The SD1300 IS provides an impressive level of usability for such a tiny imaging device, but it doesn't allow much user input into the image capture process. That probably won't be much of a concern for this camera's target audience. Overall, Canon's newest SD model does a remarkably good job, as long as users keep its inherent limitations in mind.
Timing (speed) is a major consideration, second only to image quality in importance, when assessing digital camera performance. The SD1300 IS comes in right in the middle of the pack when compared to its competition, with the exception of the continuous shooting rate, where it comes in dead last.
Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)
|Fujifilm FinePix JZ500||0.01|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7||0.02|
|Canon PowerShot SD1300||0.02|
|Nikon Coolpix S8000||0.05|
AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)
|Nikon Coolpix S8000||0.26|
|Canon PowerShot SD1300||0.36|
|Fujifilm FinePix JZ500||0.38|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7||0.39|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7||3||1.8 fps
|Fujifilm FinePix JZ500||3||1.4 fps
|Nikon Coolpix S8000||10||1.2 fps
|Canon PowerShot SD1300||∞||1.0 fps
*Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera's fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). "Frames" denote the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.
In practical terms the SD1300 IS is competitive across the board since there actually isn't much difference between 0.01 hundredths of a second and 0.02 hundreds of a second.
Not only does the SD1300 IS bear a striking surface resemblance to the other members of the SD tribe, it utilizes essentially the same exposure system that made its predecessors popular with consumers. Exposure is automatically managed by the camera's 1/2.3 inch CCD sensor driven by Canon's touted DIGIC IV processor, which combines most primary camera functions (image interpolation and processing, auto exposure, white balance, JPEG compression, gain control, and power management) in one chip which improves efficiency and processing speed.
The SD1300 IS's default evaluative light measurement system is dependably accurate in most lighting - so casual shooters won't have to worry about metering. More experienced photographers can opt for either spot metering or center-weighted averaging metering for more demanding/creative compositions.
Like all ultra-compact digicams, the SD1300 IS's has some dynamic range (from deep shadows to bright highlights) shortcomings because the diminutive 1/2.3 inch CCD sensor just can't capture the full tonal range. The SD1300 IS's evaluative/default metering system is calibrated to preserve shadow detail at the expense of highlight detail and that built-in exposure bias results in occasional clipping (burnt out highlights).
The SD1300 IS features the same TTL contrast detection 9-point AiAF (Advanced Intelligent Auto Focus) plus 1-point center system as its predecessor. In all exposure modes the camera analyzes the scene in front of the lens and then calculates camera to subject distance to determine which of the 9 AF points is closest to the primary subject (closest subject priority) and then locks focus on that AF point. Users can also opt for the single AF point (center) setting for classic portraits or traditional landscapes. In low light, a focus assist beam helps illuminate the subject for more accurate focusing.
The SD1300 IS's tiny built-in flash provides only two options - Auto (flash on) or off. In Auto mode the flash system automatically controls selection of Slow Sync, Face Detection FE compensation, and Smart Flash Exposure. Users may (via the camera menu) opt for Red-Eye Reduction (on/off) or Red-Eye Reduction (on/off). Maximum flash range (according to Canon) is a bit less than 14 feet/4.2m. Flash recycle time is between 3.0 and 4.0 seconds. The Smart Flash Exposure mode adjusts flash exposure to match the subject and the shooting conditions - to avoid dark facial shadows in outdoor portraits and for more even lighting during macro shooting.
The SD1300 IS's optical image stabilization system reduces blur by quickly and precisely shifting a lens element in the zoom to compensate for minor camera movement. IS allows users to shoot at shutter speeds up to three f-stops slower than would have been possible without IS. Image stabilization can also be a very useful when shooting dimly lit indoor venues where flash is inappropriate. SD1300 IS users have four IS options - continuous IS, shoot only IS, Panning IS, and IS off.
The SD1300 IS is powered by a proprietary Canon NB-6L lithium-ion rechargeable battery. Canon says a fully charged battery is good for approximately 240 exposures, which seems fairly accurate based on my use of the camera. The included plug-in style charger needs about two hours to charge the battery. A back-up NB-6L costs about sixty bucks. The Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS supports SD, SDHC, the SDXC formats.
The SD1200 IS (which the SD1300 IS replaces) featured a 3x (35mm-105mm equivalent) zoom - the SD1300 IS is actually a bit smaller than its predecessor, but it sports a 4x zoom that starts at 28mm (equivalent) and ranges to 112mm (equivalent). Ultra-compact digicam zooms generally start at around (the equivalent of) 35mm, so a true wide angle (great for group shots in tight indoor venues and traditional landscapes) gives the SD1300 IS a slight edge over some of its competition. Although corners are noticeably soft at the wide angle setting, they are appreciably sharper at the telephoto end of the zoom.
The SD1300 IS's f/2.8 maximum aperture (at the wide angle end of the zoom range) is fast enough for almost anything this camera's target audience is likely to shoot, but the f/5.9 maximum aperture at the telephoto end of the zoom range is pretty slow - pretty much useless for anything other than shooting outdoors in decent light.
Zoom operation is fast, smooth, and fairly quiet, but this lens exhibits noticeable barrel distortion (straight lines bow out from the center) at the wide-angle end of the zoom (notice the architectural distortion and leaning phone pole in the demo photo) and very minor pin cushioning (straight lines bow in toward the center) at full telephoto. Chromatic aberration (purple fringing) is slightly higher than average, but well controlled. Colors are bold, bright, slightly over-saturated, and hue accurate, but native (default) contrast is a bit on the flat side.
Here's a piece of advice for both casual shooters and photo enthusiasts alike who purchase an SD1300 IS - enable i-Contrast when you set your initial preferences - and leave it on full time. I don't understand why Canon chose to have i-Contrast off as the default, but a major image quality problem with auto exposure only ultra-compact digicams is blown highlights and blocked-up shadow areas, both of which i-Contrast helps to ameliorate.
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