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Canon PowerShot SD960 IS First Impressions Digital Camera Review$329.99
The Canon PowerShot SD960 IS Digital ELPH is a soft, curvy little point-and-shoot camera.
Like some of the other cameras in Canon's ELPH series, the PowerShot SD960 IS is part camera, part fashion accessory. It isn't the most compact camera this year, but the SD960 offers 12.1-megapixel stills and 720p video, just like two of Canon's other 2009 ELPH cameras, the SD970 and SD780. And by increasing the size slightly, cutting down the number of buttons, and getting rid of the impractical viewfinder, Canon has managed to cram a 2.8-inch LCD onto the back and improve the lens specs a bit.
The design approach on the SD960 is a little different from other Canon models entering the fray this year: the colors are all light and soft and the angles have been smoothed out to wide, arcing curves. You'll find no dark red, navy, or bright turquoise on the SD960: just silver, a pale gold, a sort of dusty rose, and the powdery blue you see here. That right side of the camera is especially curved and the chrome-finished ring around the lens softens the transition between the body and the retractable lens.
All in all, there aren't a lot of architectural surprises here. The battery/card slot is on the bottom, the LCD is on the back, and the zoom toggle and shutter button are on the top. One feature you'll want to check out is the scrolling control wheel nestled next to the LCD. This is the primary control mechanism and its function perfectly complements the camera's aesthetic. The spinning action on the wheel is smooth and responsive.
The Canon PowerShot SD960 Digital ELPH is expected to hit stores this month for an MSRP of $329.99.
There are lots of curving lines on this powder blue camera.
The front of the SD960 is home to a small, 4x optical zoom lens. With a 5.0-20.0mm focal length and an aperture range of f/2.8-f/5.8 (35mm equivalent: 28-112mm), Canon offers a decent lens for so compact a camera. The lens automatically extends when the camera is powered on and retracts (with an automatic lens cover) when the camera powers down. The chrome-finish ring around the lens extends slightly, adding some depth to the camera—plus a bit of extra protection to the lens.
The front of the SD960 offers just the bare minimum:
a 4x optical zoom lens, focus assist lamp, and flash.
Above the lens is a small lamp that functions as a Focus Assist beam, red-eye reduction lamp, or self-timer lamp, depending on the circumstances. To the left of the lamp is the built-in flash.
On the back of the camera, Canon has done away with the viewfinder and placed just a tiny array of buttons in order to make room for a sizable 2.8-inch, 230,000-pixel LCD. This is a good sized LCD for so small a camera.
The LCD and scroll wheel are the highlights here.
Off to the right of the LCD is your primary control mechanism on the SD960: a ridged scroll wheel. The scroll wheel (or control dial) operates a lot like an iPod 'click wheel'; you can spin the wheel to navigate through menus or click one of the four cardinal directions when more specific control is needed. During the ordinary still photography mode, the up, down, left, and right clicks correspond to macro, self timer, flash, and display. In the center of the scroll wheel is a Function/Set button, which brings up the camera's quick menu and is the 'Enter' key for the SD960.
Above the scroll wheel is a large button for entering Playback mode; below the scroll wheel is a similar button for bringing up the camera's main menu. Just next to the wheel is a small indicator lamp.
The left side of the SD960 is about as barren as can be, but the right side has a few noteworthy features, including the large port cover, which hides the camera's HDMI and USB/AV terminals. The cover is attached to the body of the camera by a surprisingly rugged rubber tether. While the mini-HDMI is a universal output, the USB/AV jack is a proprietary one that will only work with the included cables.
That small silver detail on the right side is a wrist strap anchor, which lets you attach the included wrist strap.
There's not much on the left, but the right side
houses the camera's AV ports.
The top of the camera is home to the zoom lever, which engages optical and digital zoom while shooting and gives you a closer look at your captured photo during playback. The zoom lever also surrounds that all-important shutter button, which functions in the traditional manner: press halfway to focus and all the way down to take a photo. Near the center is the small on/off button and a couple of holes covering the speaker for system sounds and video playback.
You'll also notice that there's no formal mode dial, as you might see on slightly thicker cameras. But to clear up space on the back, the small mode switch is located here on the top. Use this switch to select movie mode, camera mode, or auto camera mode.
The mode switch, power button, and shutter button.
The bottom of the SD960 features exactly what you expect to find on the bottom of a camera: a tripod mount. But there's also the camera's dual battery cavity / memory card slot. As is now customary on Canon point-and-shoot cameras, the rechargable battery and SD/SDHC card both reside in one enclosure.
They can't fit much on the bottom except for the tripod mount and battery/card slot.