BUILD AND DESIGN
Canon's small cameras have always had a clean, conservative look about them. For some reason, Canon apparently decided that the SD4500 IS should deviate from this standard a bit as its basic rectangular shape has been altered by cutting off the corners. This looks rather strange to me but some may find it appealing. On the other hand I was impressed by the solid feel of the mostly metal body. I also was very pleased with the color of the camera I reviewed, an attractive chocolate brown. The camera is available in traditional silver as well.
The SD4500 IS is large for an Elph camera at 6.7 ounces (190g), including battery and memory card, but its dimensions of 3.99x2.3x0.88 inches definitely put it into the small camera class. Canon claims it is the thinnest camera with a 10x optical zoom lens and I have no reason to doubt it. The SD4500 IS is shipped with an NP-9L lithium ion battery, battery charger, USB cable, AV cable, wrist strap, a CD containing a new version of Canon's photo organizing software, ZoomBrowser EX, and a brief paper manual. A comprehensive 180 page User Guide is contained on the CD. You can buy the camera direct from Canon for $349.99 but I've seen it online from reputable retailers for under $300.
Ergonomics and Controls
Apart from its cut-off corners, the SD4500 IS has a very traditional appearance with a large, centrally-located lens at its front and a 3.0-inch TFT LCD monitor dominating the rear. Other than the lens, the front of the camera contains only a thin flash in the upper right-hand corner, two microphone openings for its stereo sound capability, and an AF assist/self timer lamp. The corner location of the flash means the owner will have to be careful of blocking it when using the left hand to support the camera.
One side of the SD4500 IS contains the mount for the wrist strap. The other contains a port for connecting the AV and USB cables as well as a separate connection for an HDMI cable. The plastic port cover is attached to the camera body by a thin piece of rubbery material, so care must be taken when handling it.
The bottom of the camera contains a plastic tripod socket located toward the side of the camera. A metal tripod socket is preferable to one made of plastic as the metal socket is less likely to wear out. The camera's bottom also contains a compartment for the battery and a second compartment for the memory card. The compartment covers are plastic but fairly sturdy. The SD4500 IS can use several different memory cards - SD, SDHC, SDXC, MultiMediaCard, MMCplus, HC MMCplus and Eye-Fi.
The camera's top portion contains the shutter button encircled by a zoom control ring, a power button, a mode switch with settings for movies, program and auto, and a speaker hole. The controls worked well overall, but I noticed a slight hesitation every time I used the zoom control.
The rear of the camera contains the aforementioned 3.0-inch TFT LCD monitor. To the right of the LCD are two grooves which aid the thumb in gripping the camera. Next to the thumb grip is a dedicated movie button, which starts recording a movie when pressed and ends the movie when pressed again. This has become increasingly common in newer digital cameras and for a good reason. Taking movies is usually something that users will do on the spur of the moment, and it is much quicker to simply press a movie button than wading through the camera's menu trying to find the movie mode.
Below this is a circular controller, which can be turned to change settings and pressed to bring up certain options - left for macro, up for self-timer, right for flash and down for display. A func/set button in the center of the controller allows you to select a menu option or bring up the shortcut menu. Below the controller is a menu button, to call up the camera's menu system, and below that a playback button, to review photos that have already been taken.
These buttons are nice and large and would seem to be easy to manipulate but, for some reason, I often had a tough time pressing the menu button strongly enough to have it take effect. With the exception of the difficult menu button, the system is one that is tried and true works well.
Menus and Modes
The SD4500 IS uses Canon's dual menu system - a comprehensive menu activated by the menu button and a shortcut menu called up by pressing the func/set button. The menu options differ based on the shooting mode, and menus are logically set forth and easy to understand.
Here are the various shooting modes:
The SD4500 IS has a 3.0-inch LCD in a 16x9 configuration with approximately 230,000 dots. The monitor can be adjusted to one of five different levels of brightness. The monitor displays bright colors but it can be hard to see in sunny conditions. As is the case with virtually all small digital cameras, the SD4500 IS lacks a viewfinder.
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