Although the SD100's design is cleaner than the S230 it's still a little busier than the S400, a very minimalist look which I think appeals. The front of the camera has been simplified and now gets the same strap eyelet as the S400. At the back Canon has thought of ergonomics first by leaving a large area of space free on the right side for your thumb. The stainless steel case feels very solid and is almost always cool to the touch, this adds to the camera's expensive yet robust feel. I must have a gripe about Canon's rubber cover over the A/V out and USB ports, it breaks the clean lines of the camera and looks like an afterthought.
Side by side
As you can see from the image below the SD100 is approximately
the same size (from the front) as the Pentax Optio S, however the 'S'
is considerably thinner and lighter. You can also see in this image how
the stainless steel body can take on different color depending on the
ambient light and angle (very annoying if you're a reviewer trying to
be consistent in your product shots!)
In your hand
The SD100 has relatively good ergonomics, the right side of the camera rear has been left empty which means your thumb won't be accidentally changing settings at the crucial moment. The SD100 has no front finger grip and this combined with its smooth case can make the camera feel as though it could slip (not out of your hand but downwards in angle). One thing I really didn't like about the stainless steel case was how easily it picked up fingerprints, the new "Cerabrite" material used for the S400 is far better in this respect.
The SD100 has the same bright, sharp 1.5" 118,000 pixel LCD monitor used on the S400 and previous Canon ultra-compacts. It has an excellent anti-reflective coating which makes it a pleasure, not a pain, to use outdoors. There are now fifteen levels of brightness adjustment. The LCD monitor provides 100% frame view in both shooting and playback modes. Kudos.
The SD100 has a typical 'optical tunnel' viewfinder, which may be perfectly adequate for occasional snapshots at reasonable subject distances but is no substitute for the 'what you see is what you get' LCD monitor. In addition the SD100 viewfinder has no dioptre adjustment and no parallax correction lines. The viewfinder provides approximately 83% frame coverage.
The two lights beside the viewfinder indicate the following:
|Green Steady||Ready to shoot|
|Green Flashing||CF card activity / Computer connected|
|Orange Steady||Ready to shoot (with flash)|
|Orange Flashing||Ready to shoot but shot may suffer from blur (slow shutter)|
|Yellow Steady||Macro focus / Infinity focus|
|Yellow Flashing||Can not focus lock, focus difficulty|
Battery / Storage Compartment
In the base of the camera you will find a dual purpose compartment, it contains both the battery and SD/MMC slots. Open the door to the compartment by sliding it to the right and pull open (plastic hinge, no spring). The SD100 is powered by a new smaller Canon Lithium-Ion battery, the NB-3L, which despite its small size still manages a capacity of 790 mAh (at 3.7 V). The battery is held in place by a spring loaded clip. Above this is the SD/MMC slot, a press-in, press-out type (the optional Canon 128 MB Secure Digital card shown in this shot).
I can't say "I never thought I'd see the day" because the ever diminishing size of digital cameras requires a smaller form factor media, Canon had little choice other than to shift to SD cards for their smaller cameras, however I don't see this as a move away from Compact Flash for the rest of the PowerShot range. Pictured left is the optional 128 MB SD card beside the supplied 16 MB SD card.