What the heck is the difference among all those Canon ELPHs anyway?

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m a big fan of Canon’s Digital ELPH series, but I can’t tell you how many times friends have called me from Best Buy in a state of confusion about which one to buy. It’s no wonder. Stop into any electronics store today and you’ll find a slew of ELPH models and they all look pretty similar to the untrained eye. So here’s a quick primer on what’s what, broken down by resolution (since for better or for worse, that’s how most people seem to shop for cameras).

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m a big fan of Canon’s Digital ELPH series, but I can’t tell you how many times friends have called me from Best Buy in a state of confusion about which one to buy. It’s no wonder. Stop into any electronics store today and you’ll find a slew of ELPH models and they all look pretty similar to the untrained eye. So here’s a quick primer on what’s what, broken down by resolution (since for better or for worse, that’s how most people seem to shop for cameras). For comparison’s sake, I included current pricing from Amazon.com.

12.1 Megapixels

What the heck is the difference among all those Canon ELPHs anyway?

Canon PowerShot SD950 IS ($340) - released August 2007: This is Canon’s current top-of-the-line model (successor to last year’s SD900 which you’ll still find in some stores). It sports a sleek, rugged titanium body, 3.7x optical zoom lens (36- to 133mm), an Optical Image Stabilizer, Canon’s latest face-detection autofocus technology, in-camera red-eye correction, and like all the current ELPHs, uses Canon’s top-end DIGIC III image processor. There’s a 2.5-inch LCD, and unlike models with the bigger 3-inch LCD, it also includes an optical view finder.

10 Megapixels

Canon PowerShot SD900 ($300) – released October 2006: This predecessor to the SD950 IS is being phased out, but you’ll still find it in some stores this holiday season. Its titanium body houses a 3x optical zoom lens (37- to 111mm), an early version of Canon’s face detection technology, and was among the first cameras to include the DIGIC III processor. There’s no image stabilization or red-eye correction technology in this earlier model, but like the SD950 IS, it has a 2.5-inch LCD and an optical view finder.

8 Megapixels

Canon PowerShot SD870 IS ($300) – released September 2007: My favorite of the new models announced this fall, the SD870 IS includes a 3.8x optical zoom lens (28- to 105mm) which offers a wider angle setting than most point-and-shoots--great for group shots and landscapes. Like the SD950 IS, it comes with an Optical Image Stabilizer, the latest face detection technology, and in-camera red-eye reduction. Unlike the 950, it forgoes an optical viewfinder to fit a big 3-inch LCD.

Canon PowerShot SD850 IS ($250) – released July 2007: This is the follow-up to the discontinued SD700. It has a 4x optical zoom lens (35- to 105mm), an Optical Image Stabilizer, the latest face-detection technology, and red-eye correction. Like the SD950 IS, it has a 2.5-inch LCD and does include an optical viewfinder.

7.1 Megapixels

Canon PowerShot SD750 ($209) – released March 2007: Includes a 3x optical zoom lens (35- to 105mm) and Canon’s latest face-detection and red-eye correction technologies, though there’s no image stabilization. Like the SD870 IS it leaves out an optical viewfinder to squeeze in a 3-inch LCD.

Canon PowerShot SD800 IS ($230) – released October 2006: Of the same generation as the SD900, the SD800 IS is a predecessor to my current favorite, the SD870 IS. Like its successor, its 3.8x optical zoom lens (28- to 105mm) gives you the flexibility of an extra wide angle. Among the first Digital ELPHs to include a face-detection autofocus system and Optical Image Stabilizer, it was also one of the first to utilize the DIGIC III processor. It includes a 2.5-inch LCD as well as an optical viewfinder.

Canon PowerShot SD1000 ($179) – released March 2007: Released alongside the SD750, the SD1000 was a replacement for the SD600 from early 2006. Slightly more compact and boxier than the SD750, it sports pretty similar specs, such as the 3x optical zoom lens (35- to 105mm), DIGIC III processor with newer face-detection and red-eye correction technologies, and lack of image stabilization. The main difference is that the SD1000 does include an optical viewfinder and has a smaller 2.5-inch LCD.

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