Canon PowerShot SD960 IS Review

The Canon PowerShot SD960 IS Digital ELPH is a digital point-and-shoot camera that follows the trend toward more colorful and expressive digital camera bodies. It features smooth contours for a very comfortable hold, along with a compact body and capable exposure system, both of which recommend it well for use while traveling.

The PowerShot SD960 is designed to appeal to the aesthetic preferences of both men and women with its range of muted pastel colors, including blue, pink, gold, and silver. The PowerShot SD960 Digital ELPH delivers HD video recording and advanced automatic processing technologies that are capable of handling virtually any problem. The camera is equipped with a CCD that has 12.1 megapixels and a lens that has a 4x optical zoom.

The 4x optical zoom lens of the PowerShot SD960 Digital ELPH has a great maximum wide-angle option at its corresponding 28mm, which provides a bit more versatility than the typical 35mm. The Canon PowerShot SD960 features a genuine optical image stabilization system, which can assist eliminate blur while shooting in low light or with a telephoto lens set to its maximum magnification.

The camera is equipped with a number of helpful automatic features, such as a Smart AUTO mode, in which the camera chooses the optimal settings based on 18 different predefined shooting situations, as well as Canon’s improved DIGIC 4 processor, which includes evolved Face Detection for the purpose of subject tracking.

The PowerShot SD960 Digital ELPH is a digital camera that can capture high-definition video at a resolution of 1,280 by 720 pixels and is equipped with a mini-HDMI port for making a direct connection to an HD monitor. Active Display, which allows you to flip between photographs during playback by shaking the camera in a manner that is reminiscent of Apple’s iPhone technology, is yet another exciting improvement included on the PowerShot SD960 (as opposed to simply scrolling with the arrow keys).

Aside from these changes, the majority of Canon’s basic digital camera capabilities are included in the PowerShot SD960. These features include user-adjustable exposure compensation, metering, ISO, My Colors, and iContrast, as well as user-adjustable white balance.

User Report on the Canon SD960 IS

The Canon PowerShot SD960 is a charming and compact digital camera that comes in a variety of cheerful colors and has Canon’s signature simplicity of use, which has become synonymous with the ELPH brand name. When it comes to performance, Canon ELPH cameras nearly always deliver excellent results, with exceptional exposure, color, and overall quality while maintaining a fairly compact form factor.

Look and feel

The Canon SD960 has a very pleasant feel in the hand because to its streamlined design and diminutive dimensions. It is compact enough to fit in your pocket and has a minimum number of controls for you to fiddle with. Because of its excellent shine, similar to that of nail polish, the glossy finish on the front panel has to be protected by a protective cover as soon as possible. Scratches will be quite noticeable on this surface.

There isn’t much of a handgrip to speak of, but the very slightly raised Canon logo on the front panel gives a very little texture for your fingertips to adhere to. There isn’t much of a handgrip to speak of. As a result, I would suggest that you maintain the wrist strap tightly around your wrist when you are shooting, as this sleek little camera might easily slip out of your hands if you aren’t paying attention.

The Canon SD960 is not at all difficult to transport because it weighs only 5.7 ounces (162 grams) with a memory card and a battery installed (its light weight is even more reason to keep the wrist strap attached).

When shooting with one hand, photographers with larger hands may have some difficulty navigating the controls of the Canon SD960 because of its diminutive size and compact proportions. On the other hand, I found it to be fairly comfortable in the hands that I have, and I think that children will have an excellent grasp on it.


The Canon SD960 has very few controls, which is one of the aspects that contributes to its allure. On the top panel, you’ll find a switch that slides to change the Record Mode, a button for the Power button, and a combination shutter button and zoom lever.

Uncomplicated in most respects. Playback and Menu buttons are located on the rear panel, along with a function dial that may be used for a variety of purposes and a smaller button labeled Function/Set. The Function dial of the Canon SD960 may be spun or pushed in the directions up, down, left, or right (similar to multi-controllers on other digital cameras), and it plays a role in a number of different camera functions.

A brief press on the dial will bring up a legend on the screen that describes the many settings that are selectable. For instance, when shooting in the usual Program AE mode, pushing “up” on the dial activates the self-timer mode, and pressing “down” controls the LCD display. Both of these controls are located on the back of the camera.

A push on the “left” button allows the Macro or Infinity AF modes, and a press on the “right” button controls the flash mode. You have the opportunity to pick different choices by either pressing the directional edges of the dial or by turning it when you are on a menu screen. The Function/Set button on the Canon SD960, just like the majority of other PowerShots, is used to call up the camera’s Function menu (which includes ISO, resolution, white balance, and other similar settings) or confirm menu decisions.

The Canon SD960’s supplementary controls are easy to navigate and operate thanks to the camera’s intuitive design. Pressing the Playback button on the camera’s rear panel not only puts the device into playback mode but also turns the camera on and sets it to playback mode. Simply giving the Shutter button a half-press will put the camera back into Record mode.

A push to the right of the Function dial will turn on the flash, and depending on the shooting mode you are in, you will have access to a different set of operational modes for the flash. The flash on the Canon SD960 is powerful enough for usage within around eight feet while in Auto mode and with the wide-angle lens set to its maximum setting, but its power decreases further away.

Although it is not strictly speaking a control, the Canon SD960 comes with something that Canon refers to as Active Display. The only thing that this implies is that rather than using the arrow keys or the Function dial, you can just shake the camera while it is in Playback mode to make it scroll through the acquired photos.

It’s more of a nice gimmick than anything else, but it’s absolutely worth mentioning because it’s entertaining to mess about with for a little while. However, due to the fact that the camera is rather small and has a smooth exterior, you need to be very careful not to unintentionally toss it across the room.


The four-times optical zoom of the Canon SD960 provides a beautiful wide-angle view as well as a respectable telephoto one, with a focal length equivalent range of 28 to 112. The Canon SD960’s sophisticated processing is very certainly at work here since there is very minimal barrel distortion even when shooting at the widest possible angle, which is a historically unusual occurrence. Chromatic aberration may be seen at both levels of the zoom, and the degree of blurring in the corners ranges from mild to considerable when shooting wide-angle.

The optical Image Stabilizer included in the lens of the Canon SD960 operates automatically to lessen the amount of blurring that can be caused by the movement of the camera. This is an excellent feature for taking pictures with a full telephoto lens, as well as pictures taken inside since it helps reduce the amount of blur that is caused by camera motion.


The Canon PowerShot SD960’s shooting modes are controlled by a sliding Record Mode switch located on the top panel of the camera, while the Playback button located on the camera’s rear panel facilitates image viewing.

There are three different shooting modes available on the Canon SD960 IS Movie, Program AE, and Smart Auto. Each shooting mode allows for a different amount of customization from the user. In every shooting setting, the exposure is managed by the camera automatically.

The Canon PowerShot SD960 IS comes with a variety of different Scene settings that can be selected, but it also has a Smart Auto mode that can analyze the environment and determine the mode that the camera deems to be the best suitable for the photograph being taken.

Portrait, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Fireworks, Aquarium, Underwater, ISO 3,200, Indoor, Kids & Pets, Night Snapshot, Long Shutter, Color Accent, Color Swap, Digital Macro, and Stitch Assist are some of the preset Scene settings that are available. Additionally, while using Smart Auto mode, each exposure is automatically optimized for faces, colors, saturation, distance, and movement, and the mode will swap between settings as the scene around you changes.

This is a far more astute strategy considering that the vast majority of users won’t necessarily look through the Scene selection menu to locate the ideal environment.

The Canon SD960 not only has the ability to record high-definition video, but it also has a small HDMI adapter, which allows for the video to be played back on an HD screen with excellent clarity.


The menu of the Canon PowerShot SD960 is quite similar to the menus seen on earlier models of the PowerShot Digital ELPH series. It has a top-tabbed interface and a vertical list of choices that may be scrolled through.

You won’t spend a great lot of time digging through the screens because it is simple to use and the settings that are available on this model aren’t particularly extensive. The vast majority of shooting choices may be accessible through the new Function menu, which, although simple, is not quite as simple as its predecessor was.

Both the storage and the battery

The Canon PowerShot SD960 IS stores photographs on memory cards that can be either SD or SDHC compatible, with a maximum capacity of 32 gigabytes per card. That will be plenty for most purposes with this camera, and certainly, a 4 to 8GB card should be fine unless you expect to shoot a lot of video with the Canon SD960. If you do plan to shoot a lot of video with the Canon SD960, then you should consider purchasing a larger memory card.

The lithium-ion battery that powers the Canon SD960 has a capacity of 760 mAh and 3.7 volts, and its model number is NB-4L. Under the slidable, hinged plastic door is where you will find the rectangular battery that will lock into position next to the memory card. Because a completely charged battery can only take approximately 200 pictures, which is a little less than the typical amount, bringing along an extra battery as a backup is usually a smart idea for longer trips.


The PowerShot SD960 is another member of Canon’s ELPH digital camera family, which is known for its intuitive operation and user-friendly design. The Canon SD960 is a very user-friendly digital point-and-shoot camera since it has very few buttons, a small number of choices that may be adjusted by the user, and an intelligent auto exposure system.

When shooting situations are less than ideal, the Image Stabilizer from Canon is undoubtedly a benefit, and the Smart Auto mode is fairly effective at analyzing the lighting and choosing the optimum preset option for the situation.

I noticed that it swiftly recognized faces and chose the best-preset setting and that it changed modes almost as quickly whenever a person stepped out of the frame or the lighting changed. The process of making these judgments wasn’t exactly lightning-fast, but it was still rapid enough to guarantee that I didn’t overlook anything.

The zoom of the PowerShot SD960 is both silent and smooth, but it has a tendency to zoom in very large increments. This makes it a little bit more difficult to zoom in with pinpoint accuracy.

When used normally, the LCD on the camera was bright when used outside; however, it was difficult to view very well when subjected to direct sunlight. Additionally, it is reflective, which resulted in considerable glare when exposed to direct sunlight.

The Canon PowerShot SD960, on the other hand, is a pleasant camera to use in general. It is really speedy, despite its size, and it is very quiet. Because it has fewer user controls and less settings, it is considerably simpler to operate, making it an excellent choice for new photographers or younger photographers.

Quality of the Canon SD960 IS Lens


When set to wide-angle, the Canon PowerShot SD960 only exhibits a very slight amount of blurring in most of the frame’s four corners; however, the top left corner is significantly more blurry than the others. At maximum telephoto, the results are comparable, with very little blurring in any part of the image other than the lower right corner, which is significantly less sharp. In both instances, the fuzziness doesn’t go very deeply into the picture at all.

Distortion of the Geometry

When using the PowerShot SD960’s wide-angle zoom option, there is very minimal barrel distortion (around 0.4 percent), and when using the telephoto zoom setting, there is practically no discernible distortion of any type (less than 0.1 percent).

Aberration of Chromatic Color

Chromatic aberration is quite high in both the wide-angle and telephoto zoom settings, resulting in pixels that are vividly cyan and magenta (though pixels are deeper in color at telephoto). When shot with a wide-angle lens, there is some blurring in the corner of the frame, which helps to slightly increase the impact here.


The macro mode of the Canon PowerShot SD960 captures an image that is exceptionally crisp in the center of the frame, with just a slight amount of blurring around the corners and borders of the picture. The smallest area that must be covered is 1.21 inches by 0.91 inches (31 x 23 mm). An extremely uneven exposure was generated by the camera’s flash, with a big hot spot in the upper left and a shadow from the lens in the lower right. When photographing this near, the best choice will thus be to use illumination from the outside.

Image Quality

Color: The Canon PowerShot SD960 has increased the saturation of strong blue and red tones only a tiny bit, but not to the point where these colors predominate in the images it produces. The accuracy of the hues appears to be quite excellent generally, with cyans being somewhat pushed toward blue, reds being pushed toward orange, and orange being pushed toward yellow. Lighter skin tones tend to have a hint of pink, whereas deeper skin tones have a little bit of an orange undertone to them. However, really impressive outcomes overall.


Noise and Detail: The level of detail is pretty good at ISO 80 and 100, but it begins to soften at ISO 200, despite the fact that it still retains a considerable amount of its strength. Detail definition is hindered at an ISO setting of 400 due to the presence of luminance noise as well as efforts to minimize noise. When using an ISO of 800 or 1,600, the photographs take on the appearance of being seen through a hazy window. The resolution of the image is reduced when the camera is set to 3,200 ISO in an effort to maintain some level of detail; nonetheless, the final product is still rather grainy.


The flash of the Canon PowerShot SD960 retains its full brightness at an ISO setting of 100, and its wide-angle coverage extends only to a distance of around 8 feet before it begins to fade. Even at a distance of six feet, the intensity is insufficient when the telephoto is set to its maximum setting.


The tungsten lighting test was far more easily handled by the Canon PowerShot SD960’s Incandescent and Manual white balancing settings than it was by the camera’s Auto mode, which generated a very strong warm cast that looks almost sepia-like. The results from both the Incandescent and Manual exposures appear extremely decent, if just ever so slightly lukewarm.


Shutter lag

The lag time for the full autofocus shutter is quite good, coming in at 0.42 seconds when shooting at wide-angle and 0.46 seconds when shooting at full telephoto. The prefocus shutter lag is 0.077 seconds, which is not the quickest on the market but is also not terrible by any stretch of the imagination.

The length of one cycle

In single-shot mode, the camera takes a picture once every 2.21 seconds, and in burst mode, it takes a picture once every 1.04 seconds, for a total of 0.96 frames per second. The cycle time is a little bit sluggish.

Recycle Flash Lights

After being discharged at its maximum capacity, the flash on the Canon PowerShot SD960 recycles in 9 seconds, which is a bit longer than the typical time.

In the Box

The following elements are included in the Canon PowerShot SD960 IS package when it ships out from the warehouse:

  • Digital ELPH camera PowerShot SD960 IS with image stabilization
  • NB-4L Battery Pack that is Powered by Lithium-ion
  • Charger for a CB-2LV Battery
  • WS-DC7 Wrist Strap
  • Digital Camera Solution CD-ROM
  • USB Interface Cable, Model IFC-400PCU.
  • AV Cable Model: AVC-DC400M Meters

Canon PowerShot SD960 IS Specifications

Body typeCompact
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 levelsSuper-Fine, Fine, Normal
Focal length (equiv.)28–112 mm
Optical zoom
Maximum apertureF2.8–5.8
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaSingleFace DetectionLive View
Digital zoomYes (4x)
Manual focusNo
Macro focus range2 cm (0.79″)
Number of focus points9
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size2.8″
Screen dots230,000
Touch screenNo
Live viewNo
Viewfinder typeNone
Minimum shutter speed15 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/1600 sec
Aperture priorityNo
Shutter priorityNo
Manual exposure modeNo
Subject / scene modesYes
Built-in flashYes
Flash range4.00 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)
FormatMotion JPEG
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)145 g (0.32 lb / 5.11 oz)
Dimensions98 x 54 x 22 mm (3.86 x 2.13 x 0.87″)
Orientation sensorYes


The Canon 960 IS takes the concept of small pocketability to a whole new level by including a screen that can be viewed from a wide-angle and a set of controls that have been greatly reduced. It’s not that the Canon 960 is particularly thin from front to back; rather, the widescreen LCD makes the camera quite a bit shorter than the majority of its rivals.

The Canon PowerShot SD960 is a capable camera that excels in many different performance categories. The quality of the image is acceptable when using the wide-angle and telephoto settings, with significant blurring occurring in just one corner of the picture at each setting and just moderate blurring occurring in the other corners. The lens distortion of the Canon SD960 is likewise fairly low, and although being somewhat high and brilliant, chromatic aberration does not significantly detract from the quality of the camera’s photographs.

The noise suppression is very average in the middle-range ISOs, but the color reproduction and exposure are both pretty satisfactory. Although the duration between shots in the cycle is a little slow, the shutter lag is quite good.

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Fast autofocus
  • Excellent image quality
  • A lens with a large field of view.
  • Small profile
  • 4x optical zoom
Need Improvement
  • a slow period between each shot in the cycle
  • The new Function menu is not quite as straightforward as its predecessor’s design.
  • The lifespan of the battery is average.

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