Canon Powershot SD780 IS Review

With the whole decision to improve my site, I thought that I needed two things, a digital camera and a HD camcorder. I started looking online for cameras and camcorders. After a bit of searching I found that it would be costly to do so. So I searched to see if there are any point and shoot cameras that support HD video. I found the Sony DSC-T500 and the Canon Powershot SD780 IS. I decided to go for the Canon as every canon camera I have used (friends, family) has been great. Also as for Sony, they have many proprietary connections that just make everything even more complicated and annoying. I use to only buy Sony, however I have found that their quality is not as it use to be. The cherry on top of the icing that made me sure i wanted to buy this camera was the color selection. Many Cameras today only come in a very bland selection such as Silver, and maybe if you are lucky black (some come in extra ordinary flashy colors however those are specific models made for segmented customers). The Canon Powershot SD780IS however comes in four colors (Red, Black, Silver, and Gold). I loved the red and decided that this was for sure my camera.

Canon Powershot SD780 IS Red
Canon Powershot SD780 IS Red


The purchase of this camera was pretty straight forward, since I live in Canada no retailers had it as of yet. I quickly went on ebay and bought it for $279.99US with free shipping to a friend in the states. The total came out to be $354CAD. The shipment arrived in 4 business days, which for ground shipping is great.


Canon’s Design is seriously in need of applaud here. Everything is thought about here, including the box. Canon’s boxes are becoming smaller and smaller. Recently I bought a Canon Powershot SD1100 for my mother and its larger than the box for the SD780IS. Considering my camera is more of a workhorse that is great. When you first see the camera you will not believe all the specs (below). Its footprint is the size of a credit card. The styling is also very nicely done as even the buttons are styled well. It has three shooting modes, Auto, Manual, and Video Mode. The zoom switch even blends in with the contours of the camera. One thing that I have a small gripe about is the interface, its really great overall, however there is a slight learning curve to figuring out how to use it exactly as you want(I guess that’s what the manual is for). Overall Design was thought of in this camera and it’s very sexy indeed. Finally the Quality of this camera is great, while it’s in your hand you don’t feel like its flimsy or going to break. However I get scared to drop it (it’s my baby).

This is the Comparison of the boxes of the SD780IS (Top) and the SD1100IS (Bottom)
This is the Comparison of the boxes of the SD780IS (Top) and the SD1100IS (Bottom)
Canon SD780IS Box
Canon Powershot SD780IS Box

For Size Reference I placed the box next to my Blackberry 8900 Curve for a comparison

Design:Rating: ★★★★☆ (I deducted 1 star for the User Interface learning Curve)

Features and Specifications

(Specs taken from Canon Website)

Type of Camera Compact digital still camera with built-in flash, 3x Optical/4x Digital/12x Combined Zoom with Optical Image Stabilizer System

Image Capture Device
Type 12.1 Megapixel, 1/2.3-inch type Charge Coupled Device (CCD)
Total Pixels Approx. 12.4 Megapixels
Effective Pixels Approx. 12.1 Megapixels

Focal Length 5.9-17.9mm f/3.2-5.8 (35mm film equivalent: 33-100mm)
Digital Zoom 4x
Focusing Range Normal: 1.0 ft./30cm-infinity (W), 1.5 ft./45cm-infinity (T)
Macro: 1.2 in.-1.6 ft./3-50cm (W)
Digital Macro: 1.2-3.9 in. /3-10cm (W)
Autofocus System TTL Autofocus

Viewfinder & Monitor
Viewfinder Real-image optical zoom viewfinder
LCD Monitor 2.5-inch TFT color LCD widescreen with wide viewing angle (PureColor LCD II)
LCD Pixels Approx. 230,000 dots
LCD Coverage 100%

Aperture and Shutter
Maximum Aperture f/3.2 (W) – f/5.8 (T)
Shutter Speed 15-1/1500 sec.; Long Shutter operates with noise reduction when manually set at 1.3-15 sec.

Exposure Control
ISO Sensitivity Auto, ISO 80/100/200/400/800/1600 equivalent (Standard output sensitivity. Recommended exposure index)
Light Metering Method Evaluative*, Center-weighted average, Spot**
* Control to incorporate facial brightness in Face Detection AF
** Metering frame is fixed to the center
Exposure Control Method Program AE, i-Contrast; AE Lock
Exposure Compensation +/-2 stops in 1/3-stop increments

White Balance
White Balance Control Auto,* Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom * Control to incorporate facial brightness in Face Detection AF

Built-in Flash Auto, Red-eye Reduction, Auto Red-eye Correction, Flash On, Flash Off; FE lock, Slow Synchro
Flash Range 1-11 ft./30cm-3.5m (W), 1.5-6.6 ft./45cm-2.0m (T) (when sensitivity is set to ISO Auto)
Recycling Time 10 sec. or less (battery voltage=3.7V)
Flash Exposure Compensation N/A

Shooting Specifications
Shooting Modes Auto, Program, Portrait, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Fireworks, Aquarium, Underwater, ISO 3200, Indoor, Kids & Pets, Night Snapshot, Color Accent, Color Swap, Digital Macro, Long Shutter, Stitch Assist, Movie
Photo Effects My Colors
Vivid, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Custom
Self-Timer Activates shutter after an approx. 2-sec./10-sec. delay, Face Detection Self-timer
Wireless Control Not available
Continuous Shooting Approx. 0.8 fps

Image Storage
Storage Media SD/SDHC Memory Card, MultiMediaCard, MMC Plus Card, HC MMC Plus Card
File Format Design rule for camera file system, DPOF Version 1.1
Image Compression Normal, Fine
JPEG Compression Mode Still Image: Exif 2.2 (JPEG)
Movie: MOV (Image: H.264; Audio: Linear PCM (Monaural))
Number of Recording Pixels Still Image: 4000 x 3000 (Large), 3264 x 2448 (Medium 1), 2592 x 1944 (Medium 2), 1600 x 1200 (Medium 3/Date Stamp), 640 x 480 (Small), 4000 x 2248 (Widescreen)
Movie: High Definition: 1280 x 720 (30 fps); Standard Definition: 640 x 480 (30 fps), 320 x 240 (30 fps)
Available up to 4GB or 29 min. 59 sec. (HD)/60 min. (SD) per clip

Number of Recordable Images
Large (L) Medium 1 (M1) Medium 2 (M2) Medium 3 (M3)
File Size (KB) 3,084 1,474 2,060 980 1,395 695 558 278
2GB 626 1,280 930 1,920 1,365 2,672 3,235 6,146
8GB 2,505 5,116 3,721 7,675 5,457 10,679 12,927 24,562
Small (S) Widescreen (W)
File Size (KB) 150 84 2,311 1,105
2GB 10,245 15,368 830 1,707
8GB 40,937 61,406 3,318 6,822

Time of Recordable Movies
High Definition Standard Definition
1,280 x 720 640 x 480 320 x 240
30 fps 30 fps 30 fps
Movie size (KB/sec.) 2,955 1,316 394
2GB 10 min. 53 sec. 23 min. 49 sec. 1 hr. 13 min. 10 sec.
8GB 43 min. 32 sec. 1 hr. 35 min. 11 sec. 4 hr. 52 min. 24 sec.

Note: N=Normal F=Fine
Storage Capacity varies depending on camera settings. This data is estimated from Canon’s standard shooting conditions. Figures for Movie Mode represent total capacity of the particular media.

Playback Specifications
Playback Modes File Still Image: Single, Magnification (approx. 2x-10x), Jump, Auto Rotate, Rotate, Resume, My Colors, My Category, By Date, By Folder, By File Type, Transition Effects, Histogram, Overexposure Warning, Index (9 thumbnails), Slide Show, Red-eye Correction, Trimming, Resize, Image Inspection Tool, i-Contrast
Movie: Normal Playback, Special Playback, Auto Rotate, Resume

Erasing Specifications
Erase Modes Still Image: single image, select range, select by date, select by category, select by folder, all images
Movie: part of movie, all of movie

Computer Interface USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (mini-B jack)
Video Out NTSC/PAL
Audio Out Monaural
Other Mini-HDMI cable: connection to high definition monitor; Memory card slot: direct connection to Canon SELPHY Compact Photo Printers, PIXMA Inkjet Photo Printers and PictBridge-compatible printers via camera’s USB 2.0 Hi-Speed cable

Power Supply
Power Source 1. Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery NB-4L 2. AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC10 (optional)
Shooting Capacity Still Image: approx. 210 shots*
Playback Time Approx. 300 min. * LCD screen on. The above figures comply with CIPA testing standards and apply when fully-charged batteries are used.

Physical Specifications
Operating Temperature 32-104°F/0-40°C
Operating Humidity 10-90%
Dimensions (WxHxD) 3.43 x 2.15 x 0.72 in./87.0 x 54.5 x 18.4mm
Weight Approx. 4.06 oz./115g (camera body only)

Note: Note: 26 display languages provided (English, German, French, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, Simplified/Traditional Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Portuguese, Korean, Greek, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Thai, Arabic, Romanian, Ukrainian, Farsi)All data are based on Canon’s Standard Test Method. Subject to change without notice.

Canon, DIGIC, ELPH, PIXMA, and PowerShot and SELPHY are registered trademarks of Canon Inc. in the United States and may also be registered trademarks or trademarks in other countries. Microsoft, Windows and Windows Vista are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Mac is a trademark of Apple, Inc., registered in the United States and other countries. All other products and brand names are registered trademarks, trademarks or service marks of their respective owners in the United States and/or other countries.

As you can see this camera is fully loaded. Its  12.1 Megapixel photos come out crystal clear, with very few blurry or messed up shots (way less than other cameras). It shoots HD video in 720P. That’s actually a great thing since you don’t have to convert it for youtube, you can just copy it over and upload. The video is very clear in good lighting and a bit grainy in certain low lighting situations. Considering the size of the camera, it shocked me that they were able to include an HDMI port (HDMI cable not included). Inside the menu of the camera you can disable digital zoom (I find this very important as it lowers the image quality) in both picture and video mode. I think I found a bug though for the video mode, if you disable the digital zoom once you start recording it will not zoom in or out using optical zoom. I tested this by turning digital zoom back on and found that it would zoom properly while recording. I will report this bug to Canon and hopefully they can release a firmware update. It turns out it’s a feature not a bug. Another notable feature on this (and most canon cameras) is the ability to change the start up splash screen (directions on how to do this here). Another thing I like about the video mode is that it shoots in MOV format which if you use a mac will be so easy to drag into any video editing program. Finally One of the reasons I decided to buy a Canon was that they have really cool features. One really cool feature is the  color swap feature, which allows you to pic any color in your screen and replace it with another one: This works for both images(much harder to find for images on this model though), and video (EVEN IN HD WOW!) You can see examples below. Finally with this much power packed in a camera like this you would expect the battery to drain fast, however with constant use and switching it on and off many times (Vegas trip) it averages about three days of battery use. I find this amazing for how many pictures and HD video I shot. You can view all my HD videos Here (all except the krime dawg kush music video were shot with my camera)

Color Swap Example

Canon Color Swap Enabled with +5 Setting

Below is the Picture That I am using as my startup screen (created by Samer Ziadeh)

Kush Splash Screen
Kush Splash Screen

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="640" height="360" allowfullscreen="true" fvars="fs=1" /]

Features and Specifications:Rating: ★★★★★

More pictures taken with my camera can be seen here

Final Thoughts

I really fell in love with this camera. It lived up to my expectations. Usually when I anticipate a product so much I get disappointed when it’s not as good as I thought. However with this camera it really amazed me, GREAT JOB CANON! However some things in the user interface could get fixed, it took me about five minutes to figure out where the color swap function is for images. However this camera will really impress everyone that sees it,  even the non geeks. My friends asked to see my camera when I arrived back from my trip to the US. They were shocked to see a point and shoot camera, they expected a heavy duty giant camcorder. I am glad I picked Canon over Sony for my digital camera!

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

27 thoughts on “Canon Powershot SD780 IS Review”

  1. Kudos for the great review.
    I love the colour swap feature they, it seems to fit the style of modern trend.
    It also looks like it’s price is great for what it is, will consider buying it when I come around to get a camera.

    1. Thanks for the Kudos, yeah its really great, however unless you are going to buy one really soon its probably going to be outdated really soon! Also the price will fall soon as well.

    1. You Must put the Camera in Manual Mode. Press the “FUNC SET” button. Change the program to Color swap which has an icon of an eye dropper with an “s” next to it. Press Function. Press Display. Press Left while highlighting the color you want to change inside the square that appears. Press right while highlighting the color you want to change to inside the square that appears

  2. Hey Buddy, Just got the camera today, did you notice that when you are viewing through the LCD screen the view is blurry, when zoomed out its just a little grainy, but with zoom in it gets really messy. Pictures come out great though, is this normal for this camera ? or is there some setting ?

    1. Hey Rafael, I’m assuming that you are zooming in farther than the optical zoom, and then using digital zoom. This degrades the quality and should be avoided. Or are you talking about using this in video recording mode? If so, the video recording mode is fixed and will only use digital zoom which again will degrade the quality

  3. Hello. I really enjoyed reading your review. You seem to know what you are talking about. I have windows vista and windows movie maker, but with this camera i cant just upload my videos to my computer. I can see them but i can not hear. I dont know what the problem is. Like i have to go on the ZoomBrowser ex to actually hear sound and everytime i upload to y9outube it says upload aborted.

  4. I bought this camera recently. Just playing back a couple of movies I made, using Quick Time. The movie skips dramatically. If I cant figure out how to make a movie without it skipping so much, I will have to return it and find something else. I understand its an inexpensive camera, but its almost like it stops/starts, and does not flow, and its extremely annoying. Any recommendations?

    1. Hey Stephen, could you give me more details of you situation? Your operating system, computer specs, codecs, etc. That might help identify your problem

  5. Hi kush. I had the same experience as Stephen. When I select my video files on my computer (Mini HP), Quicktime opens and it plays back with a delay and skips around. Recorded a video in 320 instead of 1280 and it played fine. HOwever, can’t seem to upload ANY of the videos in Youtube or Facebook. Get error messages. the File is a MOV. Please help! I got this computer to be able to upload videos and now am not having luck. I dont’ know what I’m supposed to do,I thought it should be like uploading a picture, no biggie! Thanks!

    1. Hi Amanda, Could you give me a bit more details about your computer and the operating system? To play the videos on your pc I would recommend you use VLC. That is the best player for playing all types of formats. As for uploading it to youtube and facebook, I’m not too sure. Do you have a high speed internet connection? What browser are you using? If you can provide me with some of this info I’m sure we can find a solution!

  6. hi,

    i have window vista and i transferred the photos and videos from the camera to my computer but i am unable to play the video at all. am i suppose to download some kind of software or something in order to play the video? please help! thank you!!!

  7. i have this camera and I’m having trouble uploading it to youtube. like when i try uploading it its gonna say error..i upload it straight from the camera..i don’t know whats wrong helpp.

  8. Hey,

    So, I’m trying to find video editing software that will work with my Canon sd780. I have a brand new ASUS pc laptop running windows 7 with 4GB memory and running 64bit OS (Can you tell I don’t know much about computers!)

    Movie maker won’t work with .mov files. I tried Adobe premier elements, but the video won’t play correctly on it. The video and audio won’t sync. Do you know of any decent software I can try? I’m getting desperate, since I just spent $1,100 to be able to edit and upload video! Thanks so much!!

    1. Hey Melanie, I have not used pc editing software in a while, however i would recommend pinnacle. It’s easy to use and produces good results.

  9. i have no idea how to use color swap. i followed the instructions that someone said, but there’s no eyedrop with an S next to it. help?

  10. I just purchased the camera yesterday, and I am unable to watch the HD movies on my computer. I have a G4 powermac OS 10.5.8
    Do you know what I can purchase (besides a new computer), maybe a newer quicktime to enable me to watch on my computer.
    I have no problems watching the lower resolution movies.
    really love this site

  11. What’s up Kushman? I got the SD hooked up to the Mac USB port but nothing pops up. Ho do I get pics and more importantly videos to the computer?

    1. Hey Shuteyes, Do you have iPhoto installed? If you can not get it, then use image capture. You can launch image capture by either searching for it, or opening it in the Applications directory. You should be able to download videos and pictures using that.

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