While admittedly not the most glamorous compared to the sprite Canon PowerShot SD780 IS (Discontinued), the curvy, 6.5-ounce PowerShot SD990 IS "skips the hoopla in favor of three simple ideas: full manual operations, lightning fast operation, and top-notch image quality," says PJ Jacobowitz of PCMag.com. Most critics agree that the manual modes set the camera apart from the competition. Independent aperture and shutter priority controls afford full creative control, while flash levels and manual focus can be adjusted as needed. Any complaints about style or features are eclipsed by the SD990 IS's top-notch performance. The camera nabs "superior" scores in tests at PC World and PCMag.com, and Mike Perlman of InfoSyncWorld.com says the SD990 IS "has the ability to capture magnificent images when the settings are dialed in correctly." Speed receives equally rave reviews. Jacobowitz's tests show the camera starts up and shoots in about 1.8 seconds; the shutter averages 0.3 seconds. "To find faster scores, you'd have to upgrade to a D-SLR," he contends.
Imaging-Resource.com, CNET, DigitalCamera-HQ.com, InfoSyncWorld.com and PC World provide the most extensive testing and evaluation of the Canon PowerShot SD990 IS. Rounding out our sources are user reviews from Amazon.com, which help to confirm expert findings and reveal problems with extended use.
For Pasini, the Canon PowerShot SD990 IS rates as the best of the series he has ever used, and it even survives an unintentional drop at the beginning of testing. The manual modes impress, and image quality fares well "despite our quibbles" about the 14.7-megapixel sensor. However, "printed results wipe out a lot of those criticisms," he says, and he considers the Canon PowerShot SD990 a "great companion."
Review: Canon PowerShot SD990 IS, Mike Pasini, June 26, 2009
In Goldman's tests, the Canon PowerShot SD990 IS delivers excellent image quality with a palette of manual settings that "offers plenty of shooting options." Despite the consistent performance, the abbreviated lens range, lack of HD video and inconsequential sensor upgrade chip away at overall value. Ultimately, he concludes that the SD990 is "a fine ultra-compact camera, but its price-to-feature benefits are questionable."
Review: Canon PowerShot SD990 IS, Joshua Goldman, Jan. 15, 2009
For Paro, the Canon PowerShot SD990 IS rivals larger and pricier cameras, offering the best of both worlds -- hands-on control and portability. Shooting is an "absolute pleasure," and image quality "off the charts." But if manual controls aren't at the top of your list, she says you can save a few dollars by opting for one of the cheaper and less complex Canon SD series models.
Review: Canon PowerShot SD990 IS, Brenda Paro
"The Canon PowerShot SD990 IS is a killer intermediate camera," says Perlman. Fantastic image quality and "oodles" of manual controls make it a stand-out, although shortcomings include the nominal zoom lens and intimidating navigation menus that may put off beginners.
Review: Canon PowerShot SD990 IS, Mike Perlman, Nov. 19, 2008
5. PC World
Palmerlee compares the Canon PowerShot SD990 IS to its closest sibling -- the now-discontinued Canon PowerShot SD880 IS. The image quality of the SD990 IS "is indeed outstanding," with the best "exposure quality we've ever seen in a point-and-shoot." However, some chinks in the armor tarnish the "excellent performance," among them a cheap-feeling body and flimsy control dial.
Review: Canon PowerShot SD990 IS, Danny Palmerlee, July 27, 2009
A large percentage of the more than 160 owners at Amazon.com give the Canon PowerShot SD990 IS a 5-star rating. "A powerful little gem," writes one owner, who speaks for many when praising the manual flexibility and amazing pictures. Still, a number of complaints surface about cheap build quality, challenging menu navigation and limited lens range.
Review: Canon PowerShot SD990IS, Contributors to Amazon.com