Canon SD900: First impressions (Has anybody else tried it?)

Discussion in 'Canon' started by What, Me Worry?, Nov 6, 2006.

  1. Has anyone else here tried or bought the new Canon Digital Elph SD900? I
    recently bought one on sale ($399 at, and I'm interested to see
    what others think about the camera. I'm having trouble finding any
    discussions about this new flagship Elph camera, and reviews are scarce.

    I bought the SD900 to replace an S400 that has served me well. I wanted at
    least twice the pixels, faster startup and shot-to-shot times, a larger LCD,
    more f-stops (I got 3 more), a durable case (titanium) and the same or
    smaller form factor. The SD900 supplies everything on my wish list. I
    decided I preferred maximum native pixel resolution, durable Ti skin, and
    that I could live without the image stabilizer on the SD800 IS. (I'm a
    pretty steady shooter.)

    However, the SD900 is far from perfect. For instance, the curvy, smooth
    case is hard to hold onto - like a slippery polished stone. There aren't
    any perches for your fingers, making simple operation very challenging in
    the best of conditions. This situation may be bad enough to consider
    returning the camera: I'm having trouble operating it without accidentally
    hitting other buttons, dropping the camera, etc. The S400, by contrast, is
    very easy to hold and to operate, having more surface area devoid of LCD's
    or buttons. I havent tried operating the SD900 with gloves on; but I'm sure
    it's extremely difficult if not impossible

    The 10.0 megapixel sensor gives truckloads of pixel detail, which is just
    what I wanted for cropping and poster-sized prints. Image quality seems
    very good; but not outstanding. JPEG noise is plainly evident even in
    "Super Fine" mode (~6 MB/image). I was surprised that ISO 3200 is usable;
    but very noisy (like pushing Tri-X film to 1600). The noise from this CCD
    does look "film like," except for the patchy chroma noise. Converting to
    B/W produces excellent results at every ISO setting, IMO.

    The lens motor is extremely noisy and clattering. It sounds like there's
    something wrong with it, or a bad design (gears not meshing, etc). The lens
    itself seems to produce approximately the same quality as my aging S400,
    with significant blue fringing toward the corners of the image. Very
    annoying. I had hoped Canon could do something about the purple/blue
    fringing. Apparently it's endemic to the species.

    Those are my first impressions. Anybody else have opinions to share about
    this camera?
    What, Me Worry?, Nov 6, 2006
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  2. What, Me Worry?

    Mark² Guest

    10MP is just WAY too high to be useful for such a tiny sensor.
    6MP is about all I'd want to try and eek out of anything that small...
    Mark², Nov 6, 2006
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  3. What, Me Worry?

    Monkee Guest

    I agree.... In my opinion, the SD700IS is a much better proposition weighing
    in with all the same features but also including image stabilisation and
    squeezing a far more sensible 6mp out of the sensor.
    Monkee, Nov 6, 2006
  4. Not sure I'm understanding your response here. Are you suggesting that
    having more native pixel resolution is not useful?

    FYI: The 10 megapixel CMOS image sensor in the SD900 is physically larger
    than the 7.1MP CCD found in the SD800 IS. The lens is proportionately larger
    as well.
    What, Me Worry?, Nov 7, 2006
  5. What, Me Worry?

    Mark² Guest

    As you stuff more and more pixels into small sensors, you necessarily
    increase noise. you stuff those pixels in, you reach a point where the lens is
    unable to resolve detail to take advantage of the sensor resolution. David
    Littlewood or Roger Clark could get into the numbers/math to back this
    up...but basically you get to a point of severely diminishing returns...not
    to mention unnecessarily-bloated file sizes. The huge pixel counts in these
    TINY sensor cameras is all about marketing, and not much else. Don't get me
    wrong... There IS a place for high pixel counts. My 5D has 12.8
    megapixels...but you could likely fit 6 or 8 of your sensors onto the 5D's
    sensor, size-wise (don't know the exact dimensions of the SD900, but it's
    relatively tiny).

    I own and use the SD700IS, and think it does OK...for a dinky little camera.
    But even at its modest 6MP, the noise is very pronounced at even ISO 200 or
    400, where my 5D is nearly noise-free up to ISO 800. ISO 1600 on my 5D is
    better than my 700IS at 400.'s not even close.

    So...basically I am suggesting that you will gain very little true DETAIL in
    your photos with that 110MP sensor. You'll get noise (which can sometimes
    give the ILLUSION of detail) and bloated file-sizes. -Not much else.
    Mark², Nov 7, 2006
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