capsule review

Canon PowerShot SD430 camera

The PowerShot SD430 is the latest in Canon’s popular line of Digital Elph point-and-shoot cameras.

The image quality of the 5-megapixel SD430 was above average; test images were well exposed, with good color and plenty of detail. The zoom range is 5.8mm to 17mm (equivalent to 35mm to 105mm on a film camera). Battery life was unimpressive, though, with the battery running out after a disappointing 192 images. While that’s enough for a couple of days of serious shooting, you’ll want to keep the charger on hand.

The zoom and focus mechanisms are a little noisy: both buzzed annoyingly while in use, and the focusing noise was particularly irritating when I used the optical viewfinder. It makes taking candid shots a problem, too, as the buzzing noise could spook the local wildlife.

Like many other camera companies, Canon has been adding wireless functionality to its cameras, and the SD430 comes with a built-in 802.11b adapter for wireless printing with selected printers or for transmitting images to a PC. At this writing, Canon is not shipping Mac wireless software, so we did not get to test the wireless functionality. However, a software update with such functionality is in the works and will be available soon.

At $500, the SD430 is a bit on the expensive side for a 5-megapixel camera, and you seem to be paying a big premium for the wireless features. It’s $100 more than the Nikon P2, which also includes wireless. However, in our tests the Canon had a slight edge over the Nikon P2 in producing high-quality images, and the SD430’s comparatively smaller design makes it an appealing choice for people who want a pocket-size camera and don’t mind paying extra for good images.

Performance

Image Quality Good
Battery Life Flawed

Scale = Excellent, Very Good, Good, Flawed, Unacceptable

How we tested: The image-quality rating of the camera is based on a panel of judges’ opinions in five categories: exposure, color, sharpness, distortion, and overall. Battery life testers follow a precise script, including shots with and without flash, until the battery dies.—Tested in conjunction with the PC World Test Center

Specifications

Resolution 5 Megapixels
Zoom/Focal Length (35mm equivalent) 3x optical (35-105mm)
Battery Type Rechargeable lithium ion
Media Slots SD Card (1)
Size (wxhxd) 3.9 x 2.1 x 0.9 inches
Weight (oz.) 5.4 oz.

Macworld’s buying advice

The Canon SD430 is attractively styled, and has good image quality and zoom range. But considering its poor battery life and noisy operation, its price isn’t entirely justified.

[ Richard Baguley is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in PC World, Wired, and JIWire.com. He also maintains a Camcorder blog.]

Canon PowerShot SD430
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