Canon PowerShot D10 Review
Canon PowerShot D10 Introduction
The Canon PowerShot D10 represents Canon's first foray into the all-action world of adventure cameras. The Canon D10 is waterproof up to 10 meters / 33-feet deep, freeze proof from -10°C / 14 degrees Fahrenheit, shockproof up to 1.22 meters / 4 feet, and is fully protected from dust. More regular features include a 12 megapixel sensor, 3x zoom lens with Optical Image Stabilization, 2.5 inch LCD screen, and new Smart AUTO, Blink Detection and FaceSelf-Timer modes. The uniquely styled Canon PowerShot D10 has a recommended price of $329.99 / £379.00 / €449.00 - we find out if this is the perfect action camera.
Ease of Use
The Canon PowerShot D10 is certainly very distinctive, with toy-camera-like looks that you'll either love or hate. Our review model had a turquoise blue and silver colour scheme, which can be customised by purchasing an optional coloured Front Cover Set. This is a well-made digital camera with a sturdy metal body and excellent overall finish. It's just about small enough to fit into the palm of your hand, featuring a 3x optical zoom lens that's equivalent to a focal length of 35-135mm. The maximum aperture is a fast f/2.8 at the wide end and a respectable f/4.9 at the other extreme of the zoom range. The PowerShot D10 is quite bulky, measuring 4.9cms thick when turned off, making it more suited to a small camera bag than a trouser pocket, but it only weighs 190g without the battery or memory card fitted.
As with most Canon cameras that we've reviewed before, the PowerShot D10 is one of the better models around in terms of build quality. Even the tripod mount is metal instead of plastic and positioned centrally in-line with the lens. The only minor criticism is the lack of any handgrip on the front, with just a smooth, flat finish embossed with the Canon logo, making it more difficult to hold than it really should be. Also, changing cards or batteries is not possible while the camera is mounted on a tripod, because the compartment door hinge is too close to the tripod socket.
The Canon PowerShot D10 has relatively few external controls, 14 in total, which reflects the fact that this is quite a simple camera in functionality terms, with only limited photographic control on offer. All the controls are clearly labeled using industry-standard symbols and terminology. As this camera will spend quite a lot of its life underwater, it thankfully has large On/Off and Shutter buttons, and the optical zoom is operated by buttons on the rear, rather than a more fiddly push/pull lever. We would have liked the zoom buttons to have been a little bigger though for quicker access in more unfamiliar shooting environments.
Located on top of the PowerShot D10 are the Print Transfer, Camera/Movie and Play buttons, plus the On/Off and Shutter buttons, and on the bottom are the metal tripod mount and sealed battery compartment, which also houses the SD memory card slot. On the rear of the PowerShot D10 is the 2.5 inch LCD screen, with all the rear controls located to the right. You can directly access the various focus and flash options by clicking left and right on the navigation pad, whilst up and down are respectively used to set the exposure compensation and timer options. There is sadly no dedicated button for ISO speed, which is a commonly used feature, although you can work around this by optionally setting the Print Transfer button to one of 7 available options (which include ISO speed).
Virtually all of Canon's compact digicams offer a few little known but advanced functions, and the PowerShot D10 is no exception. These well-kept secrets, which you usually only learn about if you read the user guide attentively, include auto-focus lock (AFL), autoexposure lock (AEL) and flash exposure lock (FEL). To lock the focus on a subject for a series of consecutive shots, press the Left button on the four-way pad once while holding the shutter release depressed halfway. To lock the ambient exposure, do the same with the Up button. Flash exposure lock is achieved the same way when the flash is set to Forced On. AEL is available in Program, Quick Shot and Movie modes (you needn't hold down the shutter release for AEL when you are in Movie mode though).
The Function/Set button in the middle of the navigation pad opens a sub-menu, which allows you to set ISO speed, white balance, colours, metering, continuous shooting and image size/quality settings. This system is a good compromise given the size of the camera's LCD screen and therefore the limited space for external controls, although using it underwater is rather less intuitive. Note that some of these options may be unavailable depending on which shooting mode you are in.
The 2.5 inch LCD screen has a wide viewing angle from left to right, adequate resolution of 230,000 dots, and is visible in all but the brightest of sunlit conditions. It offers twice the normal levels of brightness by default, with 5 adjustable levels available, and a 2mm perspex shield protects it against scuffs and fingerprints. Both the screen cover and camera body had a few fine scratches, though, after a couple of weeks of use. There is no optical viewfinder on this model.
There is a single sealed port on the right side of the Canon PowerShot D10 (when viewed from the back), which accepts both the USB interface cable required to connect the camera to a printer or computer, and the AV cable. There are no controls on the left side of the PowerShot D10. Interestingly the D10 features an innovative connection system on all four corners of its body, enabling you to decide where the supplied wrist strap or the optional carabineer, shoulder, or neck straps are attached.
The menu system on the Canon PowerShot D10 is extremely straight-forward to use and is accessed by a dedicated button underneath the navigation pad. Quite a lot of the camera's main settings, such as white balance, exposure compensation and ISO speed, are accessed elsewhere, so the main menu system isn't actually that complicated. A row of 2 icons along the top of the LCD screen represents the Camera and Setup sub-menus, with most of the options being the kind that you set once and then forget about.
Due to the bright LCD screen, the various options are easy to access and use, especially as only 6 are shown onscreen at one time. In the Shooting menu, you may do things like specifying the AF Frame (Centre or Face Detect AiAF, the latter of which can now recognise faces at sharper angles), enabling or disabling Servo AF (useful for tracking subjects in motion), adjusting various flash settings, and setting the new i-Contrast function (which is Canon's answer to Sony's DRO, Nikon's D-lighting and Olympus' SAT, and works by lifting the shadows while leaving the midtones and the highlights alone in a high-contrast scene).
If you have never used a digital camera before, or you're upgrading from a more basic model, reading the comprehensive and fairly easy-to-follow manual before you start is a good idea. Unfortunately Canon have chosen to cut costs and only supply the full manual as a PDF on a CD, rather than in printed format (there's just a short printed guide to the camera's basic features). Not much use if you're taking pictures and need to find out what a particular option does.
The Canon PowerShot D10 offers Program and a comprehensive range of different scene modes - including dedicated Underwater, Snow and Beach modes - aimed at the user who just wants to point and shoot, making this camera particularly well-suited to the beginner. The new Smart Auto Mode automatically determines the subject's brightness, contrast, distance and overall hue, then selects the best scene setting from 18 possible modes, which is more than most competitors. The PowerShot D10 uncannily selected the right kind of scene mode for almost every environment that I tried it in. Strangely, Canon have not included their Easy Mode on the PowerShot D10, a useful mode for beginners which automatically sets every shooting option apart from turning the flash on and off.
The PowerShot D10 has a comprehensive Face Detection system that makes it easier to take great portraits. It detects up to 35 faces in a shot and adjusts the focus, exposure, flash settings and white balance automatically. The new Face Self Timer function is very useful for including yourself in group- or self-portraits. When you press the shutter release, walk into the scene, and two seconds after the camera detects that a new face appeared in the frame, the camera will automatically take the picture. Finally, Blink Detection can detect if a person in the picture has blinked and will automatically prompt you to retake the photo.
The Canon PowerShot D10 features an anti-shake system, called IS Mode - turn it on in the menu system and the PowerShot D10 automatically compensates for camera shake, which is a slight blurring of the image that typically occurs at slow shutter speeds. There are three different modes. Continuous is on all the time including image composition, Shooting is only on when you press the shutter button, and Panning as the name suggests is best when using the camera to track a moving subject. In practice I found that it does make a noticeable difference, as shown in the examples on the Image Quality page. You don't notice that the camera is actually doing anything different when anti-shake is turned on, just that you can use slower shutter speeds than normal and still take sharp photos.
Leaving the anti-shake system on all the time didn't affect the battery-life too much, with the camera managing just over 200 shots before the rechargeable Lithium-ion battery ran out of power. As part of a belt and braces approach, the anti-shake system is also backed up by motion detection technology that assesses camera or subject movement. The latter is effectively what rivals would refer to as digital anti-shake, as, activated in Smart Auto mode, it boosts ISO to a level (between ISO 80-800) it considers will compensate without hopefully introducing too much noise.
The PowerShot D10 can record VGA video at 640x480 pixels at 30fps in the Quicktime .MOV format. Unfortunately sound quality is not that great, with the usual background noise that accompanies movies shot with cameras that only have mono sound, and there's no speaker on the camera to actually playback the sound. Even worse, you can't use the optical zoom at all during movie recording, just the 4x digital zoom setting. On a more positive note, the D10's anti-shake system is available when shooting movies, which helps to ensure less shaky footage.
|Battery Compartment||Memory Card Slot|
The start-up time from turning the Canon PowerShot D10 on to being ready to take a photo is quick at around 1 second, and it takes about 3 seconds to zoom from the widest focal length to the longest. Focusing is very quick in good light and the camera happily achieves focus indoors or in low-light situations, helped by a powerful focus-assist lamp. It takes about 0.5 second to store an image, allowing you to keep shooting as they are being recorded onto the memory card - there is a very brief LCD blackout between each image. In Continuous mode the camera takes just 1.1 frames per second at the highest image quality, which is slow for this class of camera, although the shooting rate is at least maintained until your memory card is full.
Once you have captured a photo, the Canon PowerShot D10 has a good range of options when it comes to playing, reviewing and managing your images. You can instantly scroll through the images that you have taken, view up to 9 thumbnails, zoom in and out up to 10x magnification, and filter images by date, category, folder and file type. You can also view slideshows, delete, protect, resize, trim and rotate an image, and set the print order and the transfer order.
The Red-eye Correction options fixes red eye after you have taken a photo (useful if you forgot to activate it before) and i-Contrast improves the shadow/brightness areas, with Auto and Low, Medium and High settings (if you select i-Contrast before taking a photo, only Auto and Off settings are available). MyColors allows you to apply any of the 10 different effects on offer to a photo.
The Display button toggles detailed settings information about each picture on and off, such as the ISO rating and white balance, and there is a small histogram available during playback which is helpful in evaluating the exposure. A third press of the Display button shows the image alongside a small, magnified section, useful for quickly checking the sharpness.
In summary the Canon PowerShot D10 is a distinctive, well-built point-and-shoot model that can be safely used in a wider range of conditions than most other digital cameras.