Canon PowerShot SD300

Quick look

Small, high-performance camera

Price: $280

Phone: 516-328-5000

Online: www.canon.com

Canon PowerShot SD300

Every executive should have a small, sleek, high-performance, digital point-and-shoot camera. One of the best we've seen in the GCN Lab is the PowerShot SD300 from Canon USA Inc. of Lake Success, N.Y.

Cameras as small as the SD300 are usually 3 mega-pixel, but the 4.6-ounce SD300 is capable of 4 mega-pixel quality in a tiny 3.4- by 2.1- by 0.8-inch frame.

The SD300 is capable of a 3x optical zoom, a 3.6x digital zoom or 11x combined zoom. The combined zoom is surprisingly accurate and crisp. Of 15 pictures we took in the combined zoom at super-high quality, only one looks fuzzy and distorted. This is a common problem with digital point-and-shoot cameras, but it seems to be uncommon with the SD300.

One minor problem we had is that the viewfinder is rather inaccurate and the diopter cannot be adjusted.

Another minor problem is the limited number of manual controls and scene options. However, we were impressed by the camera's ability to photograph under water with the addition of a plastic accessory. The SD300 even has a setting for underwater shots designed to digitally adjust the image to compensate for angle distortions.

But despite these small problems, you get more than you expect from this $280 camera. The SD300 is designed to take Secure Digital storage media, which can go as high as 256M or 60 shots at super-high quality. We found that you can also use Multimedia memory cards in lieu of SD memory with no side effects or distortion.

The SD300 provides enough quality and detail in the images to print photos at a maximum 8- by 10-inch size. However, it's also important to note that the camera records moving images at a 640-by-480 resolution, which is hardly enough quality to make this feature worth using.

At night, images are surprisingly well lit by the small flash on the unit. We seldom had any problems getting subjects in focus, even in the darkest of nights.

Finally, battery life on the camera is excellent. We were able to shoot for days on a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands before we had to charge the camera.

If you're looking for a small, easy-to-use and worry-free camera that won't break the bank, look no further than the PowerShot SD300.

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