Canon PowerShot SD880 IS Digital ELPH
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The Canon PowerShot SD880 IS Digital ELPH ($299) is an ultra-compact camera packing a wide-angle 4X zoom lens, a large 3-inch LCD display, optical image stabilization, and a VGA movie mode. It replaces the PowerShot SD870 IS, with these notable new features:
Trying to figure out the differences between Canon's Digital ELPHs can be challenging. The model numbers make little-to-no sense, and comparing the ELPH to the IXUS (European) model names can give you a headache. That's why I put together this "family tree" of both the ELPH and IXUS lineup for you:
View ELPH names | View IXUS names
Make sense? I sure hope so.
I have another chart prepared, this one comparing the features and specs on all the current models (using their ELPH names):
If you're still confused after all that, let me give you a quick bottom line: the PowerShot SD880 is the one with the wide-angle lens and 3-inch LCD. See, that was easy.
Okay, enough charts -- let's start our review of the PowerShot SD880 now!
What's in the Box?
The PowerShot SD880 IS Digital ELPH has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
Canon includes a 32MB Secure Digital memory card with the PowerShot SD880 IS. That holds a grand total of six photos at the highest quality setting, so you'll want to pick up a larger card right away, in the event that you don't have one already. The SD880 supports a plethora of memory card formats, including SD, SDHC, MMC, MMCplus, and HC MMCplus -- I'd stick with the first two. I'd recommend starting out with a 2GB card, and it's worth spending a little bit more for a high speed card, though there's no need to go overboard.
The SD880 uses the same NB-5L lithium-ion rechargeable battery as most of the other cameras in the Digital ELPH lineup. This battery holds 4.1 Wh of energy, which is decent for an ultra-compact camera. Here's how that translates into battery life:
If I was ignoring Sony cameras, the PowerShot SD880 would have the best battery life in its class. Unfortunately for the SD880, I'm not, so it will have to take second place instead. In the group as a whole, the SD880's numbers are above average.
I do want to mention the usual issues about the proprietary batteries used by the SD880 and every camera on the above list. They're expensive (an extra will cost you at least $42), and you can't use an off-the-shelf battery in an emergency. That's life, though, as you just can't fit AA batteries into a camera this size.
When it's time to charge the battery, just pop it into the included charger. This is my favorite kind of charger -- it plugs directly into the wall. Expect to wait just over two hours for the NB-5L to be fully charged.
As with all ultra-compact cameras, the SD880 has a built-in lens cover, so there's no lens cap to deal with.
Being a compact point-and-shoot camera, you shouldn't be too surprised to hear that there aren't many accessories for the SD880. Here's all four of them:
Let's move onto software now.
CameraWindow in Mac OS X
Canon includes version 37 of their Digital Camera Solution Disk with the PowerShot SD880. The first part of the Browser software that you'll probably encounter is Camera Window (pictured above), which is used to download photos from your camera.
ImageBrowser in Mac OS X
Once that's done you'll find yourself in either ImageBrowser or ZoomBrowser, which are for Mac and Windows, respectively. The Browser software lets you view, organize, e-mail, and print your photos. If you categorized any photos on the camera (more on this later), then this information is transferred into the Browser software.
ImageBrowser edit window in Mac OS X
Double-click on a thumbnail and you'll bring up the edit window. Editing functions include trimming, redeye removal, and the ability to adjust levels, color, brightness, sharpness, and the tone curve. There's also an auto adjustment option for those who want a quick fix.
PhotoStitch in Mac OS X
A separate program called PhotoStitch can combine photos you've taken side-by-side into a single panorama. Using the camera's Stitch Assist feature helps line up photos properly, so you'll get the best results possible when you get into PhotoStitch.
The PowerShot SD880 includes one of the "newer" generations of Canon manuals. It's more user-friendly than those included with prior models, with a handy "what do you want to do?" section at the beginning, and fewer confusing tables and notes on each page. While the manual isn't perfect, it should answer almost any question that may come up about the SD880. Separate manuals covering software installation and direct printing are also included. Documentation for the software bundle is installed onto your Mac or PC.
Look and Feel
The PowerShot SD880 IS Digital ELPH is a compact (but not super-tiny) and very stylish camera. It's made mostly of metal (with some plastic thrown in for good measure), and feels very solid in your hands. The tripod mount is metal, and the various doors on the camera body feel fairly sturdy. While the camera is easy to hold, I found that my thumb sits right on the four-way controller / scroll wheel, which can lead to trouble. The buttons on the back of the SD880 are surprisingly large for a camera in this class.
Image courtesy of Canon USA
You can't sell an ultra-compact camera in ONE color these days. Canon still plays it safe, offering only two colors for the PowerShot SD880: silver and gold.
Now, here's how the PowerShot SD880 IS compares to other cameras in its class, in terms of size and weight: