Canon SD1100 IS Review
Canon SD1100 IS Exposure
Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Very good overall color and hue accuracy, with minor oversaturation of some colors.
Skin tones. Here, with the color balanced properly for the light source, the SD1100 IS again does a good job, and produces natural skin tones with just a hint of warmth. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.
Hue. The PowerShot SD1100 IS showed minor color shifts relative to the correct mathematical translation of colors in its subjects, pushing cyan toward blue, and orange towards yellow for example. Most cameras shift cyans toward blue, apparently a tactic to produce better-looking sky colors. The SD1100 IS does this a bit more than most, but its images were still very pleasing. Overall, the color was more accurate than many digital cameras we test. Hue is "what color" the
| See full set of test images
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images
Exposure and White Balance
Indoors, incandescent lighting
Actually pretty good results with all three white balance settings, though most accurate color with the Manual option. About average positive exposure compensation required.
|Auto White Balance
|Incandescent White Balance
|Manual White Balance
Indoors, under incandescent lighting, the PowerShot SD1100 IS' Auto white balance setting produced pretty good results, despite the slight warm cast. (Though warm, color balance here is much better than average performance for Auto white balance on consumer cameras.) Both the Incandescent and Manual settings produced more accurate results, with the Manual option producing the best overall, though still a touch warm. The Canon SD1100 IS required a +1.0 EV exposure compensation boost to get a good exposure, which is about average for this shot. Overall color with the Manual white balance setting is good, though skin tones are a hint pink. Though a little dark, the blue flowers look pretty good as well. (Many digital cameras reproduce these flowers with a dark, purplish tint, so the SD1100 IS performs well here.) Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.
Better than average exposure accuracy, though high contrast results in very bright highlights and some lost highlight detail. Bright colors outdoors with good hue accuracy.
|Auto White Balance,
|Auto White Balance,
Outdoors, the Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS produced pretty good overall exposures, though contrast was very high, resulting very hot highlights. In both shots above, the brightest highlights show a fair amount of lost detail. Shadow areas show moderate detail, though with some noise and noise suppression. The camera's low contrast adjustment produced a modest effect on overall contrast, but is still a welcome feature. The Auto white balance setting handled both situations pretty well, though with slightly pinkish highlights on the portrait shot.
High resolution, 1,400 lines of strong detail.
|Strong detail to
1,400 lines horizontal
|Strong detail to
1,400 lines vertical
Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,400 lines per picture height in both directions, though lines are clearest horizontally. Extinction of the pattern didn't really occur before 2,000 lines, the limit of this chart. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.
Sharpness & Detail
Overall pretty good image sharpness. A small amount of visible edge enhancement in areas of high contrast, and a fair amount of noise suppression in shadow areas.
|Reasonably sharp images with little visible edge enhancement along high contrast lines in this image.||Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression blurs
detail in areas of subtle contrast,
as in the darker parts of
Marti's hair here.
Sharpness. The Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS' captures fairly sharp images, with very good definition that responds well to additional sharpening during post-processing. Only slight enhancement artifacts are visible, such as in the crop above left. We have noticed that the SD1100 IS seems to apply slightly different amounts of sharpening in certain situations, even at its default sharpening setting, as can be seen by comparing the tree branches in the wide angle far-field shot, which shows notably stronger edge enhancement. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.
Detail. The crop above right shows a fair amount of noise suppression, with darker areas of Marti's hair showing limited detail. Individual strands are smudged and fade into each other in low contrast areas. While quite visible at this scale though, the effect is much less evident in prints 8x10 inches in size and smaller. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.
ISO & Noise Performance
Low to moderate noise at the normal sensitivity settings, though a jump in noise with strong blurring at the higher settings.
|ISO 80||ISO 100||ISO 200|
|ISO 400||ISO 800||ISO 1,600|
At the Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS' lower ISO settings, noise levels are fairly low, with good results up to ISO 200, though some subtle effects of noise reduction are still evident even at these low ISOs. At ISO 400, noise jumps with more obvious noise reduction artifacts and blurring of fine detail. At ISOs 800 and 1,600, noise is much higher with stronger blurring and color blotches in shadow areas. ISO 800 still may be usable in "emergency" situations, but at 1,600, noise dominates the image, obliterating most detail. See Output Quality notes below for how all this translates to printed results.
Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High contrast and limited highlight detail, though good resolution and detail. Good low-light performance, capable of capturing bright images in near darkness.
|Default||+0.3 EV||+0.7 EV|
Sunlight. The Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS produced high contrast (using the default contrast setting) in response to the deliberately harsh lighting in the test above, with rather limited highlight detail. However, shadow detail is pretty good, despite some noise suppression and noise artifacts. Exposure compensation required to keep Marti's face from being too dim was lower than average at +0.3 EV, but still created very hot highlights on the white shirt and flowers.
Additional Contrast Settings (all +0.3 EV)
Contrast. Canon has included five contrast settings in the SD1100 IS (see above table for results using non-default values). The range on the lower end is a little limited but still useful, so consider reducing the contrast setting, and be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown above; it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.
Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)
Low light. The Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS performed well on the low-light test, capturing reasonably bright images at the lowest light level with the next to lowest sensitivity setting (ISO 100). At ISO 80, the image at the darkest light level is a bit dim. but still usable. Noise increases with higher ISOs, but this is expected. Color balance was good with the Auto white balance setting. The camera's autofocus system worked well also, as it was able to focus on the subject down to the 1/16 foot-candle light level unassisted, and in complete darkness with the AF assist enabled. (A useful trick when shooting with such long exposure times is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)
How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.
NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) For such applications, you may have better luck with a digital SLR camera, but even there, you'll likely need to set the focus manually. For information and reviews on digital SLRs, refer to our SLR review index page.
Coverage and Range
A reasonably powerful flash (given the size of the camera), although the lens' smaller aperture at the maximum zoom setting limits range at longer focal lengths. About average coverage. Our standard shots required average exposure compensation.
|38mm equivalent||114mm equivalent|
Coverage. Flash coverage was uneven at wide angle, but quite more uniform at full telephoto. In the Indoor test, the Canon SD1100 IS' flash underexposed our subject a little at its default setting, requiring +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment to get reasonably bright results. (About an average amount of exposure adjustment for this shot.) The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode produced slightly brighter and more even results, though with a stronger orange cast from the room lighting. In this mode, the camera required only +0.7 EV of exposure compensation. Compared to many other cameras, the Canon SD1100 is one of the better Slow-Sync Flash performers.
ISO 100 Range. At wide angle, flash shots at ISO 100 remained fairly bright out to a distance of about 12 feet. That's not bad for such a small camera. At full telephoto and ISO 100, the target started out a little dim, and brightness began to fall-off gradually after about 7 or 8 feet.
|Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range|
Auto ISO 200
Auto ISO 200
Manufacturer Specified Flash Test. In the wide angle shot above, the Canon SD1100 IS performs as Canon says it will, producing a good exposure (somewhat overexposed actually) at the rated distance with its ISO set to Auto (which selected ISO 200). At telephoto, the camera again selected ISO 200 and the exposure looks pretty good .
Note: Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 100, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims.
Good print quality, good color, clear 13x19-inch prints. ISO 400 is good to 11x14, ISO 800 images are usable at 8x10, good at 5x7, ISO 1,600 shots are only usable for 4x6 prints.
The Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS had enough resolution to make good looking 13x19-inch prints from ISO 80 and 100 shots. ISO 400 shots start to get a little soft at 11x14, but are still quite usable at that size for wall or table display. ISO 800 images are soft and noisy at 8x10, good at 5x7 inches. ISO 1,600 shots are noisy even at 4x6 inches, but probably usable as snapshots if you aren't too particular. Overall, a good performance from a compact pocket camera.
Color is quite good: Noticeably less saturated than the most over-exuberant digicams we test, images the SD1100 IS manage to look bright and snappy without seeming overdone.
Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon i9900 studio printer, and on the Canon iP5200 here in the office. (See the Canon i9900 review for details on that model.)
The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS Photo Gallery.
Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!
Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...
Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!
|Print this Page|
Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.