Review: I love my Canon ELPH digital camera!

I bought a new Canon PowerShot SD1200IS Digital ELPH camera in preparation for my family vacation this week, and I have to tell you, I love it!

I am by no stretch of the imagination a professional photographer, so this review will not include any technical jargon. I’m sure there are many advanced features of this camera that are very helpful and impressive, but I didn’t need any of them to take fabulous action shots, gorgeous scenics, and flattering portraits this week. The ELPH is that easy to use.

Through the windshield
Through the windshield

I inaugurated my ELPH in the car the morning we left. My first vacation photo was taken through the windshield of my moving Honda. Although I was traveling at highway speeds, the clarity of the shot was excellent, capturing not only the cottony clouds and azure sky, but also the large bug splat on the windshield.

Swans at dusk
Geese at dusk

This second photo was taken later that evening, just before sunset. The geese shown are similar in color to the water, and low light could have made this a muddy, indiscernible image. But the ELPH handled it beautifully and artistically. A few minutes later, it also rendered the Traverse City sunset (below) in all its glowing glory. Although there were no clouds that night to add visual interest and color variations, the ELPH captured the vibrancy that was there. And all I needed to do was push a button.

Sunset on the bay
Sunset on the bay

Throughout the week we dealt with sunny weather, rain, and wind, and I took photos standing still, riding my bike, and kneeling in the sand. They all turned out bright and crisp. Those of you who are familiar with print production realize that a photo that looks nice in a blog post may not be high enough quality or resolution to reproduce as the cover of a coffee table book, and I haven’t tested any of my recent photos as print projects yet, so I can’t speak to that. But I can tell you that my camera was set at the second highest setting—2816 x 2112—and the JPEGs it created are all about 1.5–2.0mb. The highest camera setting is 3648 x 2736, and I would have used that setting, but I wasn’t sure how many images of that size I could fit on my 8gb memory card. (I hadn’t brought my laptop with and would not have been able to offload images to free up space if needed.)

Note the variations of color in sky and sea
Note the variations of color in sky and sea
Clear enough to read the sign

My only dissatisfaction with my new ELPH camera is that I’m required to use Canon’s Image Browser software (included) to download my photos to my computer. My previous camera was a Sony CyberShot, and I liked being able to just plug it into my Mac and have it show up as a disk on my desktop, where I could simply drag the photos I wanted to the appropriate folder. This is a minor complaint, to be sure, but it’s worth mentioning because everything else about the ELPH is so streamlined and simple. UPDATE: I now use iPhoto to organize and store all my photos, and I’ve set my Mac to use iPhoto as the default program whenever I plug in my ELPH.

Interesting lighting captured beautifully
Interesting lighting captured beautifully

The ELPH is conveniently sized to fit in a pocket or purse. Theoretically, you could whip it out, turn it on, and take a shot—all with one hand.

So if you’re looking for a digital camera that’s easy to use and produces beautiful images, take a look at the Canon ELPH. I love mine!

UPDATE: I took my ELPH again in 2010 when I vacationed with my family on Florida’s gulf coast. The blog I posted of that trip is not a review of the camera, but it does show more of what the ELPH can do.

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