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Friday, July 18, 2008

Canon Powershot Lineup More Confusing Than Ever

Canon has done a great job of making more difficult for consumers to figure out which Powershot camera from their Digital Elph (SD) line is the appropriate one for them. In fact, with their recent release of the SD890 IS, SD790 IS, and SD770 IS -- they are all 10.3 megapixel cameras, with nothing other than the price and model numbers to distinguish them. Oddly enough, higher numbered models such as SD1100 IS have less megapixels (8), but also cost significantly less than the lower models.

I remember when Canon's model numbers used to mean something. Like for example when Canon named a camera in the Powershot line it was something like SD410 Digital Elph which meant that 1) It was a Elph or compact camera and 2) The camera took pictures that had 4.10 megapixels on them. Boy, were those great times when in less than a minute you could determine the Canon model that was right for you.

With the theft our Canon Powershot SD800 IS last weekend, I am now in the market for a new compact point & shoot camera. In reality, I was not very happy with the image quality on the SD800 IS and was already intending on finding a better point and shoot from Canon. Whether it was that the SD800 IS was one of the first Digital Elph cameras to have image stabilization -- I am not sure. What I can tell is that I was happier with the consistency of the images from my previous model -- the SD410 despite missing IS and half the megapixels.

My main requirement? A small camera that fits in a shirt pocket and takes quality pictures -- very fitting for the Digital Elph line. After spending 5 minutes on the Canon Powershot website ( I am completely confused about any significant differentiation in the Canon Powershot and specifically the SD / Digital Elph lines. What does that say for the average consumer if I am confused given I have owned no less than 5 Digital Elph models?

Still, it was necessary for me to persevere and determine the right Canon Powershot point & shoot model -- not ready to switch to another brand with the success I have had in the past with Canon. I spent some time going through various review sites and was able to narrow it to the SD850 IS (8.3MP) SD790 IS (10.3MP) and SD770 IS (10.3MP). And while the differences between the SD850 IS and the other was clear -- the differences between the SD790 IS and SD770 IS was not. Even with the good reviews, I eliminated the SD850 IS due to the fact that it was entering the end of life status for the camera and focused on the two new 700 series cameras.

With the basic technologies in each camera almost identical, the real differences were in $50 in pricing, the body styling, LCD screen (SD790 has a 3" and the SD770 has a 2.5), weight (the SD770 IS is 1 full ounce lighter at 4.59oz), and battery technology -- NB-5L vs. NB-6L Canon battery models.

Even though the SD770 IS retails $50 less, the lighter weight makes it at least that much more valuable to me. At that point, the choice was easy -- I have little need for a 3.0" LCD when comparing to a 2.5" LCD and the savings of 1 ounce of weight for carrying the camera in your pocket makes a lot of sense. I would advise you as well, unless you really need that larger LCD screen that the SD770 IS is a much better value.

Canon Powershot SD770 IS with 10.3 megapixels, 3.0x optical zoom, and image stabilization

I went ahead and purchased the SD770 IS after the evaluation and am confident it will be the right choice. While the MSRP for the camera is $299, you can get it from for less than $250. Click here to purchase from I ended up choosing the silver color.

And some quick advice for any product managers from Canon that may read this article, clean up your model number lines so that consumers can recognized choices that are being made in design whether it is for features, style, or compact. Then more consumers will have better experiences and not have to spend so much time before making a decision to purchase a Canon camera that they will be happy with.