Canon PowerShot SD430 Overview
By: Mike Pasini
Review Date: 04/25/2006
Unlike other Canon PowerShot ELPH digicams, the SD430 "rocks." Stood on end like its cousins were designed to do, the Canon SD430 is actually resting on its slightly curved WiFi antenna. Following Nikon and Kodak into the WiFi-enabled digicam arena, the PowerShot SD430 offers a unique approach to shooting without cables, including its Wireless Print Adapter in the box for wireless printing to any PictBridge printer and offering wireless remote capture from your Windows computer. Canon built the SD430 with a 5.0-megapixel sensor and most of the basic features shared by its fellows in the SD lineup, but the big emphasis is on WiFi.
Canon SD430 User Report
By: Mike Pasini
|The SD430 & Print Adapter. Standing on end, yes, but rocking. The Adapter is plugged into a Canon iP6600D printer's PictBridge connector.
Thanks in part to FotoNation's PTP software, Canon, Kodak, and Nikon have all introduced WiFi digicams in the last year. Nikon, in fact, has expanded its use of WiFi to several new Coolpix models. The SD430 is Canon's first WiFi digicam, relying on Wireless B like the Kodak EasyShare-One. The feature adds about $100 to the price of a camera, so its no surprise none of these WiFi digicams are fully featured.
But WiFi on a digicam is not quite the same wonderful thing it is on a laptop or even a PDA. WiFi digicams talk only to proprietary software. Kodak's EasyShare One talks only to its EasyShare software or WiFi-equipped printers. Nikon's WiFi digicams talk only to its PictureProject software or printers equipped with its WiFi adapter. And similarly, Canon's SD430 only talks to its Windows ZoomBrowser software. It's a closed world.
|The Print Adapter. Note the Setup button and the DC In port (neither of which were ever needed).
That has interesting ramifications. In Kodak's case, the EasyShare-One can communicate with Kodak's EasyShare Gallery, uploading and displaying albums or emailing images via the Gallery -- by far the most versatile choice. In Nikon's case, options are limited to transfering images to PictureProject either as you shoot them or after or printing them via its proprietary print adapter, all of which require configuration in the camera.
Unlike Nikon's WiFi digicams, the Canon SD430 requires no configuration to print. It's preconfigured to recognize the included print adapter. All I had to do was switch into Playback mode, press the Print/Share button, connect to the default Target Device (the preconfigured WA-1 adapter), select the PictBridge options and Print.
But the WiFi fun stops there for Mac users. Since there's no Macintosh version of the transfer software--a surprising omission--they're out of the game.
WiFi Setup. I fired up my Windows PC and popped in the software CD. It chugged away a while installing Canon's WiFi utility and a couple of other apps before I was ready to configure the camera for a wireless connection to the PC through our wireless router.
Like the Nikon, you have to connect the Canon SD430 via USB to the PC. The wireless utility pops up, prompting you to press the Menu button on the camera, find the WiFi setup screen and select the Register option. Then it's back to the computer to select whether you are connecting through a router or directly to a wireless card in the computer. Since I have a router, I had to enter the name of the router, the kind of security used and the password. All that was transferred to the camera for storage.
With the configuration stored in the Canon SD430, I turned it on in Playback mode and hit the Print/Share button. The Left and Right buttons let you select a Target Device. I had two: the print adapter and the router. It took about eight seconds to connect to the router, but it worked the first time, no problem.
|A WiFi Transfer. We're sending 12 images through the router in the background to our Windows PC.
Finally, I disconnected by pressing the Menu button, going to the WiFi setup screen and selecting the Connect/Disconnect option on the Canon SD430. That shuts down the WiFi signal and saves battery life. WiFi can be very draining.But I had one more trick to try. Remote capture.
|Zoom Browser. We downloaded twice it was so much fun!|
Remote Capture. This was pretty freaky, but you end up with a live view from the camera on your computer screen sent wirelessly from the camera.
It isn't obvious, but you click on the icon RemoteCaptureTask presents, which takes you to a window to select the target directory for your images. Finally you are presented with the remote shooting window, dominated by a live view of the scene the camera sees.
This is so cool it's refrigerated. You can even set some camera options like image size and compression and image orientation. You can add a comment to the image, too (if you're at the keyboard, you might as well use it). You can control the Canon SD430's zoom in real time (although it isn't quite as responsive as you may be used to). And you can change the focusing point and toggle Macro focusing, the AF-assist light, the Flash and the autofocus lock. On the Shooting settings tab, you can also change White Balance, Exposure Compensation, Flash Exposure Level, Metering mode, ISO, AE mode (well, not for the SD430), and Photo Effect.
|Remote Capture||Zoomed In|
The camera, meanwhile, shuts its LCD off, preserving battery power but also becoming a bit more discreet, although the blue WiFi indicator light is on. You blow your cover when you hit the Release button and the Canon SD430 makes it's default shutter sound (but you can disable that in the Setup menu, of course).
It takes about six seconds to transfer the image after you've shot it. Just about what it takes to move a file wirelessly during file transfers. You can also have the computer route that image to the printer for automatic prints.
Under the shooting menu, RemoteCaptureTask offers Interval shooting and Timer shooting, too.
Oddly enough, you can't quit the CameraWindow. You have to disconnect or turn off the Canon SD430 to exit the application.
Alternately, you can automatically transfer images wirelessly as you shoot them using the Auto Transfer function when in any shooting mode. Just visit the WiFi setup menu and set Auto Transfer on.
I called Canon's remote WiFi capture refrigerated not only because it's good but because it isn't an every day treat. For the most part, you'll use the SD430 like any other digicam--the old fashioned way.
Old Fashioned Fun. Even without a wireless connection, there's still a lot of plain old fashioned shooting fun in the Canon SD430. The digital ELPHs are a delight to use and the SD430 is no exception. It's just a pleasant experience, even if you use just one hand. You almost feel like you can twirl it around on your forefinger and slip it back in your holster.
For one thing, it's uncomplicated. There are only three modes: Still, Movie, and Playback. In Still mode, Auto handles most situations with ease. If you want to set the ISO, Metering mode, White Balance or dip into the Color Effects, the so-called "Manual" mode is the ticket. The Canon SD430 also features a selection of handy special shooting modes including Digital Macro, Portrait, Night Snapshot, My Colors and Kids&Pets.
These days, a two-inch LCD looks small but the consolation prize is an optical viewfinder, something not found on cameras offering 2.5-inch and larger LCD monitors.
Controls are minimal, requiring almost no time to learn. The Print/Share button lights up in blue when activated (and the WiFi end of the camera blinks blue, too). A navigator ring (no buttons) also uses the Up arrow to set ISO, the Right arrow to select the Flash mode, the Bottom arrow to set Continuous or Self-Timer options, and the Left arrow to cycle through Focus modes, including Macro.
The Canon SD430 is ELPHishly fun to shoot with, effortless WiFi PictBridge printing, sure, but what about the pictures?
Image Quality. With the same lens, the Canon SD430 exhibits both the same slight corner softness and barrel distortion as the SD450. Images, fortunately, are not over saturated, with good color throughout. Automatic noise suppression only kicks in at slow shutter speeds of 1.3 second and above, so detail is preserved. And noise is really not apparent even at ISO 400 in a 4x6 print.
We have to wonder what's in the water at Canon headquarters to released the SD430 without Macintosh WiFi support, but even Macsters can enjoy the direct WiFi printing with the included adapter. And that's a lot more useful than just being able to transfer to a proprietary software package you probably wouldn't rely on anyway.
Recommendation. The Canon ELPH series of digital cameras continues to be a popular option for many consumers, given its tiny size and reputation for great quality. Although exposure control is mainly automatic, the availability of exposure times as long as 15 seconds and adjustable ISO increases the Canon PowerShot SD430's exposure versatility a great deal. The uncomplicated user interface and smooth styling help novices and more advanced amateurs alike feel at home, with enough control over the exposure to make both happy. And when it comes time to print, the Canon SD430 can do it effortlessly without a cable. It really is ridiculously simple. It makes a great all-around camera for anyone, and would make a good second camera for enthusiasts who don't want to lug along their full-size all-the-bells-and-whistles camera. All in all, it's one of the better subcompact digital cameras currently on the market.
- 5.0-megapixel CCD
- Real-image optical viewfinder
- 2.0-inch color TFT LCD monitor
- 3x, 5.8-17.4mm lens, equivalent to a 35-105mm lens on a 35mm camera
- Maximum 4x digital zoom
- Automatic exposure control, with Long Shutter mode for longer exposures
- Shutter speeds from 1/1,500 to 15 seconds
- Maximum aperture of f/2.8 to f/4.9, depending on lens zoom position
- Built-in flash with six modes
- SD memory card storage, 16MB card included
- Power supplied by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack (charger included) or optional AC adapter kit
- Canon Digital Camera Solution Software v27.0 with ArcSoft PhotoStudio, and USB drivers included for both Windows and Mac platforms
- Print/Share button
- Wireless B transmission (802.11b)
- Wireless Print Adapter included for PictBridge printers
- Four Movie modes with sound (640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels, at either 15 or 30 frames per second)
- Continuous Shooting mode
- Stitch-Assist panorama mode
- Infinity and Macro focus modes plus "Digital Macro" mode
- Customizable "My Camera" settings
- Two- or 10-second Self-Timer for delayed shutter release, plus custom timer with multi-shot feature
- Sound Memo option for recording captions
- Spot, Center-Weighted, and Evaluative exposure metering
- White balance (color) adjustment with seven modes, including a Custom setting
- Photo Effect and My Colors menus for color adjustment
- Unusual Color Accent and Color Swap features for special effects in still images or movies
- Adjustable ISO setting
- DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) and PictBridge compatibility
- USB cable for connection to a computer (driver software included)
- A/V cable for connection to a television set
In the Box
Packaged with the PowerShot SD430 are the following items:
- Wireless Print Adapter WA-1N
- Wrist strap
- Video cable
- USB cable
- 16MB SD memory card
- NB-4L lithium-ion battery pack with cover
- Battery charger
- Canon Digital Camera Solution Disk v27.0 software CD
- Operating manuals and registration card
- Large capacity SD/MMC memory card (These days, 256 to 512MB is a good tradeoff between cost and capacity.)
- Additional NB-4L lithium-ion battery pack
- AC adapter kit
- Small camera case
The Canon PowerShot SD430 is an impressive little camera, with super build quality, great image quality, and the flexibility to bring back good-looking pictures from a wide range of shooting situations. And when you get back, you can wirelessly transfer its images to a Windows PC directly or through a router and print to any PictBridge printer wirelessly with the included print adapter.
Its tiny case is sleek and sophisticated, and travels easily, although we do recommend a small hard case for it, to avoid damage if you bump against something with the camera in your pocket. When it comes to picture taking, while actual exposure control remains automatic, the ability to adjust ISO, White Balance, and access longer shutter times significantly extend the camera's shooting ability. Thanks to its high-speed DIGIC-II processing chip, the Canon SD430 is also quite responsive for a subcompact digital camera, and its movie capability goes quite a bit beyond what I'm accustomed to seeing from subcompact digital camera models. The SD430 seems to be a little less sharp than most Canon ELPH cameras, which is a mystery because the main difference is WiFi.
While Windows users can transfer images from the camera wirelessly and even grab remote captures wirelessly from their keyboard, everyone can enjoy the SD430's no-fuss wireless printing using the print adapter connected to any PictBridge printer. I was very impressed with how easily WiFi worked on the SD430, so all considered, an good little camera at an attractive price, and an easy choice as a Dave's Pick.