The Canon SD600 has adjustable ISO settings that go up to 800, which is an exceptionally high sensitivity rating that was previously only available on higher-end and professional cameras. This allows photographers to take pictures without a flash, even in low light.
There is a new High ISO Auto setting, in addition to the usual ISO Auto setting, which allows the camera to automatically determine exposure using the higher (400 and 800) ISO levels. This is helpful if you are less inclined to fiddle around with the ISO settings when shooting images.
On the rear of the camera, next to the multi-controller, there is a separate button labeled “ISO” that allows direct access to these settings. Although enhancing low-light performance has the potential to usher in a new era for customers, the SD600 takes a more conservative approach in other aspects.
The SD 600 may not impress you with its looks (it’s pretty much the same basic Digital ELPH design that we’ve seen for several years) or with its firepower (its top-line specifications are about average for this camera class), but underneath, its exterior lies the beating heart of a reliable imaging machine.
And it has become the rallying cry for Canon’s still-popular digital ELPH series since its introduction. In the past, the most desirable phones to have were Digital ELPHs because of their elegant designs and cutting-edge capabilities. In these modern times, however, with so much research and development being made into the format by other manufacturers, the basic Digital ELPH has (dare I say it?) become a little bit “old in the tooth.”
If you want more flash, you should choose the SD700 IS or even the SD630 (a $50 improvement from the SD600). Both of these models have more curves and a gorgeous two-tone finish that consists of brushed silver and lacquered black.
In addition, even though the SD600 has a 2.5-inch LCD, this size does not differentiate it from other cameras in its class, which have almost universally shifted toward adopting more giant screens. So instead, spend the additional $50 to obtain the SD630, which has a display that is 3 inches in size and is perfect for you if you find that extensive collections are necessary.
You will, however, be required to forego the use of the SD600’s teeny-tiny optical viewfinder, which is a conventional carryover that a significant number of customers continue to like. The SD600 and the SD630 have 6-megapixel image sensors, 3x optical zoom lenses, Canon’s DIGIC II image processors, and all of the high ISO capabilities that make it possible to take pictures without using a flash even in low-light situations. However, the only difference between the two models is their resolution.
In this review, I’ll examine the relevance of these features and explore why being able to take reasonably low-noise photographs at higher ISOs is such a significant benefit. I’ll also look at some sample images.
Canon PowerShot SD600: Design
The Canon SD600 is not the most stylish model in the Digital ELPH line — that honor would probably go to the SD630 or the SD700 IS, but it carries on the classic ELPH style, which has enduring appeal. So although the Canon SD600 is not the most stylish model in the Digital ELPH line, it takes on the classic ELPH style.
With its lens retracted, the camera has dimensions of 3.39 inches wide by 2.11 inches high by 0.85 inches deep. Although it is compact enough to fit in most pockets, the camera still has sufficient weight — 5.5 ounces (156 grams) with the battery and a card provided by its metal chassis to let you know that you are taking pictures with a reliable digital camera and not a toy.
Even if it may not be as impressive as it previously was, this demonstrates how much the rest of the digital camera market has progressed to catch up to Canon’s pioneering design ideas.
The front of the Canon SD600 has a very ELPH-like appearance, with the viewfinder and flash located just above the lens, which is somewhat off-center to the right of the camera’s center. Next to the optical viewfinder is a light emitter that serves various purposes. These include helping with focusing, reducing the appearance of red eyes, and providing a countdown for the self-timer.
When the camera is turned on, the telescopic lens swiftly emerges, sticking out approximately 1 cm from the front of the device. When the power is turned off, the lens retracts entirely within the device, keeping the device’s profile as flat as possible. A little cutout for the microphone may be found to the left of the camera’s lens.
The PowerShot SD600 does not have a finger grip, but the mode switch on the back of the camera has been repositioned such that it is now on the right, making it a comfortable spot to rest your thumb.
The Power button, the Shutter button, and the Zoom ring are all situated to the right of the top of the Canon SD600. The first two controls are raised above the surface, while the Power button is recessed and contains an LED in its center to signal that the camera is turned on.
The AV Out and USB ports are located on the right side of the PowerShot SD600 (when viewed from the camera’s rear), and they are hidden behind a plastic door that hinges on the top and rises upward to show the ports. The door has a metallic finish and can be securely pressed back into place. All it takes is a little bit of pressure. The eyelet for attaching the wrist strap is located below the door.
On the reverse side of the Canon SD600, there is nothing but a pair of screws and four tiny protrusions in the corners that allow the camera to stand upright on its own. The opposite side of the camera is entirely blank.
The remaining controls for the camera are located on the back panel of the PowerShot SD600, which also houses both the optical and LCD viewfinders. The LCD monitor has a diagonal measurement of 2.5 inches, which, a year ago, would have been regarded as enormous for a subcompact camera but is only considered ordinary for such a device. Because of the limitations imposed by the screen, every control is situated to the right.
As discussed, the speaker and mode switch on the back of the camera has been flipped over from the SD450. This makes it much simpler to access the button with your thumb. The switch allows you to decide between Still Record, Movie, and Playback modes in addition to serving as a decent thumb rest and ensuring a firmer grip on the camera. In addition, the switch performs the camera’s primary job, enabling you to choose between those three modes.
As a result of the relocation of the speaker, it is no longer possible to cover it up with your thumb, as was the case with the SD450. Instead, the Print / Share button can be found directly below the speaker. The blue LED in the button’s center will light up when the camera is ready to print or transfer photographs, and it will blink while either function is performed.
A Four-Way Arrow pad includes most of the camera’s fast settings. In contrast, the buttons on the camera’s exterior are responsible for navigation and functions such as Macro, ISO, and Flash modes. The Set button, also known as the Function button, can be found in the center of the Four-way Arrow pad. This button is used to make selections from the menu.
The buttons for displaying and accessing the menu are located below this layout. Lastly, the PowerShot SD600 has two LED lamps next to the viewfinder that reports the camera status. These lamps indicate when the focus has been set, or the flash has been ultimately charged.
The Canon SD600 has a sturdy bottom panel that is lovely and flat. This panel houses the metal tripod mount as well as the compartment for the battery and memory card. Because it is placed under the lens, the tripod socket conveniently takes panoramas.
The slots for the battery and the SD memory card are aligned inside the compartment for the memory card and the battery. When the cover of the box is opened, a tiny clasp is loaded with a spring that prevents the battery from slipping out by accident.
Unfortunately, the tripod mount is also right alongside the door to the battery compartment and the card compartment, which means that you have to remove the camera from a tripod if the battery life is exhausted or if there is no more space on the flash card (although, to be fair, this is not a camera that you are likely to use in a studio anyway).
Canon PowerShot SD600: How to Operate
The menu system and fundamental control philosophy of the Canon PowerShot SD600 are comparable to the rest of the current ELPH line of digital cameras. This makes the user interface of the Canon PowerShot SD600 simple and easy to understand.
Most of the camera’s operations are handled via buttons on the top and back panels. At the same time, the LCD-based Record menu controls a select few of the camera’s settings. Without requiring the user to navigate through the many menu screens, a Function menu allows for more practical access to fundamental parameters such as picture size, quality, and exposure correction.
Because the menu items are shown in tabs on the LCD screen rather than sequentially on a series of pages, the LCD menu system in and of itself is highly efficient. In addition, the Setup and My Camera menus may be accessed at any time, whatever the mode in which the camera operates. If you have the user manual available, becoming familiar with the camera shouldn’t take more than half an hour to an hour.
Display for Record Mode In any recording mode, the LCD of the PowerShot SD600 shows either the image area with no information, the picture with a restricted information display, or nothing at all. When you press the Display button, the various display modes will cycle through one by one.
When the information display is activated, it will report the current resolution and image quality settings, the number of photographs currently accessible, the orientation, the Record mode, and a few exposure parameters (although not aperture or shutter speed). Both of these modes allow for the activation and display of a grid.
Display in Playback Mode The playback mode offers three options: the picture only, the image with information, and the photo with comprehensive knowledge and a histogram. These modes may be accessed by clicking the corresponding buttons.
You may zoom in on taken photographs to check for fine details, focus, or framing, and the index display mode allows you to view as many as nine thumbnail images simultaneously on the screen. By entering the JUMP mode on the Canon SD600, you will also have the ability to skip through nine photographs at once. After entering the nine-frame preview mode, you may access this mode by toggling the zoom control to the wide-angle setting on the right side of the power.
Timing for the Canon PowerShot SD600
There is typically a lag time or delay when you click the shutter release button on a camera before the shutter fires. This is the amount of time that must pass for the autofocus and autoexposure systems to complete their tasks, which might result in a rather lengthy delay in some circumstances.
Because this number is rarely reported on (and even more seldom reported accurately) and can significantly affect the experience of taking pictures, we routinely measure both the shutter delay and the shot-to-shot cycle times for all cameras that Dave tests. Dave designed and built a test system specifically for this purpose. (Controlled by a crystal, with a resolution of 0.001 seconds.)
Canon PowerShot SD600: Battery
The battery life is poor while the LCD is turned on but is excellent when it is turned off.
|Operating Mode||Number of Shots|
|LiIon Battery Pack|
|LiIon Battery Pack|
The Canon PowerShot SD600 gets its power from a specialized rechargeable LiIon battery with 4.8 volts and 1600 milliampere hours. According to our power tests and the rated performance of its battery as measured by the CIPA battery standard, the maximum run periods are detailed in the table that can be seen above. Given the limited battery life when the LCD is active, you should consider acquiring a second battery so that you may bring it along on longer excursions.
Canon PowerShot SD600: Storage
The Canon SD600 is compatible with SD and MMC memory cards, and it comes with a beginning card with 16 megabytes of storage space.
|Image Capacity with|
16MB Memory Card
|2,816 x 2,112||Images||5||9||19|
|File Size||4.1 MB||2.4 MB||1.2 MB|
|2,272 x 1,704||Images||7||13||26|
|File Size||2.1 MB||1.2 MB||600 KB|
|1,600 x 1,200||Images||15||26||50|
|File Size||1.1 MB||600 KB||316 KB|
|640 x 480||Images||56||87||137|
|File Size||283 KB||183 KB||117 KB|
It is highly recommended that you get a memory card of at least 128 megabytes, preferably 256 megabytes, so you have additional room for longer trips.
Canon PowerShot SD600: Quality of the Image
The vast majority of consumer digital cameras create more highly saturated colors (that is, stronger) than those seen in the things they photograph. This is because most people want their colors to be more vibrant than life. Although the strong tones of red, blue, and green are somewhat oversaturated due to the Canon SD600, the overall results are pleasant.
When applied to Caucasian skin tones, oversaturation presents the most significant challenge since it is pretty simple for specific “memory colors” to be interpreted as excessively vivid, excessively pink, overly yellow, and so on. In this regard, the SD600 behaved fairly admirably and created skin tones that are accurate and aesthetically pleasant. Moreover, compared to what we are used to seeing with Canon cameras, the toning of red hues in this camera is far more subdued.
Hue accuracy is another essential component of color rendering to keep in mind. The “what color” of a color is referred to as its hue. Again, the SD600 was highly successful in its performance. The cyan colors were shifted toward blue, typical with digital cameras, but the rest of the hues came out very accurately. This was done so that the bluer sky colors would look better.
Despite an overall hue that was somewhat more yellow, the Manual white balance option on the Canon SD600 delivered the best results in this scenario. The Auto setting yielded a significant reddish cast, while the Incandescent option generated a warm solid form. Although the highlights on Marti’s shirt are extremely overexposed, I got the best exposure with an exposure compensation adjustment of +1.0 EV.
Despite this, the picture at +0.7 EV had an insufficient overall brightness. As a result, the color is imposing here, while the blue blossoms are dull. (This is a relatively typical result for this type of photo.) The test lighting we used for this photo was a combination of 60 and 100-watt household incandescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs provide a lovely yellow light, but they are a relatively prevalent light source in traditional residential settings in the United States.
The resolution chart in our laboratory showed clear line patterns down to around 1,300 lines per image height, with extinction occurring at approximately 1,800. (However, the camera exhibited very tiny color abnormalities at lower line frequencies, which were observable in the full-sized high-resolution photos of the subject.) You may use these values to compare other cameras with a comparable resolution to this one, or you can use them to evaluate what a more excellent solution can mean in terms of the possible level of detail.
Clarity and attention to detail
The photographs captured by the Canon SD600 have an overall mushy quality, and the clarity of fine details is passable but not very crisp. There isn’t any major over-sharpening or edge enhancement from the camera itself. Still, there is either significantly increased noise suppression or a loss of quality owing to the smaller sensor and different optics in the SD600.
Digital cameras typically have noise-suppression technologies that diffuse information in regions with delicate contrast. For example, the effects are frequently visible in photographs of human hair when the individual strands of hair are obscured, and the image is reminiscent of watercolor.
The exposure mechanism of the Canon SD600 performed admirably in low light, producing clear and useable photographs even in the dimmest conditions we tested in, which required an ISO setting of 200 or above. At the lower ISO settings (80 and 100), photos were useable down to around 1/8 foot-candle, which is approximately 1/8 as bright as the typical street lighting in cities at night.
The color appeared accurate when the white balance was set to Auto. When examining the SD600’s exposure capabilities, the focusing mechanism of the camera performed effectively down to around 1/4 foot-candle, which is a minor constraint. However, it is essential to remember that the highly lengthy shutter speeds that are accessible necessitate using a tripod or some other form of camera support to get clear images.
(One tip that might be helpful is just to place the camera on a flat, stable surface and utilize the self-timer function to trigger the shutter release. This prevents any jiggling that may occur as a result of your finger touching the shutter button. In addition, it is a practical approach when a tripod is not immediately available.
Canon PowerShot SD600: Specifications
|Max resolution||2816 x 2112|
|Other resolutions||2272 x 1704, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480|
|Image ratio w h||4:3|
|Effective pixels||6 megapixels|
|Sensor photo detectors||6 megapixels|
|Sensor size||1/2.5″ (5.744 x 4.308 mm)|
|ISO||Auto, 80,100, 200, 400, 800|
|White balance presets||5|
|Custom white balance||Yes|
|JPEG quality levels||Super-Fine, Fine, Normal|
|Focal length (Equiv.)||35–105 mm|
|Autofocus||Contrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaCenterSingleLive View|
|Digital zoom||Yes (4 x)|
|Normal focus range||30 cm (11.81″)|
|Macro focus range||3 cm (1.18″)|
|Number of focus points||9|
|Viewfinder type||Optical (tunnel)|
|Minimum shutter speed||15 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/1500 sec|
|Flash Range||3.50 m|
|Flash modes||Auto, On, Off, Slow, Manual (Red Eye On/Off)|
|Continuous drive||2.1 fps|
|Self-timer||Yes (2 or 10 sec)|
|Exposure compensation||±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)|
|Resolutions||640 x 480 @ 30/15 fps, 320 x 240 @ 60/30/15 fps|
|Storage types||SD/MMC card|
|Storage included||16 MB SD card|
|USB||USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)|
|Battery description||Lithium-Ion NB-4L battery & charger|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||170 g (0.37 lb / 6.00 oz)|
|Dimensions||86 x 54 x 22 mm (3.39 x 2.13 x 0.87″)|
If Canon’s traditional Digital ELPH design isn’t as impressive as it once was, it’s mainly because Canon’s rivals are finally beginning to close the gap between them and Canon. However, even though this silver metallic 6MP camera probably won’t turn heads as much as it might have done in the past, there is more going on below the hood today that should delight true digital camera fans, not just those who are style concerned.
The SD600 integrates several of Canon’s technological advancements for shooting with high ISOs. In addition to producing strong image quality in ordinary lighting settings with good color and correct skin tones, it can also capture a wide dynamic range. Of course, it’s one thing to brag about having an ISO 800 setting—several Canon’s competitors have begun providing the same ISO levels and even higher—but another thing entirely for Canon to back up this ISO sensitivity rating with actual, useable images.
Many of the pictures I took with the SD600 without using the flash and with the ISO set to 800 were leaps and bounds better than the pictures I produced with rival cameras set to ISO 400. Moreover, even at an ISO setting of 800, the SD600 made very little noise, which let me print low-light photographs in sizes as large as eight by 10 inches without any concerns.
Although, aside from upgrading the resolution to 6MP, this camera is quite similar to the SD450, which we gave an excellent rating to the previous year, and the fact that there are not many differences between the two is a positive thing.
The DIGIC II processors used in Canon cameras continue to achieve excellent results in various categories, most notably by almost eliminating shutter latency while pre-focusing the camera. If you want a Digital ELPH that looks flashy and has a larger screen than the SD600, you should spend the extra $50 and get the SD630, which has a 3-inch screen, rather than the SD600’s 2.5-inch display. I’ve mentioned similar things before in this review.
Pros & Cons
- Low noise even with high ISO settings, including 400 and 800
- The auto white balance feature is practical across various lighting conditions.
- Quick to start up, and if you pre-focus, there is almost no shutter lag.
- Good skin tones
- Vibrant, attractive color
- The case shape is comfortable for users with both large and small hands.
- A poor optical viewfinder with only an 80 percent coverage area.
- Difficult to rapidly access specific scene modes
- When connected to a computer, a good download speed is achieved.