Canon PowerShot SD300 Digital ELPH/Digital IXUS 40 Review
The SD300 has five white balance presets (sunny, cloudy, incandescent, fluorescent, fluorescent H) in addition to the default Auto White balance. There is also a 'custom' white balance setting, which allows you to point the camera at a white or gray object and set the white balance manually. The custom white balance setting is remembered even if you turn the camera off. In normal outdoor shooting the auto white balance works perfectly (as confirmed by our studio tests). Indoors it's a bit more hit and miss, as we've seen with most Canon PowerShots, fluorescent lighting doesn't cause much of a problem, whereas incandescent (tungsten) lighting causes a fairly strong orange color cast. Best to stick to the preset (or one-push custom WB) if you want more neutral colors. We've spoken to Canon about their approach to white balance and have been told that the warm colors we see when shooting under incandescant light are intentional and are intended to 'try to keep some of the warm atmosphere of this kind of shot'.
Outdoor - Auto WB
|Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red -0.5%, Blue 0.1%
|Incandescent - Auto WB
Red 7.9%, Blue -11.8%
The SD300's built-in flash has a quoted working range of 0.5m - 3.5m (1.6 - 11.5 ft) at the wide end of the zoom and 0.5m - 2.0m (1.6 - 6.6 ft) at the tele end. It also works down to about 30cm (12 inches) in macro mode (in all cases assuming the ISO is set to auto). In our real-world tests the flash did a fantastic job, exposing perfectly in a wide range of situations and with virtually no color cast. It's also very fast - even with the red-eye reduction turned on, meaning you won't miss any spur of the moment shots waiting for the flash. In fact - as long as you remember the range limitations of the flash you'll find this the perfect 'social' snapshot camera. We found the AF illuminator would allow focus in complete darkness (or as near as we can get) at distances of up to around 1.0m. In low light the AF illuminator can help focus at distances of up to around 1.8m.
Excellent color and exposure
Excellent color and exposure
As is common to most compact digital cameras the SD300's macro mode is most effective at the wide end of the zoom, where you can get as close as 3cm - unusually close for an 'ultra-compact'. At the long end of the zoom the performance is less impressive - 30cm subject distance - but still pretty useful. There is inevitably some distortion when shooting very close up at the wide end, but it is not too strong, and certainly less so than many of its competitors.
Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
Barrel distortion is - at 0.8% - very low for a camera in this class, and certainly doesn't mar real world scenic shots. There is no measurable distortion at the telephoto end of the zoom. We did notice a tiny amount of vignetting (darkening of the corners of the frame) at the widest zoom setting, but didn't see this in real world shots.
|Barrel distortion - 0.8% at Wide angle
Equiv. focal length: 35 mm
|Pincushion distortion - 0.0% at Telephoto
Equiv. focal length: 105 mm
Here for visual comparison are four identical shots taken at 50, 100, 200 and 400 ISO settings in our studio. The exposures are not long enough for Canon's noise reduction to kick in (according to the documentation this happens with shutter speeds of 1.3 seconds and over). ISO 50 is very clean, and ISO 100 and 200 are perfectly usable. ISO 400 has plenty of visible noise, though it is no worse than the majority of the competition.
|ISO 50 100% crop
1/3 sec, F4.5
ISO 100 100% crop
|ISO 200 100% crop
1/13 sec, F4.5
|ISO 400 100% crop
1/25 sec, F4.5
Specific Image Quality Issues
Of course all ultra-compact cameras such as this are going to present some kind of compromise when it comes to image quality. The question is how much of a compromise are we prepared to accept in image quality terms to get a camera that is truly pocket-sized?
First the good news; this is a Canon and has all the usual Canon trademarks; excellent, vivid but natural color, very accurate exposure and focus and a surprising amount of detail (see resolution tests). I think it would be fair to say that I expected to see considerably lower image quality than I got out of the SD300, and I doubt many of the target audience will find much to complain about here.
Of course it's not all a bed of roses, and there are a few significant issues that you need to be aware of when making your buying decision. By far the most common problem is edge softness, especially at the wide end of the zoom and at maximum aperture. We also found the usual Canon Achilles heel, purple fringing, to be a significant problem in most high contrast shots. Finally, in certain situations (wide end of the zoom, deep blue sky) there is some vignetting (darkening of the corners), though it is not a significant issue in most shots. Though we'd prefer not to see such problems, it is important to stress that these problems are unlikely to be a major cause of concern for the majority of users, and they will not mar 'normal'-sized prints significantly. This is, after all, a pocket snapshot camera.
Only really a problem at the wide end of the zoom and at maximum aperture, this is something we've come to expect from the very small lenses on ultra-compact zoom cameras, but it seems particularly bad on the SD300 - especially when shooting close-ups. The slight edge and corner softness is visible in most such shots viewed at 100% on-screen, though it is rarely a problem in prints. Take a look at the sample shots before deciding if this is a compromise you're happy to accept in order to get such a small, slim camera. Note that we didn't see significant edge softness at longer focal lengths.
|100% crop||35 mm equiv., F2.8|
Noticeable purple fringing is present to some degree in all shots containing very bright (especially overexposed) areas, and in many shots it's very pronounced. It's not enough to mar shots in most circumstances, but wideangle shots on bright days can produce very strong fringes at the boundaries where bright and dark areas meet. It is considerably worse at the edge of the frame, and - compact point and shoot camera or not - something Canon should be doing more to minimize.
|100% crop||35 mm equiv., F2.8|
Burnt out highlights/dynamic range
As with all small sensor compacts the SD300 has some problems with high contrast scenes with a very wide dynamic range. It's no worse than its competitors (this is a sensor issue more than anything else), but to Canon's credit the exposure system seems to do an excellent job of retaining highlight detail most of the time, and the default contrast is not as high as on some competitor models, meaning more fine tonal detail is preserved. Be aware, though, that there are times when the difference between the darkest and lightest parts of a scene will mean that something - usually highlight detail - is going to be lost.
|100% crop||35 mm equiv., F2.8|
A less common problem, but one we encountered on several occasions, is lens flare. This shot perfectly illustrates the phenomena - and why you need to be careful shooting in the general direction of the sun in the winter, when it sits low in the sky and casts long shadows.
|100% crop||35 mm equiv., F5.6|
I own it
I want it
I had it
Discuss in the forums
The FAA has ordered helicopter pilots and operators to halt certain doors-off flights in the wake of a tragedy that killed five passengers.
Analysts TechInsights have torn down a Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus to have a closer look at the device's internal components and their cost.
Oppo's new high-end phones bear an uncanny resemblance to the iPhone X, with features like face unlock to a portrait lighting mode.
Recently we visited the 2018 CP+ show in Yokohama, Japan and as usual, we booked interviews with senior executives from several major manufacturers, including Sigma.
At this year's CP+ show in Yokohama, we sat down with senior executives from several major manufacturers, including Canon. Topics of conversation included Canon's ambitions for high-end mirrorless cameras, and the importance of responding to the demands of the smartphone generation.
We were recently able to follow local frame builder Max Kullaway as he created one of his AirLandSea bikes. Here are our picks of the photos we got, as the project progressed from bare tubes all the way to rideable bicycle.
On paper, the Sony a7 III is a tempting option for photographers who've been considering a switch to full-frame mirrorless. But how does its image quality stack up? We compare it to the Mark II and a few of its other peers.
Erez Marom shares the details behind this beautiful aurora photograph, captured on Haukland Beach in the Lofoten Islands, Arctic Norway, on a moonless evening.
Google Lens uses artificial intelligence and 'computer vision' to identify and provide information about businesses, landmarks and other objects using your phone's camera. And now it's available for iPhone users, too.
The company posted a record quarterly revenue of $2.08 billion for the first quarter of the 2018 fiscal year. That represents incredibly healthy year-over-year growth of 24 percent.
In the job posting, the Times' describes this role as "one of the most important and high-profile jobs in visual journalism." If you're looking for a high profile job in photojournalism, you could do a lot worse than being Photo Director at The Gray Lady.
According to a recent report out of South Korea, Samsung is increasing production of its ISOCELL image sensors in a bid towards market leadership for image sensors. To reach this goal, Samsung will have to dethrone current market leader Sony... no small task.
In this video, large format photographer Ben Horne shows off the incredible resolving power of 8x10 slide film by pixel peeping a massive 709.6-megapixel drum scan of one of his landscape shots. And you thought 100MP medium format was big...
Photographer Wendy Teal tells the heart-breaking story of a wedding she shot at a hospital on just 24-hours notice. The mother of the bride had been given one week to live, and Wendy responded to the couple's desperate social media plea for someone to capture their special day.
This tiny little plug-and-play VR/AR camera for Android phones uses a pair of greater-than-180° FOV fisheye lenses to offer both 360° video/photo capture and 360° livestreaming at 1440p resolution.
Syrp has announced the Magic Carpet Pro: a slider that offers filmmakers an 'infinitely extendable' range thanks to built-in track levers that let you connect lengths of track without the use of tools.
At CP+ we sat down with executives from several major manufacturers. Among them was Kenji Tanaka, of Sony, who talked to us about the a7 III as well as its plans to attract more pro shooters – without ignoring APS-C and entry-level customers.
How do you shoot macro photography on an 18x24cm large format wet plate camera? You 'connect' two large format cameras together! That's how wet plate photographer Markus Hofstaetter did it, and you can read about the whole process in this article.
The Fujifilm X-H1 is a top-of-the-range 24MP mirrorless camera with in-body stabilization and the company's most advanced array of video capabilities. We've tested the X-T2's big brother extensively to see how it performs.
Motorsports photojournalist Jamey Price recently flew to Canada with Lamborghini for the car company's Winter Accademia 2018, where clients get to drive the latest Lamborghini supercars on snow and ice. Yes... it is exactly as awesome as it sounds.
For the Pixel 2 smartphone's Motion Photos feature, Google built on its existing Motion Stills technology by adding advanced stabilization that combines software and hardware capabilities to optimize trimming and stabilization.
This "high-capacity advanced spider tripod" system can handle a maximum load of 65kg / 143lbs thanks to its reinforced design and 8-layered carbon fiber legs.
Photographer William Briscoe captured the beautiful two-for-one timelapse just outside Fairbanks, Alaska on January 31st, braving -31°F (-35°C) temperatures to get the shot.
"After his camera was stolen from his room in the orphanage, he switched to an iPhone for his photography, reasoning that the image quality of a big, heavy camera was less important than the freedom of a cell phone. 'Quality? Screw it, I’d sketch things with a pencil if I could draw,' he wrote in a blog post."
Chinese manufacturer Vivo has announced some AI-powered Super HDR tech to compete with Google's HDR+ system. Both systems combine multiple images to create a final shot with more dynamic range and less noise, but Super HDR claims to do so more intelligently.
The YouTube channel JerryRigEverything recently tore down (or rather, tore apart...) the new Samsung Galaxy S9, giving us the closest look at yet at the new smartphone's camera hardware.
The Leica l Model A, dating from between 1926 and 1927, comes with a card signed by Earhart herself. Unfortunately, this is the only 'proof' that the camera really did belong to her.
The Rokinon AF 35mm F2.8 FE is a budget-friendly option for users of Sony's a7-series that are looking to get into the 35mm focal length.
The 'semantic image segmentation model' categorizes every pixel in an image and assigns it a label, such as “road”, “sky”, “person” or “dog.” And now, Google has released its latest version as open source, making it available to any developers whose apps could benefit from the tech.
Huawai is teasing the upcoming P20 smartphone's low-light and zoom capabilities in a couple of tongue-in-cheek teaser videos on YouTube.