As a fan of Canon's Digital Elph cameras, we were a bit disappointed by the current flagship model of the series, the 14.7Mp Canon PowerShot SD990 IS.

Our disappointment lies mostly with the build quality of the Canon PowerShot SD990 IS; it produces image quality that's among the best we've seen of cameras of a similar ilk.

We expect a camera priced at around £250 to feel solid. The PowerShot SD990 IS, which has a plastic body rather than the titanium casing of its predecessor (the PowerShot SD950 IS), feels a bit cheap. This, coupled with a handful of other shortcomings, chips into the camera's excellent performance.

The image quality is indeed outstanding. The Canon PowerShot SD990 IS netted an overall score of Superior in the our lab's jury evaluations, producing some of the best results for colour accuracy, lack of distortion, and exposure quality we've ever seen in a point-and-shoot.

However, the plasticky build and some design choices hinder its overall score. Canon released the Canon PowerShot SD990 IS alongside the 10Mp Canon PowerShot SD880 IS, its less-expensive (and excellent) Digital Elph sibling. The PowerShot SD880 IS, though, feels as solid as a rock, despite the fact that it, too, has a plastic chassis.

The Canon PowerShot SD990 IS has a control dial on the back of the camera, complementing the four-way navigation pad. The dial makes scrolling through menu options extremely fast, but, on the PowerShot SD990 IS, it jiggles enough to make it feel flimsy.

What's more, that dial is suprisingly difficult to use, with its secondary function-switching between program mode and manual mode-unhandy at best. When we were dialing between modes, we often couldn't make it land on the one we wanted. On the SD880, we never had such problems with the control dial.

Another gripe we have with the Canon PowerShot SD990 IS is the focal range: At 36mm to 133mm, the 3.7X optical zoom lens is not a true wide angle. When we compared it to the SD880's 28mm-to-112mm, 4X optical zoom, we started wondering why Canon skimped on the wide-angle with this more expensive model.

The Canon PowerShot SD990 IS has a 2.5in LCD.

So what features make the Canon PowerShot SD990 IS pricier than the PowerShot SD880 IS, other than the higher megapixel count? For starters, it has an optical viewfinder.

It also has a wider set of manual controls, including aperture and shutter-speed settings, flash exposure compensation, and manual focus. In Quick Shot mode, the Canon PowerShot SD990 IS continuously adjusts for exposure and focus (even when you remove your finger from the shutter button entirely), thus eliminating shutter lag almost completely.

NEXT: image stabilisation >>


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