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Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS Digital Camera

By Charles G. Doe - Posted May 1, 2010
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Company: Canon U.S.A., Inc., One Canon Plaza, Lake Success, NY 11042. Phone: (800) 652-2666; Internet:

Description: The PowerShot SD1200 IS digital camera is the least expensive of Canon’s ELPH series of point-and-shoot cameras. This model is simple to use and has a number of helpful shooting modes, features, and functions that make it remarkably easy to take high-quality digital pictures. The SD1200 is extremely light and portable and is available in six colors (dark gray, blue, pink, green, light gray, and orange).

Price: $180.

Specifications: The PowerShot SD1200 IS Digital ELPH is a compact digital camera with 10.0 megapixel resolution that can capture enough detail for prints up to 13" x 19" in size. The camera has a 3x optical zoom, a 4x digital zoom, and a 12x combined zoom, as well as an optical image stabilizer system, a 2.5" LCD screen, built-in flash, and a real-image optical zoom viewfinder. The SD1200 is a remarkably small 3.5" wide, less than an inch thick, and 2.2" high. The camera weighs close to 4 oz.

Minimum System Requirements: Images can be transferred from the camera to a Windows system running Vista Service Pack 1, Windows XP with Service Packs 1 and 2, or a Mac running Mac OS X v10.4 or v10.5. The operating system should be preinstalled on computers with built-in USB ports.

Additional system requirements include a Pentium 1.3GHz processor, PowerPC with G4/G5, or an Intel processor, 200MB–350MB RAM, and a 1024x768 pixel display screen.

Warranty: The PowerShot digital camera is guaranteed to be free from defects in materials and workmanship under normal use and service for 1 year from the date of the original purchase. A camera returned to a Canon repair facility and proven to be defective upon inspection will be repaired using new, remanufactured, repaired, or recycled parts, or it will be exchanged for a new or refurbished camera, as determined by the repair facility. A mail-in service is offered.

The battery has a separate 90-day limited warranty.

Report Card

Overall Rating: 4 stars

Installation: A

Content/Features: A

Ease of Use: A

Product Support: A

Reviewer Comments:

Installation/Set Up: Setting up the camera for use isn’t overly difficult, but there are several distinct steps. The battery must be charged using the supplied charger and placed in the camera. After use, the battery must be removed to be recharged.

A memory card must be purchased and installed, the date and time feature on the camera must be set, and software must be installed on a computer for picture transfer and editing functions. A detailed manual is installed on the computer at the same time.

Although no paper manual is provided, a very nice, brief “getting started” guide is included. The setup process is clear and straightforward. Installation Rating: A

Features: The PowerShot SD1200 IS Digital ELPH comes with a lithium-ion battery pack and charger, a wrist strap, a CD-ROM with the needed software, a USB interface cable for transferring pictures to computers and printers, and an AV cable to display pictures on a television.

I’ve used an old camera sparingly for a number of years, particularly because it’s a camera that uses film. Once I decided to make the transition to a digital model, I did a lot of research and ended up selecting the PowerShot SD1200 IS Digital ELPH. I chose from the low end of the product line because I didn’t want taking pictures to be a complicated process.

I was a bit concerned with the camera’s size when I first saw it; I was afraid that shooting pictures would turn out to be complicated after all. However, the camera is so well-designed that the size wasn’t an issue, and the automatic functions worked so well that I was taking photos easily in no time.

My only complaint was that the camera didn’t come with a memory card, and the printing on the box didn’t make it clear that a card must be purchased before pictures could be taken. I knew the camera used a memory card, but I assumed I would be able to take pictures as soon as the camera came out of the box.

In some ways, the SD1200 is complicated; it’s a minicomputer that performs many tasks, even some editing functions. A fairly large menu of features and functions is accessed via buttons on the back of the camera. For basic use, however, the operation is very easy. I was able to take some fabulous photographs while gradually learning the more complicated features.

Pressing the On button causes the lens to emerge from the front of the otherwise flat camera. The display on the back of the camera shows what the camera is pointed at. Pressing the shutter button halfway starts some of the automatic features; pressing the button the rest of the way takes the picture, using an automatic flash when needed.

The PowerShot SD1200 IS offers a range of features including a DIGIC 4 image processor with face-detection technology that tracks the faces of moving subjects to find, focus, and properly expose the faces. A smart-auto feature selects the proper camera settings based on 18 predefined shooting situations. In auto mode, the camera will automatically find the optimal settings for focus, exposure, and white balance.

The PowerShot cameras also have a Low Light mode for more shooting flexibility. The camera automatically adjusts the ISO speed setting range based on the surrounding brightness, subject movement, and camera shake to result in clear steady shots even when the lighting is not optimal. Amazingly, that camera shake feature really works.

There are many more features and positives that could be mentioned about this camera. The SD1200 IS takes short videos, holds thousands of pictures (depending on memory card size), and flawlessly and easily transfers the images to a computer or displays them on a television.

For less-experienced users, this model provides wonderful image quality and is durable, portable, and easy to use. It offers excellent battery life (two months so far on the first charge), and after some practice using the camera, the picture quality is amazing. Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: This camera is very easy to use in auto mode. Although there are a number of display symbols and buttons to learn, this can be accomplished while taking pictures with the camera. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: Canon offers all of the expected online and telephone support. Extensive documentation is available, particularly on the CD-ROM that accompanies the camera. The mail-in service for warranty work and other problems is very useful as well. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: I enthusiastically recommend the PowerShot SD1200 for any amateur photographer for projects at school or at home. This camera can be used in a number of ways with all but the youngest students.

This model is inexpensive and durable enough that breakage doesn’thave to be a major concern. Without a doubt, the PowerShot SD1200 IS Digital ELPH really makes taking pictures fun and useful. I love this camera. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Charles Doe, Media Specialist, Hastings Area Schools, Central Elementary School, Hastings, MI.

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