Before I get to the negative portion, I've got to say this is a functionally oustanding camera. I spent a great deal of time weighing this cam against the 300 HS, 500 HS, 510 HS, S95, S100 and SX230 HS. This camera turned out to be the best combination of features and functions I could hope for... a fairly wide angle at the short end, great 8x zoom, and unbelievable low-light shooting. Its ability to get good shots both near for close-ups, and from far away (at concerts, as an example), in very low light is nothing short of stunning.
Before I received it, I wondered if I should have ordered one of the cams sporting an F2.0 lens, but in practice, the backlit CMOS sensor has an amazing ability to pull in enough light - like no other P&S I've ever used - and I've had a lot of them. Speedwise, it is very responsive. I still have yet to try things like wide-aperture intentional background blurring, and more extensive video use, but I'm already in love with the thing, regardless. It's good for nearly every situation, and I'm very excited about taking it to another year at Lollapalooza and numerous Chicago street fests.
The reach of the 8X zoom is great too, and with 12 mp of data, you have plenty of room to crop and blow up for an even closer shot. Detail at the telephoto end is excellent. Colors are very vivid and true-to life, a feature common to all 5 of our current Canon cameras. I dare say the image quality is as good as, or better than my beloved, but slow G7.
Now to the major problem... durability. The outside case feels solid enough, despite the plastic battery/SD card door. However, the metal lens housing is EXTREMELY thin. I bought this camera to replace my SD870, which due to such a touchy power button had opened up too many times in its case and in my pocket, resulting in every photo being focused on one side and blurry on the other. Since it's so small, I'm compelled to place this little sucker in my pocket. It doesn't turn on and open up so easily like the 870, but I already have unwittingly given it a slight dent in the front of the lens housing, which has made the lens protector stick open when I shut it off.
After working with it a bit, the lens now completely covers, but I'm bound and determined to keep it in the hard-sided case I bought for it. Like I said, the housing is EXTREMELY thin. I have finally learned my lesson. I tend to be pretty careful with all my cameras and gadgets, but I seriously think you can dent it by leaning up against a countertop (which is easier to do than you think), or having your keys in the same pocket. I would gladly have given up another 1 or 2mm and another $10 or $20 for a better build.
Sooo... if you can keep it out of your pants pocket, I'd highly recommend this camera. I'd give it 6 stars for versatility and image quality, but then it loses two for durability. Still... well worth 4 stars.