Canon PowerShot D10 Waterproof Digital Camera Review - Dive In!

Canon PowerShot D10 Review

Shaping Up

Appearance and physical appeal dominate a first encounter with the D10. There are plenty of shiny bits, exposed stainless fasteners and curves. The ergonomics obscure the thickness of the two waterproof hatches - one for power and USB connection the other for your battery and SD card. The vast majority of the body is painted plastic, so the beautiful finish may suffer from bumps and scrapes, but the camera is impressively heavy; the internal frame is clearly metal, allowing the most extrovert flourish on the D10, a big lanyard fixing point at each corner. These are real statement pieces of machining which allow the camera to be attached by an amazing cast, locking 'nipple' in three ways more than necessary. You can also see that the tripod mount screws straight into the internal metal frame.

The 10m rating puts it head to head with Olympus' top Tough model, the Olympus 8000, which is the only other current camera with this depth rating. The Canon D10's seals look very impressive, and are actually effective beyond what is probably quite a conservative rating. The waterproofing of the Canon D10 compact digital camera features two hatches; the smaller one is just a lipped gasket but the larger one is fitted with a real dive housing style 'o' ring. The Canon D10 is perfectly okay to double its rated depth, but the 'o' ring is fiddly to clean and should be lightly greased, which makes debris stick to it... which means it needs more cleaning.

Glassware

The Canon lens is brighter, at f2.8, than any competitor but has more limited range and less effective macro. Close up the protruding lens can cast shadows on small subjects, and as the outer case must rigidly cover the lens in all positions it cannot retract so the Canon D10 isn't a true pocket camera, unless you want to enjoy some Carry On humour of course!

Our annual trip to Holland was the ideal test as most of the dives are shallow

The control layout of the Canon D10 waterproof compact digital camera will be familiar to anyone who has tried a Canon PowerShot, bar the use of buttons for zoom control and mode switching - instead of hard to seal dials and sliders. Thus the ergonomics are easy to figure out and the two buttons for the two level - picture and system - menu is a treat after digging through some others.

The Canon D10 is fast and logical to use. It assumes you will probably use Auto or Program and keeps its welter of scene modes accessible but compact. Shooting video is given top level status rather than relegated to being one of the modes which is a good choice given the likely use of the Canon PowerShot D10 on the beach for family holidays.

The protruding lens does mask the flash very close up

Day to Day Practicalities

Unlike a lot of compacts these days the Canon PowerShot D10 waterproof compact digital camera has no internal memory available for pictures, which is no real loss but there's no small card in the box either, so bear this in mind if you plan to give one as a gift. It takes SD, the cheapest and fastest of the mainstream cards, via adaptors that can include the smaller versions of them too.

Note the highlights have kept the picture bright

The battery is smaller than one might expect given the outer dimensions of the camera, but the thick, well secured hatch and reinforced outer skin keep it safe and it's of a slightly higher capacity than its competitors. Days spent underwater do seem to drain the battery when you use flash and have the screen on for long periods. In use which included quite a lot of menu hopping and flash use we managed 140-160 shots per charge. As usual with a small camera a spare battery is part of the kit you'll want for a day out.

The emphasis of this review is in-water but remember that the toughening process makes this and cameras like it, great for the beach, skiing, enduring the British summer and hot and humid foreign climes. It is rated proof against drops from 1.2m and -10ºC frost which makes it a good choice for any family day out. Children will love its looks and you don't have to worry too much about them hurting it.

Underwater

In the water it's very strange to handle a 'naked' camera, but in a good way as it is much easier to see the controls than on one which is housed. With bare hands the cluster of small buttons isn't a problem and depending how you want to hold it the lanyard 'nipple' can be moved to suit your grip.

Good going for a compact to capture these arguing fish

I'm pleased to say our photo optimism was rewarded and the D10 returned some good looking results from its first dive. The default underwater setting allowed it to use a fast enough shutter and strong enough flash so that the vivid underwater world of the Dutch oyster beds lit up in all their surprising glory. What was more surprising was that the Canon PowerShot D10 didn't struggle to focus in the cloudy, albeit bright shallow waters. Deeper down it might hesitate but even at macro distances it was quite straightforward to get sharp results. The one fly in the ointment is that the projecting lens surround combined with the flash set well back, means subjects less than 15cm away are masked from the flash. However as the working distance stays at 30cm throughout the zoom range (the minimum 3cm minimum distance is available only at fully wide) it is still practical to photograph quite small animals.

Some of the reef residents are quite fiesty

We were very pleased with the crop of pictures we brought back. The 10m depth limit is going to cramp your style for a lot of diving but the top 10m can be very rewarding and this is certainly a camera a tropical snorkeler could get great use out of. The Canon D10 gives you a great, fun package and a camera you can use on the shallower dives which are often the most relaxed and rewarding. The screen itself is bright and contrasty, making use in the shallows practical and sharp.

You can even see the eggs inside this prawn

The easy access to video shooting makes it very simple to capture clips to show friends. The clips are fine but with a lot of cameras offering HD capture, it's a shame that the Canon D10 only offers VGA. Still camera video is still a bit of a novelty feature but this is great for uploading to YouTube to show off the lobster that went for you! Each 1 minute of video takes the place of about 40 full size photos, so even with just a 1 GB card you have room for about 12 minutes of video (or 340 pictures).

Dawn really took to the D10 though it is hard to use in gloves

Technicalities

At low ISO the pictures are very good but some noise reduction does creep in as film speed increases. The image stabilisation does mean that the Canon D10 can hold low ISO longer and it controls noise well, though detail is reduced. Shots at ISO 50-160 are really very sharp; beyond ISO 200 you won't enjoy all your 12 Megapixels as clever techniques are used to smother noise. However, this is done well and for most uses the high ISO still turns out attractive results. The modest lens works well and perhaps because it's a little brighter, maybe because the camera is three years newer, it was faster to focus in murky water than our equally watertight Olympus Mju 770. On the surface the Canon D10 produced punchy vibrant pictures.

These crops show the excellent low ISO detail

Conclusion

It's very easy to be taken in by the looks of the Canon D10 and assume it's just a good time Charlie. But underneath its sexy skin is a nice, amenable camera of the kind you would have been very happy to use a year or so ago before everything had to be complicated. That's not to say it isn't capable, the 12 Megapixel sensor produces clean sharp pictures, both on the surface and underwater, which you could make into posters and the user interface is the best kind of simple, which means you can take advantage of those moments you bought a waterproof camera to capture.

Pros: Great looks, good results straight away underwater, easy menu ergonomics and flexible modes

Cons: Protruding lens bulky and masks macro flash, no case, easily scraped, extrovert nipple! Average battery life.

Canon PowerShot D10 Rating:

 8/10 build quality
 8/10 image quality
 9/10 handling

Overall:Overall 8.5 out of 10

Copyright

This review and all images within it are copyright of Wex Photographic and Rob Spray 2009. www.1townhouses.co.uk

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