Canon SD900 Review

 
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Canon PowerShot SD900 Operation

The Canon SD900's user interface is straightforward and relatively uncomplicated, with a menu setup and basic control philosophy similar to the rest of the current ELPH series. Most of the camera's functions are controlled by buttons on the top and rear panels, while a handful of settings are controlled through the LCD-based Record menu. Buttons handle frequently fiddled with functions like focus mode, ISO, and flash mode. The Function menu provides quick access to settings that might change every few images like exposure compensation, white balance, image size, and quality. The LCD menu system itself is concerned with setup options and is quite efficient, with menu items organized in tabs instead of a series of pages. Additionally, the Setup and My Camera menus are always available, regardless of the camera mode. With the instruction manuals handy, it shouldn't take more than a half an hour to get comfortable with the camera.

Record Mode Display: In any Record mode, the Canon SD900's LCD display shows either the image area with no information or the image with a limited information display. Pressing the Display button cycles through the available display modes. When the information display is active, it reports resolution and image quality settings, the number of available images, Record mode, orientation, and a handful of exposure settings. In Manual mode, a half-press of the Shutter button reports the selected shutter speed if the camera deems it to be too slow, but not the aperture setting; and nothing appears if there's enough light. A grid and 3:2 crop can both be activated and displayed in both modes.

Playback Mode Display: Playback mode also offers three display modes, including the image only, the image with information, and the image with expanded information and a histogram. You can display as many as nine thumbnail images at a time on-screen with the index display mode, or zoom in on captured images to check fine details, focus, or framing. You can also jump through nine images at a time by accessing the Canon SD900's JUMP mode. This mode is accessed by hitting the wide angle side of the zoom toggle after entering the nine-frame preview mode.


 

Canon PowerShot SD900 Modes and Menus

Auto Record Mode: Sets the Canon SD900 for automatic still image capture, with only compression and image size options available from the Function menu.

Manual Record Mode: More a Programmed Auto shooting mode than a Manual mode (you have no direct control of the shutter or aperture), this mode offers a wide range of exposure and shooting options through the Function menu.

Scene Mode: In Scene mode, the Function menu offers Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids&Pets, Indoor, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Aquarium, Underwater, and ISO 3,200 preset shooting modes.

Movie Mode: Records short movie clips with sound in several modes. Focus and optical zoom are fixed at the first frame. Movie modes include Standard (640 x 480 or 320 x 240), High Resolution (1,024 x 768 at 15 fps), Compact (160 x 120), Color Accent, and Color Swap (both at either of the Standard sizes). Compact is limited to three minutes, the other options can fill up to 4GB.

Playback Mode: This mode allows you to scroll through captured images and movies, write-protect images, view a nine-image index display, zoom into a captured image, delete unwanted images, rotate images, set up images for printing on DPOF compatible devices, as well as play and crop movies.

Record Menu System: Accessed by pressing the Menu button in any record mode (some options are not available in all modes). Three menu tabs appear, one each for Record, Setup, and My Camera sub-menus.

Record Menu:

  • AiAF: Sets the AiAF focus system on or off, or switches it to Face Detect mode, which attempts to focus on heads facing the camera. If switched off, the camera bases autofocus on the center of the frame.
  • Digital Zoom: Enables the SD900's Standard 4x digital zoom function, which is engaged by zooming past the optical zoom range. Also offers 1.4x and 2.3x digital zoom options. In Movie mode, choices are only Standard and Off.
  • Slow Synchro: Sets Flash slow synchro on or off. When on, more of the ambient light is recorded.
  • Red-Eye: Sets red-eye reduction for flash on or off.
  • Self-Timer: Sets the Self-Timer countdown to two or 10 seconds, or lets you specify a custom timer. The custom timer can have a delay of 0-10, 15, 20, or 30 seconds, and allows multiple shots (from one to 10 in total) to be captured. If the camera is set to capture multiple shots, these are captured with an interval of about one second between shots, enough time for the flash to recharge if required. Focus and exposure are locked from the first shot. (A very handy feature for getting good shots of groups, as someone invariably blinks right as the shutter goes off.)
  • AF Assist Beam: Turns the Canon SD900's AF assist light on or off. If on, the bright orange LED on the camera's front automatically illuminates in low lighting.
  • Review: Turns the instant review function on or off, sets the amount of time that the captured image is displayed on the screen from two to 10 seconds, or allows a "Hold" mode where the image remains on the screen until the shutter button is half-pressed. The instant review function applies to still images only.
  • Save Original: (Only available in Color Accent or Color Swap modes.) This option lets you save an original copy of the image without any adjustment from the color modes, in addition to the manipulated one.
  • Auto Category: Tags images with the category you select.
  • Display Overlay: Grid Lines, 3:2 Guide, Both, or Off.
  • Date Stamp: (Available in Post Card mode only.) This mode lets you determine whether the date or date and time are overlaid on the image.
  • Long Shutter: Activates the long shutter mode (for up to 15 second exposures) or turns it off.

 

Setup Menu:

  • Mute: Turns the Canon SD900's beep sounds on and off.
  • Volume: Individually sets Startup, Operation, Self-Timer, Shutter, and Playback volumes. Five steps are available for each item, or the sound for each item can be disabled individually.
  • Touch Icons: Sets whether the icons on the Touch Control dial appear on the LCD display when the dial is touched.
  • LCD Brightness: Adjusts the brightness of the LCD backlight, with 15 steps of control available.
  • Power Saving: Toggles the camera's automatic shutoff function, which turns off the camera after a length of inactivity. Also sets display shutdown time to10, 20, or 30 seconds, or to 1, 2, or 3 minutes.
  • Time Zone: Sets both a Home and World (away) time zone, so you can simply select one or the other to record date and time settings for that location. Setting a time zone displays a world map with scrollable time zones and major city names for each zone, making it easy to select a location.
  • Date/Time: Sets the camera's internal calendar and clock, as well as the format for dates (mm/dd/yy, dd/mm/yy, or yy/mm/dd).
  • Clock Display: Controls the Canon SD900's clock display option, which shows the current time (but not the date) for a period of 0-10, 20, or 30 seconds or for 1, 2, or 3 minutes when the Function key is pressed and held for two seconds. (Handy if you forgot your wristwatch, I guess.) If set to zero, the clock is displayed only while the Function button is held in.
  • Format: Formats the SD card, erasing all files (even those marked for write-protection). An option is available to low-level format the card, good for memory cards whose writing speed has slowed down.
  • File Numbering: Resets file numbering with each new SD card when set to Auto Reset. If set to Continuous, the camera continues numbering in sequence, regardless of memory card.
  • Create Folder: Immediately creates a new folder on the memory card to store images or creates the folder at the day and time you specify.
  • Auto Rotate: Toggles the Auto Rotate feature on and off. The camera can detect when the camera is held approximately level, or when it is rotated left or right beyond approximately 45 degrees. If you aim the camera vertically up or down, it will remember the orientation before you did so -- hence letting you control which orientation an image is tagged with even for shots where the camera is tilted enough vertically to prevent the sensor working.
  • Lens Retract: Sets the timing of the lens retraction when you switch from the shooting to the playback mode to either one minute or zero seconds.
  • Language: Sets the camera's menu language to one of a whopping 25 choices. English is the default setting.
  • Video System: Sets the camera's video-out signal to conform to NTSC or PAL timing.
  • Print Method: Lets you change the printer connection method from Auto to PictBridge mode.
  • Reset All: Resets all non-custom camera settings to their default values.

 

My Camera Menu:

  • Theme: Selects a common theme for each My Camera menu settings item. Four options are available, the first one being Off. When a theme is selected, all of the following settings automatically adjust to that theme. Users can also select and upload their own sounds to the camera.
  • Start-Up Image: Sets the startup image when you turn on the camera to: Black screen, Canon logo, Canon logo with sunset, and nature scene. You can also apply your own image using the Canon software.
  • Start-Up Sound: Sets the startup sound when you turn on the camera to: No sound, Musical tone (1), Musical tone (2), or Birds chirping. You can also apply your own sounds using the Canon software.
  • Operation Sound: Sets the sound when any control or switch is use (except the Shutter button). Options include no sound, Beep, Musical tone, and Chirp.
  • Self-Timer Sound: Sets the sound that signals you when the shutter release is two seconds away. Options include no sound, Fast beeps, Telephone ring, and Howling.
  • Shutter Sound: Sets the shutter sound that you hear when you depress the Shutter button (there is no shutter sound in Movie mode). Options include no sound, Shutter sound, Musical Tone, and Bark.

 

Playback Menu: Accessed by pressing the Menu button in Playback mode, the Playback menu also has subject tabs for the Print, Setup, and My Camera menus.
  • Slide Show: Automatically plays all captured images in a slide show, with the chance to set a number of options first. Transitions and various image selections are among the options.
  • My Category: Allows you to tag images with People, Scenery, Events, Category 1-3, or To Do.
  • Erase: Erases individually selected files, all files on a specific date, all files in a particular category, all files in a folder, or all files on the memory card, except protected ones.
  • Protect: Marks the current image for write-protection, or removes write-protection. Protected images cannot be deleted or manipulated, except through card formatting, which erases all files.
  • My Colors: Adds My Colors effects to your pictures and movies including Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, B/W, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, or Vivid Red.
  • Sound Memo: Records a short sound clip to accompany a captured image.
  • Rotate: Rotates the current image. The first press gives a 90 degree clockwise rotation; the second press rotates the image 90 degrees counterclockwise from the original position. On the third press, the image returns to its original orientation. The image data is not actually rotated; the camera actually sets a tag in the EXIF header, hence your software must recognize this tag to be able to recognize the orientation set in-camera.
  • Transfer Order: Select images for downloading to your computer.
  • Transition: Set the transition used by Playback (rather than Slideshow) to No transition, a quick Fade, or a Slide matching forward or backward sequencing.

 

Print Menu: This menu is available in Playback mode, simply by pressing the Menu button and selecting the Print tab. The bottom line of the display shows how many images are selected for printing and the print method that is active.

  • Print: Sends images tagged for printing to the printer.
  • Select Images & Quantity: Allows you select images for printing and set the number of prints for each image selected.
  • Select by Date: Selects all images tagged with a particular date for printing.
  • Select by Category: Selects all images tagged with a particular category for printing.
  • Select by Folder: Selects all images in a particular folder for printing.
  • Select All Images: Selects all images on the memory card for printing.
  • Clear All Selections: Clears all print selections.
  • Print Settings: Brings up a menu of these options:
    • Print Type: You can specify whether to print one image per page, an index of the images, or both.
    • Date: Set printing of the date and time on or off.
    • File No.: Set printing of the file number on or off.
    • Clear DPOF data: Set the option to clear the DPOF tag on or off.

 

Canon SD900

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