Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS

Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS

Shake all you want, the PowerShot still captures crisp still pictures.


Antishake technology has long been an essential feature in camcorders, where slight hand movements can ruin shots or inadvertently push a movie into Blair Witch territory. But they’re surprisingly useful in still cameras, too. Without a stabilizer, most shooters can’t hold a camera still for more than about 1/30 of a second. That’s rarely a problem outdoors, where abundant light makes for quick shutter speeds, but indoor shots often take about a sixth of a second, leaving you with the Sophie’s Choice of cameras: an image blurred with camera shake or the harsh light of the camera flash.


Stabilizers come in three general types: optical, mechanical, and digital. Optical stabilizers usually offer the best results and don’t impact image quality; they work by orienting the plane of the lens opposite the direction of typical hand movements, so they’re less noticeable. Mechanical sensor-stabilizers shift the image sensor in a similar way. Digital stabilizers use electronics to manipulate the image as it is taken; these typically don’t work as well and can sometimes impact image quality. Don’t be fooled by companies touting high-ISO sensitivity and shorter exposures as “stabilizers.” These techniques assist to reduce blur but should be in any camera’s arsenal.


Our favorite stabilizing shooter? The Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS fits an optical stabilizer into its pocket-size shape. We impressively captured handheld exposures as long as 1/4 of a second without blur. If you can get your friends to hold still, the PowerShot works great at dim restaurants without requiring a flash.


We clocked the 8-megapixel camera at a little over a second to turn on and fire its first photo. It also satisfyingly sustained a rate of about 1.4 pictures per second, snapping almost instantly with the button press. Those images were generally acceptable, but some daylight detail got lost, such as fine patterns in a wide photo of foliage. But we shot exceptional macro images, getting close to garden flowers while still recording clear details. Indoor shots showed generally accurate colors, although the camera flash made them better defined than longer exposures without it.


The bottom line. The go-anywhere shape is nicely augmented by the shoot-nearly-anywhere stabilizer. It’s a great camera for snapping photos on a moment’s notice.




PRICE: $250
Optical stabilizer solidifies hand-held photos. Small range-finder eyepiece frames shots in exceptionally bright conditions. Bold, 2.5-inch LCD clearly shows your aim. Great macro mode.

Fine details often muddled together. Moderate background noise in indoor, flash photos.




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