Canon SD4500 IS Review

 
Camera Reviews / Canon Cameras / Canon PowerShot i Express Review
Basic Specifications
Full model name: Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS
Resolution: 10.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.3"
Lens: 10.00x zoom
(36-360mm eq.)
Viewfinder: LCD
ISO: 125-3200
Shutter: 15-1/4000
Max Aperture: 3.4
Dimensions: 4.0 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
(101 x 59 x 22 mm)
Weight: 6.7 oz (189 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $350
Availability: 09/2010
Manufacturer: Canon
Full specs: Canon SD4500 IS specifications
10.00
Megapixels
10.00x zoom
1/2.3"
size sensor
image of Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS
Front side of Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS digital camera Back side of Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS digital camera Top side of Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS digital camera Left side of Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS digital camera Right side of Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS digital camera
Imaging Resource rating

4.0 out of 5.0

Canon SD4500IS Overview

by Greg Scoblete and Stephanie Boozer
Review Posted: 03/10/2011

The Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS design features a 10-megapixel CMOS image sensor at its core. The Canon SD4500IS follows in the footsteps of the PowerShot S90, by decreasing effective resolution to ten megapixels, with the goal of increasing low-light image quality. An indication of this can be seen in the higher than average sensitivity range for a compact camera, between ISO 125 and ISO 3,200 equivalents. (Note that unlike the S90 and S95, the Canon SD4500 uses a CMOS sensor, not a CCD. CMOS allows for higher performance making shooting 1080p HD video that much easier, at the cost of some still image quality.) In front of the Canon SD4500's image sensor, Canon has placed a 10x optical zoom lens with actual focal lengths of 6.3 to 63mm, equivalent to a range of 36mm to 360mm on a 35mm camera--a not very generous wide-angle to a powerful telephoto. Maximum aperture varies from f/3.4 to f/5.6 across the zoom range. Importantly, given the telephoto reach of this lens, Canon has included a true optical image stabilization system in the SD4500 IS, which combats blur from camera shake.

The Canon SD4500 IS lacks any form of optical or electronic viewfinder, with all interaction taking place through its rear-panel LCD display. The PowerShot SD4500's display has a fairly ordinary 3.0-inch diagonal, and offers 230,000 dot resolution. As well as still images at resolutions up to 3,648 x 2,736 pixels, the Canon SD4500 can record Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) movie clips at 24 frames per second, while high definition 720p (1,280 x 720 pixel), or standard definition movie clips at either VGA (640 x 480) or QVGA (320 x 240) resolution, all offer a rate of 30 frames per second. Unusually, QVGA videos can also be recorded at a whopping 240 frames per second, for playback at 30 frames per second, yielding a slow motion effect with 1/8th real time. Videos are saved in H.264 encoded .MOV containers, and include stereo audio.

Exposures are calculated using the Canon SD4500's evaluative metering system, which also offers center-weighted average and spot modes. The Canon PowerShot SD4500 offers Smart Auto and Program Auto exposure modes, plus a wide variety of scene modes. These include Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Smart Shutter, High-Speed Burst, Low Light, Color Accent, Color Swap, Fisheye Effect, Miniature Effect, Beach, Foliage, Snow, and Fireworks. A Best Image Selection mode captures 5 images, then discards all but the sharpest one. A handheld night mode automatically stacks multiple shots in-camera to provide one image with reduced motion blur. Seven white balance modes are available, including Auto, five presets, and manual. The PowerShot SD4500 IS has a seven mode flash strobe with a range of one to 12 feet at wide-angle, or 3.3 to 6.6 feet at telephoto.

The Canon PowerShot SD4500IS stores images and movies on Secure Digital, SDHC or SDXC cards. Connectivity options include HDMI high definition or NTSC / PAL standard definition composite video and USB 2.0 High Speed data. Power comes courtesy of a proprietary NB-9L lithium-ion rechargeable battery, rated as good for a battery life of 150 shots.

The Canon SD4500IS began shipping from early September 2010 in the US market. Pricing is set at around US$350.

 

Canon SD4500IS User Report

by Greg Scoblete

Canon has always used its ELPH series to push forward stylish cameras that pack some equally attractive features. The Canon SD4500, the top of the line of the 2010 ELPHs, joins the growing field of compact cameras with a long zoom lens. Depending on your point of view, this either gives you the best of both worlds, or the worst. For the glass-half-full set, you'll enjoy a slimmer camera that still packs an optical punch. If you're dour, you get a camera that's a smidge too big to be ultra-slim, but lacks the optical zoom to compete with the larger long zooms in the market.

Since I'm a cheery fellow, and hope you are too, you should appreciate the fact that Canon was able to sandwich a 10x optical zoom lens into a camera of the Canon SD4500's moderate size. And they packed more in there than just a decent zoom. You'll find a nice feature set including optical image stabilization (a must for a long zoom), a generous collection of scene modes, and what Canon dubs its "HS System" (High Sensitivity), which promises better low-light performance thanks to a back-illuminated 10-megapixel CMOS image sensor and DIGIC 4 image processor.

The Canon SD4500 isn't really geared at enthusiasts, but at consumers looking more for a point-and-shoot experience.

Look and Feel: The Canon SD4500IS is, as you'd expect, a stylish little ELPH. If you didn't know better, you'd think it was designed with aerodynamics in mind: It's a sleek camera that keeps its protrusions to a minimum. When not on, the Canon SD4500's 10x zoom is tucked away flush inside the body, making it quite pocket friendly. All the controls are also quite flush with the camera body, although not at all difficult to turn on. The edges are rounded off gently, giving it an elegant feel.

As mentioned above, the Canon SD4500 is quite compact for a long zoom, coming in at under an inch thick (0.88 inches to be precise), more pocketable than most 10x zoom digital cameras. At approximately 6.7 ounces with battery and memory card, the Canon SD4500IS isn't terribly heavy either. It's quite comfortable to hold, but there isn't much in the way of ergonomic rests for your fingers. The Canon SD4500 has three hatches: one for the memory card at the bottom of the camera, another for the battery, also at the bottom. On the side of the Canon SD4500, above the hook for the wrist strap, is a compartment for the camera's HDMI output and combined USB/A/V port.

It is, somewhat uniquely, only available in brown with silver accents, at least as of this writing. (Editor's note: it's now also available in silver.) If you're an Earth Tones kind of guy or gal, you're in luck. If not, the choice of tones is at least appealing. A light bar of chocolate comes to mind, with a light copper foil wrapper on the back panel.

Controls: As mentioned above, the external buttons on the Canon SD4500 are close to flush with the camera, but they're large enough that you won't have to make multiple passes to activate the function you want. The Canon SD4500 has a fair assortment of features, but keeps a lot of them bottled up inside the camera's menu. External controls are sparse. Atop the camera you'll find a sliding Mode switch with just three options: Movie, Photo, and Smart Auto mode. A Power switch follows after which is a Shutter button inside the camera's Zoom ring.

Drop to the back of the Canon SD4500 and you'll find a large Movie button, a nice control to have since it lets you jump instantly into Movie recording regardless of the selected mode. Beneath that is a four way controller/dial for setting the self-timer, adjusting the flash, display, and focus modes. The controller doubles as a scroll wheel for navigating through the camera's photos and menus. This scroll wheel is a common feature on many of Canon's compact cameras, simplifying menu browsing and image playback. In the middle of the scroll wheel is a Function/Set button, which pulls up an on-screen menu along the left side of the Canon SD4500's 3-inch LCD.

Beneath the scroll wheel are buttons for accessing the Canon SD4500's Menu and Playback mode. Given the amount of real-estate Canon had to work with on the back of the 4-inch long Canon SD4500 it seems like it could have used a few more external controls, even at the expense of button size. Some of the roomier buttons, like the Movie record button, could have been smaller without doing much harm. You'll spend most of your time navigating around the camera's on-screen menu for custom functions; it would have been a bit more user-friendly if a few more of the camera's functions were accessible via external controls.

Lens: The Canon SD4500 has a telescoping 10x optical zoom lens with a focal length of 36mm to 360mm (35mm equivalent) and a focusing range of 2-inches to infinity (normal AF). You'll notice it's not a very wide-angle lens, which bucks the trend of recent years. It's definitely missed.

The Canon SD4500IS offers macro focusing up to 0.4-inches away from the subject. You can set the camera to Macro focus or it will jump into Macro focus automatically when set to Smart Auto mode. The zoom has two speeds, depending on how far you turn the ring.

36-360mm eq. It's not as wide as most of today's pocket long zooms, but does have a good telephoto reach.

The lens features a maximum aperture of f/3.4 at wide-angle and f/5.6 at telephoto. As the "IS" in the name suggests, the SD4500IS incorporates Canon's image stabilization technology. It's available in three options: continuous, which compensates for jitter constantly, giving you an onscreen preview of the stabilization at work; shoot only, which activates stabilization as you press the shutter (the most efficient and effective option); and panning, which ignores horizontal motion, stabilizing only up and down motion (otherwise the camera would attempt to compensate for your panning motion). You can also turn image stabilization off. When you're in Movie mode, you'll only have the option to choose between Continuous and Off.

Modes. Canon delivers a number of standard shooting modes in the SD4500IS, but they leave out Shutter and Aperture priority, and Manual modes. The sliding Mode switch on the top of the camera doesn't give you many options: just Movie, Automatic, and Smart Auto.

Smart Auto. An impromptu moment with Santa as he tried to coax the other sibling to come near him, captured in Smart Auto.

If you set to Smart Auto, the camera calls on 28 different shooting scenes to automatically match the scene in front of you. It seemed to work accurately enough, and a tiny icon at the top right of the LCD indicates what Scene mode the Canon SD4500 is choosing.

If you want to move beyond the set-and-forget experience, you can avail yourself of a number of more creative options by shooting in Program or one of the Canon SD4500's many Scene modes.

Color Accent. Though I was completely locked on the orange when I made the color selection, the camera's still showing some of the red in the flag and yellow in the photo and faux wood grain. Dialing the intensity back to -4 isolated the orange, with a slight hint remaining in the photo.

My Color Modes. Canon's My Color mode gives you an extensive set of tools to control the color of your images, ranging from simple set-and-forget filters to more sophisticated color isolation functions. If you wish apply color effects to the entire image, you can choose from Sepia, Black and white, Positive film, Neutral, Vivid, Vivid red, Vivid blue, and Vivid green in addition to a Light or Dark skin tone option.

There is also a Custom color setting, which you can create on the menu by selecting the Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation, Red, Green, Blue and Skin tone levels. The Canon SD4500 can only save one of these custom color modes at a time and remembers your last custom setting as you power down the camera. This Custom setting is a nice touch for those who like to experiment a bit with their images; everyone else should be fine with the presets.

If you want to emphasize specific colors in a photo and change the rest of the scene to black and white, the Canon SD4500's Color Accent mode, found in the Scene mode menu, will do the trick. It's fairly simple to learn: you hold down the Menu button and the Canon SD4500 will produce a tiny white box at the center of the display. Aim the box at the color you wish to isolate and once it's recognized, you'll have the ability to adjust the intensity at which it's displayed amidst the black and white background. A -5 will only display a faint trace of the color and it gets progressively darker as you near +5. It's a nice creative touch.

You can get more surreal by using the Color swap mode, also found among the SD4500IS's Scene modes. The process is a similar to Color accent: you'll get a small box on screen at which to aim at a color and a pair of boxes at the bottom which let you select the color you wish to serve as a replacement and the color you wish to replace. You use the four-way controller to toggle between the two boxes to choose the color and its replacement and point the camera at the colors in question. When you've made your choice, you'll also be able to dial up or down the intensity of the color swap along the same ten point scale from -5 to +5. It doesn't do a perfect replacement, but it you can still have fun with it.

HD Movie. A 1080p video at 24fps. Click the image to download the 32.4MB MOV file.

HD Movie Recording. The Canon SD4500IS also offers several Movie modes, including two high-definition modes: a 1,920x1,080 at 24 frames per second (fps) and 1,280 x 720 at 30fps. Videos are recorded in the computer-friendly H.264 format as .MOV files. Recording can be triggered in any mode simply by pressing the red Record button on the back of the camera, or by switching the camera into movie mode, which gives you access to a number of different movie-related functions.

Video is captured at a fairly high bit rate of about 35Mbps at the highest resolution, though the bit rate drops steadily as you shift into lower resolutions. The end result is pretty good for a point-and-shoot--you should be happy viewing the results on an HD TV or a large computer monitor--but understand that you're not buying a camcorder replacement. The video gets quite noisy indoors and in brighter environments frequently overexposes the highlights. Still, even 24fps seemed to handle motion fairly well.

When shooting in Movie mode you can avail yourself of several Scene modes including a Miniature effect, Color accent, and Color swap. You can also access the same set of My Color modes, such as vivid, positive film, that you can also access during still shooting. This is a nice touch, as it gives you a few extra creative options when filming.

Sports fans should enjoy the fast-frame-rate, Slow-motion mode, which captures video at 240 frames per second, although at the very low 320x240 resolution. The quality is lousy and there's no audio, but that's common for slow motion modes. If you're willing to squint a bit, the mode is a good option for analyzing golf swings or for catching subtle facial expressions in your little sports hero.

The Canon SD4500's zoom lens is also available while filming, though I found it would lose focus regularly while zooming. Again, it's not uncommon, but it seemed a bit more pronounced on the Canon SD4500. You'll also have the option to record at VGA and QVGA at 30fps, but unless you're desperate for memory card space you should probably steer clear of these lower quality settings.

Additional modes. The Canon SD4500 has a good selection of Scene modes, so there should be something to suit every taste. You'll find the standard Portrait, Kids, Snow, Fisheye and Fireworks, in addition to some more creative modes like Miniaturize and Posterize.

Handheld NightScene. Using Handheld NightScene mode I was able to snap a decent, if noisy, image of the school Christmas pageant. The Canon SD4500 cranked the ISO up to 3,200 but the alternative was no photo at all.

Canon promotes the SD4500IS as a High-Sensitivity camera, so there are also Scene modes with enhanced options for low-light shooting. You can select Low light mode, which snaps a 2.5-megapixel photo at high ISO, or Handheld NightScene, which snaps several full resolution photos at once and processes them into a single image. I used this mode in a blackened auditorium, with only a lighted stage to photograph, and couldn't argue much with the results. The photos were noisy and a bit blurry, but when the alternative is nothing, how can you complain?

Face detection buffs will also find Smile and Wink-detection shutter options. The former snaps a photo when your subject smiles, pretty standard stuff these days, and, in my view, is more of a curiosity than a truly valuable feature. Wink detection is somewhat more useful. It is used in a Self-timer mode, where you press the shutter, get in front of the camera and wink to snap the photo. It worked as advertised, and there's enough of a pause that you're not photographed in the act of winking. There is also a Face Self-timer mode, which starts the countdown to a photo whenever a new face enters the frame. You can have the Face-detection modes snap anywhere between one and 10 photos at once to ensure you've nailed the perfect shot.

Function menu. Canon has retained the less intuitive wheel-style Function menu in some ELPH designs. It's a little more cumbersome and less obvious to use. (Actual menus are displayed in 16:9 aspect ratio; this 4:3 aspect ratio is what comes out of the A/V Out port.)

Menus. Most of the Canon SD4500's functions are accessed via an on-screen Function menu. This can occasionally make it a bit clumsy to operate, even though it's offset somewhat thanks to the fast navigation enabled by the camera's scroll wheel. Hitting the Function button in still mode will provide access to a number of settings aligned on the left side of the 3-inch display. To make changes you'll have to nudge the controller to the right, scroll through your choices and then nudge back to the left to save your pick. You can tap the Function button again to save your setting and jump back into shooting. If you hit the Shutter button while the Function menu is still active, the camera will snap a photo based on your last setting and keep the Function menu on screen. This makes it easier to return from a setting you only want to use for a shot or two, as it reminds you of the change you made.

Menu. Pressing the Menu button brings up the fairly standard and familiar tabbed Menu system. (Actual menus are displayed in 16:9 aspect ratio; this 4:3 aspect ratio is what comes out of the A/V Out port.)

Canon leaves more basic settings such as Flash, image stabilization mode, and digital zoom control for the in-camera menu. It's a two-tabbed screen: the first has basic photo settings, the second with basic camera settings like volume controls and LCD brightness control. At any point during your menu searches you can hit the shutter button to get back into still shooting.

There are some confusing elements to the Menu, including the aforementioned division of the Color swap and Color accent functions from the rest of the Colors modes. Also odd is the fact that there's a Super vivid option in the Scene mode but it appears to take photos at the same intensity as the Vivid setting available in My Colors.

Storage and Battery: The Canon SD4500's NB-9L battery pack is rated for a rather paltry 150 shots, which is way below average, and can almost get you through a day's worth of shooting if you don't have a heavy shutter finger and don't shoot many videos. It's a proprietary battery too, so you won't be able to hit up a store for AAs in a pinch. For avid shooters, the battery will likely die on you quickly, so keep a spare--and the AC charger--handy. New for a PowerShot, the battery has a door that's separate from the memory card door, which is on the other side of the camera's bottom.

The Canon SD4500 has no internal memory, but records to SDHC and higher capacity SDXC cards. Class 6 or faster is recommended for shooting HD video. It is also an Eye-Fi-connected camera, so owners of that wireless SD card will get a few extra bonuses: the Canon SD4500 will stay powered on until the Eye-Fi card finishes its wireless transfers. It also enables you to disable the Eye-Fi card's WiFi radio to save battery power and see which videos and photos have already been uploaded on the Canon SD4500's display.

Shooting: The Canon SD4500 was pressed into action for several events that should be familiar to anyone on the parenting circuit: a birthday party, a Christmas pageant, and assorted outings.

The camera itself is fairly responsive. It's a bit slower at start up than other compacts I've used, but is not bad for a long zoom. Its shot-to-shot time is decent too, so I didn't find myself frustrated between shutter presses. If you need an extra burst, the Canon SD4500 has a nice burst mode of 8.8 fps but only at 2.5 megapixels.

The 3-inch display is quite sharp and has a terrific viewing angle to boot, so framing your snapshots is simple. Since it's a widescreen display, the left and right sides of still images are blacked out and various camera data will fill in the space. When shooting videos, the entire display is pressed into duty.

No flash? Smart Auto didn't like to fire the flash even in this dimly lit scene, and while it would have washed out these skin tones, the flipside is that there's motion blur and soft focus.

One thing I noticed on Smart Auto was a reluctance on the part of the Canon SD4500 to use the flash. If there was some available light, the camera would often throw caution to the wind and trust in your steady hand, its image stabilization (which I kept set to Continuous), and a still subject, keeping the flash off. Now, no one likes the flash, and it's something of a digital camera Holy Grail to be able to banish it completely, but the Canon SD4500 couldn't quite deliver blur-free photos without it. You don't have the option to force the flash to fire in Smart Auto, only to shut it off. I admire their courage, but Canon's High Sensitivity isn't quite that advanced yet.

Best? The first shot, taken with Smart Auto, engages the flash. The second shot, in "Best Image Selection" mode, killed the flash for a somewhat more natural snapshot that has a slightly softer focus and a lower, 2.5-megapixel resolution.

One of the newer shooting modes, for Canon at least, is the Best Image Selection mode, which fires off several photos at 2.5-megapixels and chooses what it deems as the best exposure. I snapped the same shot (more or less) in Smart Auto.

Overall, the Canon SD4500 took nice snapshots and does give you some more flexibility in lower light than other compacts. And if you're really interested in getting shots of the kids that are more likely to be in-focus, there's always the Kids and Pets mode, which does use the flash a little more often.

Playback: The Canon SD4500 has a number of Playback options for reviewing and editing images stored on a memory card. A Smart Shuffle function grabs four different images which the camera thinks are similar and drops them around a central image on the display, allowing you to use the four-way controller to choose which image you want (this only works when the camera has fifty or more images to work with). It's a neat, non-linear way to review your photos.

More orderly types will enjoy the filtered Playback mode, which will play images back by category (such as people), date, or by playing back only stills or only videos. You can pick a slideshow with a choice of six transition effects (or no transition effects).

As far as in-camera edits, you can apply Intelligent Contrast to photos at a High, Medium, Low or Automatic setting to restore details to portions of an image. You can also apply Red-eye correction, Trim images, Resize them or apply the My Color effects to photos after the fact.

Overall, the Canon PowerShot SD4500 met my expectations for a pocket long zoom. I appreciated its light weight and long telephoto lens, though I did miss the wide-angle setting for better indoor shots. See below for our image analysis and print quality evaluation, and our conclusion for a full summation.

 

Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS Lens Quality


Wide: Sharp at center
Wide: Soft at upper left
Tele: Slightly soft at center
Tele: Similar blurring, upper left corner

Sharpness: The wide-angle end of the Canon PowerShot SD4500's zoom shows very mild softness in the corners of the frame compared to what we see at center. Though softness is slight, it does extend fairly far in toward the center. At full telephoto, corners are only slightly softer than center, which is also a little soft. Overall, though, this is a pretty impressive performance.


Wide: Moderate barrel distortion; slightly noticeable
Tele: Virtually no distortion, not even a full pixel

Geometric Distortion: The Canon PowerShot SD4500's image processor handles geometric distortion well, as we only found moderate barrel distortion at full wide-angle (0.4%), and virtually no distortion at telephoto, not even one pixel's worth.


Wide: Low but bright
Medium: Also fairly low but bright

Chromatic Aberration: Chromatic aberration at wide-angle is moderately low in terms of pixel count, though pixels are quite bright. At full telephoto, distortion is about the same.


Macro
Macro with Flash

Macro: The Canon PowerShot SD4500's Macro mode captures sharp details at the center of the frame, though blurring and chromatic aberration are both strong and encroach far in toward the center (a common limitation among consumer digital cameras in Macro mode). Minimum coverage area is 1.02 x 0.76 inches (26 x 19mm), which is quite small. The Canon SD4500's flash has trouble throttling down for the macro area, producing an uneven exposure due to shadowing from the lens. Though the exposure is also a bit uneven without the flash, results are better.


 

Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS Viewfinder Accuracy


Wide: LCD
Tele: LCD

Viewfinder Accuracy: The Canon PowerShot SD4500's LCD monitor showed about 100% coverage accuracy at both wide-angle and telephoto. Excellent results.


 

Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS Image Quality


Color: The Canon PowerShot SD4500 produced good-looking color, with only slight oversaturation in bright reds, blues and greens. (Though some yellows are a bit undersaturated.) Hue is off slightly for colors like yellow and cyan. Dark skin tones are a tad warm, while lighter skin tones edge more toward pink. Still, very good results overall.


Auto WB:
Good, though slightly red
Incandescent WB:
Too pink
 
Manual WB:
A hint warm, but good

Incandescent: Both the Manual and Auto white balances handled our incandescent lighting much better than the Incandescent setting, which produced very pink results. The Auto setting is a hint reddish, while the Manual setting has a very slight yellowish tint and feels slightly more natural.


Horizontal: 1,800 lines
Vertical: 1,700 lines

Resolution: Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,800 lines per picture height horizontally, and to around 1,700 lines vertically (though moire patterns are starting to get a little distracting). Also note the uncorrected dead/hot pixels. Extinction of the pattern occurred at around 2,300 lines per picture height.


Wide: Bright
Tele: Fairly bright
Auto Flash

Flash: Our manufacturer-specified testing (shown at right) shows fairly bright results at the Canon rated distance of 12 feet, though the camera increased ISO to 800 to achieve this. The telephoto test was also fairly bright at 6.6 feet; though again, ISO was boosted to 800.

Auto flash produced bright results in our indoor portrait scene, retaining some of the ambient light by using a slower shutter speed of 1/20 second, and raising ISO to 367. The Canon PowerShot SD4500's image stabilization should help with the slower shutter speed, but any movement of the subject could be problematic at this shutter speed.


125
200
400
800
1,600
3,200

ISO: Noise and Detail: Detail is good if a bit soft at ISO 125 and 200, and still fairly distinct at ISO 400. A tiny amount of chroma (color) noise creeps in at ISO 400, but luminance noise and noise suppression efforts are more distracting at ISOs 800 on up. See Printed results below for more on how this affects prints.


Print Quality: ISO 125 prints are a little soft, but usable when printed at 13x19 inches. Images with hair in them, especially light or red hair, look better limited to 11x14 inches, thanks to overaggressive noise suppression (common among the latest small CMOS sensors--for the rest of this evaluation, reduce hair shots by one size).

ISO 200 shots look a little softer at 13x19, still good enough for wall display, but come back to crispness when printed at 11x14 inches.

ISO 400 shots are a little soft at 11x14, returning to sharp at 8x10. Detail is good, except in reds where it's softer than most other areas (a common outcome).

ISO 800 images look good at 8x10 inches.

ISO 1,600 prints are usable but soft at 5x7 (only the picky will notice).

ISO 3,200 shots are usable at 5x7, but it's more noticeable even to the casual user, but both ISO 1,600 and 3,200 images are quite good at 4x6.

The ability to make a good print at 13x19 inches is a good benchmark to meet for a CMOS sensor, and it's also a good sign when ISO 3,200 shots make at least a good 4x6-inch print. Color is good across the range as well, so we call the Canon SD4500 quite good among long zoom pocket cameras, with the caveat about light and red hair looking a little softer than we'd like.


 

Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS Performance


Startup Time: The Canon SD4500 takes about 3.7 seconds to power on and take a shot. That's about average for a long-zoom model.


Shutter Lag: Full autofocus shutter lag is slow, at 0.68 second at wide-angle and 0.79 second at full telephoto. Prefocus shutter lag is 0.104 second, also slower than average, but still reasonably quick.


Cycle Time: Cycle time is fair, capturing a frame every 1.97 seconds in Single-shot mode. In Continuous mode, the SD4500 IS captures one large/fine frame about every 0.39 second or 2.57 frames per second, with a reduced-resolution High Speed Burst mode that decreases that to a much zippier 0.16 second or 6.35 frames per second.


Flash Recycle: The Canon PowerShot SD4500's flash recycles in about 6.5 seconds after a full-power discharge, which is average.


Low Light AF: The camera's AF system was able to focus down to just under the 1/2 foot-candle light level without AF-assist enabled, though the camera was able to focus in complete darkness with the AF-assist lamp enabled.


USB Transfer Speed: Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, the Canon PowerShot SD4500's download speeds are pretty fast. We measured 7,618 KBytes/sec.


 

In the Box

The retail package contains the following items:

  • PowerShot SD4500 IS Digital ELPH Body
  • Lithium-ion Battery Pack NB-9L
  • Battery Charger CB-2LB
  • Wrist Strap WS-DC7
  • AV Cable AVC-DC400ST
  • USB Interface Cable IFC-400PCU
  • Getting Started Guide
  • Software CD-ROM

 

Recommended Accessories

  • Extra battery pack
  • Large capacity, high-speed Class 6+ SDHC/SDXC memory card. 4 to 8GB is a good tradeoff between cost and capacity.

 

Canon SD4500 IS Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • 10x optical zoom in compact, easily pocketable camera
  • Large 3-inch LCD display
  • Good viewing angle on display
  • Display is good in sunlight
  • Dedicated movie shutter button
  • 1920 x 1080/24fps HD video recording
  • Optical zoom works while recording video
  • Many optional creative modes for video, including a fast frame rate
  • HDMI output
  • My Color modes allow creativity
  • Scroll wheel makes navigation easy
  • Fun photo effects like fisheye, miniaturize
  • Fast image transfer via USB 2.0
  • Macro mode focuses very close
  • Handheld NightScene combines several photos into one sharper one
  • ISO 125 makes a good 13x19 inch print
  • Highest ISO is useful for a good 4x6
  • No wide-angle lens
  • Bright chromatic aberration at both ends of the zoom
  • HD video can be noisy
  • Smart Auto not as good in low light
  • Smart Auto avoids flash at times when it's necessary
  • Not enough external controls
  • Poor battery life
  • Somewhat slow shutter lag
  • Flash raises ISO to 800, reducing detail
  • Hair renders soft, especially light and red hair, a drawback to current CMOS sensor design
  • No manual exposure modes

 

The PowerShot SD4500IS is a sleek and slender long zoom that should appeal to the casual point-and-shooter. More experienced photographers will find the lack of aperture and shutter priority disappointing, but casual users should enjoy playing around with the range of scene and color modes. The camera promises a lot in terms of its low-light capability, and while it can't always deliver the crispest image when the lights go low, the Canon SD4500 was able to overcome some difficult lighting conditions. We're a little disappointed in the battery life, so carrying a spare seems a natural recommendation. Rendering of fine detail, especially light to medium-colored hair, is a weak point of most CMOS sensors, and it shows in 100% magnification when viewed on a computer screen; fortunately, printed results are a little better, with the lowest ISO setting capable of making acceptable 11x14-inch prints. Super-high resolutions have been doing this to hair for some time, and the recent switch to CMOS has caused a general increase in sensor noise. But it seems like Canon's step back to 10 megapixels has helped. Those printing no larger than 11x14 should be quite happy. If in doubt, download some of our test images and print them for yourself. Considering its very long zoom, easy portability, solid operation and good image quality, the Canon SD4500 just makes a Dave's Pick.

 

Canon SD4500 IS

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