Canon PowerShot D30 ($330/£300/€330)

Key Features

  • 12.1MP BSI-CMOS sensor
  • F3.9-4.8, 28-140mm equiv. lens
  • 3" LCD w/460k dots
  • Waterproof to 25m
  • GPS
  • 1080/24p video

The PowerShot D30 is only the third rugged camera from Canon, who hasn't been pumping these models out like some of its competitors. While the first two D-series models have rather 'unusual' designs, Canon has gone a lot more conservative this time around.

Handling

The D30 is a solid-feeling rectangular camera with 'grippy' front and rear finger rests. Controls are well-placed though, like most waterproof cameras, buttons can feel a bit 'mushy' In addition, it can be difficult to tell the power, shutter release, and movie record buttons on the top of the camera apart.

The D30 has a 3" LCD with 460,000 dots, and outdoor visibility is fair, though a 'Sunlight LCD' mode brightens things up considerably. Something we noticed about the display is that outdoor photos appear to have a cyan, washed out look, possibly due to the grade of glass needed on a waterproof camera like this. That said, underwater viewing is great, making it easy to pick out colorful fish.

The F3.9-4.8, 28-140mm lens covers a nice range, and has lens-shift image stabilization. One thing we noticed is that it's very easy to leave fingerprints on the lens. In terms of 'ruggedness', the D30 can go deeper than any of its competitors: 25m/82ft. It's also drop-proof and freezeproof to 2m/6.5ft and -10C/+14F, respectively. There are two doors on the camera: one on the side for I/O ports and another on the bottom for batteries. There's just one lock on each so there's no redundancy, but at least they're difficult to open accidentally. An 'Active Display' feature lets you tap either side of the camera to move between photos.

The PowerShot D30 has two sealed doors which have locks that don't open easily - a good thing.

The PowerShot D30 uses Canon's standard menu system, which means that there are two separate menus. One is the Function (shortcut) menu, which has the same annoyances as on PowerShots: it doesn't like to close, even after you take a picture. Since the camera lacks buttons for exposure compensation and photo deletion, you'll have to delve into the Func. menu instead, which is frustrating. The main menu works just fine, and has "Hints & Tips" that explain what does what.

Features

While some of its competitors are bursting with features, the D30 is relatively light on bells and whistles, as was its predecessor. It offers a 'Smart Auto' mode (which selects a scene for you), underwater photo and white balance modes, and a 1cm minimum focus distance. The shutter speed and aperture cannot be adjusted. Another negative about the D30 is that you can't select the image quality (compression) setting, which is why its file sizes are so much smaller than the other three cameras.

"The D30 can go deeper than any of its competitors"

The GPS is also quite basic, capturing your location, logging your movements, and that's it. You cannot input A-GPS data into the camera, which can speed up satellite acquisition. 

With other rugged cameras are now recording at 1080/60p, the D30 is still in the stone age with a 24fps frame rate. It's also the only camera of the four to have monaural sound recording.

Unlike many of its PowerShot siblings, the D30 lacks Wi-Fi (the Ricoh WG-4 does as well).

Performance

The PowerShot D30 is ready to start shooting in less than a second. In good light, the camera has good autofocus speeds by compact camera standards, and it performed quite well in low light and underwater, as well. Shot-to-shot delays are around two seconds.

Canon claims a burst rate of 1.9fps, and that's exactly how it performed in our tests, with no limit to the number of photos you can take.

Battery life is rated at 300 shots per charge (with GPS off), and it easily lasted for a day (and more) of real-world shooting. The PowerShot D30 is the only camera in the group to include an external charger.