Canon PowerShot SD780 IS Review

In spite of the fact that it looks nothing like its predecessor, the Canon PowerShot SD780 IS has taken the position of the SD770 in the company’s range of products. The Canon SD780 IS is a stunningly compact and slender camera, yet it incorporates many of the features that have helped make Canon PowerShots such a huge success:

excellent construction quality, lightning-quick and dependable autofocus, forward-thinking features, and optical image stabilization. The capacity to play movies in High Definition is the most recent addition to the list of features. This little camera has the ability to record movies with a resolution of 1,280 by 720 pixels, which you can then view on either your television or your computer.

The Canon SD780 IS is built on a CCD image sensor with 12.1 megapixels that measures 1/2.3 inches in size, a DIGIC 4 image processor, and a Canon-brand optical zoom lens that has a 3x magnification. The lens of the Canon SD780 IS includes full optical image stabilization and has a focal length range that extends from 33 to 100mm equivalents in terms of the camera’s focal length. Over the course of the zoom range, the maximum aperture shifts from f/3.2 to f/5.8, and it is able to focus in macro mode down to just three centimeters. It is possible to shoot continuously at a rate of one frame per second.

In addition to its extremely compact, yet genuine optical viewfinder, the Canon SD780 IS features a 2.5-inch LCD that contains 230,000 individual pixels. The Canon SD780 is capable of recording 720p (1,280 x 720) video at 30 frames per second and has a maximum picture resolution of 4,000 x 3,000 pixels. Additionally, it can capture still images with a maximum resolution of 4,000 x 3,000 pixels.

The normal sensitivity range is between 80 and 1,600 equivalents of ISO, however, it may be increased all the way up to 3,200 equivalents of ISO when using the high sensitivity scene mode. When using the wide-angle lens, the built-in flash strobe has a range of 11.5 feet (3.5 meters), whereas the telephoto lens has a range of 6.6 feet (2 meters).

The Canon PowerShot SD780 gets its power from a proprietary NB-4L lithium-ion rechargeable battery. HDMI high-definition and NTSC / PAL standard-definition video output, as well as USB 2.0 High-Speed computer interface, is provided. Images and videos are saved on SD cards.

Look and feel

The Canon SD780 IS comes in four different colors, but each of them has a monochromatic design. This means that every part of the camera has the same color, including the lens bezel and any protruding parts; the only exception is the black center piece that separates the two main shells, front, and back.

Because silver cameras are the standard here, the impact is not quite as spectacular as it would be elsewhere; nonetheless, the Red, Black, and Gold versions are more eye-catching. The supple sheen of the SD780’s skin not only diffuses light but also provides a gentle and comfortable sensation to the touch.

Even though the Canon SD780 fits nicely in a pocket, protecting any camera that you want to keep running properly and looking great by placing it in a case is something that we always recommend. This digital camera just weighs 4.6 ounces, making it a lightweight option (132g). Because the Canon SD780 IS has no grip at all, whether on the front or the rear, I suggest that you connect the wrist strap that comes with the device and uses it for further protection.


When you press the ON/OFF button on the top deck of the Canon SD780, which causes the lens to expand regardless of where the mode switch is placed, the camera will begin to take pictures. Playback mode is not one of the modes that can be selected with the Mode switch on the PowerShot SD780, in contrast to earlier models in the SD series.

This is an improvement over the previous behavior, as it ensures that the camera starts up in the Record mode and can be returned to that mode with a half-press of the shutter button.

Naturally, if you want to turn it on in Playback mode, all you have to do is hit the Playback button that is located on the back of the device. To return to the top deck of the Canon SD780, the Zoom ring is located around the shutter button, which enables you to frame your shots with your right index finger in a way that is both quick and easy.

The speaker that is used for playing back movies on the Canon SD780 may be found just below the words “IMAGE STABILIZER.”

The control area on the rear is limited, but the buttons are flat on the surface. This means that you can cover many buttons with your thumb without their being activated.

Because of its compact size, the Four-way navigator on the Canon SD780 requires me to slightly tilt my thumb inward in order to hit the outside navigation buttons without also engaging the center Function/Set button. However, being an expert in it won’t take too much time.

Comparatively speaking, the 2.5-inch LCD screen on the Canon SD780 offers a bit better contrast and a broader viewing angle than the screen on the SD1000, which is the same size. The Canon SD780 IS features an optical viewfinder, which is a good feature to have, but the image it displays is the tiniest one we’ve ever seen on a point-and-shoot digital camera.

The HDMI cable connection and the new hybrid USB/AV-out connector may be found below the connector cover, which can be found in the top right corner of the Canon SD780 IS. The cover also protects the HDMI cable connector. The good news is that even though the connector is slightly different, it is still compatible with the standard Mini-B USB connector, and Canon includes both a USB cable and a specialized AV-out cable, as shown on the left. The bad news is that even though the connector is slightly different, it is not compatible with the standard Mini-B USB connector.

The lanyard loop is located on the right side of the body of the Canon SD780. It is recessed into the black plastic mid-piece, which further emphasizes the flush design idea that is present in the camera’s controls.

The only thing that detracts from the quality of the experience provided by the controls is the rather flimsy feeling provided by the plastic lid that covers the SD card and battery. If you take proper precautions when replacing the batteries and SD card, you should still have good results with this.


The lens of the PowerShot SD780 IS is a pretty basic 3x zoom lens, with a focal length equivalent range of 33-100mm. It appears to be quite a little more compact than other digital cameras in the SD-series, and it features a modest starting aperture that ranges from f/3.2-5.8. Unfortunately, this results in a significant reduction in the camera’s overall image quality, although it does explain how the SD780 manages to maintain such a low profile. Not only when there is little light, although it is certainly a factor.

However, if you select Continuous from the IS menu, the optical Image Stability of the Canon camera helps the camera perform better in low light by providing stabilization that can be seen onscreen. When shooting high-definition videos with the Canon SD780, IS comes in very handy.


The Canon SD780 IS has three primary modes that may be selected with the Mode switch. These modes are Auto, Program, and Movie modes.

The new Auto mode on PowerShot cameras is a significant improvement over earlier iterations of the Auto mode seen on PowerShot cameras. The Canon SD780 has intelligence built into it, which enables it to study a scene and determine what you’re framing your shot on. After this, it selects the proper Scene mode to ensure that you obtain the finest image possible. It is quite quick in comparison to the other systems that I have seen.

If the Canon SD780 determines that there is nothing particularly noteworthy about the scene, it will remain in Auto mode. When you put it in close proximity to an object, the camera will immediately go into macro mode. This will enable the lens to focus on the macro zone without the need for any involvement from the user. When you point it at certain faces, the camera will automatically transition out of macro mode and into face detection mode. This is when things start to become pretty interesting. When a face is recognized and you half-press the shutter button, the camera will display a window on the screen that shows the face in closeup, allowing you to check the focus, exposure, and even expression of the face.

You are not required to keep it in the Auto setting; rather, you can select the Program mode, which enables you to make your own adjustments while still adhering to reasonable parameters. Through the Function menu on the Canon SD780, you can choose which Scene mode you want to use, as well as open up your options for manual ISO settings, white balance, My Colors options, metering modes, and continuous modes, and various resolution settings. However, you are unable to manually adjust the aperture or the shutter speed.

The HD Movie mode of the Canon SD780 can record high-definition movies with a maximum resolution of 1,280 by 720 pixels at a frame rate of 30 frames per second. Other options are 320 x 240 and 640 x 480 at 30 frames per second respectively. After you’ve finished capturing, you only need to connect the SD780 to your HDTV using the Mini-HDMI cable. However, due to the fact that the SD780 does not come with a cable, you will need to purchase a Mini-HDMI to HDMI cable separately (no other digital camera with an HDMI connector has shipped with an HDMI cable to date, so this is not unusual).


There are just two screens available on the menu of the Canon SD780: a Camera menu and a Settings menu. When you are in Playback mode, pressing the Menu button will bring up the menus for Playback, Print, and Settings. Blink detection, Servo AF, and AF-point zoom are some of the new features available in the Record menu. There are also several in-camera photo editing options available in the Playback mode of the camera. These include the ability to apply i-Contrast (intelligent contrast), red-eye correction, trimming, and My Colors to previously captured images.

Both the storage and the battery

The Canon SD780 IS uses SD/SDHC memory cards as its picture storage medium. Unless you intend to shoot a significant amount of video with the Canon SD780, a card with 4 to 8 gigabytes of storage should be sufficient for still images.

A compact and svelte battery is essential for a camera with such a low profile. Canon decided to use their already-existing NB-4L, which is a lithium-ion cell with 3.7 volts and 760 milliampere hours, to power the SD780 IS. According to the specifications, it can take up to 210 still images on a single charge, which is a number that is actually lower than the typical average for digital cameras. Playback mode should likewise give around 300 minutes, however, there is no information regarding the length of time available for video recording. It is highly recommended that you purchase an additional battery if you intend to use the SD780 for video.


The Canon SD780 is a lightning-quick camera. This becomes more obvious while shooting in Auto mode than in any other setting because scene modes are chosen very immediately after you click the shutter button in Auto mode. In about the same amount of time, face detection and face detection magnification will both take place.

I had no trouble figuring out how to operate any of the settings or buttons, and although the SD780 IS was more difficult to grip than the SD1000, once I had it under control, I found that it was nearly as simple to use. When I’m using anything as little as this, I always make sure to use a wrist strap.

When I used the Canon SD780 IS to take photos outside during the daytime, I encountered zero issues. Despite its image stabilization, the SD780 IS delivered a much lower percentage of crisp photos when used inside. Every single one of my handheld shots that I took at our indoor test target came out soft.

Some were blurry due to motion blur, while others were blurry because the camera had to boost the ISO to 800 in order to achieve a satisfactory exposure (thanks to the f/3.2-5.8 lens). When I switched to the flash setting, I was finally able to take photographs that were clear and focused. The ISO is increased, but it remains at just 250, which enables a shutter speed of 1/60 of a second.

After switching to the Slow-synchro flash mode, more of the surrounding light was able to illuminate the scene, and I was able to get almost equal numbers of crisp and motion-blurred photos at shutter speeds of 1/5 to 1/6 second while maintaining an ISO of 250. That’s not too terrible. However, it does not take into account the movement of the subject, which is another factor that should not be overlooked while shooting people indoors or at night.

In spite of the fact that it has an integrated optical image stabilization system, the SD780 IS is not a very suitable digital camera for use in low-light environments or at night, despite how nice it appears.

Similarly, the overzealous noise reduction of the SD780 IS significantly obscures fine detail, particularly in colors that have a texture. Additionally, lens flare can be seen throughout several photographs, and the edges of some images have a softer appearance. After all, Canon’s slimmest camera to date is the SD780, which features a smaller lens than their previous models.

The Canon SD780 IS Lens’s Reputation for Quality


The photographs captured by the SD780 are crisper in the middle of the frame than they are in the corners, which is typical for pocket digital cameras. When seen from a wide angle, there is a greater degree of blurring than is often seen, particularly in the upper-right hand corner. The telephoto perspective is a significant improvement, albeit, once again, the top right corner is less sharp than the rest.

Distortion of the Geometry

In wide-angle mode, there is a barrel distortion that is lower than typical (0.5 percent), yet in telephoto mode, there is absolutely no discernible distortion of any type.

Aberration of Chromatic Color

Chromatic aberration at wide-angle is of a conspicuous and moderately severe nature. Also mild is the effect of telephoto, however, its presence is less obvious in printed photos.


The Macro setting of the Canon SD780 captures an image that is exceptionally crisp in the center but becomes more blurry and chromatically aberrant as it moves out from the center. In general, though, it does not soften very much and appears to be in reasonably excellent shape across the frame. The smallest area that must be covered is 1.36 inches by 1.02 inches (35 x 26 mm). At the closest focusing distance, the flash does not have very good control over its output.

Image Quality


To a certain extent, the color is subdued, particularly yellows, some of which have a very small greenish cast to them. The blues are pumped up more than the reds, but overall the color appears to be true, in contrast to the typical inclination toward oversaturation that most businesses have in order to appeal to customers. The hue of some hues, like yellow and cyan, is also wrong a tiny bit. However, lighter skin tones are very accurate, whereas darker skin tones have a somewhat more saturated appearance.


Noise and Detail: Even at ISO 80, the detail isn’t very excellent, and the image appears to be fairly soft. At all ISOs, chroma (color) noise is relatively well managed; nevertheless, this may be part of the problem: in order to control the chroma noise (random color pixels), they are likely blurring the resolution. This is a rather poor level of clarity for a camera with 12 megapixels, and I cannot advocate shooting at an ISO that is very much higher than 200 with the Canon SD780.


Our testing, which was defined by the manufacturer, demonstrates that the SD780 IS performs as well as the business claims it will in Auto-flash mode. It was able to get a well-exposed photo at wide-angle and 11 feet while the ISO was raised to 400. The telephoto spec requires that the camera achieves a satisfactory exposure at 6.6 feet at ISO 250. The only downside is that the exposure is slightly underexposed.


Incandescent mode produces a pinker image than auto white balance does when we test it with tungsten illumination; auto white balance handles the test better. This is a performance that is above average.

Performance of the Canon SD780 IS

Shutter lag

The complete autofocus shutter latency is slightly better than normal, clocking it at 0.49 seconds while shooting at wide-angle and 0.51 seconds when shooting at full telephoto. The lag time for the prefocus shutter is 0.078 seconds, which is pretty fast.

The length of one cycle

In single-shot mode, the camera takes a picture roughly once every 2.2 seconds; in continuous mode, it takes a picture around once every 1 second. The cycle time is slower than the average.

Recycle Flash Lights

After a discharge at maximum power, the flash on the Canon SD780 takes 6.8 seconds to recycle, which is on the longer end of the usual range.

Within the Box

The following accessories are included in the package with your purchase of a Canon SD780 IS:

  • body for the PowerShot SD780 IS
  • NB-4L rechargeable battery pack
  • Charger for batteries of type CB-2LV
  • SD memory card with 32 megabytes SDC-32MB
  • Strap for the wrist
  • Digital Camera Solution CD-ROM
  • USB cable IFC-400PCU
  • AV cable


Body typeUltracompact
Max resolution4000 x 3000
Other resolutions4000 x 2248, 3264 x 2448, 2592 x 1944, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480, 320 x 140
Image ratio w:h4:3, 16:9
Effective pixels12 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.)33–100 mm
Optical zoom
Maximum apertureF3.2–5.8
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 drive0.8 fps
Self-timerYes (2, 10, Custom, Face)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpot
Exposure compensation±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
Resolutions1280 x 720 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps), 320 x 240 (30 fps)
FormatMPEG-4, H.264
Storage typesSD/SDHC/MMC/MMCplus/HD MMCplus
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion NB-4L battery & charger
Weight (inc. batteries)155 g (0.34 lb / 5.47 oz)
Dimensions87 x 56 x 18 mm (3.43 x 2.2 x 0.71″)
Orientation sensorYes


Conclusion. I personally selected the Canon SD780 IS from the lineup of digital cameras released in the Spring of 2009 in the hopes that it would have a solid performance, as I anticipate that its appearance alone would make it a successful product. Even on several other websites, the product has received great reviews. We really like the way the camera works, and at least two of us had it on our short list as a potential candidate for our next pocket camera; however, our plans were derailed by the fact that it cannot surpass the capabilities of the 7.1-megapixel Canon SD1000, which has been on the market for two years. Although we continue to believe that the SD780 IS is a very nice digital camera to use and that it will serve as a decent camera for serving up good 4×6-inch prints at up to ISO 800, the presence of a 12-megapixel designation on the front of the camera gives the impression that the camera is capable of more than it actually is. The lens flare, which is a significant part of the issue with the Canon SD780, will also be noticeable in the majority of enlargements of 8×10 or larger; if it weren’t for the flare, we’d probably give the SD780 a stronger recommendation with a warning about the camera’s excessive use of noise reduction. With the exception of the SD780’s movie mode, where lens flare is likely to be less of a problem; therefore, the SD780 can serve you well if you’re searching for a very very compact 720p camera.

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • HD movie mode
  • The output of HDMI
  • Optical image stabilization
  • The rounded corners make it convenient to carry in one’s pocket.
  • Very slender
Need Improvement
  • Print quality is low for a 12-megapixel digital camera
  • Flare from the lens reduces the overall contrast and causes white things to shine.
  • The overall resolution has suffered greatly as a result of too aggressive noise processing and lens flare.
  • Above an ISO setting of 400, detail is completely lost.

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