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Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS Review

As more and more subcompact models arrive, not just in reliable silver or no-nonsense black, but also in a range of vibrant colors that make them as much a personality statement as an image tool, color has become the name of the game with tiny digital cameras.

The Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS is not going to be surpassed in this game since it is available in one of six color variations. These color options include the more subdued alternatives of black and silver in addition to colors such as green, blue, hot pink, and a scorching orange. However, aside from its trendy flair, the PowerShot SD1200 IS backs up its aesthetics with genuine Canon technology. This includes an intelligent Smart Auto mode, Face Detection, and Optical Image Stabilization (OIS).

It also has a competent CCD with 10 megapixels and an enhanced PureColor LCD panel for viewing images, making picture evaluation even more effective.

There is also an extra digital zoom of 4x ready for use. The Optical Image Stabilizer Technology from Canon is an automatic feature found on the SD1200 IS. It kicks in whenever the camera detects that an image may be blurry due to a slight movement of the camera, such as when shooting at full telephoto or in low-light conditions where the shutter speed is a little too slow for safe hand-holding.

The powerful DIGIC 4 Image Processor from Canon is also incorporated inside the PowerShot SD1200. This processor has even more refined Face Detection and subject-tracking capabilities, and it blends these capabilities into an option for a Face Detection Self-timer.

The Canon SD1200 is the latest in a long line of ELPH digital cameras, which have established themselves as industry standards in the market for subcompact digital cameras. In most cases, purchasing a Canon ELPH is a safe decision because of the brand’s reputation for quality, value, and overall high performance.

Underscoring the line’s attractiveness to consumers is the most recent generation of ELPHs, which has enhanced processing, upgraded LCD screens, and clever automated modes that perform all of the work for you.

Body And Design

Look and feel. Because of its extremely little size and sleek body panels, the Canon SD1200 is unquestionably a model that can be carried in a pocket and utilized in a variety of settings. However, because of its little size, you will need the added protection that the wrist strap provides because there is not much of a hand grip to speak of.

Your fingers might find some purchase on the slightly raised Canon logo that is located on the front panel, but there is no strong thumb hold, and those with bigger hands might have difficulty establishing a solid grasp. Nevertheless, I found it to be pretty comfortable in the hands of my medium-sized hands, despite the fact that I had to transition to a two-handed hold in numerous situations in order to make adjustments to the settings. Investing in a protective cover for your camera is something you should really consider doing.

Because the lens of the Canon SD1200 retracts flush with the camera body when the power is turned off, and because there are really only very slight protrusions elsewhere (such as the Shutter button up top), pockets shouldn’t be used to hang the camera on. Because the design is primarily automated, there are relatively few controls available, but those that are there have extremely clear labels.


A little silver button located on the top deck of the Canon SD1200 is used to turn the device’s power on and off. It is not precisely simple to reach with one hand because it is virtually flush with the camera and a bit close to the center in a one-handed hold; nevertheless, this not only makes it difficult to unintentionally trigger, but it also makes it more difficult to reach with one hand.

Due to the fact that the zoom ring is located around the shutter button, the only controls that can be readily accessed using one hand are the zoom and the shutter button. The PowerShot SD1200 IS does not have a Mode dial; rather, there is a sliding Mode switch located in the top right corner of the back panel. This switch is very difficult to unintentionally activate while you are taking pictures. The only button on the controls that I inadvertently pressed was the Playback button, and that happened very infrequently.

Because the back panel of the PowerShot SD1200 does not have a thumb rest in any meaningful sense, I had to work hard to keep my thumb off of the top right corner of the LCD monitor, where it left a significant smudge. I had to do this rather frequently.

Tiny cameras almost usually come with certain sacrifices, but those that are made by the PowerShot SD1200 IS are rather insignificant. Just above the LCD display is where you’ll find a small but useful optical viewfinder. However, the LCD monitor will offer you a far more accurate preview of what you’ll receive when you hit the shutter button, so you should frame your shots using that instead.

The fact that there is a little flash located just above the lens presents a challenge when taking ultra-macro photographs since the lens obscures a portion of the flash. The flash mode is controlled by pressing the left button of the multi-directional rocker button. When the lens is set to wide-angle, the flash may be used up to a distance of approximately 14 feet, but when the lens is set to telephoto, it can only be used up to a distance of approximately 8 feet.


The 3x optical zoom of the Canon SD1200 is quite standard, with a focal length equivalent range of 35 to 105mm, but the overall image quality is rather high. Because it is equipped with Canon’s Optical Image Stabilizer technology, the PowerShot SD1200 IS automatically corrects any blurring that may be the result of vibrations that are caused by taking the picture.

Off, Continuous, Shoot Only, and Panning are the four modes that it supports. When it comes to optics, the Canon SD1200 displayed a few qualities that are not out of the ordinary for a pocket camera. While using a wide-angle lens, we noted some rather severe blurring in the left corners of the frame, as well as apparent barrel distortion; however, the results obtained using a telephoto lens were significantly improved (see below).


There are only the Smart Auto, Program, and Movie modes available via the Mode switch located in the top right corner of the rear panel. The Playback mode must be engaged using the Playback mode button located directly to the left of this switch. The camera may be turned on by pushing the Playback button, and switching to Record mode can be accomplished in an instant by depressing the Shutter button halfway.

The Smart Auto mode of the Canon SD1200 is the one that a lot of users will prefer to stay in because the camera automatically evaluates the scene and chooses from a long list of preset modes before taking an exposure. This makes the Smart Auto mode the one that a lot of users will prefer to stay in.

The camera uses something called Face Detection to detect whether or not there are any individuals in the frame. In addition to this, it analyzes the color, distance to the subject, contrast, and movement automatically. Portrait, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Fireworks, Aquarium, Underwater (for use with a housing), ISO 3,200, Indoor, Kids & Pets, Night Snapshot, Long Shutter, and Digital Macro are the scenes that are accessible to utilize.

Inside the Program mode, the user is able to make adjustments to a variety of settings, including white balance, ISO, color mode, metering, and exposure compensation, in addition to having access to the scene selection found within the Function menu.

The movie mode of the PowerShot SD1200 IS can record VGA and QVGA movies with sound, at a frame rate of 30 frames per second for up to one hour (or 4GB per clip). The video quality is fairly high, making it a viable alternative to the family camcorder for recording short video clips.


The menu on the Canon SD1200 is almost identical to the menus seen on earlier Canon PowerShot models. It consists of a vertical list of options and a handful of tabs located at the top of the screen. To make a selection, you need just use the arrow keys to scroll up and down, and then you need to press the center button on the multi-controller.

Uncomplicated in most respects. The Function menu provides access to the majority of the camera’s settings, including the Mode setting (which may be either Program or Scene), ISO, White Balance, My Colors, Metering, and the many Quality and Resolution options. In general, the interface is uncomplicated and shouldn’t take too much time to understand, regardless of whether or not you are already familiar with the menu systems used by Canon cameras.

Both the storage and the battery Images are saved to SD or SDHC memory cards by the Canon SD1200, and each card may hold up to 32GB of data at its full capacity. That will be plenty for most purposes with this camera, and in fact, a card with a storage capacity of between 4 and 8 gigabytes should be fine unless you want to capture a significant amount of video with the PowerShot SD1200 IS.

NB-6L is the model number for the lithium-ion battery that powers the Canon SD1200. It has a capacity of 1,000 mAh and operates at 3.7 volts. The rectangular battery is held in place by a latch adjacent to the memory card, which is located behind a door that has a little hinge. Approximately 260 rounds may be fired off with a single charge. That’s about par for the course for products in its category, so you should certainly think about picking up an extra battery.

Shooting. Bright color selections provide the Canon SD1200 with some personality, which contributes to the excitement that comes with using it for photography. But apart from the lighthearted vibe, it gives off, it’s also plain enjoyable to shoot with, especially due to the fact that everything is so straightforward.

Because it is so intelligent, the Smart Auto mode almost eliminates all of the effort that is normally required to snap photographs. You are solely responsible for framing the photo and ensuring that all of the elements you wish to include are included in the picture.

The zoom of the Canon SD1200 is not very quick and has a tendency to zoom in chunks, but it performs rather well in the majority of situations. Because of its 3x range, you actually do not require the zoom segments to be so narrow in the vast majority of situations anyhow.

The Playback mode has been removed from the Mode switch on all of Canon’s most recent digital cameras, which is a great improvement. You can see your photographs in between shots with the majority of digital SLRs, but you can immediately exit Playback mode with a half-press on the shutter button if a photo opportunity presents itself. This feature is common among digital SLRs.

In general, the Canon SD1200 is a snappy small camera that has a feature set that has been fine-tuned to perfection and superb, tight construction. We go into more depth on image quality below, but suffice it to say that the Canon SD1200’s quality is adequate for use as a pocket snapshooter. On the other hand, it is probably not ideal for photography lovers.

It’s another example of how the resolution of the sensor improves while the quality of the lens remains roughly the same. As a result, corner softness that wasn’t as noticeable on a sensor with 7 megapixels suddenly seems rather soft on a sensor with 10 megapixels. Everything depends on the size of the print.

The Quality of the Canon SD1200 Lens


When the zoom is set to its widest angle, the Canon SD1200 produces a highly fuzzy image in the four corners of the frame, most noticeably in the upper left corner. However, even at the maximum telephoto setting, there is only a slight amount of blurring in the corners.

Distortion of the Geometry

In comparison to the vast majority of consumer digital cameras, the barrel distortion at wide-angle is rather low (approximately 0.8 percent), despite the fact that it is clearly apparent in many of the camera’s wide-angle photos. Only around two pixels of pincushion distortion (less than 0.1 percent) are apparent while working at telephoto, and their impact is negligible.

Aberration of Chromatic Color

Chromatic aberration is mild when viewed at wide-angle, with cyan and magenta pixels displaying a degree of brightness. (However, it is important to keep in mind that the blurring in the corners of this image likely contributes to the increased strength of the effect.) However, the telephoto lens exhibits a modest amount of distortion despite having pixels that are less brilliant.


The Macro mode of the Canon SD1200 takes a clear image in the center of the frame, with some small blurring occurring in the frame’s four corners (fairly typical among digital camera macro modes). The smallest area that must be covered is 1.30 inches by 0.97 inches (33 x 25mm). At its most extreme closeup setting, the camera focuses in so tightly that the flash is partially obscured by the lens, and there is a significant amount of overexposure in the upper left corner of the frame.

Image Quality of the Canon SD1200


The Canon SD1200 produces color that is, on the whole, satisfying. Although there is a slight lean toward green in some of the yellows, a tendency toward yellow in orange, and a very strong lean toward blue in cyan, the accuracy is good overall. The red and blue tones of the PowerShot SD1200 are slightly oversaturated, as is typical for consumer digital cameras. This is done so that the camera will be more attractive to the typical user. Lighter skin tones have a tint of pink and a saturation that is more subdued, in contrast to darker skin tones, which are more orange-tinged and have a higher level of saturation.


Noise and Detail: The level of detail is excellent at ISO 80 and 100, but it starts to become noticeably less sharp at ISO 200. At any setting of the ISO, the chroma (color) noise is relatively well managed, however, the luminance noise is discernible. At an ISO of 400, detail is still rather high; but, by 800 and 1,600, photos have become quite blurry. For further information on how this impacts printed photos, see the section below under “Printed outcomes.”


In order for the camera to obtain the desired level of brightness at the wide-angle setting at the reported distance of 14 feet, our testing, which is seen on the right, reveals that the ISO setting has to be increased to 250. Even though the ISO was increased to 250 for the telephoto test, the results showed that the exposure was correct at the recommended distance of 7.9 feet. The flash that comes with the Canon SD1200 should be enough for most scenarios; however, you should keep your subjects within around 14 feet when shooting wide-angle and approximately 8 feet while shooting telephoto.


The Canon SD1200’s Auto and Manual white balance settings perform better than the Incandescent mode when it comes to handling our tungsten lighting test. Incandescent mode produces a highly red image. Both Auto and Manual do not achieve a perfectly precise color balance, but they get considerably closer to it.

Performance of the Canon SD1200

Shutter lag

The delay in shutter actuation during full autofocus is acceptable, clocking in about 0.50 seconds at wide-angle and 0.60 seconds at maximum telephoto. The lag time for the prefocus shutter is 0.074 seconds, which is pretty fast.

The length of one cycle

In single-shot mode, the camera has a cycle time that is slightly slower than normal, taking a picture once every 2.04 seconds.

Recycle Flash Lights

After a discharge of its maximum amount of power, the flash of the Canon SD1200 recycles in an average of 6 seconds.

Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS Specifications

Body typeCompact
Max resolution3648 x 2736
Other resolutions3648 x 2048, 2816 x 2112, 2272 x 1704, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480
Image ratio w:h4:3, 16:9
Effective pixels10 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Sensor typeCCD
ISOAuto, 80 ,100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
White balance presets6
Custom white balanceYes
Image stabilizationOptical
Uncompressed formatNo
JPEG quality levelsFine, Normal
Focal length (equiv.)35–105 mm
Optical zoom
Maximum apertureF2.8–4.9
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaSingleFace DetectionLive View
Digital zoomYes (4x)
Manual focusNo
Macro focus range3 cm (1.18″)
Number of focus points9
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size2.5″
Screen dots230,000
Touch screenNo
Live viewNo
Viewfinder typeOptical (tunnel)
Minimum shutter speed15 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/1500 sec
Aperture priorityNo
Shutter priorityNo
Manual exposure modeNo
Subject / scene modesYes
Built-in flashYes
Flash range3.50 m
External flashNo
Flash modesAuto, Fill-in, Red-Eye reduction, Slow Sync, Off
Continuous drive1.4 fps
Self-timerYes (2, 10, Custom, Face)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpot
Exposure compensation±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
Resolutions640 x 480 (30 fps), 320 x 240 (30 fps)
FormatMotion JPEG
Storage typesSD/SDHC/MMC/MMCplus/HD MMCplus
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion NB-6L battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)260
Weight (inc. batteries)160 g (0.35 lb / 5.64 oz)
Dimensions86 x 55 x 22 mm (3.39 x 2.17 x 0.87″)
Orientation sensorYes

Final Verdict

The Canon SD1200 maintains the ELPH brand’s reputation for design and quality despite its compact size, high level of user-friendliness, and capability in the vast majority of scenarios. The Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS digital camera has a CCD with a resolution of 10 megapixels as well as an optical zoom lens with a magnification factor of 3.

It’s Smart Auto mode is reliable in that it is able to analyze the majority of the typical shooting circumstances, and it produces photographs that are of higher quality than those produced by a mode that is just dedicated to autoexposure. In addition, functions like automatic Optical Image Stabilization and Face Detection make it easier to take high-quality photographs in challenging environments without requiring the photographer to make any conscious adjustments.

When you wish to use them, the Canon SD1200 gives you some manual control over the metering mode, white balance, and ISO settings. This is another advantage of this camera. The performance is typically decent, despite the fact that minor lens distortion can be seen in a few photos when shooting at wide-angle, and anti-noise processing can have an effect on quality at any ISO setting.

Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS Price

Pros And Cons

Good For
  • 160 g of Light Body Weight
  • Image Stabilization
  • Integrated Optical Viewfinder Within the Camera
  • Putting a Focus on Face Detection
  • Fast 2.80 Lens at Wide
Need Improvement
  • A Lack of a Touch Screen
  • No wireless connection was established.
  • There is not external flash shoe.
  • No Full HD Video
  • Lack of a Screen That Articulates

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