Excellent point-n-shoot camera, however...
excellent picture quality in daylight, easy to use
average low-light picture, no HD video
The Bottom Line:
If you need a point-n-shoot camera buy this one. If you want to double it as video camcorder think again, it has no HD video
Christmas is coming, I look for a point-n-shoot camera for my wife. I’ve heard that the SD1200 was very popular last year, so I settle for the SD1300 and here's my report:
SD1300 comes with 5 colors, I bought the blue one. I do like the weight, it's not too light nor too heavy. The body is not slim to my liking but is not bulky to be cumbersome either. Camera body is mostly plastic but it doesn’t look or feel cheap. The camera grip is firm and its base has a socket that can be mounted on a regular tripod.
Overall picture quality is excellent and I think this is the strongest selling point of the camera.
SD1300 is a 1- megapixel camera but I don’t really care about the megapixels. Sub-compact cameras like SD1300 don't have an optical structure good enough to support even 7M, let alone 12M. So, I don't judge a camera by its resolution.
Image quality of SD1300 in broad daylight is excellent. I captured some 2592x1944 shots and compared them with those from my G11 camera and don’t see much difference. In low light images are surprisingly good for a camera at this price range: not too much noise even at ISO 400. SD1300 can go as high as ISO 1600 but at this level there are lots of noise, making the quality unacceptable. Color reproduction is vibrant if lighting condition is good. Zoom shots at 4x are sharp, distortion is noticeable but not too much.
In good lighting condition the Auto-focus locks on quickly and accurately on the object. Power-on time for the first shot is very good, about more than 1 second. The shutter lag is also very good, after pressing the button I barely notice any shutter lag.
Thanks to the four-way dial on this camera, navigation is in general easy and intuitive. I’m quite sure you don’t need the manual for basic functions. Just spend some time to explore the buttons and you’ll figure out how they work since all are arranged and labeled smartly.
When using the camera for the first time, the only things you may need to do are setting up the current date and the picture size. I suggest NOT to use the max size(4000x3000), not only it takes too much space but also it degrades picture quality. The best picture size to set, I suggest, is 2592x1944 (5M). SD1300 has a separate button that lets you display your pictures without having to open the lens and this helps to reduce unnecessary wear on the lens motor.
SD1300 has an optical zoom of 4X which is a bit better than the standard 3X that most compact cameras have. When powered off the lens retracts inside the body. I find the zoom pretty smooth and fast. Note that the zoom doesn’t work in video mode in the middle of a recording session, but you can still zoom first, then start the video recording.
- LCD screen:
SD1300 has a quite big screen of 2.7 inches screen. However I personally don’t like screens bigger than 2 in. Bigger screens are better but they eat up more battery juice. The screen resolution is pretty good with vibrant color. Note that too much LCD resolution may not be necessarily good. Canon G11, for example, has a very good LCD screen resolution but it is too good and makes you think the picture you’ve just captured is that good, while in reality it’s not.
The SD1300 doesn’t have an optical viewfinder, which is a shame because the predecessor SD1200 has one. I particularly care about optical viewfinder because when battery almost runs out, the optical viewfinder is a life saver(SD1300 doesn’t use AA batteries, so when they run of of juice you cannot purchase them from the stores). Another good point about the LCD screen is that “what you see is what you almost get”, which means LCD screen represents almost 100% of the real picture(on some cameras LCD screen displays only 90% of the real image).
SD1300 uses proprietary rechargeable battery. This forces you to buy an extra battery because once the charge runs out you need quite a long time to recharge(full charge time is about 2 hours). Canon includes an external charger(some other competitors such as Nikon Coolpix S4000 don’t include the external charger, the camera itself is used as the charger, so you’re forced to buy an external charger, otherwise you can’t use the camera while it is charging). Battery consumption of SD1300 is good. One good thing I notice is that there is no battery leak(camera with battery leak is very annoying, you leave the camera unused for a couple of weeks the battery is drained, forcing you to recharge at the time you need the camera the most). Prepare to shed some extra money for battery: a Canon genuine extra battery costs you $30 while a generic one costs $10(ebay prices).
Camera red-eye correction feature works only to a certain extent, many pictures taken with flash still have red-eye problem. However like almost all other cameras, including expensive ones, red-eye problem always exists, so I don’t consider this a drawback of SD1300. The pictures with flash are just average. Flash range is good within 8 feet, but beyond this range pictures have lots of noise and dark. Flash recharge time is acceptable. AF assist lamp is quite good, it focuses pretty fast and accurate if the light is not too dim.
SD1300 can record full video(640x480 at 30 frames), so the captured video has a full size image, not a small box you frequently see on youtube. Overall the quality is average. Video image is quite sharp(thanks to the Optical Image Stabilizer). However the video color is just OK. According to the specs the max continuous video recording time is 4G or 1hr, which suits most recording situations.
This camera uses avi format for video clips. I prefer avi over mov format. While Apple's mov format (often used in more advanced cameras) consumes less space, it's a chore to put it on a DVD(using software such as Nero or Roxio). You have to convert .mov to .avi before you can burn a DVD. You also have to install QuickTime for Windows to view the mov video clips.
While I’m happy with the video quality, I also expect SD1300 to have HD format because many other competitors within this price range offer HD video. So, if you intend to double this camera as a video recorder take the the lack of HD video into consideration seriously.
- Memory card:
SD1300 uses SD card, which I found is cheapest compared to other types of memory cards. The camera also accommodates more advanced SD card: SDHC, SDXC(SDHC is just an SD card with capacities of 4GB-32GB, and SDXC is one with capacities of 32GB - 2TB). This is a good feature since recording video takes lots of space, you need bigger card if you want longer recoding time.
- Other features that I found interesting:
1.This camera has a feature called Face Self-Timer feature. This helps in group shots by waiting until the last person face enters the frame(the shooter) before the shot is taken two seconds later, this ensures everyone is included in the picture
2. Low-light shooting: in this mode the camera automatically sets the ISO at a reduced resolution to capture images in dark conditions. This mode enables you to capture photos in poor lighting condition without the need of a flash.
3. Face Detection technology: This feature automatically recognizes people faces and adjust all the settings to yield best results. On the LCD screen there is a rectangular frame showing that each person face is recognized. Canon advertises that it recognizes 35 faces but I don't think this feature always works. The square boxes sometimes do not position right on the human face but to the side even if there are only 2 people.
In summary, I’m very happy with this camera. However, as always, this camera is not for everyone:
- If you just need a point-and-shoot camera with good overall picture quality and don’t care about any extra features I highly recommend SD1300, you won’t be disappointed.
- If you plan to use this camera extensively as a video camera, do pay attention to the lack of HD video. If you need HD video, definitely nix this camera.
- If you want many extra features (touch screen, more shooting modes etc…) for the same money, consider other competitors such as Nikon Coolpix S4000