Canon PowerShot SD20 Review

The Canon PowerShot SD20 is one of the most recent digital cameras to come from Canon, which is widely regarded as one of the most influential brands in photography. In recent years, Canon has been able to dominate the market for digital cameras by offering a wide variety of cameras that are constantly being updated to meet the needs of a range of customers, from amateurs to professionals. The Canon SD20 is the most recent model to join Canon’s ELPH line of ultra-compact digital cameras, which are identified by the brand name ELPH.

The Canon SD20 is the successor to the SD10, which was released at the beginning of 2004, and it raises the maximum resolution to 5 megapixels while also bringing some of the features up to date. The Canon PowerShot SD20 is one of the smallest and sleekest-looking digital cameras on the market, but manages to take very good photos, and offer a fair range of control in an impressively small, purse- (or pocket-) friendly design. Continue reading to learn more about this fantastic tiny camera, which is ideal for customers that place a premium on their personal sense of style.

Essential Attributes

  • 5.0-megapixel CCD.
  • a color TFT LCD monitor with a 1.5-inch display.
  • 6.4mm fixed-focal-length lens, equal to a 39mm lens on a 35mm camera.
  • Maximum 6.5x digital zoom.
  • Automatic control of the exposure, with a Long Shutter mode available for shooting at longer shutter speeds.
  • speeds ranging from 1/1,500 to 15 seconds for the shutter.
  • The largest possible aperture is f/2.8.
  • Integrated flash with a total of five different modes.
  • SD memory card storage, 32MB card included.
  • Power is supplied by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack (charger included) or optional AC adapter.
  • ArcSoft Camera Suite 1.3, Canon Digital Camera software, and USB drivers are included for both Windows and Mac platforms.

Camera Overview

Quite a bit smaller than most Canon Digital ELPH models, the Canon PowerShot SD20 realizes more of the advantage offered by the smaller SD card format than the ELPH that first entered the SD space, the SD100. Up until the SD100, all ELPH digital cameras used Compact Flash cards.

The Canon SD20 is actually an update to the nearly identical SD10, only now this nice little camera has a 5.0-megapixel sensor and a slight reshuffle of the available features. With the lens retracted, the Canon SD20’s front panel is flat and pocket friendly, and its all-metal body rugged and durable.

The SD20 captures high-quality images, suitable for printing snapshots as large as 11 x 14, or 8 x 10 inches with some cropping. Smaller image sizes are also available for email transmission or Web applications, and a movie mode captures short video clips with sound. Coming in four colors, the SD20 has one more important feature: Style. It was designed as the ultimate fashion accessory, now with four new colors to prove the point. There’s Garnet, Midnight Blue, Zen Gray, and Silver.

The Canon PowerShot SD20 features a 6.4mm fixed focal length lens, equivalent to a 39mm lens on a 35mm camera. Aperture is automatically controlled, f/2.8 wide open. A maximum 6.5x digital zoom option adds zoom to the SD20, but keep in mind that digital zoom decreases the overall image quality, as it simply crops out and enlarges the center pixels of the CCD image. Image details are thus likely to be softer with digital zoom.

Focus ranges from 4 inches (10 centimeters) to infinity in normal AF mode, and from 1.2 inches to 4 inches (3 to 10 centimeters) in Macro mode. The SD20 employs a nine-point AiAF (Artificial Intelligence Autofocus) system to determine focus, which uses a broad active area in the center of the image to calculate the focal distance (a feature I’ve been impressed with on many ELPH models and have been pleased to see continued).

Special Features

  • Movie mode with sound.
  • Continuous Shooting mode.
  • Stitch-Assist panorama mode.
  • Infinity and Macro focus modes.
  • Customizable “My Camera” settings.
  • Two- or 10-second Self-Timer for delayed shutter release.
  • Sound Memo feature for recording captions.
  • Spot, Center-Weighted, and Evaluative exposure metering.
  • White balance (color) adjustment includes seven options, including a Custom setting.
  • Adjusting the colors may be done using the Photo Effects menu.
  • Adjustable ISO setting.
  • compatible with the DPOF format (Digital Print Order Format).
  • A USB cable that may be used to connect to a computer (driver software included).
  • A video and audio cable that may be connected to a television set.

You can switch off AiAF by going into the menu for the Record option, which will then set the autofocus to the middle of the frame by default. Additionally incorporated inside the Canon SD20 is an AF assist light, which serves to support the focusing process in environments with low levels of illumination. The SD20 only has a 1.5-inch color LCD panel and does not have an optical viewfinder, therefore picture composition must be done on the monitor. The designers were able to develop a more compact camera as a result of this, and the intended consumers are not likely to notice the difference. The LCD displays a good deal of camera information; nevertheless, exposure information, such as aperture and shutter speed, is not one of those things. Users have the option when in Playback mode, to display a histogram that reports the tonal distribution of a picture that has been shot. This is helpful for detecting if an image has been over-or under-exposed.

Recommendation

The Canon ELPH line of digital cameras continues to be a popular choice for many customers due to the little size of these cameras as well as Canon’s well-deserved reputation for producing high-quality photographs. The range is reduced even more with the introduction of the PowerShot SD20 Digital ELPH, which makes use of the relatively modest amount of picture storage provided by SD memory cards while also boasting a 5.0-megapixel CCD to produce photographs with a high degree of detail.

Even while the majority of the control over exposure is left to the camera’s automated settings, the fact that it can take exposures lasting up to 15 seconds and has an ISO that can be adjusted greatly boosts the camera’s exposure adaptability. Both inexperienced photographers and those with a little more training will appreciate the straightforward user interface, which offers sufficient control over the variable exposure settings to satisfy both groups.

This is a good camera in all respects, particularly for those who place an emphasis on their personal sense of style. If you are willing to deal with a somewhat larger packaging, the larger Canon Digital ELPHs provide you with a zoom lens, which is a feature that is much sought after. However, the SD20 comes out on top when it comes to having the slimmest design overall.

Design

The Canon PowerShot SD20 brings a new level of mobility to the ELPH series while retaining the same clean metallic appearance and feel that has given the line a sense of superiority. The tiny size makes it easy to stow away in a pocket or handbag, and even when the camera is protected by its case, it is still more compact than any other ELPH camera.

Because the lens retracts when the camera is turned off, the front of the camera remains totally flat, highlighting the pocket-friendly form of the camera. Additionally, an automated lens cover ensures that you do not have to worry about smearing the lens or losing a lens cap.

The SD20, which has dimensions of 3.56 inches by 1.85 inches by 0.73 inches (90.3 millimeters by 47 millimeters by 18.5 millimeters), may easily be stored in any pocket that a clothes maker is likely to produce, including the “fifth pocket” on most pairs of jeans. When combined, the battery and memory card make the camera weigh a total of 4.3 ounces (122 grams).

The front of the Canon SD20 lacks the optical viewfinder window while having some characteristics that are characteristic of ELPH cameras, such as the lens being offset to the right of the center of the camera and a raised metallic circle surrounding the lens. The only components that are left are the mic, the light emitter, and the flash, which are located directly above it.

The light emitter serves various purposes, including assisting with focusing, reducing the appearance of red-eye, and flashing during the countdown of the self-timer. When the camera is turned on, the telescopic lens swiftly slides into position and then retracts completely within the camera so that it may keep its flat profile.

The camera’s little microphone may be found directly below the flash. A piece of metal with a loop and the Canon logo formed firmly into it serves as the support for the wrist strap, which is attached to a piece of metal that tapers upward from the front.

The release button for the shutter, the speaker, and the power button are all located on the top of the device, with just the release button slightly projecting from the surface.

The connector for the wrist strap and the door for accessing the battery and SD card are both located on the right side of the camera when seen from the back. This door swings open when you pull the handle located on the back of the door.

The battery is secured by a latch, and in order to remove the SD card, you have to first press it in and then grip it with your thumbnail. The battery is locked in place with a latch. Because the door can only swing open to an angle of 90 degrees, it is impossible to grip the card with two fingers until it has been completely removed from the slot.

One and only one screw head can be seen protruding from the other side of the camera.

The LCD viewfinder and the remaining controls for the camera are located on the rear panel of the device. The playback, movie, and capture modes may be selected using the mode switch that is located above the LCD.

The Menu and Set/Function buttons are located to the right of the LCD, and a multi-functional Four-Way Arrow pad may be found immediately to the right of these buttons. The condition of the camera is shown by an LED lamp that is located next to the viewfinder. This lamp illuminates when the focus is adjusted or the flash has reached its maximum charge, and it flashes continuously until the buffer is empty. The AV Out and USB connections are hidden behind the rubber door that is located in the bottom right corner of this rear plate.

The only features on the underside panel of the Canon SD20 are a metal tripod mount, the model number, and the serial number of the camera. The socket for the tripod is located dead center.

Camera Operation

The user interface of the Canon PowerShot SD20 is straightforward and relatively uncomplicated. It has the same menu setup and basic control layout as the rest of the current ELPH series, despite the fact that some controls have been rearranged and consolidated to accommodate for the smaller surface area all around.

The majority of the camera’s capabilities may be accessed and adjusted via the buttons located on the back panel, while the LCD-based Record menu provides access to a select few more options. Without requiring the user to navigate through the many menu screens, a Function menu allows for more expedient 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 menus for Setup and My Camera are always accessible, notwithstanding the mode in which the camera is operating. If you have the user manual on available, becoming familiar with the camera shouldn’t take more than half an hour to an hour of your time.

Display for the Recording Mode In any recording mode, the LCD display will either show the image area with no information or the picture with a restricted amount of information shown.

When the information display is activated, it will report the current resolution and image quality settings, as well as the number of photographs that are currently accessible, the orientation, the Record mode, and a few exposure parameters (although not aperture or shutter speed).

After the shutter button has been depressed halfway in either mode, the selected focus region is the only one that is illuminated with a green square (sometimes multiple squares can be highlighted). In this particular instance, a camera-shaking warning is also now operational. A screen displaying the current date and time may be accessed by pressing and holding the Set/Function button. The menu allows the user to specify the length of time that it will be shown.

Display in Playback Mode The playback mode offers three display options: the picture only, the image with information, and the image with extended information and a histogram. These modes may be accessed by clicking the corresponding buttons.

You may also zoom in on taken photographs to check for fine details, focus, or framing, and the index display mode allows you to see as many as nine thumbnail images at once on the screen. On the four-way navigator, pressing the top button allows you to zoom in, and using the function button allows you to navigate around the map.

External Controls

Shutter Button

This button, which can be found on the top panel, is used to adjust the focus and exposure when it is pressed halfway and triggers the shutter when it is pressed all the way. If the Self-Timer is turned on, fully depressing the Shutter button will start the countdown for the timer.

Power Button

This button, which can be found on the top panel of the camera to the left of the Shutter button, is used to turn the camera on and off.

Change the Mode

This three-position switch, which is located just above the right corner of the LCD display, is responsible for controlling the camera’s operation mode and provides the following options:

Exposure Mode

Modes include Auto, Manual, Macro, Portrait, Landscape, Night Snapshot, Indoor, and Underwater, which may be selected with this button.

ISO

Places the camera’s sensitivity setting in the automatic mode, 50, 100, 200, 400

Options and Menus for the Camera

Movie Mode

Movie Mode allows you to record short movie clips with sound at a resolution of 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 pixels, depending on your preference. The actual amount of recording time varies depending on the resolution option and the quantity of space on the memory card; nonetheless, the maximum length of an individual clip is three minutes. In this mode, you have access to a small selection of exposure parameters; however, functions such as Continuous Shooting, digital zoom, and flash mode are disabled.

Manual Exposure Mode

You are unable to control the shutter speed or aperture when using the Manual Exposure Mode; however, you are able to make adjustments to the flash mode, image quality, shooting method (single, continuous, or self-timer), Macro mode, Infinity Focus mode, Exposure Compensation, White Balance, Photo Effect, Metering, and ISO.

Automatic Exposure Mode

The camera takes care of all of the exposure settings when it is set to the automatic exposure mode. Only the digital zoom option, a few other flash settings, the self-timer, and the Macro mode are available for selection.

Playback Mode

Playback Mode is a mode that can be activated with a switch, and it gives you the ability to scroll through captured images and movies, write-protect images, view a nine-image index display, zooms into a captured image, deletes unwanted images, rotate images, and set up images for printing on DPOF-compatible devices.

Image Quality

Color

A hue that is both pleasing and beautiful. Although it provided acceptable color, the SD20 had a modest tendency in certain of our testing to highlight red hues more than other colors. However, there was not a very noticeable color cast, and the camera performed a pretty excellent job overall in terms of its performance.

The automatic white balance setting of the camera struggled to deal with the intensely colored incandescent lighting in the indoor portrait that I took, but the incandescent white balance setting and the manual white balance setting both provided extremely satisfying outcomes. The skin tones were almost perfect, with just a hint of pink, and the always challenging blue flowers in the bouquet came out almost exactly as they should have, both indoors and outside.

Exposure

a propensity to underexpose of high-contrast subjects, producing photographs with contrast that is somewhat greater than average across the board. Although the exposure mechanism of the SD20 had a tendency to somewhat underexpose high-contrast subjects like the Davebox target and the “Sunlit” Portrait, it actually overexposed the outside home photo by a little. When exposed to strong illumination, the camera’s default contrast setting was also far higher than I would have liked, which caused it to lose a significant amount of highlight detail in the image.

Resolution/Sharpness

Extremely high resolution, with 1,400 “strong detail” lines horizontally and 1,300 “strong detail” lines vertically. On the resolution test chart designated as “laboratory,” the SD20 turned in an excellent performance. In both the horizontal and the vertical directions, it started displaying artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 1,000 lines per image height.

I counted “strong detail” up to around 1,400 lines in the horizontal direction and 1,300 in the vertical direction. (Although this may be exaggerating things a little bit in the vertical direction since there are quite strong artifacts present, as low as 1,200 lines.) The “extinction” of the target patterns did not take place until around 1,600 lines had been traversed.

Image Noise

Noise is modest at lower ISO settings but increases dramatically at ISO 400; despite this, the prints come out looking really decent. The ISO 50 and 100 settings produce images with relatively moderate levels of image noise, whereas the ISO 400 setting produces images with high levels of noise that are disturbing.

The grain pattern of the noise is heavy and tight, which blurs the details and shifts the color balance slightly; but, to be fair, the noise is virtually undetectable at a size of 4 by 6 inches, which is the size of the vast majority of consumer picture prints. Even when printed at 8×10, the majority of users probably would find prints made from the SD20’s ISO 400 photos to be completely satisfactory.

Closeups

A macro-region that is extraordinarily small but has outstanding detail. The SD20 did exceptionally well in the macro category, capturing an area that was just 0.94 by 0.71 inches (24 x 18 millimeters). The resolution was really high, and the level of detail shown in the fibrous paper of the dollar note was very impressive.

(It was not the camera’s fault that the coin and the brooch were blurry; rather, the narrow depth of focus that resulted from the very close shooting distance was to blame.) The details were crisp and distinct, but the corners were hazy and unclear. I did not test the flash’s performance at such a close range because it was unsuccessful with the SD20’s camera settings. (If you want to get close up macro images with the SD20, you should plan on utilizing external illumination.)

Night Photographs

Excellent performance in low light, with color reproduction that is almost spot on. Focusing on performance that is acceptable in low light conditions. Images that were crisp, bright, and useable were generated by the SD20 all the way down to the limit of my test, which was 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux), and the 200 and 400 ISO settings provided decent color.

The photos captured at an ISO of 100 had a brightness of up to 1/8 foot-candle (1.3 lux), although it is arguable that the image captured at a light level of 1/16 foot-candle may be used. Images were bright to roughly 1/4 foot-candle (2.7 lux) when ISO 50 was used, but the target was still visible even at lower light levels.

The ISO 400 setting produced a lot of noise, but the grain was quite fine and uniform, and the pixels weren’t too bright. The SD20 was able to focus rather effectively in low light, with the autofocus functioning down to around half a foot-candle with or without the AF-assist illumination, and in full darkness (on adjacent objects) with the illuminator on. The SD10 did not include an AF-assist illuminator.

Accuracy of the Viewfinder

A fairly accurate LCD display. The LCD monitor of the SD20 was a little off, so it displayed a little bit more than what was really captured in the final frame. Despite this, the outcomes were quite promising, with an accuracy that was very near to one hundred percent.

Distortion of the Optical Field

A barrel distortion that is only slightly lower than usual. I detected roughly 0.6 percent barrel distortion on the 39mm fixed focal length lens that came with the SD20. This level of optical distortion is considered to be moderate.

(This is somewhat lower than that of the majority of zoom-equipped cameras when they are set to the wide-angle end of their range, but it is still somewhat higher than I would like to see.) The chromatic aberration was extremely minimal, displaying just two or three very faintly colored pixels on either side of the target lines.

(You may see evidence of this distortion on the resolution target in the form of a very faint tinge of color around the items located on the periphery of the field of vision.) I also noted that the features were a bit less distinct as you moved near the frame’s corners and that there was some faint falloff visible in the frame’s corners as well.

Lag in the Shutter and Cycle Time

The average amount of time the shutter is open is somewhat longer than the average cycle time. The Canon SD20 has a full-autofocus shutter latency of 0.78 seconds, which places it on the faster end of the usual range for this particular category.

Regardless of the resolution option, it takes an average of 2.82 seconds for each photo, which is a sluggish rate even for small digital cameras and is one of the drawbacks of these cameras. Even in continuous mode, it takes 1.16 seconds for a large or fine shot, which is not a really impressive speed.

(However, it is only able to take up to eight pictures in that amount of time before it needs to wait for the memory card to catch up.) In general, it’s probably not the best option for shooting fast-paced action scenes.

Battery Capacity

A digital camera with rather long battery life for its size. Due to the fact that the SD20 does not have an external power connector into which we could plug, we were unable to carry out our typically precise power-drain measurements.

However, we did discover that a newly charged battery could power the camera for a total of 87 minutes while operating in the mode that uses the most power (capture mode with the LCD active).

It’s Not bad for a digital camera that fits in the palm of your hand, but I would still recommend buying a second battery along with the camera if you intend on going on any trips that are even slightly longer than usual with it.

Canon PowerShot SD20 Specifications

Sensor• 1/2.5 ” Type CCD
• 5 million effective pixels
Image sizes• 2592 x 1944
• 2048 x 1536
• 1600 x 1200
• 640 x 480
Movie clips• 640 x 480 (10 fps) Up to 30 secs
• 320 x 240 (15 fps) Up to 3 minutes
• 160 x 120 (15 fps) Up to 3 minutes
File formats• Still: JPEG
• Movie: AVI (Motion JPEG)
• Sound: WAVE (monaural sound) Up to 60 seconds per image
Lens• 39mm (35mm Equiv)
• F2.8
Digital zoomUp to 5.6x
FocusTTL
AF area modes• 9-point AiAF
• 1-point AF
Focus distance• 3cm macro
Metering• Evaluative
• Center-weighted
• Spot
ISO sensitivity• Auto
• ISO 50
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
Exposure compensation• +/-2EV
• 1/3 stop increments
Shutter speed15 – 1/1500 sec
Scene modes• Auto
• Night snapshot
• Portrait
• Landscape
• Indoor
• Underwater
• Macro
• Stitch assist
White balance• Auto
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Tungsten
• Fluorescent
• Fluorescent H
• Custom
Self-timer2 or 10 secs
Continuous shooting0.9 fps up to 17 shots
Image parameters• Vivid,
• Neutral
• Low Sharpening
• Sepia
• Black & White
Flash• Built-in
• Auto, on/off
• Range: 30 cm – 2m
ViewfinderOptical
LCD monitor• 1.5″ TFT LCD
• 78,000 pixels
Connectivity• USB (Mini-B, PTP)
• AV output
Print compliance• PictBridge
Storage• SD card
• 32 MB card supplied
Power• Rechargeable lithium-ion NB-3L battery
• Charger included
Weight (no batt)100 g (3.5 oz)
Dimensions90 x 47 x 19 mm (3.5 x 1.8 x 0.7 in)

Conclusion

The brand “ELPH” is synonymous with high image quality and a user-friendly design, both of which contribute to the product line’s widespread appeal to a large number of different types of customers. Members of the digital ELPH series have always impressed me with their quality and adaptability. This is an extension of the good reputation that the brand name has earned in the world of film.

The Canon SD20 is an upgrade of the SD10 model from the previous year, boasting a greater resolution as well as some minor changes to the feature set. However, it does not have an optical viewfinder, has a lower battery life, and has a fixed focal length lens as opposed to the SD10’s zoom lens. It also keeps the SD10’s ultra-sleek style and tiny size.

If you don’t mind that the SD20 doesn’t have a zoom lens, and if you can live with the fact that it just has an LCD viewfinder, it makes for a great traveling companion that will allow you to bring back large, clear, and attractive photographs from your trip. In point of fact, one of the most striking characteristics of the SD20 is the fact that it makes practically no concessions in terms of image quality in order to attain its tiny size.

The optical and picture performance of compact cameras is often poor, yet the SD20 produces photographs that are crisp, bright, and vividly colored. In general, I think the SD20 is one of the best models of subcompact digital cameras that are now available on the market. Dave gives his stamp of approval to this one with high praise.

Canon PowerShot SD20 Price

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • enhanced list of functionalities
  • Make it simple to capture attractive photographs of lifestyle subjects.
  • playback that is simple and fun
  • robust and well-constructed, as well as speedy and practical
  • aesthetically pleasing; comfortable to hold and use; and produces excellent pictures of parties.
Need Improvement
  • choppy at just 10 frames per second
  • AV output Compliance with Printing Standards
  • The digital rangefinder did not have a back display or a slot for cards.
  • due to the presence of purple fringing and a gradual decrease in complexity towards the margins
  • It does not have the power or flexibility that a serious photographer needs.

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