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Canon PowerShot SD880 IS

>> Monday, June 29, 2009

The 10 megapixel PowerShot SD880 IS Digital Elph is the follow up to the popular SD870 IS, and what a worthy successor it is. It's capable of producing truly excellent pictures for a camera of its size and it has nice components for a sub $300 model including a wide angle lens and optical image stabilization. There are a couple weaknesses, but nothing that keeps it from being an excellent point and shoot camera.

At 6.3 ounces and measuring 3.7 inches wide by 2.2 inches high by 0.9 inch deep, it'll fit more comfortably in a pants or coat pocket than a shirt pocket, but it's by no means big. Compared with the SD870 IS, the SD880 IS has the latest version of Canon's image processing engine, Digic 4, jumps from 8 megapixels to 10, and offers a few more scene modes. The 4x f2.8-5.8 28-112mm lens is a highlight of the camera the wide angle is so nice to have on a camera this small, and it's a tad longer zoom than on the SD870.

It also records video using the H.264 codec instead of Motion JPEG. The directional pad is pretty standard; instead it's the thumb dial that adds interest here. In SCN mode, the dial is used for rifling through your options. It's also used for swapping between Auto and Program in Shooting mode and tone control in Video. It works well, but you can barely feel stops when spinning the dial making it just a little too easy to switch out of whichever mode you want.

The dial can be used for navigating Menu settings, too. Overall, I like the key design and wheel, but I can also see it confusing new users to the point of frustration. The buttons have a pillowy, convex shape, which is not only attractive, but makes for unmistakable presses. The Print and Share button can be turned into a shortcut key to access one of nine shooting functions. As for performance, the SD880 IS is fractionally slower than the first rate SD870 IS.

Time to first shot is 1.2 seconds and you can shoot again in 1.9 seconds. Shutter lag was great just 0.4 second in bright conditions and 0.8 in dim. The only marked decrease in speed is if you're using the flash. The shot to shot time extends to 3.2 seconds, which is a generally slow time and nearly a second longer than the SD870 IS. The typical burst speed is a respectable 1.4 frames per second.

The 3 inch Canon PureColor LCD II performed well in direct light and has a wide viewing angle. More impressive than the SD880 IS's speed is the picture quality. Colors were always natural and vibrant. White balance was accurate and pictures showed good detail and sharpness at ISO 200 and below. Also, if you take a lot of landscape photos, note that the SD880 IS is prone to fringing. Video is better than average considering it tops out at 640x480.

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