With Wi-Fi networking integrated into most new laptops sold today and industry-standard add-on adapters available to easily upgrade older notebooks and desktop machines, the ability to use Wi-Fi to transfer photos from digital cameras is becoming an increasingly attractive option. Though not the first manufacturer to produce a consumer-level camera with wireless capabilities--Kodak and Nikon came to market before--Canon has created a boon for remote-shooting fans with its PowerShot SD430, a 5-megapixel ultracompact that is basically a PowerShot SD400 with a slightly different body and a built-in Wi-Fi transmitter.
Like the SD400, the Canon PowerShot SD430 has a 35mm-to-105mm (in 35mm-film terms) lens with a relatively slow f/2.8-to-f/4.9 maximum aperture, a 2.0-inch LCD and optical viewfinder, limited manual control, snappy shooting performance, and middle-of-the-road image quality. But the SD430 distinguishes itself from the SD400, and even from its wireless competitors, with its impressive remote control capabilities. While Kodak's EasyShare One can upload pictures to an online gallery and e-mail the link from Wi-Fi hot spots connected to the Internet (no other camera can do that), all image transfers must happen after shooting in playback mode. Nikon's Coolpix P1 and P2 can send pictures to either a memory card, a Wi-Fi-enabled computer, or both as they're captured, but there is no remote shooting. The Canon SD430 can not only transfer automatically but can also be controlled in almost any way using a Wi-Fi-enabled computer, from initial shooting parameters to final transfer.
Using Canon's RemoteCapture utility, which currently runs only on Windows XP SP2 (Mac OS X support is due this spring), a PowerShot SD430 user can remotely control zoom, image size and compression level, ISO speed, white balance, metering mode, color mode, focus point, macro mode, autofocus type, and flash mode. There is a live image preview that can be turned off to preserve the camera's battery (though an optional AC adapter is recommended for remote shooting), and images can be saved to the memory card, the computer, or both. In automatic interval shooting mode, the number of images that can be saved is limited only by disk space, up to 99,999 shots.
Rounding out the Canon PowerShot SD430's Wi-Fi feature set is the ability to print wirelessly without the use of a computer. The camera comes with a Wi-Fi adapter that plugs into a printer's PictBridge-compatible USB port, traditionally used for wired camera-to-printer connections. Unfortunately, it works with only Canon printers at the moment. However, setup with a Canon Selphy CP510 was simple; all it took was a menu setting on the camera and the single push of a Setup button on the adapter. Wi-Fi setup for computer control was also fairly simple, with the included instructions explaining the entire process clearly.
If you don't have a yen for remote control or wireless printing, then save yourself some money and get the PowerShot SD400. But if the wireless remote control option sounds like the solution to a problem you have, you'd be wise to give the Canon PowerShot SD430 a try.