BUILD AND DESIGN
Canon is the most modular of the major digicam manufacturers and has an extensive catalog of consumer tested components (sensors, lenses, LCDs, etc.) to draw from when creating new models. This remarkable level of component interchangeability allows Canon’s product development folks to create new digicam models easily, quickly, and cheaply by simply combining on-hand components in new ways. The SD1300 is a very good example of just how well this modular design philosophy works.
The Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS (known as the Canon Digital IXUS 105 everywhere except North America) is an attractive little digital camera that looks and behaves very much like every other Canon SD series digicam ever manufactured; there is an unambiguous family resemblance. The chic little SD1300 IS is available in a plethora of stylish colors including blue, silver, pink, green, and brown. Canon’s newest SD series ultra-compact digicam is a very well built little camera.
Fit and finish are impressive with good dust/moisture seals. The SD1300 IS is tough enough to go just about anywhere, plus it is smaller and lighter than its predecessors and features a simpler menu and easier operation. The SD1300 IS is a reasonably priced choice for someone looking for a compact, lightweight, responsive camera that is simple enough to appeal to a casual shooter, but provides (just) enough creative capability to appeal to a more demanding photographer.
Ergonomics and Controls
Back in the old days, photographers who wanted an ultra-compact camera bought a Riga Minox. Today’s consumers have lots of mini-cam options and Canon’s SD series is one of the best of those many alternatives. Canon is well known for making tiny cameras that produce dependably first-rate images with very little effort on the part of the photographer and the SD1300 IS continues that worthy tradition. The SD1300 IS is an attractive, ultra-compact point-and-shoot.
The SD1300 IS looks a lot like the SD1200 IS (and other members of Canon’s SD tribe) but it’s a bit lighter and marginally smaller than its predecessor. The SD1300 IS’s pocket-sized metal alloy body conveys an aura of toughness and durability – the camera should easily stand up to the rigors of an active modern lifestyle, but the wrist strap should be used at all times – smooth contour cameras are easily dropped.
The SD1300 IS’s minimal user interface is uncomplicated and straightforward with reasonably sized and clearly marked buttons. The control array is classic Canon, meaning everything will be familiar to anyone who has ever used a PowerShot camera. Even digital camera newbies should be able to shoot decent images after a short familiarization run with the camera and a quick scan of the user’s manual. The tiny on/off buttons on many ultra-compact digicams (especially for those of us with adult sized fingers) provide an enduring level of frustration – some (like the miniscule power button that graces the Nikon S8000) are so small that they sometimes require several pushes to get the camera booted up.
The SD1300 IS is actually smaller than most of its competition, but its new raised cursor-shaped power button is easier to access and noticeably larger than average. Because this new power button utilizes limited real estate more efficiently it doesn’t require any extra space on the camera’s top deck – so it provides a significant improvement over the typically tiny on/off button on the SD1200 IS. The SD1300 IS’s shutter button is also fairly large and directly in front of the shutter button is a standard back-and-forth zoom tab. While the zoom tab is small, zooming from wide-angle to telephoto and back is fast, smooth, and fairly precise.
The SD1300 IS’s user interface is uncomplicated and quickly becomes intuitive. All controls are logically placed and easily accessed. The compass (four-way) switch and the FUNC button provide direct access to the SD1300 IS’s most commonly changed/adjusted features and functions. The SD1300 IS doesn’t feature a mode dial, instead it utilizes a sliding mode switch (located in the top right corner of the rear deck) to change shooting modes – the sliding mode switch is perfectly placed directly under where the shooter’s right thumb naturally rests – providing not only easy access to the SD1300 IS’s shooting modes, but also acting as a textured thumb grip. Immediately to the left of the Mode switch is the Playback/Review button making it easy to critically review pictures immediately after the image is captured.
Menus and Modes
The Canon PowerShot SD1300IS features a simplified, two-tab version of Canon’s classic digicam menu system – The menu system (accessed via a dedicated button beneath the compass switch) is logical, easy to navigate, and dead simple – since the camera permits only minimal user input.
The SD1300 IS provides a very basic selection of shooting modes including Program, Smart Auto, a small selection (Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, and Underwater) of scene modes, and a video/movie mode. Here’s a complete listing of the SD1300 IS’s shooting modes:
- Smart Auto: Automatic scene recognition mode that instantly compares what’s in front of the lens with an on-board image database and then matches that information with the specific scene’s subject distance, white balance, contrast, dynamic range, lighting, and color (just before the image is recorded) to determine the best exposure.
- Program: Auto exposure with limited user input (ISO, White Balance, My Colors, Metering, Release Mode, and Image Size)
- Movie: The camera records VGA video at a maximum of 640×480 at 30 fps for up to 4GB or 1 hour.
Like many currently available point-and-shoots, the SD1300 IS doesn’t provide an optical viewfinder, forcing users to utilize the LCD for all framing/composition, captured image review, and menu navigation chores. Most casual shooters (this digicam’s target audience) don’t use optical viewfinders and in some shooting scenarios (macro, festivals, events, portraits) it is quicker and easier to watch the decisive moment come together on the LCD screen than it is through the optical viewfinder.
The SD1300 IS’s predecessor, the SD1200 IS, featured an optical viewfinder and some users will be disappointed to see it disappear, but optical viewfinders are expensive and eliminating them brings down the per unit manufacturing cost – saving consumers money.
The SD1300 IS’s 2.7-inch screen (230,000 pixel resolution) dominates the camera’s rear deck. The SD1300 IS’s TFT LCD screen is bright, hue accurate, impressively fluid, and automatically boosts gain (brightens) in dim/low light – and it displays almost 100 percent of the image frame. The SD1300 IS’s LCD performs adequately for framing, composition, captured image review, and menu navigation – and the user-enabled grid display is a useful touch. However, like all LCDs, the SD1300 IS’s LCD is subject to fading and glare in bright outdoor lighting. The SD1300 IS’s LCD info/status display provides all information the camera’s target audience is likely to need.