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New Pocket Camera – Canon SD-780IS?

Earlier today I got an email asking for recommendations on a new pocket “point-and-shoot” camera, and fired back with a wrapup of the three that I too am considering for my next pocket camera.

My trusty Canon SD-500 has finally died after 4 years of hard use and abuse, and over 12,000 pictures taken. It’s been a great camera, and went all around the world with me, even scuba diving with me to 100 feet, in the Canon waterproof case. Recently the focus stopped working, and the two rechargeable batteries I have for it barely hold a charge – they’ve probably each been recharged close to 1000 times. Also, a little puff of smoke comes out of the top speaker grill every time the flash fires a full burst.

Buying a new piece of gear is always a major research effort, and weighing the options is important. I’m currently stuck on three cameras, each with their own good and bad features.

jason-jeffrey-donenfeld-alaska-weather-balloon
My brother Jason and I using the SD-500 to film our discovery of the crashed weather balloon in the backcountry of central Alaska, Summer 2008.

Canon SD780IS –
This is the smallest and thinnest pocket camera Canon has ever produced, and it really is super small – just checked it out at the store, and its rounded corners make it easy to slip in your pocket. It’s 12MP, but a very small sensor. From what I’ve read, it’s very solidly built for its size, and takes great pictures, however it’s picture quality is not as good as some other, larger pocket cameras. Also, it takes 720p HD video, with sound, and has a built in HD HDMI output for plugging directly into an HDTV. The lens is in the “normal” range for zoom, with the widest angle being 33mm (in film equivalent) The big questions for me on this is – I really love that it’s ultra super small, and takes 720p HD video, however, I’m not sure how much it’s worth it for ever so slightly reduced image quality. I suppose, though, given that this is a pocket cam, and ideally suited for going out with friends and taking fun snapshots, and not more intense photography, it would be acceptable. Also, it comes in flat black, which is sleek and low-key looking. This is currently my top pick.

Canon 880is –
This is the camera that I bought for my brother Jason recently, and researched quite a bit before I bought it for him. It’s a bit bigger and heavier than the 789is, and doesn’t have an optical viewfinder. Also, it’s lower resolution (10mp)(not an indicator of image quality), and only shoots “standard def” video. However, that being said, it is noted as having among the best image quality out of the current canon pocket cameras. Additionally, it has a wide angle lens, 28mm (in film equiv) being the widest. (Compared to 33mm for the 780is) This camera is def still pocketable, but nowhere near as sleek. My brother can pocket it easy because he wears baggy jeans, and it fits easily in a coat pocket, however it might be a little bulky to slip into the wallet pocket of a suit jacket, or dress pants, or tighter jeans. So, it’s a trade off of getting slightly better pictures and wider angle, but having a slightly bulkier camera with no HD video recording.

Canon D10 –
The one ultra standout feature for this camera, and the feature that majorly puts it on the radar is that it’s waterproof, shockproof, and freezeproof. You can submerge it to 33feet underwater. Although I have a dedicated scuba case for actual scuba diving, having a waterproof and shockproof pocket camera seems like an awesome feature for a traveler, especially for sailing trips, hiking in the jungle, and other potentially hazardous or dirty areas – no worrying about getting sand in the lens mechanism, or taking it out in the rain or snow. The main detractors for this camera are the lens focal length and the size. The lens’ widest is 35mm (in film equiv), which is not the widest at all. Also, it’s one of the bulkier “pocket cameras”, and I think it looks kind of bubbled out and stupid – def not as sleek as the 780is.

It does have the waterproof and shockproof going for it, though, which is a major factor…

Let me know your thoughts and suggestions!

*****Update – I went with the 780, and just wrote a review of the Canon SD780IS. Cheers

6 comments

  1. Jason says:

    Get the 780. You already have two other high quality cameras that are a little bigger. If the purpose of this camera is mobility, go for the smallest one.

  2. Jeri says:

    Are you still liking your 780?
    Hope you can help me with a battery question. When the battery runs low, how do you recharge it? Or must it be replaced?

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