Canon PowerShot Digital ELPH SD1200 IS / Digital IXUS 95 IS 10.0 MP Digital Camera - Dark gray
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Canon PowerShot Digital ELPH SD1200 IS / Digital IXUS 95 IS 10.0 MP Digital Camera - Dark gray

Out of stock  |  Similar in Digital Cameras
  • Optical Zoom: 3x
  • Type: Point & Shoot
  • Megapixels: 10.0 MP
  • Digital Zoom: 4x
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jps246
941

My Favorite Point-And-Shoot Digital Camera So Far - Canon PowerShot SD1200

Pros Simple to use, Great photos, Auto mode does a great job
Cons Slight shutter lag, Trouble taking clear photos in low light
Recommended it? Yes
The Bottom Line:  We really like the Canon PowerShot SD1200 camera - not only is it lightweight, easy to carry and easy to use, but it takes some great photos
I have always had good experiences with Canon cameras and the Canon PowerShot SD1200 is no exception. This 10-megapixel camera is small, lightweight, very easy to use and produces some really great pictures. The only downside is that like a lot of Canon point-and-shoot cameras, there is a noticeable camera lag, though it has been greatly improved since their earlier models.

I got the SD1200 as a replacement camera for my partner's old PowerShot A75. It had survived several years of pretty hard use and it was time for it to be retired. Turns out the SD1200 has been a great replacement for him. He likes how easy it is to use and I have been pleased with the pictures that it takes, especially in the auto mode.

Should you get the SD1200?

If you want a point-and-shoot camera with a lot of megapixels that is small and easy to use, I think the Canon PowerShot SD1200 is a good choice. In the several months that we have had it, I have found that it takes good shots, especially outside where the shots are what I would consider outstanding. I can only think of two downsides: 1) the shutter lag is noticeable, but not bad; and 2) the camera has some issues taking clear photos in low-light situations.

That said though, the SD1200 really is a great all-purpose camera. The vast majority of our photos come out fine. The lens takes crisp photos, the resolution is great and the 3x optical zoom provides us with enough zoom capacity for just about any photo that we are taking.

Digging into the SD1200

The SD1200 makes a great pocket point-and-shoot camera. It is very small, measuring only about three and half inches in width, just over two inches in height and just under an inch in thickness. Looking straight on to the camera, it is actually about the same size as a credit card. It is just thicker than the card. The whole unit, with the battery, weighs quite a bit less than a pound. I find it to be small enough that I can put it in my back pocket and I will not even notice it as I am walking around.

Resolution
The SD1200 offers 10-megapixels of picture taking power which is good enough for print enlargements up to about 13x10 inches. I have prints up to 8x10 so far and if the picture itself is good, the print is outstanding. In addition to the full resolution, the camera offers several different levels of quality that let you decide if you always need the full 10-megapixels. For me, I just keep the camera at its finest settings, since you never know when you might take a picture you might want to make into a print and it would be a shame if you could not enlarge it enough.

Lens
As with other Canon cameras I've had or used, they put a quality lens on their camera and the SD1200 is no exception. Compared to the same resolution on the FujiFilm Z33WP camera, pictures on the SD1200 are significantly cleaner, clearer and sharper thanks to the higher quality lens on the camera. The lens when the camera is off is enclosed in the camera. When you turn the camera on, the lens opens and extends out. There is a 3x optical zoom with the lens, which for us, covers about 99% of anything that we want to cover when taking photos.

Exposure, ISO, Shutter Settings, Flash, White Balance and Shooting Modes
When set in the auto mode, the SD1200 pretty much takes care of everything that you would need to worry about. It automatically selects the various settings and even selects the best shooting mode for the picture that you are taking. I find that it actually does a really good job 95 percent of the time and I really just leave it in the auto mode for the majority of my photos. The only time I really fiddle with the various settings in the manual mode is for low-light photos where I want to make sure that the camera is doing its best to take the photo. In those cases, just about every option can be adjusted including the ISO settings, white balance and shooting modes. One thing you can't adjust is the shutter speed.

The flash does not offer much control, but does a good job at providing some light fill in brighter pictures where a subject may be in shadow and for night photos, but unless you're within about six feet of the camera, the flash doesn't do too much. There are two modes for the flash, automatic, or off. There is a separate red eye reduction setting that you can set up to provide a red light before the flash to reduce red eye.

Face Detection and Image Stabilization
Oh do I love you both. Turns out that these are great features. I find that the pictures we take almost all have better focus on faces in the pictures and a lot of the photos has significantly less blurring thanks to camera shake. These are automatic features and Canon has done a good job at integrating these into the camera making it really easy to take better pictures.

Movie Making
The SD1200 has the ability to take video with sound, either at 640x480 and 30 frames per second or 320x240 and 30 frames per second. I have only ever taken video in the higher resolution mode and I have been quite happy with the results. You won't get video camera quality, but it is more than good enough to capture a quick moment and have it posted on the web or in an email. The movie mode is easily accessible by sliding the shooting mode switch down from auto and manual to the movie mode. Then you just have to push the shutter button to start recording and press it again to stop.

LCD Screen
It is not a huge LCD screen, but at 2.5 inches it is clear and the color is vivid on it, which makes it very easy to review the pictures that you are taking. I even find that the LCD representation of the photo is a pretty good match to what you will find when you download the image and open it on your computer.

Battery Life
The SD1200 uses a proprietary battery, which is one way that it reduces size and weight. The camera does come with a charger for the battery and on a full charge, you can get around 300 photos or so out of the camera. The more you fiddle with the camera settings between taking photos, the less battery life you'll get.

Navigation and General Usability
I have always found that it is quite easy to navigate on a Canon camera, even if there are a ton of options to choose from. Canon has it set up so the important functions are easily accessible and on just about every setting, it is clear what you are adjusting while you are doing it. There are only two buttons and a switch to worry about. The function button lets you adjust picture taking settings in the auto, manual or video modes. The menu button opens up the menu to adjust the more arcane settings. Finally the mode switch lets you switch between full auto, manual and video. Having used Canons in the past, I found it easy to get going with the camera without reading the manual.

It is just as easy to take photos. The shutter button and the zoom switch are integrated and they are easy to use. The only problem I have is that the camera is so small, sometimes with my hand wrapped around the camera, I have to look to see if I have my finger on the right button.

Memory
The SD1200 uses the SD Memory Card standard for storage. The cards are available in a number of different sizes. I have a 4-gigabyte card, which provides enough space for about 1400 photographs in the 10-megapixel fine mode.

Using the Camera

Since I got this camera as a replacement for my partner's camera, the real test of its usability came when I handed it to him and was like "knock yourself out." He being the non-techie type can usually find a way to get something messed up but with the SD1200 besides having it switched to the movie or manual mode without realizing it, has worked just about perfectly for him. He takes it with him to capture shots at work when he needs to and when we're on vacation or traveling, he is constantly taking pictures.

I did spend a bit of time showing him how to adjust settings in the manual mode if wants to, but he just keeps it in auto and the camera does a great job at taking photos. That and he loves taking short videos with it too.

I use the camera quite a bit even though I had gotten myself a new camera at the same time since I think the SD1200 takes better pictures than the FujiFilm camera that I have. So if I am not going to be in a wet situation (the FujiFilm is waterproof), I will bring the SD1200 with me. Besides that bit of shutter lag, I think it has got to be one of the best point-and-shoot cameras that I have had.

The camera has some good battery life. I can charge the battery fully and put it in the camera and be good for several weeks worth of taking photos (since I am not using it very much on any one day). Then I can recharge the battery and be off again. For heavier shooting like when we are on vacation, I find we can go a couple of days between charges. The only thing I don't like about the proprietary battery is that should I run out of a charge somewhere, I need to charge the battery, I can't just buy some AA batteries and put them in.

We have taken the camera on vacation, on hikes, at parties and used it around the house and in all the situations it has worked well. I am more careful with the camera on hikes since it is not weather or waterproof. Even so, I have not noticed anything beyond a small scratch on the metal casing of the camera from all that use. The LCD screen has stayed scratch free and all the buttons have worked.

Final Thoughts

I think both of us really like the Canon PowerShot SD1200 camera. Not only is it lightweight, easy to carry and easy to use, but it really takes some great photos. On the negative side, I can live with the slight shutter lag and beyond that, besides a few blurry photos in low-light conditions, I cannot find anything to complain about with this camera.

I would easily recommend the Canon SD1200 to anyone looking for a small, easy to use, quality point-and-shoot digital camera.

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