Canon SD600 Review

 
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Canon SD600 Optics

Lens

Zoom
A 3x optical zoom range, with good performance.

35mm
105mm
4x Digital Zoom

The Canon SD600 zooms over the equivalent of a 35-105mm range, which is about average for its class. Details are a little soft at wide angle, with some noticeable blurring in the corners of the frame, but the SD600's lens still performs well. The 4x digital zoom takes it out to 12x total with the loss of quality that you might expect with digital zoom.

Macro
A tiny macro area with great detail and high resolution. Flash doesn't throttle down enough, however.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Canon SD600's macro setting performed very well, capturing a very small minimum area of only 1.38 x 1.04 inches (35 x 26 millimeters). The camera captured excellent detail throughout the frame, and resolution is high as well. There's a moderate amount of softening in the corners from the lens, though not more than average. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode.) The flash had trouble throttling down and overexposed the frame pretty badly. (Plan on using external lighting for your closest macro shots with the SD600.)

Distortion
Fairly low barrel distortion at wide angle, and virtually no distortion at telephoto.

This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel--usually at wide angle) or inward (like a pincushion--usually at telephoto). The Canon SD600's 0.5% barrel distortion at wide angle is actually lower than average among the cameras I've tested, though still somewhat noticeable in its images. At the telephoto end, the SD600 showed only about 0.02% barrel distortion, which was really only about half a pixel. Good results.

Barrel distortion at 35mm is 0.5%
Barrel at 105mm is 0.02%

Chromatic aberration
Fairly low overall, small effect on images at edges.

Wide: moderate but dull, top left @ 200% Wide: also moderate, top right @ 200%
Tele: low, top left @200% Tele: low, top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is fairly low at both wide angle and telephoto lens settings. Though there are about 6-7 pixels of distortion at wide angle, the effect isn't too strong since the pixels are actually pretty dull. I also think that some corner softness is actually overemphasizing the effect here. At telephoto, the effect is much lower. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

Corner Sharpness
Some softening in the left corners of the frame, strongest effect at full telephoto.

Wide: Slightly soft in the upper left corner. Wide: Sharp at center.
Tele: Quite soft in the upper left corner. Tele: Sharp at center.

The Canon SD600 produced slightly soft corners in a few shots, though the left corners had the most visible effect at full telephoto. At wide angle, some softening was present, but the effect didn't extend very far into the frame.

Viewfinder

Coverage
Optical viewfinder very tight, though very good accuracy from the LCD monitor.

35mm eq., optical viewfinder 105mm eq., optical viewfinder
35mm eq., LCD monitor 105mm eq., LCD monitor

The SD600's optical viewfinder was very tight, showing only about 77% frame accuracy at both wide angle and telephoto lens settings, and the sensor is badly out of alignment with the optical viewfinder. However, the LCD monitor showed just a little over 100% frame accuracy at both zoom settings, proving a little "loose."

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Canon PowerShot SD600 Photo Gallery.

Canon SD600

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