- NB-4L lithium-ion battery
- Battery charger
- Wrist strap
- USB cable
- A/V cable
- CD-ROM featuring Canon Digital
Camera Solutions, ArcSoft Camera Suite, and drivers
- 177 page camera manual + software
manual (both printed)
Canon includes a 16MB Secure Digital
(SD) card with the camera. That holds just eight photos
at the highest quality setting, so I'd advise that
you buy a larger memory card right away. I'd say 128MB
is a good starting size. The camera can use SD or MMC
cards, though I'd advise against the latter. The camera
takes advantage of high speed SD cards, and one is
recommended if you plan on using the VGA movie mode.
The SD200 uses the brand new NB-4L
lithium-ion rechargeable battery. This small battery
packs a paltry 2.8 Wh of energy, which translates to
140 photos per charge using the CIPA battery life standard.
I figure that's around (or maybe a tiny bit below)
average for small cameras like this. The old S410 did
a little better in this department.
My usual complaints about proprietary
batteries like the one used by the SD200 apply here.
They're expensive ($50 a pop), and you can't put in
a set of alkalines to get you through the rest of the
day like you could with an AA-based camera.
When it's time to recharge, just drop
the battery into the included charger. This is my favorite
style of charger -- it plugs right into the wall (yes,
I know some don't like this). It takes about ninety
minutes to fully charge the battery.
There's a built-in lens cover on the
SD200, as you'd expect on a camera like this. As you
can see, it's quite small!
There are a just two accessories available
for the SD200. The most interesting one is the AW-DC30
all-weather case ($149). This lets you take the ELPH
up to 3 m / 9.8 ft underwater -- great for pools and
snorkeling, not so great for scuba. The only other
accessory that I can find is the ACK-DC10 AC adapter
kit ($60), which lets you power the camera without
draining your batteries.
(Mac OS X)
Canon includes version 21 of their
excellent Digital Camera Solutions software with the
SD200. Included in this package are ZoomBrowser (for
Windows) or ImageBrowser (for Mac), PhotoStitch (for
making panoramic photos), plus TWAIN and WIA drivers
for Windows. Zoom/ImageBrowser can be used for downloading
images from your camera, basic editing of your photos,
and photo printing.
for Mac OS X
ArcSoft's Camera Suite 1.3 is also
included with the SD200, which contains VideoImpression
and PhotoImpression for Mac and PC. Although it has
a quirky interface, there are some useful tools in
this easy-to-use software.
Recent Canon camera manuals have been
more complex than earlier ones, but they're still above
average. The SD200's manual is complete, but expect
lots of "notes" and fine print.
Look and Feel
The stylish SD200 is about a third
of an inch thinner than the old S410 making it even
more pocketable. Like its predecessor, the SD200 is
made almost completely of metal, and it feels very
solid. Since it's so small, it can be taken just about
anywhere. The important controls are easy to reach,
and the camera is easy to hold with one hand.
I personally think the SD200 looks
a lot nicer (from the front, at least) than the more
expensive SD300. It's also about 15 grams lighter.
I'm not as enthusiastic about the "bubble buttons" on
the back of the SD200, though.
Now, here's a look at how the SD200
compares with some of the competition:
(W x H x D, excluding protrusions)
x 2.1 x 0.8 in.
x 2.2 x 1.1 in.
x 2.2 x 0.9 in.
x 2.5 x 0.8 in.
Minolta DiMAGE Xg
x 2.6 x 0.8 in.
x 2.5 x 0.6 in.
x 2.3 x 1.4 in.
x 2.2 x 1.1 in.
x 2.0 x 1.0 in.
x 2.0 x 0.8 in.
x 1.8 x 1.0 in.
x 2.4 x 0.8 in.
As you can see, the SD200 is one of
the smallest cameras out there!
Okay, enough numbers -- let's move
onto our camera tour now!
As I said, I think the "ripple" design
on the front of the camera looks a heck of a lot nicer
than the more conservative SD300.
The PowerShot SD200 uses the same
new UA (ultra-high refractive index) lens design as
the S60 and S70, which allowed Canon to make the camera
so thin. The lens on the SD200 is an F2.8-4.9, 3X zoom
model, with a focal range of 5.8 - 17.4 mm. The 35mm-equivalent
focal range is 35 - 105 mm. The lens is not threaded.
To the upper-right of the lens is
the built-in flash. The flash has a working range of
0.5 - 3.5 m at wide-angle and 0.5 - 2.0 m at telephoto,
which is average for a compact camera. You cannot attach
an external flash to this camera, which should not
be a surprise.
Directly above the lens is the optical
viewfinder. To its left is the AF-assist lamp, which
doubles as the self-timer lamp. The AF-assist lamp
helps the camera focus in low light conditions.
The last item to see here is the microphone,
which is located to the left of the lens.
Besides the thinner body, the
other "big" news on the SD200 is the large
2-inch LCD display. The old S410 had a 1.5" screen
and what a difference half an inch makes! The screen
is bright, motion is fluid, and images are sharp,
thanks to the 118,000 pixel resolution. In low light,
the screen gains up slightly, but not as much as
other cameras that I consider "the best" in
those conditions. Outdoor screen visibility was about
Above the LCD is a fairly small optical
viewfinder, which is starting to disappear on some
of the smallest cameras. Thankfully it's still here
on the SD200. There's no diopter correction knob, which
is used to focus the what you're looking at.
Just to the right of that is the mode
switch, which moves the camera between playback, movie,
and still record mode. Below that is the Menu button
and the speaker.
Continuing downward we find the four-way
controller, which is used for a million things, most
notably menu navigation and:
- Up - Metering (Evaluative, center-weighted,
- Down - Drive (Single-shot, continuous
shooting, self-timer) / Delete photo
- Left - Focus (Off, macro, infinity)
- Right - Flash (Auto, auto w/redeye
reduction, flash on w/redeye reduction, flash on,
flash off, slow synchro)
I want to mention the great continuous
shooting mode on the SD200. Assuming you're using a
high speed SD card, you can keep shooting until the
card is full! I ran two tests to see how well it works.
First I used a generic 256MB SD card, which took 10
shots at 2.7 frames/second. With a SanDisk Extreme
card I could keep on shooting at the same frame rate
-- it never stopped. Very few cameras can do this,
and I'm most impressed! My only complaint is that the
LCD briefly freezes between each shot, which can make
following a moving subject a bit difficult -- but at
least there's the optical viewfinder.
By pressing the center button on the
four-way controller, you'll open up the Function menu.
- Shooting mode (Auto, manual, digital
macro, portrait, night snapshot, kids & pets,
indoor, underwater) - see below
- Exposure compensation (-2EV to
+2EV in 1/3EV increments)
- Long shutter mode (Off, 1 - 15
- White balance (Auto, daylight,
cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, fluorescent H, custom)
- ISO speed (Auto, 50, 100, 200,
- Photo effect (Off, vivid, neutral,
low sharpening, sepia, black & white)
- Compression (see chart later in
- Resolution (see chart later in
The manual shooting mode isn't really
a true manual mode. Rather, it just unlocks all the
menu items. The only real manual controls on the camera
are white balance and shutter speed. The custom white
balance option lets you use a white or gray card as
a reference, for perfect color in any lighting. I'll
have more on the digital macro option later in the
The long shutter speed feature lets
you manually choose a speed range from 1 - 15 seconds
-- great for long exposures. Too bad there's no way
to force a fast shutter speed for action shots.
The photo effect lets you change the
color or sharpness of your image instantly, and you
can use it for stills or movies.
Below the four-way controller are
the Display and Print/Share buttons. The Display button
turns the LCD on and off, and also toggles what is
shown on it. The Print/Share button lights up when
you connect to a compatible printer or computer. When
you do that, the LCD shows the following screen:
As you can see, you can transfer all
images, new images, images that you've DPOF marked,
or you can manually select some. The wallpaper option
sets the chosen image as the background picture on
On top of the SD200 you'll find the
power button and zoom controller with the shutter release
inside it. The zoom controller moves the lens from
wide-angle to telephoto in about 1.4 seconds. I counted
seven steps throughout the zoom range.
Nothing to see here, other than just
how thin the SD200 is!
Over here you'll find the I/O ports,
which are under a plastic cover at the top of the photo.
The ports here are A/V out and USB (1.1). There's no
DC-in port, since the AC adapter uses a DC coupler
(basically a battery with a cable coming out of it)
On the bottom of the SD200 you'll
find the metal tripod mount, battery compartment, and
SD card slot. The battery and memory card slots are
covered by an incredibly cheap plastic cover which
could very well break off. In addition, you can't swap
memory cards while the camera is on a tripod.
The included battery and SD card are
shown at right.
Using the Canon PowerShot
The PowerShot SD200 starts up remarkably
quickly, taking just 1.1 seconds to extend its lens
and "warm up" before you can start taking
Autofocus speeds were good, taking
about 0.5 seconds at wide-angle and 0.7 seconds at
telephoto. If the camera has to "hunt" a
bit, it can take about a second to focus. Low light
focusing was better than average, though not as good
as I was expecting from a camera with an AF-assist
Shutter lag was not a problem, even
at slower shutter speeds.
Shot-to-shot speed was excellent on
the SD200, with a delay of about a second before you
can take another picture, assuming you've turned the
post-shot review feature off.
You can delete a picture as it's been
saved to the memory card by pressing the delete photo
button (the "down" key on the four-way controller).
Now, here's a look at the image size
and quality choices available on the camera:
||Approx. file size
||# Images on 16MB card
(2048 x 1536)
(1600 x 1200)
(1024 x 768)
(640 x 480)
The SD200 does not support the RAW
or TIFF formats.
Images are named IMG_xxxx.JPG, where
x = 0001 - 9999. The file numbering is maintained even
if you replace and/or format memory cards.
Now, onto the menus!
The SD200's menus have an all new
look, though they work just like the menus on the old
ELPHs. Everything is really snappy and easy-to-use.
Note that some menu options are not available while
in the automatic shooting mode. With that in mind,
here's what's in the record menu:
- AiAF (on/off) - turns the 9-point
autofocus system on and off; if turned off, camera
focuses on whatever is in the center of the frame
(which is faster)
- Self-timer (2, 10 secs)
- AF-assist beam (on/off)
- Digital zoom (on/off) - it's best
to keep this turned off
- Review (Off, 2-10 sec) - post-shot
- Date stamp (Off, date, date & time)
- print the date and/or time on your photos
- Long shutter (on/off) - lets you
take exposures as long as 15 secs
- Stitch Assist (Off, left-to-right,
right-to-left) - helps you make panoramic photos
I should mention the date stamp feature
since there's been some confusion about it. To use
this feature you must use the function menu's resolution
option to select "postcard size", which is
1600 x 1200. Then and only then can you print the date
and/or time on your photos.
There is also a setup menu on the
SD200, so let's take a look at that now. Here's what
you'll find in the setup menu:
- Mute (on/off) - turn off those
annoying beep sounds!
- Startup volume (Off, 1-5)
- Operation volume (Off, 1-5)
- Self-timer volume (Off, 1-5)
- Shutter volume (Off, 1-5)
- Playback volume (Off, 1-5)
- LCD brightness (-7 to +7 in 1 step
- Power saving
- Auto power down (on/off)
- Display off (10, 20, 30 sec,
- Clock display (0-10 sec, 20 sec,
30 sec, 1-3 mins) - yes, the camera doubles as a
- Card format
- File number reset (on/off) - maintain
- Auto rotate (on/off) - camera will
automatically rotate portrait photos on the LCD
- Language (English, German, French,
Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish,
Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Russian, Portuguese,
Greek, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Traditional
Chinese, Korean, Japanese)
- Video system (NTSC, PAL)
An additional "My Camera'" menu
allows you to customize the startup screen, beeps,
and phony shutter sounds that your camera makes. If
these bother you, you can also turn them off.
Well enough about menus, let's do
photo tests now.
The SD200 produced a gorgeous version
of our 3" tall macro subject. The image is very
smooth and colors are quite saturated.
You can get as close to your subject
as 3 cm at wide-angle and 30 cm at telephoto. A digital
macro mode locks the lens at the wide-angle position
and lets you use the digital zoom to get closer to
the subject. I'm not sure why you'd want to use this.
The SD200 also did a good job with
the night test shot. With shutter speeds as long as
15 seconds, the camera is able to take in plenty of
light. Noise levels are average, and there is bit of
purple fringing to be seen.
The distortion test shows just mild
barrel distortion at the wide end of the lens. There's
also a hint of vignetting (dark corners) and blurriness
around the edges as well. You may encounter some of
this in your real world photos as well -- it's a tradeoff
that comes with a tiny camera.
Compact cameras mean big redeye, and
the SD200 is no exception. While your mileage may vary,
I would expect to deal with it most of the time. You
can clean it up pretty well using the included software.
As I said in the SD300 review, image
quality on the SD200 is very good, though not as good
as the previous generation ELPHs (S410, S500). Color
and exposure were both very good, and noise levels
are low. You will, however, encounter occasional vignetting
(especially in flash shots) and fuzzy corners in your
photos. Purple fringing levels are also a little above
Despite all that, you'll get great
4 x 6 and 5 x 7 inch prints from the SD200, which is
probably why you're buying it, right?
Don't take my word for all this --
view our photo gallery and
print the photos as if you took them. Then decide if
the SD200's photo quality meets your expectations.
After years of mediocrity, Canon has
finally come up with one of the best movie modes out
there. You can now record VGA video (with sound) at
30 frames/second until the memory card fills up! You'll
need a large, high speed SD card for this. A 512MB
card can hold a little over 4 minutes of video. You
can shoot at the slower 15 frames/second frame rate
to extend the recording times. There are also 320 x
240 (at 15 or 30 fps) and 160 x 120 (15 fps) modes
available, with the latter having a 3 minute time limit.
There's also a unique "Fast Frame
Rate" mode, which lets you record up to 1 minute
of 320 x 240 video at a whopping 60 frames/second.
This is great for videos of fast moving subjects.
A movie editing feature lets you trim
unwanted footage off the beginning or end of a clip.
You cannot use the zoom lens during
filming. Movies are saved in AVI format, using the
Here's a boring sample movie for you,
recorded at the high quality 640 x 480 setting. Be
warned, it's a big download!
to play movie (23.2 MB, 640 x 480, 30 fps, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
The SD200 has the same, excellent
playback mode as seen on other Canon cameras. Things
are especially snappy on the SD200/SD300 thanks to
the DIGIC II image processor.
The camera has all the basic playback
features that you'd expect. That includes slide shows,
DPOF print marking, image protection, thumbnail mode,
voice annotations (60 secs), image rotation, and zoom
and scroll. Playback mode is also the place to print
photos when connected to a compatible Canon or PictBridge-enabled
The zoom and scroll feature lets you
enlarge the picture up to 10X, and then scroll around
in the zoomed-in area. It's nice and fast!
By default, the SD200 doesn't give
you much info about your photos. But press the display
button and you'll get plenty of details, including
The camera rockets through photos
in playback mode. It moves from one to the next instantly.
How Does it Compare?
Overall the PowerShot SD200 is a very
ultra-compact point-and-shoot camera. Photo quality
is very good, though the occasional dark or blurry
corner and purple fringing are a step down from the
old S410/S500. Still, this camera will do a great job
for its target audience: namely, web photos and smaller-sized
prints. The SD200 features a stylish, ultra-thin metal
body that will go anywhere. It's well-built for the
most part, save for the incredibly cheap plastic door
over the memory card / battery compartment on the bottom
of the camera. The SD200 has a larger-than-average
2.0" LCD display. Outdoors you can see it fairly
well, indoors in low light it's just so-so. Performance
on the camera is first-rate, and a high speed SD card
will really make it fly. The continuous shooting and
movie modes are superb, and they're at their best with
the fast card.
I already mentioned most of the negatives
about the SD200 up there. You can also expect redeye
in most of your flash photos -- which is typical for
tiny cameras like this. With the exception of manual
white balance (a very useful feature), there are no
manual controls on the camera. Finally, you can't swap
memory cards while the camera is on a tripod.
The SD200 is a ultra-compact digital
camera which I can recommend without hesitation. If
you want to make larger prints or want more flexibility
when cropping your photos, the 4 Megapixel SD300 is
also worth a look.
What I liked:
- Very good photo quality (though
see issues below)
- Ultra-thin, stylish metal body
- Robust performance
- Excellent continuous shooting mode
(with the right memory card)
- First-rate movie mode (finally!)
- Big LCD for a small camera
- AF-assist lamp
- Optional underwater case
- Nice software bundle
What I didn't care for:
- Softness around edges and corners
of photos; above average purple fringing, as well
- Some vignetting, especially in
- Ultra-cheap plastic door over memory
card / battery compartment
- LCD doesn't "gain up" very
much in low light
- Can't swap memory cards while camera
is on a tripod
- More manual controls would be nice
Some other ultra compact cameras worth
considering include the Casio Exilim EX-Z50 and EX-Z55, Fuji
FinePix F440, Konica Minolta DiMAGE X50 and Xg, Nikon
Coolpix 4200, Olympus
Stylus Verve, Panasonic
Lumix DMC-FX7, Pentax
Optio S4i, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-L1 and DSC-T1.
As always, I recommend a trip down
to your local reseller to try out the PowerShot SD200
and its competitors before you buy!
See how the photos turned out in
Want another opinion?
Read another review at Steve's
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