Another Canon for me

Aug 22, 2010 (Updated Aug 22, 2010)
Review by  
Rated a Helpful Review

Pros:Excellent value for the money, great quality point and shoot camera

Cons:Only up to 3x optical zoom, can blur if taking pics in motion. 

The Bottom Line: If you are an amateur/average joe looking for good picture/video quality in an easy to use affordable package, this is it. 

If you dig through my reviews you will find one that was done about 6 years ago on a Canon Powershot A300.  This was my first real digital camera and for the price it was hard to beat the specs (at the time) and the picture quality.  I really liked the camera and the menu/software as I found it easy to navigate and to use.  The only thing I didn't care for was that the camera was a little bulky and it didn't have an optical zoom.  Over the last year or so I strongly considered upgrading as a 3.2MP Digital Camera with no optical zoom just wasn't cutting it anymore.  It delivered great pictures provided I was at the optimal distance, but beyond that it could get frustrating.  Well enter spring of this year and the old A300 solved my quandry for me by going belly up (the screen completely blanked out, and half the time it would just take shots that looked like they were taken with the lens cover closed, even though it wasn't). The camera had gone with me on a number of trips and had gotten bumped around quite a bit and probably crushed a couple of times while storing it).

Anyways, I knew I wanted another canon as they seem to deliver the best picture quality for the price and seem to have the most user friendly software (Zoom Browser EX) for just simple picture uploads to your pc.  I began looking around at Canons that were cheaper than the purchase price of my old A300 (which was $150).  Canon had some decent 6-7MP Cameras in that price range but one of the things that I was really picky on was that I did want one with a sharper video mode.  I wasn't looking for a professional quality video recording mode, I just didn't want one that was grainy pixelated crap when viewed in anything bigger than a 4x6 frame.  I was also careful because I wanted one with a mic for live sound.  For a while Canon did away with the mic on the entry line cameras and I'm not really into color silent films.  I couldn't really find anything one way or the other on the sub $150 cameras.  Then one day during my search I was just walking around at Wal-Mart and came across the 780is.  The first thing that struck me about the camera is that it is ultra compact.  I couldn't believe they had gotten it that small.  I was even more surprised when I saw that the camera has a good sized 2.5 inch LCD screen (my old camera was much bigger and only had a 1 inch lcd screen).  I got really interested when I saw that it had an HDMI port and lo and behold it could do up to 720p high definition video and yes it did have a mic.  I knew right then and there that I had found my camera, although at $170+tax on sale I was a little hesitant as I hadn't planned on spending more than $120 on a camera.  I kept my eye out for sales though and continued to look around.  I ended up purchasing it for $179 even from Amazon as by the time I finally convinced myself to just spend the extra cash on the 780is, Wal-Mart was out of stock.  It turned out to be a better deal though as the Amazon deal came free with a 4GB Kingston SDHD card, which you would need to purchase (unless you already have one).   

Now for the specs on the Canon 780is:

mini usb and hdmi port (mini usb cable is included but hdmi is not)
Up to 720P video mode
3x optical zoom with image stabilizer
2.5 inch true color LCD screen with face detection
Compatible with SD/SDHC, MMC/MMC Plus/HC MMC Plus
Built in flash
Width: 3.4 inches
Height: 2.1 inches
Thickness: .33 inches (approximately)
Exposure Control Type: Beach, Kids & pets, Digital macro, Night snapshot, Snow, High sensitivity, Portrait mode, Aquarium, Slow shutter, Stitch assist, Fireworks, Underwater, Sunset, Indoor, Foliage
Weight: .24lbs

Those are the basics anyways, even with basic shipping the camera and the memory card arrived in about 5 business days.  I was glad to see that this had a rechargable battery pack as with my old camera I was constantly changing out AA rechargable NiMH batteries.  It did take me just a little while to figure out that the battery and memory card went in the bottom left corner instead of loading from the right side on my old camera.  Setting up the new software was a snap as it is very similar to the old version of Zoom Browser EX that came with my old Canon and it took me less than a minute to adjust to it.  For the camera itself the most welcome surprise was the automatic face detection technology which automatically detects a person or animals' face and gives you the optical shot from whereever you are standing.  Much easier than the old camera where I had to make absolutely sure that I had everything lined up perfectly to get a decent shot.  Going from 3.2MP with only a digital zoom to a 12.1 with an optical zoom made a huge difference with the size of pics that I could clearly take without getting a pixelated mess.  With the old 3.2 I could only get good pics in about a 5x7 or smaller and that was if I took it at the optimal distance.  With this camera I can easily do a 10x12 and probably larger with photo quality paper.  The video mode is great and is much higher resolution than the old camera which turned to a blur if you blew it up any larger than a 4x4.  With this one you can watch it at full screen on a 22 inch monitor with minimal pixelization.  Don't get me wrong, I am not saying this thing is in the same class as an expensive high defnition video camera but it is definitely sufficient for home/family video clips.  In point of fact I used it to do a walk-around video of a scooter that I was selling and it helped to sell it ultimately.  Anyways, the 3x optical zoom is much better than the digital zoom but if you are already used to an optical zoom (which is probably going to be at least 3x) you might be unimpressed by it's capabilities in that department.  The camera could definitely benefit from a 4x or higher optical zoom as it would add so much to it's capabilities.  With the 4GB card on the highest picture quality setting (12MP) it will hold about 1300 pictures, the picture sizes then go from 8MP, 5MP, 2MP and .3MP (I don't recommend the last two no matter how many pics you get as the picture quality is horrible), With 5MP setting you can get about 2800 pictures on the card.  Either way the 4GB card even on it's highest setting is MORE THAN enough for all but a professional photographer.  The menu is easy to navigate and to scroll through to adjust flash settings, picture quality, delete pictures, view pictures, etc.  Shutter lag can vary on this camera (a lot of it depends on the resolution and wether or not you are using a flash).  It can take just over a second or well under depending on which features you are using. The one thing that I did find a little frustrating was that if you are taking pictures of little kids or animals that are in motion that sometimes the camera can blur.  To be fair though a set-up that will take good stills of anything in motion is going to cost you a lot more than this camera. 

The bottom line is that this camera is designed for the point and shoot/amateur photographer and not for a person who grew up living in a dark room (for those of you who are old enough to remember 35mm film).  That being said it really does give you an amazing amount of features and good quality for the money. 

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