Canon PowerShot S40A new shape, sleek design, direct support for a Canon inkjet printer, and four megapixels of resolution!
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Page 3:DesignReview First Posted: 10/1/2001
Similar in shape and style to a high-quality point-and-shoot 35mm film camera, the PowerShot S40 measures 4.4 x 2.3 x 1.7 inches (112 x 58 x 42mm) and weighs approximately 11.5 ounces (310.5 grams) with the battery and storage card installed. It has a sturdy, dark gray polycarbonate body, covered by sturdy brushed and anodized aluminum body panels. The overall result is a very solid-feeling camera that exudes an air of quality and refinement. The sliding clamshell cover adds an attractive accent to a very sleek, streamlined design. While the S40 is a bit too long and heavy for a shirt pocket, it should fit easily into a large coat pocket or purse, and the quarter-inch wrist strap makes toting it around very convenient.
The longer body style of the S40 is part of what we found so attractive about the camera. A bit more length makes the camera easier to grip than some of the smaller models on the market, yet the relatively slim profile means it scan still slip into a pocket. (Make that a sturdy pocket, as the camera's weight is more than you'd want bouncing around in a shirt pocket.) Canon has indicated that this design is one likely to appear in other cameras, and even migrate to their film camera line, and we think this will prove wise. We expect the S40's form factor to be very popular with consumers.
The front of the camera includes a telescoping 3x zoom lens, optical viewfinder window, and a light emitter lamp that serves multiple purposes, including autofocus assist, red-eye reduction, and the self-timer countdown. All of these items are covered by the sliding lens cover when it's closed. The built-in flash is positioned in the upper right corner of the front panel (viewed from the front), and the lens cover doubles as finger grip when opened. (Although we'd like to see some sort of a ridge on the cover, right about where the "Canon" logo appears. - In our hands, that's about where our fingers fell when we gripped the unit, meaning a ridge there would help provide a secure grip.)
It's often hard to tell how big a camera is in our product photos, when the
camera appears by itself. To help get a sense of the scale of the Canon, we've
shot the photo above, with a memory card propped in front of it.
On the right side of the camera (as viewed from the back) is a single metal eyelet for attaching the nylon wrist strap. A small indentation at the very bottom of the camera on this side marks a sliding hatch that provides access for the AC power adapter cable.
The opposite side of the camera has a soft rubber terminal cover that lifts up in two steps: The top pulls back to reveal the A/V Out and Digital jacks, and the bottom pulls out further so the cover can swing out of the way to make connections.
The S40's top panel features a Mode dial on the right, with 12 Shooting positions divided into three basic categories: Auto Exposure, Image Zone, and Creative Zones. The Shutter button is located to the right of the Mode dial, and a Zoom button is located in front of it. On the left side of the top panel is a microphone for recording audio with movies and a speaker that plays back the recorded sound.
The majority of the exposure controls are located on the camera's back panel, along with the optical viewfinder and LCD monitor. The eye-level optical viewfinder features two LED lamps that report camera status. To the left of the viewfinder are the Macro / Jump and Flash / Index buttons. To the right is a sliding Replay button that can be used to review captured images at any time -- when the lens cover is closed and the camera powered off, or when the camera is turned on in one of the 12 Shooting modes. Next to the Review button is a cylindrical-shaped, five-way Multicontroller that operates similarly to the round arrow pads found on other digital cameras. The left and right arrows press down on either end in a conventional manner, while the up and down buttons operate by rotating the cylinder up and down. Pushing down on the center accesses the Set button.
Other camera controls on the back panel include the Menu and Display buttons on the right of the LCD monitor, and on the left side are the EV button (Exposure Compensation / White Balance / Auto Exposure / Flash Exposure Compensation), Manual Focus / Delete button, and Light Metering / Audio button. The EV control is by far the most complicated of the group; however, since each of its functions is related to exposure, they all use a -2 to +2 unit indicator bar to make adjustments (with the exception of the white balance menu bar, which gives you a choice of seven light-quality options). Exposure compensation is activated with one press of the button; white balance is activated by pressing the button twice, and so on. Like many digicam models, the dual-function buttons perform their first functions in capture mode and their second functions in playback mode. The Light Metering / Audio button allows you to choose between Evaluative Light Metering, Center-Weighted Averaging, and Spot (AE) Point metering modes. In Replay mode, pressing this button enables you to record up to 60 seconds of sound with individual images.
The S40's bottom panel is reasonably flat, with a sliding door to access the CompactFlash and battery compartments and a threaded metal tripod mount on its left (on the right in the photo above). The tripod mount is positioned slightly off-center, directly below the lens, making it easier to properly frame shots for panoramic series. Because the battery door and tripod mount are so close to one another, it would be difficult to make quick battery changes while working with a tripod, something we always look at. On the other hand, Canon's AC adapter uses a "dummy battery" design, with the cord exiting from a small opening on the camera's righthand side. - Thus, for studio use, there's a convenient way to get power to the camera while on a tripod.
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