Canon PowerShot SD550 Digital ELPH (Digital IXUS 750) Review
The SD550 has five white balance presets (sunny, cloudy, incandescent, fluorescent and 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 (though oddly the SD550 produced a much more neutral result than the SD500... go figure). We've spoken to Canon about its approach to white balance and have been told that the warm colors we see when shooting under incandescent 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 0.3%, Blue 0.3%
|Incandescent - Auto WB
Red 1.3%, Blue -2.7%
The SD550's built-in flash has a quoted working range of 0.5m - 4.8m (1.6 - 16.4 ft) at the wide end of the zoom and 0.5m - 2.8m (1.6 - 9.8 ft) at the tele end - slightly more powerful than most other models in the range. 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 decent job with a very slight warm tone (which is nice). The flash is 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. 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 2.0m. Incidentally, as our test shot shows, using the red-eye-reduction mode has little - if any - effect.
Very slight underexposure, excellent color
Slight underexposure, excellent color
As is common to most compact digital cameras the SD550's macro mode is most effective at the wide end of the zoom, where you can get as close as 5cm - not bad at all 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 1.0% - about average for a camera in this class, and certainly doesn't mar real world scenic shots. There is virtually no measurable distortion at the telephoto end of the zoom. There is 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 - 1.0% at Wide angle
Equiv. focal length: 37 mm
|Pincushion distortion - 0.1% at Telephoto
Equiv. focal length: 111 mm
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, and is there any real advantage to the large 7 megapixel files (over, say the 4 megapixel SD300) in real terms for everyday use?
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). The images - especially those containing fine low contrast detail such as foliage - can look a little soft, or even muddy (they are very smooth, almost too 'polished'), but they respond well to sharpening and print beautifully. Higher contrast detail is rendered very sharply, but very bright, contrasty scenes can cause metering problems - and the fairly high contrast can produce some highlight clipping, but overall there's little to complain about. Finally, as with all other Canon compacts, we found the 'intelligent' AiAF system to be the cause of so many focus errors (and slow focusing in general) that, again, we'd recommend turning it off unless you really can't use the pre-focus (half-press) lock for off-center subjects.
We found corner softness to be a minor problem at the wide end of the zoom/max aperture, but it's a lot better than in previous models, and isn't really visible in real-world shots. We also found the usual Canon Achilles heel, purple fringing, to be a problem in many high contrast shots. Ultimately, the SD550 produces the kind of results few of the target market would find anything to complain about, and it would make a perfect 'carry always' camera for anyone who normally uses a bigger, more sophisticated camera and doesn't want to sacrifice too much image quality for the sake of portability. I'd also note that the problems below represent no more than around 5% of the 400 or so shots I took during this test, and - aside from purple fringing - are confined to a relatively narrow band of shooting situations.
Noticeable purple fringing is present to some degree in most shots containing very bright (especially overexposed) areas, and in some 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||37 mm equiv., F2.8|
Clipped highlights / exposure problems
As with the SD500 before it, we found the SD550 occasionally gave us problems in very bright (and especially contrasty) shooting situations, with clipped (blown) highlights not uncommon. The problem (which is by no means unique to this camera) appears to be partly the result of a fairly high default contrast setting (which is common in cameras in the 'lifestyle' sector of the market as it produces 'punchy' prints) and partly due to the metering - sometimes - being fooled by scenes with a very wide range of brightness levels. On occasion in these situations the SD550 has a slight tendency towards overexposure, blowing out the brighter areas. Thankfully in most everyday shots this isn't a serious issue.
|100% crop||37 mm equiv., F2.8|
I own it
I want it
I had it
Discuss in the forums
German brand Rollei has revived its iconic Rolleiflex twin lens reflex lineup with the new Rolleiflex Instant Kamera. This model—Rollei's first TLR camera in decades—retains the brand's iconic look but adds modern features including support for Fuji Instax Mini film.
We know more about the surface of the moon and Mars combined than we do about our own ocean floor, which is why NASA Ames scientist Ved Chirayath is developing a camera that can 'remove' the water from our seas to reveal 3D images of what’s below the waves.
Snapchat has just introduced version 2 of its Spectacles camera glasses, and they come with a bunch of new features, including: photo capture, water resistance that can handle shallow water snaps, a sleeker design, better battery, and more.
German lens manufacturer Meyer-Optik Goerlizt is expanding its range of F0.95 aperture lenses with the release of the Nocturnus 75mm. That makes it the world's fastest lens for that particular focal length.
“He was a pillar of Magnum, a godfather for a generation of younger photojournalists. An Iranian transplanted to Paris, he was a citizen of the world he relentlessly documented; its wars, its disasters, its revolutions and upheavals, and its beliefs – all his life. It is with immense sadness that we lose him."
When you're traveling with kids, it's not always practical to bring all of the camera gear you'd like to take. That's why DPR's Wenmei Hill packed the Panasonic ZS200 on a recent theme park trip.
Cinema camera manufacturer Arri has started a certified sales program for used Alexa bodies. The company says these pre-owned Alexa Plus and Classic models have gone through extensive servicing and testing before being put on sale.
Philips' new Momentum 436M6 43-inch Quantum Dot HDR monitor really deserves that designation. In fact, it's the first monitor in the world to earn VESA's DisplayHDR 1000 badge.
Find out how astrophysicis Donald Olson used a combination of topographic maps, astronomical software, and webcam archives to figure out exactly when and where Ansel Adams snapped two of his iconic photographs from Alaska.
Xiaomi claims its latest smartphone, the Mi 6X, competes with rivals such as the iPhone X or OPPO R15 in the camera department. Yet it costs just 1,600 Yuan (approximately $250 USD).
Adobe has put together a video tutorial that shows you how to create custom Creative Profiles in Adobe Camera Raw that can be used in ACR, Lightroom CC, and Lightroom Classic CC.
What do you get when you combine a Lamborghini Huracan with $500,000 dollar gimbal setup? You get "the world’s fastest purpose-built camera car."
The Japanese electronics manufacturer—one of the pioneers in the digital camera segment—is leaving the compact camera market behind after concluding that no market growth or increase in market share can be expected for the future.
You can now download a zip-file, including all images and videos you ever posted on Instagram, plus comments, messages, settings and other data in json-format.
The Pentax K-1 II features a hand-held Pixel Shift mode that creates a 'super resolution' image. Here's how to create a better-looking one in Photoshop using four files.
One of the weirdest copyright cases in the history of photography is finally over. The courts have sided with photographer David Slater and rejected PETA's claim that the monkey who took the infamous selfie has any claim over the photograph's copyright.
In his latest video, Ted Forbes of The Art of Photography shares his thoughts on how equipment nowadays is seen less as a means to an end, and more as the end in and of itself.
The latest update to Lightroom Classic CC brought with it a slew of major bugs, including some that would cause the program to crash. Adobe has now released an update to address these bugs, along with an apology.
The new drives come in the M.2 form factor and with the latest PCIe Gen 3×4 lane interface, offering NVM Express (NVMe) bandwidth. In other words: they're an interesting option for anyone editing large batches of photos or 4K/8K video.
Photographer Alexander Gee has created something pretty cool: the first (to our knowledge) E-Mount film camera. It's called LEX, and when it's finished, Gee intends to make the camera's design files open source so that anybody can built their own from scratch.
Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a low-power HD video streaming method that could eventually allow tiny, maybe even battery-free wearable cameras to stream high definition video.
Nikon Corporation has warned investors that an assessment of its Belgium-based metrology business based is worth much less than expected, and that they should brace themselves for an 'extraordinary loss' of 10,343 million yen.
In 2009, photographer Michael Benanav joined a family from the nomadic Van Gujjar tribe on their annual journey from the lowland jungles of the Shivalik Hills to the alpine meadows of the Himalayas. This is the story behind the images he captured.
NVIDIA's Content-Aware Fill competitor is getting better and better. A new demo from shows how the latest version can fill in entire chunks of a person's face, or pieces of an image that are missing, with incredibly realistic results.
This hacked Polaroid Sonar Autofocus 5000 puts a digital spin on instant photography, but not in the way you're used to seeing. It's one of the most ambitious and well-executed DIY camera projects we've seen.
Chinese smartphone manufacturer Meizu has launched a new high-end model, the Meizu 15 Plus. And based on specs alone, the phone is well-worth a closer look for mobile photographers who are open to buying from a less established brand.
Open source photo editor GIMP is a popular (and free) Photoshop alternative, but can it really be used on a professional edit? In this video, photographer Shane Milton shows you that it most certainly can.
Photographer Jolyon Ralph pit the new Huawei P20 Pro against his beloved Canon 5DS R, and was "somewhat stunned" by how well the 40MP smartphone performed against the 50MP DSLR.
Thanks to a low-res proxy version of the Insta360 Pro 8K footage, stitching times and computer processing requirements are reduced significantly when editing 360° footage from the six-lens system.
DxO Labs has filed the initial proceedings to start the bankruptcy process in France. The company is currently under "judicial administration," which allows it some time to restructure and find a buyer before the liquidation process occurs.