Canon SD4000 IS Review

 
Camera Reviews / Canon Cameras / Canon PowerShot i Express Review
Basic Specifications
Full model name: Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS
Resolution: 10.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.3"
Lens: 3.80x zoom
(28-105mm eq.)
Viewfinder: LCD
ISO: 125-3200
Shutter: 15-1/2500
Max Aperture: 2.0
Dimensions: 3.9 x 2.1 x 0.9 in.
(100 x 54 x 24 mm)
Weight: 6.1 oz (174 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $350
Availability: 05/2010
Manufacturer: Canon
Full specs: Canon SD4000 IS specifications
10.00
Megapixels
3.80x zoom
1/2.3"
size sensor
image of Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS
Front side of Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS digital camera Back side of Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS digital camera Top side of Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS digital camera Left side of Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS digital camera Right side of Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS digital camera
Imaging Resource rating

4.5 out of 5.0

Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS
Overview

by Dan Havlik and Stephanie Boozer
Review Date: 07/30/2010

Compact cameras have pulled off some pretty neat tricks in recent years, offering everything from pre-set scene modes to Face Detection to panoramic stitching. While some of these features have migrated up to more expensive digital SLRs, very few professional-level features have moved down to point-and-shoots. Until now. With the PowerShot SD4000 IS Digital ELPH, Canon has released a consumer-level compact camera that boasts a bright f/2 lens. For those readers unfamiliar with the parlance of f/stops, f/2 is an extremely large aperture for a lens, allowing more light to hit the imaging sensor so you can capture photos in dim conditions. An f/2 lens, which is typically used on a professional DSLR, also gives your images a shallow depth of field, letting you blur the background of a portrait to make your subject pop. While the Canon SD4000 f/2 lens is certainly not on par with what you'd find on a pricey DSLR -- the aperture actually ranges from f/2 to f/5.8 depending on how much you zoom -- it offers consumers a few of the advantages that once were only the domain of professional photographers. To make it easier to take advantage of that aperture control, the Canon SD4000, unlike most pocket cameras, has both an Aperture priority and Shutter priority exposure mode.

But wait, that's not all! The Canon SD4000 also has a 10-megapixel, CMOS sensor which uses Backside Illumination (BSI) technology. BSI sensors, if you haven't heard of them, are designed with their circuitry on the side of the chip not used for absorbing light. This, ostensibly, gives the pixels more room on the light-sensitive side to collect light. Other cool features on this stylish Digital ELPH include an 8.4 frames per second high-speed "burst" setting, though it should be noted that images captured in this mode are reduced to 2.5 megapixels. There's also a Super Slow Motion movie function, which can capture video at 240 frames per second (fps) and play the footage back at 30fps for ultra slow review. For high-def buffs, there's a 720p HD video recording at 30 fps.

The Canon SD4000 zooms in on the action with a 3.8x optical lens offering the 35mm-equivalent of 28 to 105mm. The Canon SD4000 also has optical image stabilization to combat blur from camera shake. For viewing and showing off your photos, there's a 3-inch LCD screen with 230,000 dots of resolution on back. Though the Canon SD4000 has no optical viewfinder, the LCD offers approximately 98% coverage, giving you a fairly good idea of what you're shooting.

In terms of size, the Canon SD4000 follows in the Canon Digital ELPH tradition of being both good-looking and petite. It's available in three colors: matte black, slick red, and metallic silver (a 200-unit limited edition "Stormtrooper" white was also available only through Canon's site, but have sold out). The Canon SD4000 is on the high-end in terms of pricing, retailing for US$350.

 

Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS
User Report

by Dan Havlik

Canon's DIGITAL ELPH line of PowerShot cameras have always had a reputation for combining compact style with surprisingly good image quality. (Many style cameras from competing companies sacrifice image quality for image.) With the SD4000 IS, Canon is upping the ante by adding in a high-quality f/2.0 lens in a camera that seems aimed at chic consumers. Will they bite? It depends on how we think of chic customers these days. Many style-conscious photographer friends I know love the look and feel of Canon's Digital ELPH line and will throw one in their camera bag with their professional gear for quick snapshots or to record video for their blog. For them, an f/2.0 lens in such a small camera is like catnip. Less educated consumers might balk at the Canon SD4000's $350 pricetag--until they learn what this camera can do.

Look and feel. There's a wonderful tactile feel to the black matte version of the Canon SD4000 that I tested. Once I took the camera out of the box, I couldn't help but run my fingers over its smooth, angled edges that give the SD4000 IS a soft, yet trapezoidal appearance. (Yes, the traditional "box and circle" ELPH look has been revamped with this model.) But the design is not just for aesthetic purposes. I found that the Canon SD4000's beveled edges prevented it from getting snagged on other objects in my camera bag. I also found that its size -- 3.9 x 2.1 x 0.9 inches (100 x 54 x 24mm) -- made it just right for sliding into a coat pocket. Though the Canon SD4000 is not the lightest compact camera on the market, weighing 6.1 ounces (174 grams) with its battery, it's well balanced, making it a pleasure to hold and shoot with.

It's not an all-metal camera like some ELPHs of the past, Canon used a combination of aluminum and polycarbonate to give the PowerShot SD4000 a sturdy feel. The matte finish also made it easy to grip the camera even when your fingers get sweaty. Overall, I found the PowerShot SD4000 IS to be one of the best-designed Digital ELPHs that Canon has made, and one of those most attractive compact cameras on the market.

Controls. Even for a typically Spartan Digital ELPH, the Canon SD4000 IS has barely any controls. A discreet black button on the top of the camera powers it on, but it's slightly recessed to prevent accidental power-up, so it requires some precise pressure. Once it's hit, the camera fully extends its 3.8x lens. Next to the power button on the left is the mode switch which gives you three options: Auto, Shooting, or Movie. On the top right of the Canon SD4000 is the shutter button with a zoom ring around it that controls the lens.

On the back of the Canon SD4000 you'll find two wedge-shaped buttons sandwiching an unmarked Control dial with a Function/Set button in the middle. The top button is for image playback and the lower button gives you access to the menu. And that's it for controls! To the left, you'll see the Canon SD4000's very nice 3-inch LCD screen.

On the front of the camera is its small built-in flash, which has a claimed range of 12 inches to 20 feet (30cm to 6m) at wide-angle and 1.6 to 6.6 feet (50cm to 2m) at telephoto. Two dots on either side of the lens are microphones for recording stereo sound. Incidentally, while the Canon SD4000 can record audio in stereo, it can only play back in mono on the camera, because there's only one built-in speaker on the right side.

Lens. Though it's a small digital camera, the Canon SD4000's built-in 3.8x optical lens gives you a broad focal range. In 35mm equivalent, it translates to a 28 to 105mm lens, which should help you capture everything from large groups of people and landscapes to telephoto shots at concerts or sporting events. Personally, I wish it were slightly wider on the wide end, perhaps to 24mm. I recently had a chance to visit the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier museum in New York City, and while the Canon SD4000 helped me capture the ship's broad hull right from the dock, I had trouble squeezing in the various aircraft on the flight deck. Yes, 28mm was once considered quite a wide-angle lens for a compact camera, but times change; is it a crime to want a little more?

Carrier. All parts of an aircraft carrier are packed, and the 28mm lens was not quite wide enough for the tight spacing onboard the Intrepid.

While the f/2.0 aperture spec is the biggest headline for the Canon SD4000, it's only achievable at the widest (28mm equivalent) setting. The aperture actually ranges depending on how much you zoom, so at 105mm you can only open up to a maximum f/5.3 (that's pretty normal for most cameras, of course). If you want greater depth of field, the minimum aperture is f/8. Though the f/2.0 aperture at 28mm on the Canon SD4000 won't give you results comparable to a lens with that aperture on a DSLR, image quality was pretty darn good, especially in low light. The biggest plus is that the Canon SD4000 lens allows you to limit the ISO to a reasonable level -- such as ISO 400 -- in shadowy, natural light conditions and still get sharp results without a flash. While photographing portraits in candlelight, I found that I could keep the camera's ISO at 1,600 and still produce attractive pictures.

Though the Canon SD4000 does a good job keeping image noise down thanks to its 10-megapixel CMOS sensor with BSI technology, you'll always get even better results if you can keep your ISO at 400 or lower. With the Canon SD4000's f/2.0 lens you can do that, especially with the Image Stabilizer engaged.

In lab testing, the lens got solid scores all around. Though the wide-angle end of the Canon PowerShot SD4000's zoom showed some blurring in the corners of the frame compared to the center, it didn't go far into the image area. At telephoto, performance was even better, with only mild softening in the corners.

There was also barely any barrel distortion at the wide setting and almost none at the telephoto. Chromatic aberration at wide-angle was moderate but a non-factor at telephoto. The Canon PowerShot SD4000's Macro mode produced very sharp results with strong detail in our lab tests, which carried over to my real world experience. I got many nice close-ups of flowers and leaves with little noticeable blurring in the corner of the frame, which is something that commonly happens with in cameras in this category.

The only fault, if you can call it that, of the lens is it didn't produce the pleasing background blur (aka "bokeh") you get from DSLR lenses with fast apertures. The cause of this is the camera's tiny 1/2.3-inch imaging chip which is too small to produce very shallow depth of field when coupled with a lens that has an actual focal length starting at only 4.9mm.

Modes. Where the Canon SD4000 differs from its more advanced older brother, the PowerShot S90, which also boasts a F/2.0 lens, is in how much this ELPH caters to consumers rather than advanced amateurs, prosumers, and even some pros for the S-series model. There are preset scene modes galore on the SD4000 IS. At the same time though, Canon offers a handful of manual settings -- though no true manual mode -- which should keep more seasoned photographers happy. Navigating the various modes is not that easy, though, because of the lack of controls. Instead of a mode dial, you have to press the Function button in the center of the Command dial on the back of the camera and then scroll through the various mode menus on the left side of LCD. It's a slow and occasionally unwieldy process especially if you're in a hurry to switch between modes.

Fisheye. This unique distortion mode accentuates the nose of this jet.

Along with a basic Program mode, there are popular presets such as Portrait, Landscape, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets and a setting that optimizes the camera for Indoor shooting. More experienced photographers will appreciate that Canon's kept the Aperture Priority (AV) and Shutter Priority (TV) options in the menu as well.

The Canon SD4000 also has Smart Shutter mode which gives you the Face, Smile, and Wink self-timer options and the all new High-speed Burst mode which allows the camera to shoot at a blazing speed of 8.4 frames per second. While this kind of burst rate is usually only found on DSLRs -- and only a few at that -- it should be emphasized that image size drops down to a miniscule 2.5 megapixels in high-speed mode. But for shooting your son or daughter up at bat during Little League; or for capturing images of your golf swing, it's a nice feature to have. I just wish it were faster to access it.

Miniature. Blurring the top and bottom of the image makes the very large Concord jet look much smaller. The illusion works until you see that the nearby vent pipe on the left is also in focus when it should be blurred.

Other special scene modes include Low Light (max 3,200 ISO also at 2.5MP resolution), Beach, Foliage, Snow, and Fireworks. Even more unique is the Smart Shutter mode; and if you really want to try something fun, there's a Fish-eye setting and a Miniature mode that mimics the effect of a Tilt-Shift lens on a digital SLR.

While the Canon SD4000's Fish-eye worked well in creating fun, distorted close-up shots, we had less success with the Miniature mode, which deliberately blurs the top and bottom of an image to create the illusion of a very narrow plane of focus. As with true Tilt-Shift lenses, if you really want to produce the "toy" or "miniature" look with this mode, shoot down on a scene from above, preferably something with people or vehicles in it to "miniaturize."

Menu. As mentioned already, the Canon SD4000 is a very menu-driven camera, which may frustrate more advanced users, but likely won't bother beginners as much. Hitting the Function button calls up the shooting options on the left side of the 3-inch LCD.

It's a modified version of the old Function menu that was a whole lot easier to use. This one looks more slick, but it's also more difficult. Menus roll like a slot machine wheel, and once you've found the item you want to adjust, you have to toggle right on the Multicontroller to select the next wheel to make your selection there. It's cumbersome. Starting from the top you'll see options for Light Metering, My Colors color adjustments, White Balance, ISO, Image Recording, Timer, Drive Mode, Recording Pixel, and Compression.

The Multi-controller on the back of the camera has no silkscreened icons on or around it, but it still serves to access Focus, Exposure compensation, Flash mode, and Self-timer options. Just press lightly on the Multi-controller and a graphic appears onscreen representing the dial, with four icons representing the four functions. Not a bad idea for a camera with little room thanks to the very wide screen.

If you want to change internal settings in the camera, hit the large wedge-shaped Menu button on the bottom right to call up a two-tab layout with photography settings under the camera icon, and internal adjustments under the wrench/hammer icon. Under the camera settings tab, you're given the option of adjusting the AF Frame and AF Frame Size; turning the Digital Zoom on or off; AF-Point Zoom; Servo AF; AF-assist Beam; Flash Settings; i-Contrast; Image Review durations; Review Info; Blink Detection; Display Overlay; IS (Image Stabilizer) Mode, and Date Stamp

In the Playback mode, press the Menu button again and you'll find basic options to run a slideshow of your images, erase, protect, rotate, or pick favorites. The Function menu also repeats some of these functions, perhaps for easier access while viewing your images. You can also do some basic image editing right in the camera including red-eye correction, trimming, and resizing. The Playback menu also offers a tab for basic printing options for your images directly from the camera. Under the wrench/hammer icon in both Record and Playback modes, you can adjust some camera operations including turning sound on or off, and adjusting sound options; turning on or off "hints & tips"; formatting your memory card; lens retract time; power saving modes; time zone adjustment; date and time setting, language selection, and other settings.

Storage and battery. The Canon SD4000 takes SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards which are loaded next to the battery in a slot on the bottom of the camera. The slot is covered by a locking, slide-out plastic door. The camera is also compatible with Eye-Fi wireless transfer cards. There is no built-in memory usable for storage.

The Canon SD4000 IS uses a proprietary NB-6L lithium-ion rechargeable battery with a CIPA rating of 250 shots per charge, which is about average for a subcompact. The battery is slides into a slot on the bottom of the Canon SD4000 IS next to the memory card, protected by a swing out door.

 

Shooting with the Canon SD4000

In terms of look, feel, and image quality, the PowerShot SD4000 IS could be Canon's best digital ELPH ever. As mentioned earlier in this review, immediately after pulling the Canon SD4000 from the box, I wanted to glide my hands over its smooth, angled curves; charge up the battery; and take the camera out for a spin.

ISO 800. Reducing the resolution to 10 megapixels should theoretically reduce noise when compared to today's 14-megapixel cameras.

While I've always liked the combination of elegance and quality that ELPHs offer, I had pretty much given up on Canon improving these stylish little cameras. I mean, c'mon, with an imaging chip the size of my pinkie finger, there's not much more you can do with photo quality. And as Imaging-Resource.com and other sites have argued time and again, the race to raise megapixel counts, driven by perceived consumer demand, is only detrimental to image quality.

Our tests have shown that along with added noise in your images, many point-and-shoot cameras with high megapixel counts have trouble with blurring that comes from the noise suppression necessary at such small pixel sizes. Worse, these lovely high-resolution sensors reveal more flaws in the optics. So when I heard that like the already well-received "semi-pro" PowerShot S90, Canon had put an f/2.0 lens on its SD4000 IS, I was pleased, to say the least. Combine this spec with the Canon SD4000's 10-megapixel CMOS sensor at a time when competing models are pushing noisy 14MP CCDs on the buying public and you have the potential for some excellent image quality in a camera that can fit in a coat pocket.

ISO 200. This well-lit scene shows good detail in the fan's shirts, and was captured at f/2.8, 1/200 second and ISO 200.

The Canon SD4000's sensor also uses the vaunted Backside Illumination (BSI) technology. BSI sensors are designed with their circuitry on the side of the chip not used for absorbing light. This, ostensibly, gives the pixels more room on the light-sensitive side to collect light. Though I haven't seen a definitive study on how effective BSI sensors really are, the Canon SD4000 performed admirably in low light for a camera this small. In our lab results, which you can see below, detail was solid at ISO 125 and 200. And though there was some softening at ISO 400, Chroma (color) noise was well controlled at all ISO levels. Meanwhile, luminance (light) noise only moderately increases as you crank up the ISO.

As usual, the real trouble was from the Canon SD4000's noise-suppression efforts, which blurred fine detail. Results at the maximum ISO 3,200 setting, while not amazing, were above average for a camera in this class. Those lab results were about on par with what I experienced in real-world testing of the Canon SD4000. I found if I stuck to ISO 400 to 800 in low light I could capture a fairly sharp, relatively low-noise image. And because the Canon SD4000's f/2.0 lens allows you to shoot at lower ISOs while still maintaining decent shutter speeds, I found that I didn't need to push the camera as much as some competing models with slower lenses.

Concert. Image made at f/2, 1/40 second, ISO 800.

One of the first things I shot with the Canon SD4000 was a concert in a small New York club featuring several groups of performers. I was seated in the front row, so I was able to keep it to f/2.0 by racking the lens back to 28mm. That set-up allowed me to achieve shutter speeds of approximately 1/40 second at ISO 800 so I could get sharp images of the musicians without heavy noise or blurring due to noise suppression. All in all, it was a great combination and I didn't have to use flash once, which would've disturbed the performers and blacked out the background.

There are some limitations though. A friend of mine was one of the performers and because she's a piano player she had to set up on the far side of the stage. Though the 3.8x lens was able to zoom in on her, aperture fell to f/5.3 and shutter speed dropped to 1/5th of a second. The result were blurry images due to camera shake. Pumping the ISO up to ISO 3,200 didn't solve the problem much: shutter speeds of 1/15th of second were still too slow and the camera's noise suppression processing made the shots look softer still. So instead of shooting photos, I switched to the camera's excellent 720p HD movie mode and captured some great video clips of my friend with surprisingly good stereo sound.

Bokeh. There's reasonable bokeh available in the out of focus areas in this f/2 shot, but nothing like you'd get with an SLR lens.

Where the Canon SD4000 struggled, for me, was in its usability. Though most Digital ELPH users will likely keep their cameras on AUTO and not bother changing the settings, the Canon SD4000 has a lot to offer in terms of features; it's getting to them that can be a chore. And considering that you're paying a premium for this top-of-the-line ELPH, it would be a waste not to explore its assets.

The camera's menu-driven interface is awkward for quick changes and while the revamped Function menu on the left side of the LCD looks slick, it's harder to use than older models. As mentioned earlier in this review, menus roll like a slot machine wheel, and once you've found the item you want to adjust, you have to toggle right on the Multi-controller to select the next wheel to make your selection there. Getting in to the manual modes to adjust aperture takes some practice. The same goes for adjusting ISO in the menus.

Aside from the f/2.0 lens and the relatively low-noise 10-megapixel CMOS sensor, I was less impressed with the camera's other features. While its 8.4 fps high-speed burst mode looks good in a press release, image size is reduced to 2.5 megapixels, so don't expect to print those images out on anything larger than 4x6-inch paper. The same goes for the Super Slow Motion movie function, which can capture a subject at 240fps and play the clip back in slow-mo at 30fps. While it's a cool function, shooting in this format shrinks the clip down to the size of a postage stamp (320x240).

I felt similarly about the Fish-eye effect and the Miniature mode, which mimics the look of a tilt-shift lens. Though they can both produce fun results, they're hard to access in the menu's interface and are mostly just a novelty. I also wish they had included some kind of RAW image mode on this camera to complement its other pro features.

But if you're considering spending $350 on a pocket camera, you're going to be concerned about image quality, first and foremost. And with its excellent f/2.0 lens and low-noise 10MP sensor, the Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS produces some of the best image quality we've seen for a camera this small and stylish.

 

Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS Lens Quality


Wide: Sharp at center
Wide: Slightly soft at upper left
Tele: Sharp at center
Tele: Very mild blurring, upper left corner

Sharpness: The wide-angle end of the Canon PowerShot SD4000's zoom shows some blurring in the corners of the frame compared to what we see at center, though blurring doesn't extend far into the image area. At telephoto, performance is a little better, with only mild softening in the corners. Good results overall.


Wide: Slight barrel distortion; hardly noticeable
Tele: A tiny amount of barrel distortion, though barely visible

Geometric Distortion: There is surprisingly little barrel distortion at wide-angle (0.4%), and almost no perceptible distortion (0.1% barrel) at telephoto. The Canon SD4000's intelligent processor is no doubt hard at work here.


Wide: Moderate
Tele: Low

Chromatic Aberration: Chromatic aberration at wide-angle is moderate in terms of pixel count, though pixels are a little bright. Telephoto, however, shows less noticeable distortion, with faint red and blue pixels suggested.


Macro
Macro with Flash

Macro: The Canon PowerShot SD4000's Macro mode captures a very sharp image with strong detail, and manages to do so without any noticeable blurring in the corners of the frame (a common limitation among consumer digital cameras in macro mode). Minimum coverage area is 1.46 x 1.10 inches (37 x 28mm), which is quite good. The camera focuses so closely that the flash is blocked by the lens in the lower right corner, and overcompensates by blowing out the top left.


 

Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS Viewfinder Accuracy


Wide: LCD Monitor
Tele: LCD Monitor

Viewfinder Accuracy: The Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS' LCD monitor showed about 100% coverage accuracy at wide-angle and at telephoto, which is excellent.


 

Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS Image Quality


Color: Overall color looks pretty good, though bright yellows are somewhat muted, and strong reds and blues are pumped a little high (blues more so than reds). Hue is also a little off for colors like yellow, orange and cyan. Dark skintones are fairly accurate, and lighter skin tones show a small nudge toward pink. Still, good results overall.


Auto WB:
Good, though slightly red
Incandescent WB:
Too pink
 
Manual WB:
Very good

Incandescent: Manual white balance handled our incandescent lighting much better than the Incandescent setting, which came out too pink. Auto produced better results than average, though with a slight reddish tint.


Horizontal: 2,000 lines
Vertical: 2,000 lines

Resolution: Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 2,000 lines per picture height in both directions. Extinction of the pattern occurred at around 2,400 lines per picture height.


Wide: Inconclusive
Tele: Bright
Auto Flash

Flash: Our manufacturer-specified testing (shown at right) doesn't work well at wide-angle when the reported distance goes beyond 16 feet, because that takes the camera out of the main lab, so the wide-angle result is inconclusive. The telephoto test came out properly exposure, though ISO was increased to 250.

Auto flash produced fairly bright results in our indoor portrait scene at about 5 feet, retaining some of the ambient light by using a slower shutter speed of 1/20 second, and raising ISO to 320. The Canon SD4000's image stabilization should help with the slower shutter speed, but any movement (of camera or subject) could be problematic at this shutter speed.


125
200
400
800
1,600
3,200

ISO: Noise and Detail: Detail is quite good at ISO 125 and 200, with some visible softening beginning at ISO 400. Chroma (color) noise is pretty well controlled at all ISOs, and luminance noise only moderately increases. The real trouble is from noise suppression efforts, which wind up blurring fine details. However, results at ISO 3,200 are better than average. See Printed results below for more on how this affects prints.


Printed: ISO 125 printed results were a little too soft at 13x19, but 11x14-inch prints looked just fine.

ISO 200 shots were also good at 11x14 inches.

ISO 400 images were slightly softer at 11x14, but still usable. Gray areas looked lighter, though, and shadows started to show some luminance noise. This disappears when reduced to an 8x10-inch print size.

ISO 800 shots are soft but still usable at 8x10, with good color.

ISO 1,600 images print pretty well at 5x7, with some softness in low-contrast areas. 4x6-inch prints look better.

ISO 3,200 images are good at 4x6, with good color and very little noise. Slightly soft edges and smearing of low-contrast areas are nonetheless harder to notice when held at normal viewing distances.

Overall, it's a good performance for a 10-megapixel camera.


 

Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS Performance


Shutter Lag: Full autofocus shutter lag is fair, at 0.63 second at wide-angle and 0.65 second at full telephoto. Prefocus shutter lag is 0.083 second, not the fastest out there, but still pretty quick.


Cycle Time: Cycle time is also just okay, capturing a frame every 2.32 seconds in single-shot mode. Canon rates the SD4000 IS' full resolution continuous mode at 3.7 frames-per-second, which is pretty good. As mentioned above, a high-speed burst mode is also available that's rated at up to 8.4 frames-per-second, but only at 2.5-megapixels.


Flash Recycle: The Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS' flash recycles in about 6.9 seconds after a full-power discharge, on the slow side of average.


Low Light AF: The camera's AF system was able to focus down to just above the 1/16 foot-candle light level without AF assist enabled. That's better than average, and we can thank the SD4000's fast f/2 lens for that. The camera was able to focus in complete darkness with the AF assist lamp enabled.


USB Transfer Speed: Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, the Canon PowerShot SD4000's download speeds are moderately fast. We measured 5,365 KBytes/sec.


 

In the Box

The retail package contains the following items:

  • Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS digital camera
  • Lithium-ion Battery Pack NB-6L
  • Battery charger CB-2LY
  • Wrist Strap WS-DC7
  • Digital Camera Solution CD-ROM
  • USB Interface Cable IFC-400PCU
  • AV Cable AVC-DC400ST
  • Shoulder strap

 

Recommended Accessories

  • Extra battery pack for extended outings
  • Large capacity SD/SDHC memory card. These days, 8GB is a good tradeoff between cost and capacity, but if you plan to capture many movie clips, 16GB will be more useful.
  • Small camera case

 

Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Nice 3.8x lens with maximum aperture of f/2 for shooting in low light
  • Aperture and Shutter Priority modes
  • Generally sharp images with low corner softness
  • Image Stabilizer helps keep images sharp
  • Beautiful, compact design with ergonomic bevelled edges to prevent snags
  • Good 10-megapixel CMOS sensor with BSI technology for reduced noise
  • Nice 3-inch LCD screen with 100% coverage
  • Very good 720p HD movies with surprisingly crisp stereo sound
  • Optical zoom supported during movies
  • Very little geometric distortion
  • Good 3.7 fps full-res burst mode, and very fast 8.4 fps high-speed mode
  • Fisheye mode
  • Better than average focusing in low light
  • Unusually good Macro performance at closest range
  • Good Auto White Balance performance
  • Fast download speeds
  • f/2.0 aperture only available at 28mm wide setting
  • Awkward Function menu interface makes quick changes in settings difficult
  • 8.4 fps burst mode reduces image size to 2.5MP
  • Super Slow Motion movie function reduces video clips to 320x240 pixels
  • No RAW mode
  • No full Manual mode
  • Good color overall though yellows come out slightly muted
  • Expensive for a compact camera in this class
  • Despite f/2.0 lens, attractive background blur ("bokeh") in portraits is limited because of short lens and small sensor size
  • Full AF shutter lag is a little long
  • Slow flash recycle

 

Combining high quality with high style, Canon has integrated an f/2 lens into a compact Digital ELPH design and called it the PowerShot SD4000. Don't let the Canon SD4000's diminutive size and attractive touchable design fool you; it's capable of capturing some beautiful images on par with more advanced (and even more expensive) cameras. Though the f/2 aperture is only achievable at the widest, 28mm setting, the Canon SD4000 is a champ in low light. Along with the bright lens, the Canon SD4000's impressive, 10-megapixel sensor with BSI technology did well in keeping noise down at ISO 800. And though it struggled at ISO 3,200, it performed better than most compacts in this class. Plus, the advantage of having an f/2.0 lens is that you won't always need to pump up the ISO in low light. On the downside, though the camera has some features that will make serious photographers take note, its clumsy menu-driven interface can be frustrating to use, especially if you're trying to make quick changes to the settings. Those are fairly minor quibbles, though. The Canon PowerShot SD4000 is one of the best compact style cameras we've tried and makes an easy Dave's Pick.

 

Canon SD4000 IS

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