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Conclusion - Pros

  • Very compact body
  • Decent edge-to-edge sharpness
  • Clean results at low ISO settings with bright, print-friendly color 'straight out of the box'
  • Accurate and reasonably quick focus (although slightly slower in low light)
  • Good responsiveness and overall speed
  • Excellent user interface and menus - very intuitive
  • Efficient image stabilization
  • Very good build quality and attractive design
  • AF point zoom useful for macro work and portraits
  • Good flash recycling times
  • Bright and clear screen
  • Viewfinder (although only an emergency solution)
  • Good movie quality
  • Time lapse movie mode
  • ISO button

Conclusion - Cons

  • Battery life when using LCD not brilliant
  • Slightly underpowered built-in flash
  • Little manual control
  • Poor Auto White Balance performance under artificial light
  • Pretty noisy at any sensitivity above ISO 200 (decent detail retention though)
  • Some highlight clipping
  • Some noise reduction detail blurring even at base ISO
  • Viewfinder so tiny as to be virtually pointless
  • Lens a little soft at the long end
  • Wide end of the lens is not exactly wide
  • Shutter speeds slower than 1 sec can only be achieved in scene mode
  • Our test sample showed some corner softness (one corner only) at some focal lengths (only visible when shooting test charts)

Overall conclusion

The SD1100 is a 'typical' IXUS/SD in many respects. It is compact, well built and sports a reasonably attractive design. It offers good output quality in most situations - straight out of the cam - only requiring minimal user intervention. It is also typical in so far as you won't find any groundbreaking innovations on the spec sheet. As usual Canon has chosen the safe route by sticking to what they know best. If it is the extraordinary you are after, go and look somewhere else.

The SD1100's Image quality is good for a camera in this class but not outstanding. The results at base ISO are reasonably clean and detailed but images get visibly softer at the long end of the lens. It's also obvious that Canon, like most of its competitors, has not found the magic potion yet to get rid of the two evils that haunt small sensor cameras: limited dynamic range (clipped highlights) and excessive noise at high sensitivities. In high contrast scenes parts of your image will almost certainly blow out and noise and noise reduction are visible even at base ISO.

The former you can mitigate by carefully applying some negative exposure compensation and/or reduce contrast in the MyColors options. The latter you'll simply have to accept, there isn't anything you as a user can do about it.

The SD1100 always feels snappy and responsive, thanks to Canon's latest generation DIGIC imaging processor. Flash recycling times are decent (which is useful when shooting at a party or in the pub) although flash power is fairly limited. Don't move too far away from your subjects, otherwise the flash won't illuminate them, even when using Auto ISO.

The SD1100 no doubt has its good points but battery life is not one of them. 240 shots (CIPA standard) does not sound too bad at first but remember that this number can go down significantly if you use a lot of flash or keep the screen switched on to review your pictures for longer periods of time. This is the price you pay for using an ultra compact camera (and therefore an ultra compact battery).

Our rather minor complaints aside, in conclusion the SD1100 was designed as a point and shoot camera and it performs well as such. It's got an attractive design, it is small enough to always carry it with you and reliably produces good out the box results. If that's what you are after go for it. If you are looking for manual controls, a real wide angle, new groundbreaking features or class-leading image quality then you better keep browsing dpreview.com a little longer, if you want an a simple, well made pocket camera, go for it.

The SD1100 IS is a perfectly good camera, if a little dull, and has that redeeming quality common to most Canon compacts; it can be relied on to take attractive pictures in a wide range of shooting situations with true 'point and shoot' simplicity. It's the camera you'd buy your mum.

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Build quality 8.0
Ergonomics & handling 8.0
Features 8.0
Image quality 8.0
Optics 8.0
Performance (speed) 8.5
Value 7.5

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Samples Galleries

There are 40 images in the samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.

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Canon SD1100 IS (IXUS 80) Review Samples

40 images • Posted 26 February 2008 • View album
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