Canon PowerShot SD450 Review

The SD450, which was first introduced in August 2005 and is known as the Digital IXUS 55 in Europe, is the most recent model in a long line of ultra-compact ‘ELPH’ or ‘IXUS’ cameras that date all the way back to the early 2000s (and a lot farther back than that in the film camera world).

The SD450 is really a pretty slight update to the popular SD400 (Ixus 50). However, it does have two UA (Ultra-high Refractive Index Glass Molded (GMo) Aspherical lens) elements, which have enabled Canon to make their smallest cameras to date that boast a 3x zoom.

The new features include a larger 2.5-inch monitor with a wider viewing angle, a direct access ISO button, a nifty orientation sensor that rotates the display of images as you turn the camera around in playback mode, and some fancy playback effects. Other new features include a direct access ISO button and some fancy playback effects. The SD450 from Canon may be less than the size of a credit card, but the company has nonetheless been able to pack a quite extensive assortment of capabilities into it;

Key Specs

  • 5.0 megapixel CCD
  • a color TFT monitor with a 2.5-inch screen
  • 35-105mm (equiv.) F2.8 – 4.9, 3x optical zoom
  • 640 × 480 videos at 30 frames per second
  • Click here to print and share.
  • Fast Frame Rate videos (320×240 pixels At 60fps)
  • The “My Colors” function
  • Seven unique scene modes
  • Individualized white balance
  • Metering methods include spot, center-weighted, and evaluative.
  • DIGIC II processor & iSAPS
  • 9-point AiAF

Design

The SD450 is, with the exception of a few minor stylistic adjustments and somewhat more rounded edges, extremely identical to the SD400, which it succeeded, in and includes the same straightforward control arrangement that is both well designed and easy to operate. The body is nearly completely devoid of protrusions, and the sleek, understated appearance of the all-metal body gives off an air of sophistication. Additionally, the quality of construction is exceptional.

Despite its little size, the SD450 is by no means a lightweight camera; with a total weight of around 157 grams (5.5 ounces) when fully loaded, it possesses a remarkable degree of stability when held in the hand. The bulk of the controls are centered on a circular four-way controller, which can be found on the back of the camera. The back of the camera is dominated by the new, bigger LCD screen that measures 2.5 inches.

This is a genuine point-and-shoot camera, and the majority of the features that the majority of users will want to regularly access have their own dedicated external buttons. These features include the flash mode, macro/infinity focus, flash mode, metering pattern, drive mode, self-timer, and (new for this model) ISO. The ‘FUNC’ menu provides access to all other settings, including white balance, image size/quality, and so on. This menu has been tried and proven.

Within your grasp

The SD450 is a remarkable piece of photography equipment, despite the fact that it is only about the size of a credit card and can be hidden under one.

It is a joy to hold because of the simple squared-off shape and rounded edges, and the weight lends it some stability; a little raised region on the back works as a thumb ‘grip,’ and operation with one hand is not only conceivable but encouraged (though something this sleek, smooth and fairly weighty camera feels a lot safer held with both hands).

Because of the sturdy construction and the design of the camera, which avoids placing the shutter release button on the very end of the device, I was pleasantly pleased to find that camera shaking wasn’t as big of an issue as I’d imagined it would be.

Body elements

The battery compartment and the SD card slot are merged and may be found behind a hinged door that is located on the bottom of the camera (the door is one of the few bits of plastic on the entire thing).

If you use the LCD, the 3.7v, 760mAh Li-ion battery pack will only give you around 150 shots (the CIPA standard), but if you switch to the optical viewfinder and only use the LCD to check your pictures every once in a while, you should be able to get easily get almost 500 shots out of a single charge.

A little clip secures the battery in a place where it should be (so no chance of it falling out). It is important to take note of the fact that the card and battery cover cannot be opened when the camera is placed on a tripod in the event that you have any intention of using the SD450 on a tripod.

A totally discharged battery may be recharged using the provided battery charger in approximately one hour and ninety minutes. If you prefer to use the LCD rather often (and why wouldn’t you? ), it is highly recommended that you get a second battery for your device.

The battery may be replaced with a mains adapter for the camera, which can be purchased separately. The mains cable can then be fed through a hole under a flap on the entrance to the battery compartment.

The only additional piece of plastic that can be found on the outside of the SD450 may be found on the right side of the body when viewed from the rear. The AV (audio and video) out ports as well as the USB connectors are hidden by this false chrome ‘flap,’ which is mounted on a plastic hinge. The display of the SD450 is somewhat lower in resolution than that of its predecessor, despite the fact that its screen size has increased from 2 inches to 2.5 inches. This trend is becoming more widespread (to 115,000 pixels).

In a genuine point-and-shoot camera like this one, having a low resolution isn’t the end of the world; but, having a few extra pixels would make me happier. Aside from that, the screen is bright, performs well even when exposed to a lot of light, and can be viewed clearly from a somewhat broad viewing angle. The optical viewfinder is, to put it bluntly, almost completely worthless; it is tiny, lacks clarity, does not have a dioptre adjustment, and only displays around 82 percent of the picture. Having said that, it’s not any worse than 99 percent of the products that are in its category.

If you do choose to use the optical viewfinder, you will be able to eliminate shutter latency while simultaneously increasing the number of images you can take from a single charge of the battery to over 500. The current focus and flash settings are displayed via two LEDs to the right of the viewfinder.

The built-in flash is a touch underpowered, but it is fully usable in most social situations. It can reach up to 11.5 feet (3.5 meters) at the widest end of the zoom and 6.6 feet (2.0 meters) at the furthest end of the zoom (auto ISO).

An add-on slave flash unit called the HF-DC1 is available for purchase from Canon. This item extends the flash range to around 30 feet and connects to the camera via a bracket.

With a maximum aperture that ranges from a beautiful and brilliant F2.8 at the wide end to a less remarkable F4.9 at the long end, the 3x optical zoom covers a practical range comparable to 35-105mm. This range is equivalent to a focal length range of 35-105mm. When the power is turned off, the zoom may be entirely retracted into the body of the device. You can concentrate as near as 30 centimeters while using the regular photography mode, but when you switch to the macro mode, you can reach as close as 3 centimeters when using the broad end of the zoom. On top of the camera, in the middle of the circular zoom lever, is where you’ll find the huge shutter release button. The shutter has a wonderful positive feeling to it and a noticeable ‘half way’ point, which ensures that you won’t mistakenly shoot a picture while you’re trying to engage the autofocus.

The zoom movement is a little bit on the “jumpy” side; there only appear to be six steps from wide to tele, which can make precise framing a little bit difficult. You’ll locate the primary power switch right next to the release button for the shutter. The primary mode switch is located on the back of the camera, exactly below the shutter release button. However, because of the bigger screen, the switch has been shifted to the right and is now vertical.

There is a play position, a movie mode position, and a stills mode position. You are able to power on the camera in play mode, however the lens will not expand until you switch to the record mode. As a result of the incorporation of a more substantial display, the primary controls have been relocated to a grouping on the right-hand side of the camera’s back.

Canon has resisted the urge to reduce the number of exterior controls and relocate functions that are often used to the menu system. There is now a button that is specifically designated for the ISO setting, which is a wonderful addition that can be found on the vast majority of PowerShot models.

The workings and the controls

There is virtually total uniformity in the controls and menus throughout all of Canon’s tiny camera ranges, making it one of the most enjoyable aspects of reviewing a Canon compact camera. Each new generation is an evolution rather than a complete reinvention of the wheel.

And this is not without good cause; the combination of ample exterior controls and the ‘FUNC’ menu, which allows single-screen access to nearly every other facet of the camera’s functionality, making understanding a PowerShot straightforward and utilizing it in a smooth manner is quite impressive.

It goes without saying that this is a really straightforward camera; in fact, it is a “point-and-shoot” type that offers extremely little control over the manual settings. What you do get, however, is control over the majority of the critical settings, including metering, flash, ISO, white balance, file size and quality, and so on. What you do not receive, however, is any significant control over the apertures and shutter speeds of the camera, except a small selection of subject modes.

Performance and timing of events

The PowerShot SD450, like the majority of other models in the PowerShot SD line, gives the impression of being very quick and highly responsive in usage, which was confirmed by our tests. When it comes to starting up, zooming, navigating the settings, shooting images, and utilizing the flash, the SD450 operates exceptionally well and leaves you wanting for very little, if any, of it at all.

Even if Canon is still behind some of its rivals in terms of focus speed, the SD450 is not a terrible camera by any means, particularly if the AiAF option is off. Even at the far end of the zoom range and in settings of quite low light, there is very little hunting (though focus speed does slow down in such conditions).

When using the optical viewfinder, the shutter lag seems virtually immediate, and the continuous shooting performance is outstanding as long as you use a fast SD card. The performance of the camera when shooting in continuous mode is also excellent.

Timing Notes

The timings are determined by taking the average of three separate procedures. Unless otherwise specified, all durations were done on an image that was 2592 pixels wide and 1944 pixels high and were saved as a SuperFine JPEG (approx. 2,500 KB per image). A SanDisk Extreme III SD card with 1 gigabyte of storage capacity served as the test medium for these procedures.

ActionDetailsTime, secs
Power: Off to Record 1.2
Power: Off to PlayImage displayed1.1
Power: Record to OffAll activity ceased2.0
Power: Play to OffWhen buffer is empty~0.2
one
Record ReviewImage displayed~0.5
Mode: Record to Play 1.3
Mode: Play to RecordLens already extended~1.5
one
Play: MagnifyTo full magnification (10x)~0.9
Play: Image to ImageNo transition effect~0.25
Play: Image to ImageWith transition effect~0.4
Play: Thumbnail view3 x 3 thumbnails~0.4
ActionDetailsTime, seconds
Zoom from Wide to Tele35 to 105 mm (3 x)1.3
Half-press Lag (0->S1)Wide angle~0.45
Half-press Lag (0->S1)Telephoto~0.65
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)LCD live view~0.06
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)Viewfinder~0.05
Full-press Lag (0->S2)LCD live view, wide angle~0.45
Off to Shot TakenLCD live view~1.8
Shot to ShotFlash off1.4
Shot to ShotFlash on (red eye reduction off)2.4
Shot to ShotFlash on (red eye reduction off)2.9

Continuous mode

The results of our test on continuous shooting are detailed in the tables that follow. Each table provides information on the actual frame rate, the maximum number of frames that can be captured, and the amount of time that must elapse before the next shot can be taken once the maximum number of frames has been captured. A SanDisk Extreme III SD card with 1 gigabyte of storage capacity served as the test medium for these procedures. Throughout these experiments, the shutter speed was maintained at a value greater than 1/200 of a second.

Continuous drive mode

The SD450 only has a single continuous shooting mode, however, after each frame it captures, it does show a small review image for you to look at. We discovered that the frame rate was somewhat reduced when using lower resolutions (something fairly common).

Image TypeModeAvg. frames
per sec
Frames in a burst *1After
burst 
*2
2592 x 1944 JPEG Super FineContinuous2.05 fpsUnlimitedn/a 
2592 x 1944 JPEG FineContinuous2.08 fpsUnlimitedn/a 
2592 x 1944 JPEG NormalContinuous2.05 fpsUnlimitedn/a 
2048 x 1536 JPEG Super FineContinuous1.9 fpsUnlimitedn/a 
2048 x 1536 JPEG FineContinuous1.9 fpsUnlimitedn/a 
1600 x 1200 JPEG Super FineContinuous2.0 fpsUnlimitedn/a 
1600 x 1200 JPEG FineContinuous2.0 fpsUnlimitedn/a 

There is nothing wrong with this camera; not only does it maintain a good two frames per second or so at all file sizes and quality settings, but the buffering is so fast that you can shoot pretty much indefinitely, even at the highest 5MP/Super Fine setting, as long as you have an SD card that is fast enough.

We did measure a slight drop-off in the frame rate after a burst of around 50 shots from time to time, but for all intents and purposes, it is impossible to fill the buffer. This means that you can keep shooting for as long as you have the battery power and card capacity to do so, provided that you do not run out of memory on your memory card. It’s an interesting fact, but what this implies is that when you’re using the LCD, you can keep your finger on the shutter button and use up the battery in only a few minutes.

Image Quality

A Perfect White Balance

In addition to the camera’s built-in auto white balance setting, the SD450 features a total of five different white balance presets: daylight, cloudy, incandescent, fluorescent, and fluorescent H. You may also set the white balance manually by pointing the camera at a white or gray object and using the ‘custom’ white balance setting. This setting is available as an additional white balance option.

Even if you switch the camera off, it will keep the custom white balance setting that you have previously selected. When shooting normally outside, the auto white balance serves its purpose admirably (as confirmed by our studio tests).

Fluorescent illumination doesn’t pose much of an issue indoors, but incandescent (tungsten) lighting results in a rather strong orange color cast. This is something that we’ve experienced with the majority of Canon PowerShots.

If you want the colors to be more muted, it is best to remain with the preset (or use the one-push custom WB). When we asked Canon about their method of determining the white balance, we were told that the warm colors that appear on the camera’s display when it is being used to capture images in incandescent light are deliberate and are done so in order to “try to keep some of the warm atmospheres of this kind of shot.”

Performance in a Flash

At the broad end of the zoom range, the built-in flash of the SD450 is said to have a working range of 0.5 meters to 3.5 meters (1.6 feet to 11.5 feet), while at the telephoto end, it has a working range of 0.5 meters to 2.0 meters (1.6 feet to 6.6 feet). In macro mode, it can focus as close as around 30 centimeters (about 12 inches) (in all cases assuming the ISO is set to auto).

During our experiments using the flash in the real world, it performed exceptionally well, achieving excellent exposure in a broad variety of scenarios and producing practically no color cast. Additionally, it is rather quick, which means that even with the red-eye reduction feature off, you won’t miss any spontaneous images waiting for the flash to go off.

In point of fact, as long as you keep in mind the range restrictions of the flash, you will discover that this is the ideal camera for taking “social” snapshots. We discovered that the autofocus (AF) illuminator would enable focus in total darkness (or as close to it as we could get) at distances of up to approximately one meter.

Macro Focus

The macro mode of the SD450 is most effective at the broad end of the zoom, which is typical of most tiny digital cameras. At this end of the zoom range, you can go as near as 3 centimeters, which is remarkably close for an ultra-compact camera.

Even if the performance is less outstanding at the long end of the zoom (with a subject distance of 30 centimeters), it is still rather handy. When filming extremely close up at the wide end, there is unavoidably going to be some degree of distortion, but it is not overly severe, and it is certainly less severe than with many of its competitors.

Distortion of the Barrel and the Pincushion

The barrel distortion is fairly minimal for a camera in this class, coming in around 0.7 percent. This certainly does not detract from the quality of real-life scenic images.

At the telephoto end of the zoom range, there is no distortion that can be measured. At the largest zoom setting, we did observe a very slight degree of vignetting, which is the darkening of the frame’s four corners, but we did not see this in images taken in the real world.

Concerns Regarding the Specific Image’s Quality

When it comes to picture quality, it is inevitable that an ultra-compact camera like this one would involve some sort of sacrifice on the part of the user.

The issue that has to be answered is, in order to get a camera that is genuinely pocket-sized, how much of a sacrifice are we willing to make in terms of image quality?

First, the good news: this is a Canon, and it possesses all of the typical Canon hallmarks, including great color that is both bright and natural, highly precise exposure and focus, and an unexpectedly large quantity of detail.

It’s not all flowers, however; the SD450 (like previous SDs before it) exhibits some corner softness at the wide end of the zoom, but it’s not strong enough to be seen in the vast majority of ordinary images, particularly when printed at sizes considered to be “average” (under 5×7 inches).

We observed that corner softness was not as much of an issue with the SD500 as it was with the SD300 that we tested; however, this is more likely to be batch variation than a substantial difference between the two cameras (which we presume to share the same lens). In addition to that, there is the typical issue of purple fringing.

Last but not least, similar to almost every other Canon compact camera we’ve tested, we discovered that using the sophisticated 9-point AiAF system (which makes an educated guess as to where the subject is located in the frame) not only slowed down the focusing process but also led to a significantly greater number of focusing errors than the more straightforward center-focus setting. We found that turning AiAF off was the best option for this evaluation, therefore we recommend doing the same.

Coloring along the edges

In all of the pictures that have highly bright (particularly overexposed) parts, there is a trace amount of a fringing that looks like purple or blue, and in some of the pictures, it is fairly prominent. Canon definitely has to get this sorted up as soon as possible.

Turning out highlights and showing the dynamic range

The SD450, much like every other tiny camera with a small sensor, has certain issues when photographing situations with a high contrast and a very broad dynamic range.

To Canon’s credit, the exposure system seems to do an excellent job of retaining highlight detail most of the time, and the default contrast is not as high as on some competitor models, which means more fine tonal detail is preserved. Although it is no worse than its competitors (this is more of a sensor issue than anything else), it is still a credit to Canon that it is able to do so.

Be aware, however, that there are situations in which the contrast between the darkest and brightest sections of an image indicates that there is something hidden in the scene.

Movie mode

It would take a bold manufacturer in this day and age to make even a cheap model without a fundamental movie mode, and the ability to record movies is becoming an increasingly significant component of the purchasing decision for cameras of this sort.

The largest movie size that the SD450 is capable of recording is 640 by 480 pixels, which is sufficient to fit the majority of television screens when played back at 30 frames per second. This feature is now standard on cameras of this sort. Additionally, it provides the option of shooting at a lower frame rate as well as a smaller size. The ‘high frame rate’ mode can record videos with a resolution of 320 by 240 pixels at a rate of 60 frames per second.

The videos have a high overall quality, being extremely fluid and displaying very few (if any) compression artifacts. The only significant issue is that the exposure system is occasionally unable to keep up with the quick changes in scene brightness.

The AVI files are rather enormous; while using the highest quality level (640×480 at 30 frames per second), you will need just under 2 MB of storage space per second. Because of this, if you plan to shoot a lot of movies, you will need to get some large and quick SD cards.

Specifications

Body MaterialMetal
Sensor• 1/2.5″ CCD, 5.3 million total pixels
• 5.0 million effective pixels
Image sizes• 2592 x 1944
• 2048 x 1536
• 1600 x 1200
• 640 x 480
Movie clips• 640 x 480 pixels @ 30fps or 15fps (clip length limited by card capacity)
• 320 x 240 pixels @ 30fps or 15fps (clip length limited by card capacity)
• 320 x 240 pixels @ 60fps (max clip 1 minute)
• 160 x 120 pixels @ 15fps (max clip 3 minutes)
• Motion JPEG (.avi)
• Mono sound (.wav)
Lens• 35 – 105mm equiv. (3x optical zoom)
• F2.8 – F4.9
• 4x digital zoom
Focus• TTL autofocus
• 9-point AiAF
• 1-point AF (fixed to center)
• 3cm macro mode (Wide), 30cm (Tele)
Shooting mode• Auto
• Manual
• Digital Macro
• Portrait
• Night Snapshot
• Scene mode (Kids & Pets, Indoor, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Underwater)
• My Color (9 Settings)
• Stitch assist
• Movie
• AE compensation -2.0EV to +2.0 EV in 1/3EV steps
Sensitivity• Auto
• ISO 50,100,200,400
Shutter speed• 15 – 1/1500 sec
• Slow shutter speeds of 1.3 seconds or slower operate with noise reduction
White Balance• Auto
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Tungsten
• Fluorescent
• Fluorescent H
• Custom
Image parameters• Vivid
• Neutral
• Low Sharpening
• Sepia
• Black & White
• My Colors (9 settings)
Continuous2.1 fps approx
Flash• Built-in flash
• Auto, on, off, slow-synchro, Red-eye reduction: on/off
• Range (normal, ISO auto): W: 0.5m – 3.5m (1.6 – 11.5 ft)
T:0.5m – 2.0m (1.6 – 6.6 ft).
• Range (macro, ISO auto): 30 – 50cm (1.0 – 1.6 ft)
Storage• SD Memory Card
• 16MB SD supplied*
ViewfinderReal Image Optical
LCD monitor• 2.5″ TFT LCD
• 115,000 pixels
Connectivity• USB 2.0 High Speed
• A/V out
• DC-in
Power• Rechargeable Lithium Ion battery (NB-4L)
• (Optional AC adapter)
In the box*• Canon PowerShot SD450 Digital ELPH (IXUS 55)
• NB-4L battery
• Battery charger
• Wrist strap
• AV cable
• Interface cable
• 16MB SD card
• Software CD ROM (ZoomBrowser, PhotoStitch, PhotoRecord, ArcSoft PhotoSutdio)
Other features• Spot (center), Center-weighted & Evaluative metering
• 2/10 sec self-timer + custom self-timer
• PictBridge, Canon Direct Print and Bubble Jet Direct-compatible
• Playback Histogram
• Optional Slave Flash (HF-DC1)
• Optional 3m All-Weather case (AW-DC50)
Weight (inc batt)157 g (5.5 oz)
Dimensions86.0 x 53.5 x 21.6 mm (3.4 x 2.1 x 0.9 in) Excluding protrusions

Overall conclusion

In a perfect world, purchasing an extremely small camera would not need making any kind of sacrifices in any way. But this is not a perfect world, and if you want a camera that you can really carry with you anytime, anywhere, then you have to accept that there will be some trade-off in terms of absolute image quality. If you want a camera that you can really carry with you anytime, anywhere, then you have to accept that there will be some compromise.

The SD450, much like its predecessor, the SD400, is a speedy, user-friendly, and well-equipped camera that can legitimately claim to be pocket-sized. Additionally, it is capable of producing images that, while not perfect in any way, are crisp, clean, and colorful, all while requiring the user to make the absolute bare minimum of effort.

Because of its compact size and the fact that it is easy to hold and use, you won’t be able to resist taking it with you everywhere you go. This is something that would be more difficult to accomplish with a more substantial camera.

The changes made over the SD400 are primarily aesthetic; nonetheless, it is good to have a larger screen (and with a camera like this, the poor resolution does not make as big of a difference), and the inclusion of an external ISO adjustment button is really helpful. The playback slide show effects are quite neat, and they give a little bit extra to the experience of using the camera.

On the other hand, the issues that we found when testing the SD400 haven’t been fixed. These issues included fringing, edge softness, and poor battery life. Furthermore, I honestly don’t understand why Canon won’t put the shutter speed on the screen all the time rather than just when it’s slow enough to be concerned about the camera shake.

Even with the fringing and the occasional soft corner, I was pleasantly pleased by how crisp the photos created by the SD450 were. Of course, there are limitations to what you can anticipate, but I was impressed by how sharp the images were produced by the SD450.

In the end, the SD450 more than satisfies expectations in areas that are important to the target market, such as exposure, color, focus, speed, and flash performance. These areas include: This is the great choice for those times when you don’t want to take a larger camera with you and the perfect pocket camera if you don’t mind not having manual control over the exposure settings. If you can live with that, then this is the camera for you.

Now we will discuss the rating. In the roughly one year that has passed since the SD400 was released, the ultra-compact market has unavoidably progressed. Features such as image stabilization and high ISO have begun to appear (though it should be noted that the latter is rarely any good), pixel counts have increased, and prices have decreased; therefore, the question arises as to whether or not the little Ixus or Elph can still compete. It is a bit better than the SD400 (though the upgrades are hardly world-breaking), and it is a little cheaper than the SD400 (the average price is approximately $320), but there are undoubtedly other cameras that are better than this one.

This is without a doubt the case if you desire a greater degree of manual control or an increased number of pixels, and for a price that is comparable, the Fujifilm F10 provides usable high ISO performance. In the end, though, everything that made the SD400 so appealing as a bundle is equally true for the SD450, and in some cases even more so.

It is a beautifully made and reliable point-and-shooter that is easy to use and fun to use, one that produces surprisingly good results where it counts, and one that – even with the niggles mentioned above – is perfectly designed to satisfy its target market. Even with the niggles mentioned above, it is a camera that is perfectly designed to satisfy its target market.

Therefore, in spite of the increased difficulty of the competition, the SD450 maintains its status as a Recommended product, but with a greater number of caveats than the grade that was given to the SD400.

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Excellent level of detail preserved
  • Stunning in its structure and made entirely of metal
  • Unbelievably svelte and condensed design
  • Excellent level of detail preserved
Need Improvement
  • Somewhat robust fringing of purple
  • A few problems with the dynamic range (common to cameras using this sensor)
  • When utilizing an LCD, the lifespan of the battery
  • Some rounding off of the edges and corners at wide angles and maximum aperture.

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