Canon PowerShot SD790 IS Review

The Canon SD790 IS Digital ELPH has a 1/2.3-inch CCD imager with 10 megapixels as well as a Canon-branded 3x optical zoom lens with image stabilization. This lens covers a pretty normal range of 35-105mm equivalent, which is comparable to a moderate wide-angle to a moderate telephoto.

Fundamental Characteristics of the Canon SD790 IS

  • sensor with a resolution of 10 megapixels and the DIGIC III image processor
  • 3x optical zoom lens (35-105mm 35mm equivalent)
  • 3-inch LCD screen
  • sensitivity ranging from 80 to 3,200 ISO.
  • Various shutter speeds, ranging from 1/1500 to 1/1500.
  • Max Aperture: f/2.8
  • Memory card compatibility for SDHC and SD
  • Personalized lithium-ion battery pack

There are four different metering modes, including one that connects metering to the face identification mechanism of the camera. The exposure is totally automated, but you may adjust it with 2.0 EV of exposure correction and four different metering modes to tackle tough lighting. The Canon SD790 has a total of twelve scene settings, making it user-friendly for novices.

The Canon SD790 IS ELPH digital camera features a long-exposure mode that allows users to manually select exposure periods of up to 15 seconds. Additionally, the camera features a huge 3.0-inch PureColor LCD II display that assists users in framing shots, eliminating the need for an optical viewfinder. The Canon SD790 gets its power from a proprietary lithium-ion battery pack known as the NB-5L, and it is rated to produce 330 photos on a single charge with the LCD turned on (CIPA method).


Look and Feel

Size has always been at the core of the ELPH’s attraction, and the SD790 IS preserves that advantage while also adding a lit
Size has always been at the core of the ELPH’s attraction, and the SD790 IS preserves that advantage while also adding a lit

Even the rear of the device is appealing, thanks to a 3-inch LCD with 230,000 pixels and straightforward die-cut buttons located above and below the revolving navigation dial. This new dial may also be used to choose a sub-mode (if a bit awkwardly). The Print/Share and Playback buttons may be found at the very top of the screen. Display and Menu make up the bottom two buttons. The Control Dial’s Up arrow is used for ISO, Right for Flash modes, Down for Trash/Shutter Release modes, and Left for Focus modes. The Self-Timer is accessed with the Down arrow. If you look very closely, you will see that there is a “thumb grip” consisting of eight raised bumps that are located between the top buttons and the LCD.

Because it uses a DIGIC III processor, the Canon SD790 has a rapid response time when shooting.

On the other end of the camera is a nicely hidden USB port, as well as an eyelet for attaching the strap. The only thing that is located on the left side (or bottom) of the camera is a speaker. The base of the camera is just as basic as the top, with a door that slides out to reveal the battery and card storage and a metal tripod connector located directly below the center of the LCD.

The design places emphasis on the protruding lens on the front of the device and features a chrome accent flange that is only broken up by the flash located in the top right corner and the focus-assist bulb located next to it.

Nicely grooved to prevent the Power button from catching on anything when it protrudes.

The top panel has a series of nice grooves that make it easy to locate the Power button while preventing it from sticking out beyond the overall contour of the case. Just in front of it is where you’ll find the mic grill, which is rather little. The mode switch is located on the beveled rear edge of the camera, and it is much thinner than the Zoom lever that surrounds the huge Shutter button.

The slight bump on the Mode switch, which makes it simple to grip, also makes it easier for pockets and bags to grab it and change it to a different setting. This can be an issue because the Mode switch is located on the side of the device. It is simple enough to steer clear of the problem once you are aware of it, but the fact that it exists is a vulnerability that has more than once taken me by surprise.

A large LCD with only a few buttons for controls.

The Canon SD790 IS only has a single viewfinder, but it’s a high-resolution LCD viewfinder that’s three inches in size and has 230,000 pixels. And you won’t need sunglasses to do so even when the sun is directly overhead.

The Control dial, which revolves, is used to pick one of the many different auto mode settings (including Auto, Camera M, Color Accent, Color Swap, Digital Macro, and Stitch Assist).


The die-cut buttons do their function admirably, however, the revolving Control Dial is a little cumbersome and does not dependably respond to each turn of the wheel.

The Control dial may also be used to browse the menu system of the Canon. Simply tapping the Menu button gives you access to the system. The next step is to navigate through the available options by either rotating the Control Dial or pressing the Up and Down arrow keys. To modify a setting, you may use the Left and Right arrow keys to cycle among the available options, or you can use the Set button to enter a new page with further configuration options. Your option is also validated when you click the Set button.


The door conceals both the SD card slot and the battery in a tidily organized fashion thanks to its sturdy cover and spring-loaded metal hinge. Take note also of the metal socket in the tripod.

This lens is the equivalent of a 35mm to 105mm zoom in terms of the 35mm format. That is wide enough to catch a whole room, and it is long enough to capture vistas in the middle distance. The 4x digital zoom brings the subject into focus enough (420mm equivalent), allowing you to frame shots of distant scenes with less attention to detail. In comparison to other digital zooms, the quality is about par for the course rather than outstanding.

Image stabilization is indicated by the letter “IS” in the name of the camera. This indicates that the lens of the Canon SD790 contains a component that may move in order to adjust for the movement of the camera. By keeping the image steady at very short shutter rates, this not only stabilizes the photographs taken with a digital zoom lens with a focal length of 420 millimeters, but it also enables you to shoot more pictures in natural light without having to use the flash.

Only a 3x optical zoom is available.


Due to the fact that I was able to borrow the Canon SD790 IS for around two weeks, I decided to use it as my pocket camera. I found it to be simple enough to operate that it was no problem for me to pass it over to a person who had never used one before and ask them to snap a photo of me during specific situations such as dinner parties.

As was just discussed in further depth, the controls, which consist of a dial and a set of buttons, do, in fact, offer some helpful features. The convenience of an ELPH, however, lies in the fact that its components are rarely called upon.

Camera M. EV, White Balance, Metering, and a number of other controls give you maximum freedom.


An ELPH camera is an example of an automated camera. To forget about it, slide the Mode switch to the Auto position. If the LCD displays something that seems out of the ordinary, you can switch to a Scene mode by moving the Mode switch to the middle position. However, Auto does quite well.

Because the Auto shooting mode only allows you to alter the file size and compression settings through the menu system, you should definitely choose Camera M as your preferred shooting option if you have some expertise with photography.

Camera M is what you need if you want to modify the exposure value (EV), set the white balance, or change the exposure metering. Who doesn’t want such things? Turn the navigator to the right to go to Camera M after setting the Mode switch to the Auto position. There will be a display of the Auto choices on the screen (which include some fun things like Color Accent, Color Swap, Digital Macro, and Stitch Assist).

A fairly large number of shooting modes are available.

These include Auto, Camera M, Special Scene (Portrait, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Fireworks, Aquarium, ISO 3200, Underwater, Indoor, Kids & Pets, Night Snapshot, Color Accent, Color Swap, Digital Macro, Stitch Assist, and Movie), Night Snapshot, Color Accent, Color Swap, Digital Macro, and Stitch Assist. In the Movie mode, you have the option to apply digital zoom, and there is also a time-lapse setting.

Still, image modes include Single, Magnification (approximately 2x to 10x), Jump, Auto Rotate, Rotate, Resume, My Colors, My Category, Transition Effects, Histogram, Overexposure Warning, Index (9 thumbnails), Sound Memos, Slide Show, Red-eye Correction, Raw, Trimming, Resize, and the helpful Image Inspection Tool. All of these modes can be accessed by pressing the shutter button halfway. Normal Playback, Special Playback, Editing, Auto Rotate, and Resume are some of the movie modes that may be accessed.

Image Analysis and Editing Tool

The SD790 IS is presently displaying the focal point for our inspection while also providing an enlarged image of it.

Both the Storage and the Battery

An SD memory card slot is included on the Canon SD790 IS. This slot is compatible with SD/SDHC memory cards, as well as MultiMediaCard/MMC Plus cards and HC MMC Plus cards. There is no memory storage available on the device itself.

The sizes of the files can vary quite a little, but the majority of the photographs I took at the best possible quality and the least amount of compression were around 4.6 megabytes in size, while a couple reached as high as 5.2 megabytes. In comparison, the size of a nearly dark picture is around 2.2 megabytes (yes, I had one of those).

You may pick different groupings of photographs using the bar that is located second from the bottom.

The NB-5L lithium-ion battery has never let me down; it has maintained its charge through every single occasion on which I have used the camera. According to the testing requirements of the CIPA, the capacity is rated at around 330 shots, which translates to 420 minutes of playback time. This is somewhat more taxing on the battery than what I do, as I take quite a few flash photos.


Since the SD790 IS is powered by Canon’s most advanced CPU (the same one used in the company’s digital SLRs), you might anticipate that it would perform above average on our fundamental tests; in fact, it does.

Both its starting time of 1.5 seconds (during which the lens stretches) and its shutdown time of 1.1 seconds is significantly longer than what is considered typical for modern small digital cameras.

In addition, its combined autofocus lag is only 0.541 seconds (0.48 wide, 0.60 tele), which is above average in a sector that is becoming increasingly responsive. Nobody who used this camera has mentioned having any problems with the shutter lag. To put the finishing touches on the cake, the prefocus lag takes a speedy 0.072 seconds. However, the cycle time was just around normal for a digital camera with 10 megapixels.

The download went quite quickly, at a rate of 5,831K bytes per second. Instead of inserting a USB cable into the slot in the upper right corner, which is nicely covered, I used a foldable USB/SD card and an Eye-Fi wireless card in the camera. However, there is no fee for utilizing a cable at that rate of speed.

35mm to 105mm to 4x digital zoom Range.

The average duration of the flash cycle was just 6.7 seconds when the power was fully discharged. Even while the flash is effective, reaching 11 feet at a wide angle when using only ISO 250 and 6.6 feet when using ISO 200, it is not going to be able to adequately light up large rooms.

While the 3x optical zoom is about par for the course, the 3-inch LCD screen is above average. This is not the camera to bring on a trip to see the sites. But only a few of ELPHs actually are. The weight came in at trim of 6.31 ounces, although it is significantly more than the typical weight. Having said that, the fact that it assists in stabilizing the camera when it is held in your hand does not bother me in the least.

In a nutshell, the Canon SD790 IS receives great ratings for its performance in comparison to another typical small flash syndrome.

Quality of the Image

Image quality is all that matters when it comes to utilizing the camera, despite the fact that performance is an essential consideration. How excellent are the pictures taken with the SD790 IS?

As with other digital cameras in its class, the pincushion distortion was high at telephoto, coming in at less than 0.1 percent, while the barrel distortion at wide angle was high at 0.9 percent. Even at wide angles, there was a lot of chromatic aberration, which was made worse by the blur in the corners. That makes a much bigger deal than it actually is. There is not a single small digital camera that I can think of that does not have the same problem.

Despite the fact that there is an excessive amount of reds and blues, the color was generally attractive and vivid. In this class, there is a propensity to oversaturate, to make photos “pop,” and to really dazzle you, so that’s saying something because the opposite is true. Except that if you dazzling yourself and strolled around town, you would definitely end up getting hit by a bus. The Canon gets really near to reproducing natural color, which is something that everyone around here values highly.

The results of our lab tests get to the heart of the issue. There are some difficulties with corner blur (the strands are clearer towards the bottom) and highlight leakage in the ISO 100 Still Life . However, you can still make out the mosaic design on the bottle of Hellas vinegar, and the proportions appear to be accurate.

The high-resolution Multi Target not only demonstrates the amount of the chromatic aberration we spoke about before in the image’s corners, but it also reveals the extremely crisp resolution present in the image’s center.


When we talk about colors that occur in nature, the finest example is an automobile that is a bright cherry red. The very first picture in the collection is an example of this; it depicts a car parked beneath a Bank of America sign in blue and red, with a red notification about Memorial Day written on the door. None of those reds has an excessive amount of saturation (although they are certainly bright for a foggy day). The result is to be expected.

The dolls are a helpful example of the benefits that may be gained from using the DIGIC III processor. In all honesty, the ISO 3,200 shot is the one I like better than the ISO 1,600 shot. The photo taken at 1,600 has a full resolution of 2,736 by 3,648, whereas the shot taken at 3,200 has a lower resolution (1,200 x 1,600). However, the hue looks nicer when it’s scaled down.

The results of my fire hydrant torture test demonstrate that hardly any highlight blooms from the bright hydrant into the shadowy hedge. That is truly rather amazing in my opinion. The photograph that our lab took outside did not fare nearly as well, though. Despite this, many digital cameras that cost far more cannot perform as well. After looking at the 0 EV photo on the LCD, we decided to take another shot at -2/3 EV, but when we uploaded it to the computer, the first 0 EV shot looked about correct.

Image quality is not an area in which I have any concerns, notwithstanding the usual problems associated with ultracompact cameras. I wish this feature was available on every digital camera.


The Canon SD790 IS just has one drawback, and that is its optical zoom that is only three times as powerful. You may assume that the Canon SD790 IS’s absence of a Manual mode would be another drawback, but the camera’s primary purpose is to capture high-quality still images. It is able to accomplish this because to its DIGIC III processor.

Special Functions of the Canon SD790 IS

  • Enhanced Face Detection Technology is responsible for the automated adjustment of the camera’s focus, exposure, flash, and white balance settings.
  • Motion Detection Technology is able to determine when a subject is moving and adjust the camera’s exposure control and ISO settings accordingly, therefore reducing the amount of blur in the photograph.
  • Image Processor with DIGIC III Technology
  • USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
  • In the Discrete

The following accessories are included in the package with your purchase of a Canon SD790 IS:

  • The body alone for the PowerShot SD790 IS Digital ELPH
  • Battery Pack for Lithium-ion Devices, Model NB-5L
  • Charger for Batteries CB-2LX
  • Memory Stick Duo SDC-32M for SD Cards
  • Wrist Strap WS-DC2
  • Digital Camera Solution CD-ROM
  • Interface Cable for USB Devices IFC-400PCU
  • AV Cable Model Number: AVC-DC400

Accessories Highly Recommended

  • Memory card with a large capacity for SDHC and SD. These days, 2 gigabytes offer an acceptable balance between price and storage space.
  • Protect your camera from the elements and scratches with a small case like the PowerShot Case PSC-55.
  • Flash with High Power, HF-DC1
  • The Waterproof Weight WW-DC-1, as well as the Waterproof Case WP-DC24


Model Name:Canon PowerShot SD790 IS 
Manufacturer URL:Manufacturer website
Model Number:SD790 IS
Alternate Model Number(s): 
Camera Format:Ultra Compact
Currently Manufactured:No
Retail Price:$349.99
Street Price:$200.97
Date Available:2008-03-31
Tripod Mount:Yes
Weight:6.3 oz (179 g)
includes batteries
Size:3.6 x 2.2 x 0.8 in.
(92 x 57 x 21 mm)
Waterproof Depth:n/a
Image Sensor
Sensor Type:CCD
Sensor Manufacturer: 
Effective Megapixels:10.0
Sensor Format:1/2.3 inch
Sensor size:28.0735mm2 (6.17mm x 4.55mm)
Approximate Pixel Pitch:1.69 microns
Focal Length Multiplier:n/a
Aspect Ratio:4:3, 16:9
Color Filter Type:RGBG
Anti Aliasing Filter: 
Sensor shift image stabilization:No
On-Sensor Phase Detect:No
DxO Sensor Score: 
DxO Color Depth Score (bits): 
DxO Dynamic Range Score (evs): 
DxO Maximum Effective ISO Score (iso): 
Image Capture
Image Resolution:3648 x 2736 (10.0 MP, 4:3),
3648 x 2048 (7.5 MP, 16:9),
2816 x 2112 (5.9 MP, 4:3),
2272 x 1704 (3.9 MP, 4:3),
1600 x 1200 (1.9 MP, 4:3),
640 x 480 (0.3 MP, 4:3)
Image File Format:JPEG (EXIF 2.2)
Continuous-mode frames/second:1.3
Video Capture
Can take movies:Yes
Movie Resolution:640×480 (30/​1/​0.5)
320×240 (30)
160×120 (15)
Movie File Format:AVI (Motion JPEG)
Composite Video Out:Yes
NTSC/PAL Switchable Video:Yes
Video Usable as Viewfinder:
HD Video Out:
HD Video Connection:
Lens & Optics
Lens Mount:n/a
Lens:Canon Zoom Lens (6 elements in 5 groups, including 2 aspherical)
Focal Length (35mm equivalent):35 – 105mm
Focal Length (actual):6.2 – 18.6mm
Zoom Ratio:3.00x
Aperture Range:f/2.8 or f/8 (W) / f/4.9 or f/14 (T)
Integrated ND Filter:No
Normal Focus Range:30 cm to Infinity
11.8 in to Infinity
Macro Focus Range:3 – 50 cm
1.2 – 19.7 in
Filter Thread:n/a
Thread Type:n/a
Optical Image Stabilization:Yes
Digital Zoom:Yes
Digital Zoom Values:Up to 4x
Auto Focus
Auto Focus:Yes
Auto Focus Type:9-point Contrast Detect AF with Face Detection
Auto Focus Assist Light?Yes
Manual Focus:No
Viewfinder Type: 
Focus Peaking:No
EVF Resolution:n/a
Viewfinder Magnification (35mm equivalent): 
Viewfinder Magnification (nominal/claimed): 
Eye-level Viewfinder:No
Rear Display:Yes
Rear Display Size (inches):3.0
Rear Display Resolution:230,000 dots
Articulating Screen:No
Tilt Swivel Screen:No
Selfie Screen:No
Max Playback Zoom:10.0x
Top Deck Display:
Maximum ISO (native): 
Minimum ISO (native): 
ISO Settings:Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200* (*special scene mode)
Auto ISO Mode:Yes
White Balance Settings:Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom
Shutter Speed Range:1/1500 – 15 sec
Bulb Mode:No
Exposure Compensation:+/- 2.0EV in 0.3EV steps
Metering Modes:Evaluative, Center-weighted average, Spot, Face Detect AE
Program Auto Exposure:Yes
Aperture Priority:No
Shutter Priority:No
Full Manual Exposure:No
Creative Exposure Modes:Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Sunset, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Aquarium, Underwater, ISO 3200, Color Accent, Color Swap
Self Timer:1 – 30 seconds
Time Lapse (intervalometer):Yes
High Resolution Composite:No
Built-in Flash:Yes
Flash Modes:Auto, Red-eye Reduction, Auto Red-eye Correction, Flash On, Flash Off; FE lock, Slow Synchro
Flash Guide Number (ISO 100):n/a
Flash Range Description:Auto ISO 11 ft / 3.3 m (W), 6.6 ft./ 2.0 m (T)
Max Flash Sync:1/500
Flash Exposure Compensation: 
External Flash Connection:n/a
Built-In Wireless Flash Control: 
Image Storage
Usable Memory Types:SD / SDHC
UHS Support: 
Other Memory: 
Dual Card Slots:No
RAW Capture Support:No
Uncompressed Format: 
Movie File Format:AVI (Motion JPEG)
Included Memory:No memory included
Included Memory Type: 
Built-In Wi-Fi:No
Built-In GPS:No
Microphone Jack:No
Headphone Jack:No
External Connections:USB 2.0 High Speed
PictBridge Compliant:Yes
DPOF Compliant:Yes
Remote Control:
Remote Control Type: 
Connections (extended):Multipurpose USB/AV connector
Performance Timing
Cycle time for JPEG shooting in single shot mode (seconds per frame, max resolution):2.09
Cycle time for RAW shooting in single shot mode (seconds per frame): 
Buffer size for RAW shooting in single shot mode (frames): 
Cycle time for RAW+JPEG shooting in single shot mode (seconds per shot): 
Camera penalizes early shutter press?No
JPEG shooting speed in burst mode (fps, max resolution):1.3
Buffer size for JPEG shooting in burst mode (frames, max resolution):Unlimited
RAW shooting speed in burst mode (fps): 
Buffer size for RAW shooting in burst mode (frames): 
RAW+JPEG shooting speed in burst mode (fps): 
Buffer Size for RAW+JPEG shooting in burst mode (frames): 
Shutter lag (full AF, wide/mid):0.48 seconds
Shutter lag (full AF, tele):0.60 seconds
Shutter lag (full AF, live view – DSLR): 
Shutter lag (prefocused, live view – DSLR): 
Shutter Lag (manual focus): 
Shutter lag (full AF, with flash):1.70 seconds
Shutter Lag (prefocused):0.072 seconds
Shutter Lag (notes): 
Startup Time:1.5 seconds
Play -> Record Time:2.1 seconds
Flash cycle time, full power:6.7 seconds
Battery Life, Stills (CIPA Rating Monitor/Live View):330 shots
Battery Life, Still (CIPA Rating OVF/EVF): 
Battery Life, Video: 
Battery Form Factor:Proprietary NB-5L
Usable Battery Types:Lithium-ion rechargeable
Batteries Included:1 x Proprietary NB-5L Lithium-ion rechargeable
Battery Charger Included (dedicated charger or AC/USB adapter):Yes
Dedicated Battery Charger Included:
Internal Charging Supported:
Included Software:Canon Software Suite CD-ROM
OS Compatibility:Windows, Mac OS

Final Verdict

The sleek Canon SD790 IS ELPH is difficult to overlook since it has a large sensor with 10 megapixels and an LCD screen with a high quality that is 3 inches in size. When you take into account technologies like Canon’s Face Detection and Motion Detection, which are all managed by the company’s most advanced DIGIC III image processor, even what you can’t see is stunning. It suffers from the same corner softness and chromatic aberration issues that plague many small digital cameras, especially when used at wide angles.

That, though, may be overlooked. In particular, if you do a lot of photographing of landscapes, we are less likely to overlook the modest 3x zoom that this camera has. The dynamic range and natural color capture of the Canon SD790 has wowed me when it came to the camera’s ability to produce high-quality images, though. You’ll never want to be without it because of how convenient it is to carry around.

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Simple buttons
  • One of the more tasteful and sophisticated ELPH designs.
  • LCD with a large screen and a high resolution
  • Detection of the user’s face and movements
  • Optical image stabilization
Need Improvement
  • The mode switch gets caught on pockets and bags.
  • Slightly rounded-off edges when viewed from a broad viewpoint.
  • It’s difficult to use the control dial.
  • The optical zoom only goes up to three times.
  • There is no genuine manual mode.

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