Digital Camera Review of the Canon PowerShot SD1100IS

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Five colors of the Canon PowerShot SD1100IS.

The Canon PowerShot SD1100IS is among the most popular point-and-shoot cameras in the world. The camera has been on the top 100 best-sellers list at for more than a year — an eternity in the small camera world.

The camera is a favorite among tourists and other amateur photographers for its sleek design and compact size. But size may also be the main drawback for the Canon PowerShot SD1100IS. It is a good camera for the price and size, but a slightly larger and heavier camera will likely be more durable and reliable.


• 8 megapixel resolution

• 3X zoom

• Optical/2.5" LCD viewfinder

• 80-1600 ISO

• Custom Lithium Ion battery

• 32MB memory card included

• Dimensions: 3.4x2.2x0.9in (86x56x23mm)

• Weight: 5.1 oz (145 g)

• Price: $250

Design (5 out of 5)

The Canon PowerShot SD1100IS camera is about the size of a deck of cards, so it fits easily in a pocket. The camera comes in five shiny colors, including pink - a good gift for a young Hannah Montana fan. The SD1100IS has tapered corners and a nice use of space.

The 2.5" LCD screen is small, but so is the camera. It’s about as much as Canon could fit on the back of this model while still including a handy optical viewfinder. While many manufacturers have pushed the viewfinder off smaller cameras, Canon understands they can still be handy in bright light or other situations where the digital image is hard to see.

The top of the camera has a small power button and the large, idiot-proof shutter button and easy zoom toggle. Hand the camera to a passersby for pictures of your family and they can’t go wrong. The controls on the back of the camera are simple and fairly intuitive, allowing novice users to easily switch between 13 scene modes and capture the perfect image.

Ease of use (4 out of 5)

Among the most popular features of the Canon PowerShot SD1100IS camera are optical image stabilization and face detection. The former is the camera’s IS namesake. The latter was invented two years ago, and uses algorithms to find faces and adjust flash and exposure levels to perfect the photo of the faces. It’s a hot buzzword in camera sales, but in this case, Canon actually delivers on the promise.

The exposure controls are automatic - a plus for beginners but a drawback for more advanced users. Likewise, shutter speeds are fast, especially at this price, but not quite enough for fast-paced sports action shots. Finally, the flash recycle time can be slow. Again, this is immaterial for most basic users, but may frustrate some more advanced photographers who need a handy extra camera to slip in the pocket for impromptu shots.

Value (3 out of 5)

The Canon PowerShot SD1100IS costs $250, a good value given the compact size and image quality. Again, size and quality are tradeoffs. Canon, Panasonic and other companies make slightly larger, more durable cameras at about the same price. In particular, the zoom is limited by the thickness of the camera, and some users complain about the camera breaking too easily.

Finally, add a few dollars to the base price for a larger memory card. The included 32MB card probably won’t get you very far.