Recently, I wrote about the decision making process for selecting a new pocket camera. I finally decided on the Canon SD780 IS digital camera, and after a couple months of average use of the camera, I’ve gotten to know a bit of its strengths and weaknesses.
I’ve owned Canon compact digital cameras ever since the Canon S100 came out. This is by far the smallest one I’ve owned, but maybe not the highest quality photos.
For size, this is the one to get. It’s super small and slick, and all of the buttons are recessed and stripped down. When going out with it in my pocket, it takes up almost no space, and easily fits in my front pocket. This is the easiest camera to carry. Also, since the body is mostly metal and has an integrated lens cover, when it’s rustling around in your pocket with change or keys, it simply scratches, without denting or harming the camera. I’ve actually grown to love the various scratches and “character” my perfectly working camera has picked up. I also have a small neoprene Walk On Water case I use when tossing it in my bag.
The lens on this camera is very small, and so is the sensor – however, Canon managed to squeeze in 12.1 Megapixels. I think this is definitely overkill for this camera. The photos it makes are large, but there’s often a little more noise than I’d like. I think this camera could have been really great with the same sized sensor, but only 6 megapixels of resolution – but a much higher quality overall image. For pocket snaps, I really don’t feel the need for huge image sizes, and would much rather have really great looking pictures, and/or really high sensitivity potential. However, for casual snaps and playing around, the camera is good enough quality.
The 720P HD video mode is where this camera really shines. With a quick flick of the mode switch, the camera starts taking widescreen 16:9 HD video, complete with sound. Recording length is only limited by the size of the card, and since it takes removable SDHC cards, recording time is virtually unlimited. Since this camera goes for only $249 MSRP, it’s one of the better, more flexible pocket HD video cams. I’ve often seen friends using a Flip Mino HD video camera, which pales in comparison. The closest matching Flip camera is the Mino HD 120 minute, which seems to be about the size of the 780Is, and costs $229 MSRP. The Mino HD only shoots two hours of footage at a time, at which point you have to plug it in to your computer and offload the video before you can shoot again – it only has 8gb of memory. The 780IS, with its replaceable SDHC cards, can keep on shooting. I have a 32gb card in mine, which is more than enough. Also, with the 780IS, you also have an awesome still camera, with the full host of features. The Flip Mino HD is slightly easier to use than the Canon, but, I’d rather have the features and flexibility of the Canon over the stipped down simplicity of the Flip. The actual video that it shoots, at 720P/30fps, looks great. It’s nice and sharp in good light, and retains its brightness in low light, by way of higher iso. The higher iso does get a bit grainy, but the video in low light is still usable. Sound is decent, standard mono sound, and I’ve noticed that the sound recording on this camera doesn’t seem to clip as much as the sound on some previous cameras I’ve had.
Here’s a short Canon SD-780IS video, taken at The Putting Lot in Brooklyn.