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First Couple of Months With the Canon PowerShot SD800

I’ve been using my Canon PowerShot SD800 IS Digital ELPH a lot lately owing to the small size and easy carryability (not really a word but it is what I mean).

I got the SD800 to replace my Pentax Optio S6 that just wasn’t cutting it as a pocket point-and-shoot. To be fair I got the Optio S6 for a specific purpose, to take aerial photos from my RC airplane which it does quite nicely but I was hoping that it would double as an always with me point-and-shoot. Sadly, it was not to be. The Optio just doesn’t work well for me in low light situations.

While some may consider the SD 800 an upgrade to the popular SD700 IS, the wider angle lens (35mm film camera equivalent to 3.8X – 28 – 105 mm versus 4X, 35 – 140 mm) kind of puts it in a different class. In fact. I recently recommended the SD700 to my sister and she is loving it and after using both I think the SD700 has an edge in image quality but I really like the added wide angle of the SD 800.

Canon bundles a 16MB memory card with the SD800. That is kind of a joke since it holds just four photos at the highest quality setting so go ahead and get a larger SD memory card right away. There were a ton of 1GB cards for next to nothing when I bough the camera so that is what I went with. It lets me shoot about 350 shots at high res. More than enough and I keep that 16MB card for those final four shots if I really need it! Actually, as an emergency you could lower the quality setting and pack a few more in.

The SD800 uses an NB-5L lithium-ion battery and has a nice, compact charger, unlike my Pentax Optio S6 that has a big, corded charger. Battery life has been great so far. I’ve never even had to use the spare battery while out shooting yet although I do rotate the batteries to keep them fresh. Canon estimates about 270 shots. Don’t know want the ratio of flash to non flash pix was but I recently took over 100 shots at night with the flash and still had power to spare.

I also got the Canon Digital ELPH accessory kit that includes a spare battery, A nice leather case and a useless, to me anyway, plastic-coated metal neck strap. I still think this is a good deal because a spare battery is about $39.00 and the whole kit was $44.00 so I go the case for $5.00. If you don’t need the spare battery, either for use or for security, skip this set just go for the case that costs about $15.00.

I really like the large, 2.5-inch LCD monitor. I use it for framing most shots but I do appreciate, and sometimes use, the optical viewfinder; another omission on the Pentax that I sometimes missed.

Another feature that I have grown to like is Image Stabilization. I love it on my full-bore Nikon 70-200/2.8 that I shoot with on my Nikon D200 and, even on a consumer-grade camera like this, it helps get sharper, more usable photos in low-light conditions. I don’t think I’d but another camera without it.

Focus speed is another area that I am happy with. The Optio S6 was woefully slow sometimes and except in super low light situations I’ve always found the SD800 to be nice and quick.

I haven’t used any of the bundled software yet but it seems like a capable set. I simply import the photos into Aperture on my Mac and that works for me.

So, after a couple of months use I am very happy with the SD800.

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