There are two things that you notice about the Canon PowerShot SD200 (see Figure 1) and its more megapixel-rich siblings the SD300, SD400, and SD500. It's a really small camera with a really big, two-inch LCD display.

Figure 1. Canon Powershot SD200 3/4 view Figure 1. Canon Powershot SD200 three-quarter view

The SD200 is about the size of an Altoid™ tin container, although it does not actually fit inside a tin (See Figure 2).

Figure 2. Canon PowerShot SD200 on top of an Altoid tin Figure 2. Canon PowerShot SD200 on top of an Altoid tin

Why Review a Mere 3-Megapixel Camera in 2005?

The Canon PowerShot SD200 with its 3-megapixel picture resolution is at the bottom of the SD line of digital cameras. When I purchased the SD200, the 4-megapixel SD300 was available for $100(US) more. And Canon announced that the SD400 and SD500 models (5 and 7 megapixels respectively) will be available in late March 2005. So you are not forced to buy a lower-resolution camera if you can afford the higher end of the SD model line.

This review was not written for professional or extremely serious amateur photographers. It is for those of us who are serious about capturing images of people and scenes as we wander through daily life. Most of us do not have unlimited funds to spend on digital tools and toys. Those of us in that economic category find ourselves making choices based on compromises. The characteristics I looked for were an extremely small camera that took good-quality pictures and did not cost more than $300. The megapixel count did not concern me too much since both my previous ultra-compact digital cameras were 2-megapixel models (the first-generation Canon Digital Elph S100 and the Nikon Coolpix 2100) that produced photographs I was quite happy with and that looked fine when printed on 4x6- or 8x10-inch glossy photographic paper.

One feature that I eventually dropped as a requirement was the use of Compact Flash (CF) storage cards. All my other digital cameras use CF cards, and I have a lot of spare CF cards to use in digital cameras and Pocket PCs. Although SD cards still cost more per megabyte than CF cards, SD card prices have dropped a great deal in the past year and are now what I consider to be reasonably priced. The SD200's size and feature set convinced me that the time to change digital photograph storage format had finally arrived for me. I've used regular-speed SD cards (SanDisk 512MB and Lexar 1GB cards) with the camera so far.

Figure 3 shows a top view of (from left to right) the Canon PowerShot G3, Canon Digital Elph S100, and Canon PowerShot SD200. It's easy to see why some of us prefer to carry an ultra-compact digital camera instead of the often more feature-rich full-sized cameras.

Figure 3. Canon PowerShot SD200 compared side by side to the  first-generation Digital Elph S100 and Canon G3 Figure 3. Canon PowerShot SD200 compared side by side to the first-generation Digital Elph S100 and Canon G3

You can see in Figure 4 that Canon has managed to shrink the Digital Elph form factor that has remained more or less constant since the introduction of the APS Elph film camera.

Figure 4. Canon PowerShot SD200 compared to the first-generation Digital Elph S100 Figure 4. Canon PowerShot SD200 compared to the first-generation Digital Elph S100

Even though the Canon SD series is smaller than the Canon S series cameras, the SD200 has a large, bright, two-inch LCD (see Figure 5; the SD200 is above the S100). This is the same size as the LCD on the full-sized Canon PowerShot G6 model.

Figure 5. Canon PowerShot SD200 (top) LCD compared to the first-generation Digital Elph Figure 5. Canon PowerShot SD200 (top) LCD compared to the first-generation Digital Elph

Specifications

Some of the specifications and features of the Canon PowerShot SD series are provided in Table 1 below. The SD200, SD300, and SD400 are very similar in size, weight, and physical interface. The SD500 is a bit larger and heavier than the other SD models. It also has a different mode selection switch. You can see in the specifications table that the SD300 and SD400 have the same list price at the present. My guess is that the SD200 will soon be retired and the SD300 will be repriced and repositioned as the SD series entry point model.

Specification or Feature Description
Price SD200 $349.95
SD300 $449.95
SD400 $449.99
SD500 $549.99
Maximum Effective
Pixel Resolution
SD200 2048 x 1536 (3.2 megapixels)
SD300 2272 x 1704 (4 megapixels)
SD400 2592 x 1944 (5 megapixels)
SD500 3072 x 2304 (7.1 megapixels)
Maximum Video Resolution 640 x 480 at 30fps with audio (AVI file format)
Optical Zoom 3X (105mm 35mm film equivalent)
ISO Equivalence 50/100/200/400
Available Scene Modes Digital Macro, Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Underwater
LCD Display Size 2 in. (118,000 pixels)
Storage Medium SD (Secure Digital) memory card
Battery Proprietary Canon NB-4L
0.6 oz.
Estimated 300 recharge lifespan
Camera Body Dimensions SD200 85.8 x 53.4 x 21.1mm (3.38 x 2.10 x 0.83 in.)
SD300 86.0 x 53.0 x 20.7mm (3.39 x 2.09 x 0.82 in.)
SD400 86.0 x 53.0 x 20.7mm (3.39 x 2.09 x 0.82 in)
SD500 85.6 x 57.0 x 26.5mm (3.37 x 2.24 x 1.04 in)
Camera Body Weight SD200 115g (4.06 oz.)
SD300 130g (4.59 oz.)
SD400 130g (4.59 oz.)
SD500 170g (6.0 oz.)

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