Let me tell you about a very neglected piece of gear that never gets a gear review because sometimes folks think that electronics gear isn’t really outdoor gear. Let me tell you, they are wrong. The gear I’m talking about is your trusty digital camera — and I consider gear like this to be critical gear because when you have an adventure outdoors, nothing helps you reminisce like browsing the pics you took while you were out there in it. So just FYI — you’ll be seeing more of this kind of gear on GEAR.com for this reason: Just because you can’t mount your ski bindings on something, doesn’t mean it isn’t gear. And I write about the gear I rely on every day, and that includes a killer digital camera. And that’s what the Canon PowerShot SD1000 is — a killer digital camera.
It is tiny. And when you are skinning up Patsey Marley ridge in Little Cottonwood Canyon, you definitely don’t want to be hefting heavy, bulky camera gear on your person or in your pack. We fuss so much over the weight of our skis, bindings, boots, packs, gore-tex jackets, ski helmets, poles. Heck, I even knew guys that tore the tongues out of their boots and drilled holes in the plastic shells just to reduce weight! But then we grab any old camera and stuff it in our pack. Well, the Canon PowerShot SD1000 is only 4.4 ounces so I definitely think it fits into the “lightweight” category. It is less than an inch thick (0.8 inches to be precise) and is 3.4 inches wide and just 2.1 inches tall. Get a slim enough carrying case for it, and that will slip easily into the napoleon pocket of your Arc’ Teryx jacket. Another good location for it — the perfectly sized hip belt pocket of your Dakine Ridge pack (see this video review of it to see the pocket). Man, I love tiny details like that on gear because you know the designer gets it.
It takes killer stills, and good video…and it is STILL tiny. As a 7.1 megapixel digital camera, you know the SD1000 is going to take sharp pictures that can be blown up & printed at 8×11 without any real pixelation or degradation in image quality. But what else is killer is that the camera also has 3x optical zoom and 4x digital zoom. The LCD screen on the back isn’t as large as some other digital cameras that I’ve seen but it is plenty adequate: 2.5″ and crystal clear. Still, I recommend putting a no-scratch adhesive on it to protect it. I wish it had image stabilization, but I honestly have used this thing so much in awkward, steep, snowy situations and have rarely come out with blurry pics. Also, the video is quite clear and captures audio too. Check out this short video review of the Black Diamond GlideLite climbing skins to see a video shot entirely with this tiny little digital camera. Of course, any picture degradation you see there is mostly the result of the compression I had to do on the video clips when I uploaded them to Viddler. If I were to burn the video to disk or just view it on my computer, it would come out crystal. But uploading it to the web, you obviously have to compress it so that it streams the best possible on most connections. Obviously, that’s not the camera’s fault — the camera shot it clean. I have found that I now do all my home video, as well as any video that I’m going to upload to the Internet, on this camera. I have had many different high-end miniDV video cameras over the years. And I’ve paid a pretty penny for them all. But I hate them now. I hate having to find a particular spot on the tape, upload it second-by-second to my harddrive, and then edit it. This digital camera saves your movie clips as individual files — so you just grab them, drag them to your desktop, and voila — you have your video clip ready to upload to Viddler or YouTube.
It is very cheap (and did I mention that it’s tiny??). I bought mine on CircuitCity.com and it was only $170 (click here to check it out at current prices). Another very cool thing is that you can do in-store pickup at Circuit City. That’s right — if you are impatient like me, you can order your camera on CircuitCity.com while you are on your lunch break at work, and then swing by the store on your way home to pick it up. How awesome is that?? So try out Circuit City’s same-day in-store pickup and satisfy your inner “spoiled brat” who wants it all right now.
Now, I certainly don’t want to whitewash this gear. Yes I think it’s a killer piece of electronics gear, but this is a quick electronics gear review. And I do have some gripes that you should know:
- It has automatic face detection, which allegedly finds faces in the picture you’re about to take and focuses in on them. However, you’ll be amused to know that my buddy’s touring backpack looks like a very nylon-like face to the camera. Strike one.
- It uses SD, which is technically better but it means that those of you who had previous Canon PowerShot cameras that used Compact Flash will have to buy a bunch of new memory cards.
- You can’t upload directly to YouTube like several other new cameras can. So you have to bother with USB cables and such just to get your pics onto your computer, and then uploaded to YouTube.
- The battery is okay, but it performs so-so in the cold — meaning it’s best to NOT use the LCD screen when you are in the cold, because it will sap the battery juice fast. And you don’t have the option of getting disposable batteries. So if you are doing an extended trek of several days, then you’ll need to bring several fully-charged spare batteries. That stinks.
So yes, the product isn’t perfect. But it is an ideal point and shoot camera in my opinion. Especially because of its size — because I think that if you are going to actually USE a camera to capture your action shots as they are happening (sometimes spontaneously) it has to be convenient to tote around with you. And the Canon PowerShot SD1000 is just that kind of gear — the kind you’ll rely on every day, just as much as you rely on your Scott ski poles or your Smith sunglasses. Man, I just LOVE finding gear that you LOVE.