So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Canon PowerShot D10 digital camera
Canon's PowerShot D10 is a waterproof, drop-proof, dustproof and cold-proof digital camera
- Waterproof to 10m, drop-proof to 1.2m, dust-proof, easy to use, well designed
- Images lack contrast, sometimes overexposes shots in bright sunlight
The design of the Canon PowerShot D10 is spot-on for a ruggedised camera. It feels good to use and, most importantly, it’s very easy to use. It takes clear photos but we wish it rendered them with more contrast. Pick it up if you’re after a ruggedised camera for snorkelling, or just to use while you hang around the pool.
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
From the clear images it snaps to its design, from its button placement to the accessories available for it, Canon has got a lot of things right with the ruggedised PowerShot D10 digital camera. It is a great feat considering it is the company’s first attempt at building cameras for adventurous users.
The Canon PowerShot D10 is waterproof to 10 meters, can survive drops up to 1m and temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius, and it is dustproof. It can be used underwater, at the beach or by the pool without fear of damage, and its bright LCD screen can be viewed adequately even in direct sunlight.
The Canon PowerShot D10 differs greatly to the Olympus and Panasonic cameras in its design. Instead of being slim and square, the D10 is chubby. Its lens sticks out from the body and is protected by hardened glass and a round frame. The round frame makes the camera easy to hold steady: you can grip it properly with your left hand without obscuring the lens (which was a problem with the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FT1).
The button layout is simple and makes the Canon PowerShot D10 easy to use. The three things that we like in particular are the big buttons across the top for the power and shutter buttons; the three buttons above the screen that can be used to change mode; and the use of buttons instead of a slider to change the zoom. The shutter button is round and easy to press even if you are wearing gloves.
The lack of a rotational dial for changing the mode means you don’t have to fiddle when you want to go from auto mode to video mode, for example, and it also means that sand and grit can’t get in (which is a concern we have with the Panasonic and Olympus cameras). The use of buttons for zooming instead of a slider means that zoom movements can be made more precisely and again you don’t have to worry about dirt getting into the slider.
On all four corners of the D10 you will find mounting points that can be used to attach a carabiner or neck strap. These straps are thick and cost up to $99, but are useful when you're bushwalking or diving.
We dropped the Canon PowerShot D10 off tables onto carpet and concrete — although we don’t recommend you do this, we even played office soccer with it — and it survived. It worked perfectly after being left in the fridge for an hour (although it did give us cold hands); it took photos capably from the bottom of bathtubs, sinks and alcoholic beverages. The hardened cover in front of the lens also withstood prodding and scratches from a pocket knife.
These rugged features are designed to the protect the PowerShot D10’s components, which include a 12.1-megapixel sensor, Canon’s DIG!C4 image processor, and a 3x optical zoom lens with a focal range of 35-105mm (35mm equivalent).
This is a slightly narrower lens than the ones used by the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FT1, Olympus Mju Tough 8000, and Olympus Mju 6000 ruggedised cameras. It means the Canon PowerShot D10 won't be able to capture as wide a shot when snorkelling and taking photos of subjects only a couple of metres away from you.
At its widest point, the lens aperture is f/2.8 and it closes to f/4.9 when zoomed all the way. Because it’s largely a point-and-shoot camera, you can’t change the aperture or the shutter speed, but you can change the white balance, metering and ISO speed.
Click here to see the test images
In bright conditions, the camera did its best to regulate the exposure settings, but it can’t perform magic. You still need to be aware of where the sun is and how bright the light hitting your subject is. The camera also has a setting called i-Contrast, which tends to lighten images a lot, but even with i-Contrast disabled images were still too light. This was noticeable in shadowed areas and means that many photos lack adequate contrast and look a little too pale.
Colours were rendered a little brighter than expected and looked neutral overall. Noise was not a concern for many shots until the ISO speed went over 400. Noise and blurriness can be an issue if you shoot underwater and there is not enough light. Unlike the Panasonic LUMIX FT-1, the Canon PowerShot D10 doesn’t let you limit the ISO speed when taking photos using auto mode.
Chromatic aberration was not a problem in our tests shots; high-contrast areas had well-defined edges without purple fringing. We could only notice chromatic aberration when shooting silhouettes with the sun directly behind our subject.
Because the lens has such a wide angle, barrel distortion will be noticeable when you shoot straight lines. It is prevalent on horizontal and vertical lines, so it will skew the lines of buildings and other straight objects when shooting at the widest angle. For photos of people and sea life this won’t be a problem. The quality of the lens is very good, though, as our images were crisp and well detailed. You can zoom all the way in to your photos and they won’t suffer from blotchiness or overly softened edges.
The Canon PowerShot D10 has four shooting modes: auto, program, scene, and video. It is a relatively quick camera; when you press the power button it switches on and is instantly ready to shoot, and its shot-to-shot performance is not overly sluggish. However, if you take photos at ISO 400 or higher there will be a slight delay as the camera processes the image. We also noticed a delay when the camera tried to read images off a full SD card and play them back.
Other features of the Canon PowerShot D10 include optical image stabilisation, face detection, scene detection, blink detection, and motion detection. [That’s a lot of detecting! — Ed.]
Overall, we think the physical design of the Canon PowerShot D10 is spot-on for a ruggedised camera. It feels good to use and, most importantly, it’s very easy to use. We also like the clear pictures it takes, but we wish it rendered images with more contrast. By default it captures images that look too pale. However, that’s something that can be fixed during post-processing. So if you’re after a ruggedised camera for snorkelling, or just to use while you hang around the pool, the Canon PowerShot D10 is worth considering.
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