Canon PowerShot SD600 (Digital IXUS 60 / IXY Digital 70) review

Started Jun 27, 2006 | User reviews thread
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Daniel
Daniel Senior Member • Posts: 1,043
Canon PowerShot SD600 (Digital IXUS 60 / IXY Digital 70) review

I usually shoot with a Nikon D70, and I bought this tiny Canon for those times when I just want to have a camera handy without hauling the big gear. Therefore, the most important feature to me was size. Certainly, the SD600 delivers in this respect: the camera is amazingly small.

Construction is very good; the camera feels sturdy and reliable. I am a little bit concerned about the door that covers the USB2 interface as the hinge does seem flimsy. The slide switch that selects between shooting, playback, and movie modes moves a tad too easily for my taste; it is quite easy to accidentally have it end up in the wrong position. I almost wish there were a way to lock it. On a couple of occasions, I was all set to take a shot only to find myself in movie mode.

The camera has a nice feature set. Unfortunately, many of these features are buried in menus which makes it time-consuming to activate them. For my needs, I find it most convenient to just leave it on full auto. I do miss the capability of setting shutter speed or aperture (or of at least being able to change the ratio). I also regret that the shutter speed selected by the camera is not systematically displayed; it only shows up when it is 1/60 of a second or less.

The movie mode is a very pleasant surprise. Being able to record 640x480 movies at 30 frames per second is very nice, and image quality, while obviously not reaching that of a digital camcorder, is impressive and certainly good enough for sharing clips with friends and family.

Image quality is very good under most circumstances. In particular, there is an almost total absence of chromatic aberration. I took off a point because there is definitely a loss of sharpness at the edges of the frame, especially when the lens is zoomed out to the widest possible angle. Zooming in the tiniest bit appears to solve the problem. Still, the images are usually amazingly rich in detail, well exposed, and more often than not usable with minimum or no post processing. There is definitely a problem with vignetting when shooting bright scenes at the wide angle setting. This requires cropping or post-processing to make the images usable.

Another pleasant surprise is the responsiveness of the camera. Even though the lens has to move out when one turns on the power, this is handled in just over a second. Once the camera is on, there is very little shutter lag for a point and shoot. Also, with a fast memory card, storing a picture is very, very quick. Not once have I missed a shot because the SD600 was still busy storing an image.

Ease of use is excellent as long as one sticks to basic shooting. Once one wishes to explore some of the more rarely used features (color substitution, anyone?), the menu system proves a bit cumbersome. As most LCD screens, the SD600's becomes almost totally useless in (very) bright sunlight. This is why I bought the SD600 and not one of the later models: it still has an (tiny) optical viewfinder. Unfortunately, it covers only a rather small part of the scene that will actually be recorded, so using it is a bit of a lottery. Still, it can make the difference between getting or not getting the shot. Having an optical viewfinder is also handy when the battery is getting low (by the way, it would have been nice to have a battery charge indicator and not just a warning when there is hardly any juice left).

I bought this camera in a package that included a 1 gig memory card (I think the camera ships with a 16 meg card which is a bad joke. I consider 512 megs to be the absolute minimum if one shoots at full size and best quality settings), a leather case, and an extra battery. Since the camera is so small, the battery can't be huge, and battery life is correspondingly low. Using the LCD, I tend to get about 150 shots per battery charge; this makes carrying a spare mandatory. All in all, I consider the value for money to be excellent; more often than not, I am amazed at the quality of the images produced by this camera.

For people who are looking for a camera that will go anywhere and fit in the tiniest of spaces, I strongly recommend the SD600. I would definitely buy it again.

Happy shooting,

Daniel

Problems:

- Some loss of sharpness at the frame edges
- Vignetting at wide angle settings in bright light
- Mode selector switch tends to move too easily
- Only JPEG images; no TIFF, no RAW
- No manual shutter speed or aperture setting

 Daniel's gear list:Daniel's gear list
Fujifilm X100S Fujifilm X-T30 Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS Fujifilm XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS
Canon PowerShot SD600 (Digital IXUS 60 / IXY Digital 70)
6 megapixels • 2.5 screen • 35 – 105 mm (3×)
Announced: Feb 21, 2006
Daniel's score
4.1
Average community score
4.2
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