Digital cameras are a convenient way to keep your memories without too much hassle. The Canon SD800 IS comes in a small package with everything you need for a simple point and shoot camera. The Digital Elph series are known for their solid construction and sleek style and this camera is no exception.
The look of the camera is classy and very functional. A streamlined metal body with nothing excessive, yet easy to hold is a standard of these Elph cameras. The screen is 2.5" big, plenty of room to see what you need to, without being too big to be a heavy burden on the battery life. The scroll dial is easily accessible by your thumb and switches through the various modes, such as playback, auto, manual, special, and movie modes. The power button is a tiny light on the top of the camera, which needs a solid press to get going, but startup time is fairly quick, at around 2 seconds. The lens has a 3.8x optical zoom, which is decent for a camera this size, and 7.1MP is definitely more than enough for your average camera user.
The pictures taken in auto mode are nice, as the DIGIC III chip in the camera has a 9-point autofocus and face detection, so you can get the right subject at the right time. Also, the Image Stabilization (hence IS) is a big help when you're not in the perfect situation, minimizing blur. Well-lit environments are captured very well, yet IS can only do so much for a low light situation, and isn't made for miracles. This camera is a solid point and shoot performer, but doesn't hold a candle to dSLR options. Using the manual ISO modes, the picture is decent, but can get noisy at times. The 28mm wide angle lens is nice to have to get a better viewing angle from your shots. There are a number of special modes, from winter to aquarium, and finding the right one for the right situation shouldn't be a problem. The movie modes are decent for a digital camera as well, reaching resolutions up to 640x480 @ 30 frames per second. There is also a high speed movie option which is at 320x240 @ 60fps, for those high motion videos, which it captures very well, despite having a maximum time limit of 1 minute.
The camera itself has an access panel on the side made of plastic, which may pose a problem in the future, however it has held up nicely for me so far. This panel allowed for A/V outputs through a mini-USB to USB connector to sync with your PC. Transfers to PCs do not even require drivers, as the Windows XP system can autodetect and upload those photos for you through high speed USB 2.0. The bottom panel opens up to house the SD card and proprietary battery. The package comes with a 16mb SD card, which is a moot point, as you'll want to opt for a 1gb+ for a real storage solution. The camera itself can use the newer SDHC cards, which allow for sizes greater than 2gb, which is a nice futureproofing addition. The battery lasts for a good amount of shots, and a regular day of shooting on your vacation should not cut you short. The charger is a wallmounted plug that holds the battery in place and glows red for charge and green for complete. It can charge quickly, in about 90 minutes.
The SD800IS is a pricey camera, considering how much other digicam options have dropped in price. But what your pay for is the incredible build quality, the tiny size, and great screen that comes with this camera. Canon has put out a great ultracompact on the market and anyone deciding to get a high-end point and shoot will not be disappointed.