Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Canon EOS 7D

Canon EOS 7D

With the recent introduction of the 18 megapixel Canon EOS 7D, the EOS DSLR family boasts a fairly linear progression of resolutions in a product lineup that formerly had a gap between the 15.1 and 16.1 megapixel offerings and the 21.1 megapixel models. Now Canon DSLRs can be had with 10.1, 12.2, 15.1, 16.1, 18 and 21.1 megapixel sensors. Nobody else comes close to offering such a range. And while the 7D bears some family resemblance to the 50D in terms of size and the 5D Mark II in weight, don't get the idea it's just another model with different resolution. New is the operative word for the 7D - as in a number of new features never before seen on any Canon EOS DSLR.

There's a new 19 point autofocus system with all cross-points; a new iFCL (intelligent focus, color and luminance) metering system with 63 zones; a new intelligent viewfinder and a continuous shooting rate of up to 8 frames per second (fps). There's a new electronic level and the new sensor retains the Canon APS-C sizing of 22.3x14.9mm, resulting in a 1.6X crop factor. Dual Digic 4 image processors help handle the large files and continuous shooting rate. The camera is the third EOS to shoot full HD (1080p) video and accepts type I and II CF cards and UDMA-compliant CF card media.

Available as a body-only, the camera will also be offered in a kit with Canon's EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM zoom lens per a Canon U.S.A. press release. Canon includes an eyecup, neck strap, stereo AV and USB interface cables, a battery pack and charger, CD-ROM software and printed instruction manual with each camera.

That same press release calls the 7D "... the most functional and innovative DSLR Canon has released to-date." Sounds good on paper - let's see how it does in the field.


The 7D features a magnesium alloy body with dust and moisture resistance, as well as a shutter tested to 150,000 actuations. Build quality of even entry level DSLRs has always been good in the units from various manufacturers I've tested, and the 7D looks to be well constructed and robust. The materials, particularly the rubber-like patches applied to gripping surfaces seem to be a cut above the entry level units, as befits a body carrying a $1700 price tag.

While the camera will be largely familiar to Canon DSLR users, there are some differences in control placement from other current models in the Canon lineup. I suspect folks moving into a 7D from another Canon body will be coming mostly from the 50D/40D/entry level user's group, rather than the 5D/5DII or 1D crowd, so we'll discuss the differences relative to the 50D in the next section.

Ergonomics and Controls

The 7D has a deeply sculpted handgrip and prominent thumb rest on the right front and rear of the camera body, respectively. There is ample room for finger clearance from the lens mount/lens barrel in the front, and the shooting finger falls naturally across the shutter button. The thumb rest at the rear supports the thumb nicely as well.

While I don't shoot Canon DSLRs, I have held and played with most of the current lineup in camera stores - not the most intensive study to be sure - and I like the feel of the 7D in my hand the best. This a purely subjective judgment and might well be influenced by having the 7D to use for about a month, but the other Canon bodies just didn't feel quite as good.

Camera back control layout differs from the 50D in both number of controls and location in some cases. The AF-ON, AE Lock and AF point selection/magnify buttons occupy similar locations on both cameras, as do the quick control dial and multi-controller. The 7D adds a live view shooting/movie shooting switch and start/stop button above the multi controller, and moves the erase, playback, info, and picture style selection buttons from the horizontal configuration below the monitor to a vertical alignment below the menu button to the left of the monitor.

The electronic level (pitch and roll) can be displayed on the LCD monitor or in the viewfinder. Here's the level on the monitor - you can display it with the camera set for normal shooting (Level photo) and also with the camera set to shoot in Live View (Level 2 photo) - in the viewfinder focus points illuminated in red indicate the camera attitude.

The 7D also adds a quick control button (the first EOS to do so) above the menu button and morphs the live view shooting/print share button into a RAW-JPEG/direct print button. Pushing this button brings up a screen allowing access to a number of camera shooting settings without having to resort to internal menus.

Quick menu

The RAW/JPEG button provides a quick transition to the simultaneous RAW/ JPEG shooting mode from whatever image quality setting was previously selected: it will capture a RAW file in addition to a JPEG setting or a large JPEG file in addition to a RAW setting.

The function button of the 50D is gone from the 7D, and the power switch moves from adjacent to the quick control dial to beneath the mode dial on the top left of the body - making turning the camera on a two-handed proposition. The former power switch of the 50D becomes a quick control dial lock on the 7D.

The 7D also adds a multi-function button near the main dial on upper right of the camera body; the rest of the control buttons atop the body remain largely unchanged as to location.

Menus and Modes

Canon must be trying to cast a wide net in attracting potential customers to the 7D - in addition to the usual DSLR manual and semi-automatic shooting modes, the 7D tosses in a couple of fully automatic modes that offer few user inputs - the kind of modes typically found on point and shoots and entry level DSLRs.

Full Auto: the camera handles pretty much everything, the user can select image quality and single shots or self-timer.
Creative Auto: the camera handles pretty much everything, but the user has expanded input options including image quality, single or continuous low speed shooting, self timer, some color options, exposure compensation and blurred or sharper background.
Program Auto: camera sets aperture and shutter speed and user has wide variety of inputs.
Aperture Priority: user sets aperture, camera sets shutter and user has wide variety of inputs.
Shutter Priority: user sets shutter speed, camera sets aperture and user has wide variety of inputs.
Manual: user sets aperture and shutter speed, has wide variety of inputs.
Bulb: shutter stays open while shutter button is held down, user has wide variety of inputs.
Camera User Settings: three custom modes that allow the user to register preferred camera settings and functions for quick recall.
Movie: can capture 1920x1080p at 30, 25 or 24 fps; 1280x720p at 60 or 50 fps and 640x480p at 60 or 50 fps.


The 3.0 inch LCD monitor is of approximately 920,000 dot composition and adjustable for seven levels of brightness. The monitor is usable for image composition and capture in all but the harshest conditions of bright outdoor light, though there are times when it becomes inadequate for the task; coverage is 100%.

The eye-level pentaprism viewfinder features a diopter adjustment to accommodate varying degrees of eyesight and offers 100% coverage.


Aside from smoothing the pixel gap in the Canon sensor lineup, the 7D gives Canon a good performing camera at a price range that just happens to also fit into a gulf between the $1100 MSRP of the 50D and the $2700 ticket to ride with a 5DII. Price or pixels - take your pick and
Canon has you covered either way.

Shooting Performance

The 7D, like any higher performance DSLR, starts and shoots virtually instantly. Sensor cleaning when the 7D power switch is set to ON or OFF is the default, and on startup takes a little over 3 seconds. You can abort the sensor cleaning by going to a half push on the shutter button to begin shooting immediately, or the cleaning can be disabled via internal menu.

Shutter lag is basically non-existent and AF acquisition time is excellent as well, with the figures coming in at 0.02 and 0.17 seconds, respectively. Single shot-to shot times (shoot, write, reacquire focus and shoot) are practically as fast as you can get off the first shot, lift off the shutter and take the next shot - something in the order of 0.8 seconds.

Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)

Camera Time (seconds)
Canon EOS 7D 0.02
Nikon D300S 0.02
Pentax K20 0.04
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 0.06
AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)

Camera Time (seconds)
Nikon D300S 0.15
Canon EOS 7D 0.17
Pentax K20 0.28
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 0.37
Continuous Shooting

Camera Frames Framerate
Canon EOS 7D 160
8.0 fps
Nikon D300S 14 6.9 fps
Pentax K20 38 3.0 fps
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 5 2.8 fps

*Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera's fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). "Frames" notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.

Continuous shooting speed can be as fast as 8fps - faster than anything from Sony, Pentax, Olympus and Fuji; matched by the Nikon D300/300S with the optional MB-D10 battery pack and surpassed only by the Nikon D3 and Canon EOS 1D/III and IV. Using Lexar UDMA 300X CF cards I got between 16 and 20 continuous RAW files at the 8fps rate before the 7D needed a short break.

Using a 600X SanDisk Extreme Pro UDMA 6 card, the camera also captured 16 to 20 files before stopping, but write times with the 600X card were significantly better - about 6.5 seconds to clear the buffer versus 11 seconds with the 300X.

Our studio tests got 160 JPEGS, only about 140 more than the longest sequence I've ever shot in the field. Here are four shots from a sequence at 8fps - the advantage of the higher speeds is you get the "in between" shots the 4 and 5 fps cameras miss. If you compare the first and third shots and particularly the second and fourth, you can get an idea of how much can be missed shooting at the lower rates.

The EOS 7D carries a new Canon AF system consisting of 19 cross-point sensors (cross-point sensors can establish focus in both horizontal and vertical planes). There are 5 AF area selection modes: single point (manually selected); zone AF (the 19 points can divided into 5 separate zones covering various portions of the field of view); auto select 19 point AF (used in the fully auto and creative auto shooting modes); spot AF (same as point AF but the AF point covers a smaller area than in point AF) and AF point expansion (manual selection of the active point and adjacent points are then also used to aid with focus).

Any of the modes worked well with static subjects, although users should keep in mind when using the auto select or zone methods that all AF points in the selected zone are used to acquire focus and will tend to focus on the nearest subject. For moving subjects I found that AF point expansion worked best - but only after some trial and error. In addition to simply selecting the AF point expansion mode, I ultimately ended up adjusting the AI Servo tracking sensitivity to slow in order to get the best results.

The higher performance DSLRs have a myriad of settings in various menus that impact their performance, and fine tuning these combinations is the key to realizing the full potential of any camera. I shot over 2500 captures in preparing this review, many of them sequences testing the ability of the 7D to acquire and/or keep focus on moving subjects.

Here are six shots from a sequence of thirteen tracking a single gull through some crowded airspace - the 7D did a pretty good job of not losing track of the bird despite a lot of movement in and out of the frame. These were made with the 200mm lens at f/4 to pick up some shutter speed and within thirty feet of the birds so depth of field was fairly shallow. Overall the 7D handles moving subjects well with the right settings in the camera - it's not perfect and will lose track every so often, but it turned in a decent performance.

The 7D built-in flash has a guide number of 39 at ISO 100, which translates into a range of about 10 feet with the lens set at f/4. Recycle times in moderately lit conditions with a fully charged battery ran only a second or so - and Canon lists three seconds as the nominal recycle rate.

When shooting in aperture priority, the flash can be set to fire and illuminate a subject in the foreground while the camera holds the shutter open an extended period to use natural light to expose the background. In this example, the owl in the foreground is lit by the flash while the castle is exposed for the ambient light.

The 7D flash can also act as the master unit with Canon Speedlite flashes with wireless slave capability and remotely trigger these other flashes to fire.

Canon rates the 7D battery for about 800 shots with no live view shooting and 50% flash usage; that figure drops to about 220 shots using live view and 50% flash. Continuous live view shooting lasts about 90 minutes.

Lens Performance

Canon provided an EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM zoom lens for this review, and also an EF 200mm f2 L IS USM to help us better explore the 7D's potential for sports and action shots with that 8 fps motor. Here's what the wide and telephoto ends of the zoom look like, as well as the 200mm.

17mm wide angle

85mm telephoto

200mm telephoto

Because the 17-85 is not being offered as a kit lens with the 7D I'll just briefly comment that it proved to be a nice walking around lens, not overly fast and exhibiting some barrel and pincushion distortion with straight lines in images. One advantage of the DSLR is that there are usually a large number of lenses available to mate with the body depending on your particular shooting need(s). The 7D accepts both EF and EF-S lenses, which total over sixty at last count.

Video Quality

Video quality out of the 7D at the 1920x1080p HD resolution is good - our demo videos were shot at the "cinema" speed of 24fps, but 30 and 25fps speeds are available as well. The 7D uses a CMOS sensor for video and still image capture, and that type sensor can be subject to "rolling shutter effect" which causes vertical stationary objects to appear to be bending as the camera pans across the scene. The 7D does exhibit this effect, which is slight at normal panning speeds but can be greatly exaggerated by panning quickly back and forth at, frankly, speeds that no reasonable person would ordinarily employ. Panning to follow a fast jet at an air show would be one example where the effect might be more objectionable without purposely trying to initiate the phenomenon.



Reduced resolutions of 1280x720p and 640x480p are also available at 50 and 60 fps rates. Regardless of resolution, video length is limited to 4GB or 29 minutes 59 seconds. AF is available at the start of recording, but continuous AF is not provided. Manual focus and zoom are available, and the 7D also allows for manual exposure in addition to automatic.

Video recording is a simple matter of setting the live view shooting/movie shooting switch to the red "movie" icon, acquiring focus automatically by means of a half push of the shutter or full push of the AF ON button (or focus manually) and pushing the start/stop button to initiate capture. A second push stops recording. As heavy as the 7D is with even the lightest of lenses, a tripod or some other form of camera support is a good idea for extended video shoots. Holding the 7D and lens with even partially extended arms in order to see the monitor will get tiring pretty quickly.

Image Quality

Shortly after the 7D reached market Canon issued a firmware update to correct a problem with ghost-like images in some 7D captures: "In images captured by continuous shooting, and under certain conditions, barely noticeable traces of the immediately preceding frame may be visible. This phenomenon is not noticeable in an image with optimal exposure. The phenomenon may become more noticeable if a retouching process such as level compensation is applied to emphasize the image."

Our demo model 7D displayed no traces of the problem for over 2000 shots, but checking a sequence from an overcast day at the beach I found one example of the phenomenon: two shots of a gull with the ghostly outline of the preceding shot appearing on the second. While I use a calibrated 24 inch LCD monitor to review shots and made the discovery on that screen, the ghost was faintly visible on a 5x7 print I made of the image.

Here are the two shots as they came out of the camera:

In any event, the firmware update has reportedly fixed the problem, which was subtle, at least on our problem image. Folks contemplating moving into a 7D should plan to update the firmware if their camera hasn't had the latest version installed at the factory.

Default images out of the 7D were generally pleasing with regard to color fidelity, contrast and sharpness, but are output at 72 dpi which results in a 72x48 inch image at 100% enlargement - you're going to be resizing for both printing or internet/email usage.

Not sure what Canon's thinking is on this one - if the images are output at 300 dpi that resolution is excellent for printing as is, and you're left with resizing for internet/email only.

And while we're on the subject of image size, let's talk about those 18 megapixel resolution files. Conventional wisdom holds that the higher resolutions tend to be attractive to folks who do landscape or scenic shots where the higher pixel counts bring out greater detail in those wide vistas. Studio work is also mentioned - the ability to bring out detail in portraits, or commercial products for example. And finally, more resolution means larger files which can then be cropped more aggressively yet still retain good photo quality, or, in the absence of cropping produce larger images.

Cropping is a useful tool to improve images as long as the perspective of the shot isn't ruined - composing the shot as it will finally appear in the camera is always preferable to a composition that will need surgery in the computer later. Here's the original and a cropped version of an Anna's hummingbird - both at 15x10 inch size with the original at 345 dpi and the crop at 247 dpi.

With many competitors' cameras carrying 12 megapixel class sensors, the 18 megapixel sensor of the 7D enjoys an almost 50% advantage in pixels. The 7D has sensor pixel dimension of 5184x3456 to produce that 18 megapixels; a Nikon D300s has pixel dimensions of 4288x2848 to produce 12.3 MP.

If we resize both files to 300 dpi for printing, we get a 17.28x11.52 inch print out of the 7D and a 14.29x9.49 inch print out of the D300s. So 50% more pixels doesn't get you a 50% larger print. There's more to work with, but perhaps not the sweeping amount many folks might expect out of such a seemingly large boost in resolution.

The 7D offers evaluative, partial (9.3% at the center of the screen), spot (2.3% at the center of the screen) and center-weighted metering options, with evaluative being the default. In practice, evaluative worked well for a variety of conditions and was used for the captures in this review. The 7D fairly consistently lost highlights in the high contrast surf shots I try to use to test metering systems. However, the highlights were barely being lost and 1/3EV under exposure compensation fixed virtually all the problems.

The 7D offers a highlight tone priority setting that seeks to expand the camera's dynamic range between the standard 18% gray and bright highlights, smoothing out the gradation between grays and highlights. Highlight tone priority helped with the highlights as evidenced by histograms of individual shots, but with the downside that ISO settings from 200 to 6400 are required - the 100 to 200 ISO range is disabled when this setting is enabled.

Auto white balance worked well for most lighting conditions and shot warm under incandescent light. The 7D also offers daylight, shade, cloudy, tungsten, white fluorescent, flash, custom and color temperature settings.

Auto White Balance, 3200k incandescent light

Generally, adding pixels to the same physical sized sensor increases noise in digital captures - both the additional pixels and their smaller size are largely to blame. But it's also true that technology inexorably marches on and that may be why the 7D noise performance came as a pleasant surprise. The camera doesn't re-write the book on low ISO noise performance, but by the same token noise performance didn't take the hit I thought it would, at least to my eyes.

Generally, adding pixels to the same physical sized sensor increases noise in digital captures - both the additional pixels and their smaller size are largely to blame. But it's also true that technology inexorably marches on and that may be why the 7D noise performance came as a pleasant surprise. The camera doesn't re-write the book on low ISO noise performance, but by the same token noise performance didn't take the hit I thought it would, at least to my eyes.

ISO 100 and 200 are quite clean and hard to tell apart - 400 is quite good but showing just a hint of noise and 800 a bit more. ISO 1600 is still fairly good but showing more noise, and 3200 has dropped off even more. The biggest individual drop looks to be between 3200 and 6400, both of which I'd try to avoid if possible. The 7D has "standard" high ISO noise reduction enabled as a default and the camera actually applies noise reduction at all ISO speeds - in the low ISO range the effect is primarily reduction of noise in shadow areas. There are also "low" and "strong" reduction settings, as well as a disable option.

With the introduction of the 7D, Canon has fit a camera neatly into both the resolution and cost gaps that had formerly existed in their DSLR lineup. Now there's a smooth progression of resolution from 10 megapixels to 21 at roughly 2 or 3 megapixel increments, and a $1700 camera to fill the gap between the $1100 50D and $2700 5DII.

The Canon EOS 7D is an interesting mix of features - on the one hand it brings a new level of performance to the Canon line with a new AF system, new viewfinder, new metering system, new sensor with dual Digic 4 processors and an 8 fps motor that screams "professional" (or at least loudly proclaims "advanced amateur"). In the next breath we find things like 2 auto shooting modes that could have been pulled right from your daughter's Point and Shoot and a face detection live view shooting mode. Huh?

Fortunately, the serious side wins out in the end and Canonistas have a nifty new body to move up to if they're shooting at the entry level now, or a legitimate budget backup to their pro body at the other end of the scale. It's hard to call a $1700 body-only camera "budget", but considering the overall performance of the 7D it's pretty close to being a steal.

The autofocus is pretty good, image quality is very good, and ISO noise is good considering the resolution. The camera zings along at 8 fps when it needs to and will do that all day before the buffer fills if you're shooting JPEGS. There's true 1080p HD video if you're into that sort of thing and the whole package is well built and designed to resist the elements.


Good image quality
Great continuous shooting rate with JPEG files
8 fps high speed shooting rate
HD video


72 dpi output of images

(Source: digitalcamerareview.com)

Kodak Zi8

Kodak Zi8

With the introduction of the Zi8, Kodak brought full 1080p HD video capture into their low-cost pocket camcorder lineup for the first time. It offers a step up from their 720p model - the Zi6 - by adding a few more bells and whistles including electronic image stabilization, an external mic jack, 5.3 megapixel still image capture, a more stylish and compact design, and of course, full HD video.

While there are many competitors in the pocket camcorder market today, like Pure Digital's Flip, Kodak's Zi8 is $20 cheaper than both of their HD models and records in higher resolutions than Flip's 720p HD offerings. That's right - for under $200 you can get HD video onto your computer and TV screen without much strain via the USB arm, or through SD/SDHC high-speed memory cards, making it the ultimate in convenience for digital users. But does the bargain price mean a trade-off in quality? Read on.


Slightly larger than my Blackberry Curve, the Kodak Zi8 cuts a figure that's more like a smartphone than a camcorder. Our review unit is an aqua color, but it comes in three different varieties total, including black and "raspberry." The Zi8 is a combination of hard plastic and what appears to be aluminum.

It is designed to fit in a pocket easily, and does so well, although without a retractable lens with a trap door I was somewhat concerned about dust and lint getting on the lens when I had it stowed away. Simple in design, the camera is different from the Zi6 in that it has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery instead of AA's.

Ergonomics and Controls

The Zi8 is a pocket camcorder that fits into compact spaces like large pockets and bags easily. Upon first examination of the Zi8, it does remind you of a Blackberry, with ergonomics that lend itself to holding it in two hands like you're about to type out an email on a QWERTY keyboard.

The design is simple, and intended to be easy to use. On the bottom right of the Zi8 is a trap door for the USB connector that connects to an articulated rubber arm so that you can move it around in any direction and hook it up directly to your computer without any impediments. As you move up along the right side, you'll see the trap door for the SD/SDHC. Farther up is the power button.

On the left side of the camera is the HDMI port, Stereo monoaural mic jack, and a plughole for recharging the battery. And of course on the back of the Zi8 is the lens, looking no larger than a cell phone pinhole camera. On top of the pocket camcorder is a switch that toggles between macro and normal focusing. The front of the Zi8 features a nice 2.5 inch LCD, a settings button, delete key, record mode button, a review button, a speaker, and lastly, a four-way controller joystick button with a red dot that controls the shooting aspect as well as toggling between controls.

The Zi8 has a certain amount of bulk to it, giving it a sturdy feel in the hand. The control layout is very minimalistic in nature and isn't difficult to figure out without reading the manual. Playback is simple; you hit the playback button and then press the red controller to maneuver through the different clips you've captured.

The biggest deficiency of the Kodak Zi8 in terms of control operation is that red button - it can be a bit clunky and tricky to master. For example, when you turn on the Zi8 you are first presented with a screen that gives you the choice of 1080p/720p: 60fps/720p/WVGA/Camera - these are the five different camera modes available to the shooter.

You have to switch over to one of these modes that you need by moving left or right, but when I first tried a new mode, the red button just clicked instead of scrolled. You almost have to dig your finger into the groove of the red button to guide it, instead of clicking on it. All in all, there's not much to learn about the Kodak Zi8, since its functionality is no more than a point-and-shoot digital video camera. It's not elegant, but it gets a thumbs up for simplicity.

Menus and Modes

The red button is the gateway to changing and controlling all functionalities on the Zi8. However, there really isn't much you can control. Once you press the Settings button, you have a very small amount of options to choose from, including changing the date, toggling between Video Out NTSC/PAL, LCD brightness, Sounds, External Microphone Gain, Electronic Image Stabilization, Face Detection, Format Memory Card, and Camera Info. Take that as a pro or a con, depending on how you'd like to use the camera.

Shooting modes are comprised of four different video modes and one digital still mode. Here they are in more detail:

1080p: Full high-definition video recording at 1920x1080 resolution at 30 fps
720p/60 fps: 1280x720 resolution with a higher frame rate of 60 fps
720p: 1280x720 resolution at 30 fps
WVGA: 848x480 resolution at 30 fps
Camera: 5.3 megapixel interpolated still image

This is the extent of control over the video, and everything else is pretty straightforward. You'll hit playback to review video, click on the shooting settings to change from different video resolutions and the camera, and use the trash button to delete images. If you've ever used a digital camera, you won't get left in the proverbial dust.


Slightly larger than the Zi6, the Zi8's LCD is a 2.5 inch diagonal playback window (Zi6's is 2.4 inches). You can control the level of brightness through the settings menu, which is good for varied light conditions. Most of the video I captured was in dull and dreary fall skies, so it wasn't an issue for me.

Playback on the LCD was quite nice. I was unable to find the exact resolution of the screen, but I will say video and images looked pretty good on the little monitor.


Since the Zi8 is a pocket camcorder, it seemed appropriate to record video in various lighting scenarios to see how it would hold up, especially in low-light conditions. It was nice to also see when taking it out into the field that the rechargeable battery gave it quite a bit of shooting time

The Zi8 test model stood up to cold conditions and howling winds, and was able to still get off some pretty decent footage. However, I do lament the fact that the video's white balance cannot be changed at all, making some of the video even on a well-lit day quite drab and noisy.

Shooting Performance

The Zi8 yielded some varied results in the field, mainly due to the little amount of control you have over this pocket camcorder. Size and features are a trade off when you are speaking in terms of cameras or camcorders. The Zi8 is a no-frills model with an eye-catching video resolution - full hi-def video - but not much else.

It has a slightly larger 1/2.5-type 5 megapixel CMOS sensor than its predecessor, making it prone to some of the inherent problems of smaller sensors like noise and degradation, especially in low light. In all the varied conditions I shot with the Zi8, I found some things I liked, as well as things I disliked. Those things included distortion on moving vertical images, excessive noise in gray skies, and poor low-light performance even in well-lit rooms. On the other hand, I liked its ease of use, faithful color reproduction, (very low) price and the ability to choose different frames rates and resolutions.

Lens Performance

The Zi8 has a 6.3mm f/2.8 fixed focus lens with a 35mm equivalent of 61mm for 1080p, 46mm for 720p/60 fps, 720p/30 fps and WVGA, and 42mm for stills. Like the Zi6, the Zi8 has a macro function. It doesn't work quite as well in the 1080p mode mostly because you have to get very close to your desired object, making it a bit blurry no matter how hard you try to steady your hand. The Zi8 is best used for a subject a little off into the distance, about 10 feet or so, to get you in the right spot to capture enough of the 16:9 aspect ratio.

Since the Zi8 uses a fixed lens, it offers only a digital 4x zoom function. Unfortunately, it's so sluggish that it isn't really worth using. Using digital zoom is also less desirable since the video is interpolated to stretch out the effect of an optical zoom.

I also found the same rolling shutter problem that we spotted in our review of the Kodak Zx1. When using it to capture fast moving horizontal video, such as panning quickly left and right, vertical lines appear to wobble. As we noted in that review, CMOS sensors are prone to this type of distortion and they generally aren't apparent in most video.

Video Quality

The resolution of the video you can capture with the Zi8 is pretty much at the top of the heap as far as pocket camcorders go. However, you'll still find that videos captured under certain conditions are plagued with noise, artifacts and several distortions.


Also, it is hard to differentiate between 1080p and 720p at 30 fps, and even after very close inspection on an HD TV and my computer monitor, I found no real difference. The real champion here is the 720p/60 fps video setting, which has much more sharpness and fluidity compared to the 1080p/720p 30 fps modes, which are softer and somewhat more distorted, with more grain.


Although the 30 fps frame rates are more prone to issues like noise and distortion, it still creates decent HD video, especially at this price point. If you want the video to really pop, you need a bright lighting like a sunny day or a well-lit scene.


The Kodak Zi8 certainly doesn't produce the best HD video in the world. However, it does offer more flexibility than what most digital cameras can produce. It's not going to beat out your dedicated HD camcorder any time soon, though.

Image Quality

The 5.3 megapixel digital stills from the Zi8 were not amazing, but still surprised me. They are interpolated images, so they aren't a true 5-megapixel image. They were well exposed in good lighting, but noisy in low light.

The images are captured in the 16:9 aspect ratio, and there is no zoom power, so you'll have to position yourself accordingly. Also exposure is completely controlled by the camera, setting the white balance, exposure values, etc. This doesn't leave much room to really manipulate any shooting settings. The quality is slightly better than a cell phone, but it certainly won't take the place of even a low-end point and shoot.


The Kodak Zi8 promises full HD video recording, but does this feature warrant a purchase? Well, it depends on what you're looking for. In this case, the video is decent but not exceptional, the image stabilization doesn't really cut down on the jitters, and there is some degradation to the video due to the size of the CMOS sensor.

The price alone, $179, is sure to appeal to consumers looking for a low-cost HD camcorder. For that price tag, the Zi8 will work best for the videographer who doesn't expect cinema quality video and doesn't expect it to match the output of a full HD camcorder. The Kodak Zi8 does offer some unique features like a monoaural microphone jack, full HD and other HD resolutions and frame rates, and digital image stabilization. So if you're looking for low-cost video, take a look at this little pocket camcorder.


Captures full 1080p HD video
Good video quality in bright lighting conditions
Compact size
Price is the best
Rechargeable battery


Video quality bad in low light
Some distortion during high-speed capture
No zoom power
Sound is tinny with built-in microphone.

(Source: digitalcamerareview.com)

Pentax K-7

Pentax K-7

When Pentax announced the K10D back in 2006, it was a revolutionary camera for serious amateurs and professionals on a budget. The K10D was more rugged and feature-packed than any Pentax digital SLR before it. In 2008, the company decided to update their line with the Pentax K20D, but that camera was more evolutionary than revolutionary... so much so that many Pentax K10D owners never felt the need to upgrade.

The Pentax K-7 answers those complaints by including many features that have never been seen on a Pentax camera before. In-camera lens correction for distortion control, lateral chromatic aberration adjustment, expanded dynamic range with highlight correction and adjustable shadow correction - these are new features that help the K-7 stand apart from previous Pentax cameras.

For those more interested in a CliffsNotes summary of the features and specs on the Pentax K-7, be sure to read our news article about the release of the camera. In short, the K-7 features a newly designed 15.07 megapixel (14.6 effective) CMOS imager with a new primary color filter and integrated Shake/Dust Reduction sensor movement system. The new sensor offers Live View and the ability to capture HD video (a first for Pentax).

The K-7 also features a new 77-segment metering system for more accurate metering under difficult lighting and a dedicated AF-assist lamp to improve autofocus speed in low light conditions. A large, 3.0 inch LCD makes Live View or image and video playback a breeze. A larger, brighter optical viewfinder with 100 percent field of view and 92x magnification is easily the best viewfinder I've seen in a Pentax DLSR.


The K-7 inherits the rugged build quality of the K10D and K20D and goes a step further with its weather, dust, and cold resistant (to 14 degrees Fahrenheit or -10 degrees Celsius) body and environmental seals so that photographers can keep shooting in any weather. It's that extreme build quality and weather sealing that makes the K-7 camera body feel better than any other camera in its price range ($1,299.95).

Ergonomics and Controls

As a "Pentaxian" who's used Pentax system cameras off and on for more than a decade now, I immediately felt right at home with the K-7's deeply sculpted handgrip and numerous controls. That said, if you're coming from other systems or moving up from a lower-priced Pentax, the abundance of buttons and dials might take some time to get used to.

For me, the only control that required me to retrain my brain was the mode dial. Pentax added a locking pin to the mode dial so you have to press a center button to change the shooting mode. This is great since you cannot accidentally change the mode dial, but it's something new for long-time Pentaxians. Once you get used to the new layout, however, you may quickly appreciate that the K-7 seems to have every control you need in the perfect location. The arrangement is definitely similar enough that those seeking an upgrade to their older Pentax cameras won't have much to learn.

In terms of size, advanced amateur DSLRs have to strike a difficult balance: most consumer DSLRs feel too small and cheap, but upper tier, advanced cameras like the Canon 7D, Nikon D300S, and Olympus E-3 are just too bulky for many amateurs. The K-7 features a compact, magnesium alloy body that is one of the smallest (if not the smallest) advanced amateur cameras on the market.

Measuring just 5.1x3.8x2.9 inches and weighing only 26.5 ounces with battery and memory card, the Pentax K-7 is visibly smaller and noticeably lighter than similar cameras on the market. I personally prefer larger cameras because I have large hands and don't like it when my "pinky" finger drops below the camera grip. If the K-7 was a fraction of an inch taller, then all of my fingers would be able to fit on the grip.


Speaking of larger parts of the camera, the new 3.0 inch LCD with 921,000 dot resolution is a welcome size increase over previous models and makes the new Live View feature much easier to use. The screen features multiple levels of brightness and color correction to help ensure that your images look exactly the way that you want them to look.


Still, the exterior features of the Pentax K-7 aren't really what make it so special. For that, we have to look inside. Considering that the K-7 only costs a little more than a Nikon D90 it's fair to say Pentax packs a great deal of performance into a small and affordable package.

Shooting Performance

For starters, the K-7 is the fastest Pentax DSLR ever made with a top burst shooting speed of 5.2 frames per second (40 JPEGs, 15 RAW/PEF or 14 RAW/DNG). As you can see in the studio tests below, the K-7 performs quite well in terms of shutter lag and does an okay job with AF acquisition, but comes up a little short compared to the Nikon D300S and Canon 7D. Still, the K-7 is more than capable of exceeding the performance needs of most photographers. That being said, it's worth noting that the continuous shooting performance drops sharply if you activate the various in-camera editing features like extended dynamic range, or lens correction.

Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)

Camera Time (seconds)
Canon EOS 7D 0.02
Pentax K-7 0.02
Nikon D300S 0.02
Olympus E-620 0.02
AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)

Camera Time (seconds)
Nikon D300S 0.15
Canon EOS 7D 0.17
Pentax K-7 0.29
Olympus E-620 0.32
Continuous Shooting

Camera Frames Framerate*
Canon EOS 7D 160 8 fps
Nikon D300S 14 6.9 fps
Pentax K-7 19 5.3 fps
Olympus E-620 6 4.1 fps

*Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera's fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). "Frames" notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.

Anyone who's still foolish enough to think Pentax cameras aren't fast enough for professional motorsports needs to spend an afternoon at the track with the K-7. Pentax also claims that the 11-point autofocus system in the K-7 uses improved focus algorithms over previous Pentax cameras. After all of my testing of the K-7, I can confirm it is noticeably faster than any Pentax camera I've previously used.

The one exception in terms of speed is the contrast-detection AF used in the camera's live view mode. Our review unit of the K-7 suffered from horribly slow AF lag when using live view mode with the camera's LCD. True, most DSLR cameras with live view mode suffer from slow contrast-detection AF, but the contrast-detection AF on the K-7 is so slow that it is essentially unusable unless you're photographing a stationary subject and your camera is mounted on a tripod.

The video below shows an example of just how slow the K-7 is when shooting in live view mode. Not only does the contrast-detection AF system take a long time to lock focus, but it takes time to reset the focus if you press the button again ... even if the subject was already in focus. Keep in mind that this example was shot in our studio with a stationary subject, the K-7 was mounted on a tripod, and the lighting was very good. In a "real world" shooting situation the contrast-detection AF is even slower.


Lens Performance

Using a variant of the maker's classic K mount, the K-7 is designed for "legacy" lens support, handling nearly any Pentax K-mount lens (as well as many screw-mount and medium-format lens) with comparatively little hassle or fuss. And with in-camera IS, every lens is a stabilized lens. While you won't get the huge lens selection - and particularly, the range of fast zooms and longer telephotos - offered by Canon and Nikon, if you like shooting primes, Pentax currently makes some of the best, most interesting ones on the market. In fact, our staff is so impressed with the Pentax Limited series of prime lenses that we were sad to see that Pentax didn't offer a K-7 kit with the Pentax DA 40mm f/2.8 Limited prime lens (a staff favorite).

We tested the K-7 with a range of Pentax lenses, but most of the three lenses we used most frequently were the DA 40mm f/2.8 Limited prime lens and Pentax's two newest weather sealed zoom lenses: the Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL WR and the DA 50-200MM F/4-5.6 ED WR. We didn't notice any major issues with the lenses used during our tests, but the 18-55mm lens does have some visible distortion at the wide angle end of the lens ... which is easily corrected with the K-7's in-camera lens correction.

Video Quality
Of course, one of the big new features with the K-7 is the ability to record HD video at 1280x720 (16:9 widescreen aspect ratio), 1536x1024 (3:2 aspect ratio) or 640x416 (3:2) resolution all at 30 frames per second. We shot several sample videos with the K-7 at the various resolution settings and never had any issues with video quality.

More to the point, the video quality seems on par with other DSLRs capable of recording video. One key difference with the K-7 compared to lower cost DSLRs is that the K-7 has an external microphone terminal for recording stereo sound ... a good thing to have since the camera's in-body Shake Reduction feature can cause the built-in microphone to record excess noise. An HDMI port built into the K-7 also makes it easy to show your videos directly on your HDTV.

Image Quality

When it comes to image quality, I honestly feel like kissing the Pentax engineers responsible for the K-7. Pentax finally seems to have figured out how to build a camera with extremely accurate white balance. Whether I was shooting under strong incandescent light or horrible mixed lighting conditions the K-7 almost always managed to deliver perfect white balance for accurate color reproduction even with JPEGs.

Auto White Balance, 3200k incandescent light

I only encountered one shooting environment with mixed lighting where I ended up with unusual white balance after more than a month of shooting. In that situation I switched to shooting RAW/PEF and corrected the white balance in Photoshop without any problems. The most important thing to notice in the sample image below is that the colors look exactly the way they should despite horrible mixed lighting.

The K-7 also includes a High Dynamic Range (HDR) image capture mode that captures three images and then combines them in-camera to widen the exposure range and bring out details in shadows, midtones, and highlights.

There's even an in-camera Lens Correction tool that electronically adjusts for lens distortion and lateral chromatic aberrations so you won't have to make those corrections on your computer. If that wasn't impressive enough, working photographers will surely appreciate the fact that the K-7 can embed copyright information in the metatag data of every image, so you won't have to worry as much about proving image ownership.

Image quality at all ISO settings seems noticeably superior to the K10D or K20D in terms of color accuracy, and image noise is better at ISO 800 and below. If you already own a K20D you might not see much improvement in terms of ISO noise at 1600 and above, but the high ISO image quality is still very good.


The Pentax K-7 is indeed the most revolutionary camera Pentax has produced to date. The speed, features, and build quality help this camera stand above previous Pentax offerings, and if you're in the market for a Nikon D90 or can't afford a D300S then this camera might make an even better Christmas present. If you currently own a K10D and need a new camera, then the K-7 makes perfect sense. Still, if you own a Pentax K20D and don't need to shoot video then you might not consider the K-7 to be a worthwhile upgrade.

After spending more than a month testing this camera I can honestly say there isn't much that I can complain about when it comes to this camera. Yes, the awesome in-camera editing features slow down the camera, the contrast-detection AF is too slow when using live view, and I wish the grip was taller, but these are all minor issues. I suppose I can complain that the cost of the optional D-BG4 battery grip ($229.95) is "at least" $30 too expensive for a battery grip accessory, but I doubt many K-7 owners will care. Bottom line, Pentax got a lot of things right when they designed the new K-7.


Excellent image quality
Fastest Pentax camera to date
Terrific in-camera editing tools


In-camera editing slows down performance
Unacceptably slow live view AF
Short grip surface

(Source: digitalcamerareview.com)

Canon PowerShot SD980

Canon PowerShot SD980

Canon's first foray into touch screen territory comes in the form of the PowerShot SD980 IS. It falls into line style-wise with the current generation of Digital ELPH cameras and it won't look out of place sitting side-by-side with your iPod and your touch screen smartphone - it's curvy, boldly colored, and relatively slim for a camera housing a 5x optical zoom lens.

Like the Panasonic Lumix FX580, the SD980 keeps all of the physical buttons and offers the touch screen as a kind of supplement in terms of camera operation. The result is more of a hybrid than a total touch screen makeover. There are three major areas where the touch screen will come into play: image review, touch-selected auto focus lock, and shooting mode selection.

It's a new interface for the PowerShot lineup, but there are plenty of familiar features here as well. The DIGIC 4 processor, optical image stabilizer, and 12.1 megapixel 1/2.3 inch CCD are carried over from previous Digital ELPHs. Slow, steady enhancements to an existing, capable platform have been the trend for Canon in recent years. Does the SD980 follow the trend, or is it just another pretty interface?


The PowerShot SD980 IS is immediately identifiable as a Canon compact by virtue of its shape, build, and color alone. There are a couple of style updates, though, to keep the face of the Digital ELPH fresh. The buttons on the back panel are curved slightly, and the buttons on top of the camera are lined up along a dark bowtie-shaped band.

The wide aspect 3.0 inch display is another updated touch, and it's roomy enough to facilitate sliding your finger across the screen to flip through captured images. The whole package is a little heavier than it looks, but then again, it doesn't look very heavy at all. I didn't think twice about it carrying it in my bag for the past few weeks.

Ergonomics and Controls

The SD980 control layout is simple and familiar. Two buttons on the back panel offer shortcuts to photo review and the main shooting/camera menu. A control dial, with a rotating ring around it (big fan of that ring), provides quick access to self-timer, flash, focus mode, and display options. The function button at the center pulls up a quick menu of shooting options including image size, compression, white balance, and ISO setting.

Up on top is the shutter release encircled by the zoom lever, the on/off button, and a shooting mode switch. Around to the bottom you'll find the battery and memory card compartment. On the side, a very neatly angled wrist strap hook adds another touch of visual interest. It's flanked on either side by the HDMI and A/V out ports.

Overall, it's a comfortable layout, though it's not the ideal build for one-handed shooting. Two very small, raised lines to the left of the playback button offer a little bit of traction for a right-handed grip, but this positions the thumb right on top of the control dial. It's not hard to find yourself accidentally resetting the focus mode while trying to grab a shot with one hand. I didn't have any trouble using the camera with two hands and found it generally easy to handle.

I would also recommend use of the wrist strap. The curved edges can cause it to slip on occasion.

Menus and Modes
The PowerShot SD980 offers three basic shooting modes. They're all accessed via the sliding, wedge-shaped mode switch on top of the camera:

Movie Recording: Record video with sound at 720p, 640x480 or 320x240, all at 30 fps.
Smart Auto: The camera automatically selects one of 22 pre-programmed scene modes and determines the best exposure based on the shooting conditions.
Program: The Program AE mode is actually one of 18 shooting modes available in the middle position of the switch, but it's the default recording mode and the one where you'll have the most control over camera settings. It offers control over user-selected AF and AE lock, white balance adjustment, and ISO settings.
Other scene modes include the usual suspects like portrait and night snapshot. Canon also brings back the fun color swap and color accent modes.

The main camera menus don't use the touch interface, and it's a good thing too. The menu options would need to be much larger, which would add length, and nobody likes that. As they are, the menus are standard fare from Canon - concise and fairly intuitive. The only shooting menu to employ touch screen interaction is shooting mode selection, where the user will select from several screens of large, pictorial icons. In program mode, the main shooting screen displays touch options along the right side for flash and exposure compensation.

The PowerShot SD980 also employs something Canon calls Active Display, allowing the user to advance images in playback mode by flicking the wrist. This feature took a little practice to master, and you'll definitely want a firm grip on the camera if you use this functionality.


The PowerShot SD980 uses a wide aspect 3.0 inch LCD as the only means of shot composition. Other recent Digital ELPH models have offered a very small viewfinder, but the SD980 isn't one of them. Once I'd spent a few minutes using the touch screen, I rarely had trouble using it. I found that it required a firm touch when using it to flip through photos in image playback, as if I was actually pressing and sliding a card across a flat surface. Once I had the hang of it, the touch screen rarely let me down. Users can access a calibration tool in the main camera menu.

Yes, the LCD can be overwhelmed in bright sunlight, but I think that an optical viewfinder would have felt a little out of place here. The set interested in touch screen interface are not likely to miss it. As a 230k dot resolution monitor, the LCD on board the SD980 is sufficiently sharp, bright, and accurate.


Even with that glorious wide-aspect touch screen at your fingertips, the PowerShot SD980 IS handles about like any other digital compact Canon has released in the past year. The dedicated buttons make the touch screen optional, so operating the SD980 with or without touch is pretty seamless.

When I did take advantage of the touch options while shooting, I generally liked using it. After that little "getting to know you" period, I found the touch screen responsive and best of all, easy to forget that you're using. With or without the touch screen, the SD980 is another dependable compact from a manufacturer we've come to rely on for dependable compact cameras.

Shooting Performance

For its size and price tag, the PowerShot SD980 performs well. Our lab tests show it coming in better or nearly as fast as the competition in shutter lag and auto focus acquisition speeds. Continuous shooting was really lackluster, but this may not be a major concern for potential SD980 owners.

Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)

Camera Time (seconds)
Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR 0.01
Canon PowerShot SD980 IS 0.01
Nikon Coolpix S640 0.04
Samsung TL225 0.04

AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)

Camera Time (seconds)
Nikon Coolpix S640 0.29
Canon PowerShot SD980 IS 0.32
Samsung TL225 0.41
Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR 0.42
Continuous Shooting

Camera Frames Framerate*
Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR 3 2.6 fps
Nikon Coolpix S640 2 2.2 fps
Samsung TL225 7 1.0 fps
Canon PowerShot SD980 IS ∞ 0.7 fps

* Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera's fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). "Frames" notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.

Equally as important as lab results is the way the SD980 handled in the field. I can say that it was just as fast as I needed it to be, with about a second start-up time and less than two seconds from shot-to-shot. Flash performance was as good as I expected. After a full discharge, recycle times stretched as long as six seconds. Firing off shots while using it for fill, the flash recycled in under three seconds. Battery life was also satisfactory. Rated for a CIPA compliant 240 shots, I averaged about the same on a fully charged Li-ion battery.

Auto focus options in program mode include a face priority Face AiAF setting or fixed frame. The closest distance that the SD980 will pick up focus in normal AF mode is about a foot and a half. Macro Mode will focus on an object as close as two inches away.

Touch screen interface comes into play when selecting a focus target. Users can rely on the traditional AF system to select a focus point, or they can override it by selecting one on screen. Once a focus target had been selected, the camera was usually pretty reliable in holding on to that point if it moved around in the frame. Overall, the auto focus system performed best in bright light. It struggled notably in dim conditions, though not any more than other cameras of similar size and ability. The auto focus assist lamp helps reduce problems of finding focus in darker conditions, but doesn't eliminate them.

Activating AF-Point Zoom (available in the main shooting menu) allows the user to view a magnified thumbnail of a selected focus point. Touch the screen where you'd like the camera to focus, press the shutter button halfway, and voila, a magnified thumbnail appears on the screen. A nice option for those looking for a little more assurance that their target is in focus.

Lens Performance

The SD980 features a 5x optical zoom, starting at an equivalent 24mm for a nice wide angle and extending to 120mm. It's a reasonably fast lens, with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 at wide angle. Maximum aperture at telephoto is f/5.9. Zoom operation is a little bit noisy, which is perhaps one of the reasons why optical zoom isn't available in video recording mode.

Barrel distortion cropped up more often than pin cushioning. The vertical lines of the window in the wide angle image below bow outward slightly. In the telephoto image, there's not as much evidence of distortion.

Images were slightly soft at the edges of the frame, but sharply focused at center. Chromatic aberration was well-controlled, though it still cropped up in high-contrast areas. At 100%, a purple line is visible along the outline of the white frosting in the image below. Generally speaking though, the lens performs as well as most others in this weight class.

Video Quality

Video at the highest quality setting, 720p at 30 fps, is about average. It won't rival the quality of a dedicated camcorder, but high def video capture feels right at home next to that trendy new touch screen. Video resolution can be turned down to 640x480 or 320x240, both at 30 fps. Color swap and color accent modes are also available in movie recording.


Image Quality

The get-up-and-go PowerShot SD980 takes some very nice images right out of the box. Colors are bright, in the traditional vein of Canon's consumer digitals, and somewhat saturated. The neutral setting, one of the options available under the "My Colors" submenu, will bring saturation down a notch. Adjustments can also be made to color, saturation, and sharpness and saved as a custom setting under the "my colors" submenu.



Default metering settings generally produced a nice exposure, though I found the SD980 tending to overexpose and lose some highlights in situations with mixed lighting. As predicted, the SD980 shot pretty warm under incandescent studio lights. Auto white balance turned in the best results under natural outdoor lighting.

Auto White Balance, 3200k incandescent light

It should also be noted that though the SD980 boasts 16:9 wide-aspect image capture, you won't be able to utilize it at the camera's highest resolution. The wide images are roughly 9 megapixels.

Our studio images show noise beginning to appear starting at ISO 100, though it's very faint in the cropped image. ISO 400 displays more distortion, though the thumbnail image still looks fairly good.


What the PowerShot SD980 IS does best is show off. Flipping through images with a swipe of the LCD or a flick of the wrist is sure to please a small crowd of friends and family. However, no camera is going to inspire any real "wow" factor if the images don't look as good as the interface. The SD980 delivers dependable image quality whether or not you choose to utilize the touch screen.

The PowerShot SD980 won't compete with Canon's more advanced compacts, but it's as good a performer as the popular SD1200. It hits a sweet spot between chic design and reliable performance. In the expanding world of touch screen cameras, the SD980 is as good as any we've seen thus far. It doesn't offer the level of control that Panasonic's Lumix FX580 does, but manual control is probably not what you're after if you're shopping for a touch LCD. If it's reliable image quality with limited user input that you want, then the PowerShot SD980 is an excellent option.


Good image quality
Touch screen is fluid, responsive
720p HD video


Captures 16:9 image at lower resolution
720p video is only average
Flicking gestures tricky to master
Somewhat expensive

(Source: digitalcamerareview.com)