HomeReviewsCamerasCanon PowerShot SD400 Review - Best of digital ELPH series cameras

Canon PowerShot SD400 Review – Best of digital ELPH series cameras

The SD400, which was introduced in February 2005 and is also known as the Digital IXUS 50 in Europe and the IXY DIGITAL 55 in Japan, is the most recent model in a long line of ultra-compact ‘ELPH’ or ‘IXUS’ cameras that date all the way back to the early 2000s (and a lot farther back than that in the film camera world).

The SD400, much like its predecessor, the SD300, is equipped with two UA (Ultra-high Refractive Index Glass Molded (GMo) Aspherical lens) elements. These elements are what enable Canon to make their smallest cameras with a 3x zoom while still maintaining their quality. The SD400 from Canon may be less than the size of a credit card, but the company has nonetheless been able to pack quite extensive assortment of capabilities into it;

Key Specs

  • 5.0 megapixel CCD
  • color TFT monitor with a 2.0-inch screen
  • 35-105mm (Equiv.) F2.8 – 4.9, 3x optical zoom
  • 640 × 480 videos at 30 frames per second
  • Click here to print and share.
  • Fast Frame Rate videos (320×240 pixels At 60fps)
  • The “My Colors” function
  • Six special scene modes
  • Individualized white balance
  • Metering methods include spot, center-weighted, and evaluative.
  • processor with DIGIC II and iSAPS
  • 9-point AiAF


The 4MP SD300 and the SD400 are essentially identical in appearance on the outside, and both models have a control arrangement that is straightforward, user-friendly, and well-built. The body is nearly completely devoid of protrusions, and the sleek, understated appearance of the all-metal body gives off an air of sophistication. Additionally, the quality of construction is exceptional.

Despite its little size, the SD400 is by no means a lightweight camera. With a total weight of around 150 grams (4.7 ounces), it has sufficient mass to provide a remarkable sense of stability when held in the hand. The rear of the camera is dominated by the 2.0-inch LCD screen, while the bulk of the controls is crowded around a circular four-way controller. Both of these features are located on the left side of the camera.

This is a real point-and-shoot camera, and the majority of functions that the majority of users will want to routinely use are all given their own exterior buttons. These features include the flash mode, macro/infinity focus, flash mode, metering pattern, drive mode, and self-timer. Access to the rest of the camera’s settings, including white balance, image size and quality, ISO, and so on, is granted through the tried and true “FUNC” menu.

Within your grasp

The SD400 is a remarkable piece of photography equipment, despite the fact that it is only about the size of a credit card and can be hidden under one.

It is a joy to hold because of the simple squared-off shape and rounded edges, and the weight lends it some stability; a little raised region on the back works as a thumb ‘grip,’ and operation with one hand is not only conceivable but encouraged (though something this sleek, smooth and fairly weighty camera feels a lot safer held with both hands).

Because of the sturdy construction and the design of the camera, which avoids placing the shutter release button on the very end of the device, I was pleasantly pleased to find that camera shaking wasn’t as big of an issue as I’d imagined it would be.

Body elements

The battery compartment and the SD card slot are merged and may be found behind a hinged door that is located on the bottom of the camera (the door is one of the few bits of plastic on the entire thing).

If you use the LCD, the 3.7v, 760mAh Li-ion battery pack will only give you around 150 shots (the CIPA standard), but if you switch to the optical viewfinder and only use the LCD to check your pictures every once in a while, you should be able to get easily get almost 400 shots out of a single charge.

A totally discharged battery may be recharged using the provided battery charger in approximately one hour and ninety minutes. If you prefer to use the LCD very frequently (and why wouldn’t you? ), it is highly recommended that you get a second battery.

The battery may be replaced with a mains adaptor for the camera, which can be purchased separately. The main cable can then be fed through a hole under a flap on the entrance to the battery compartment.

The only additional piece of plastic that can be found on the exterior of the SD300 can be found on the right side of the body when viewed from the rear. The AV (audio and video) out ports, as well as the USB connectors, are hidden by this false chrome ‘flap,’ which is mounted on a plastic hinge.

The image on the 2.0-inch screen is bright and quite clean, but I have to be honest and say that 118,000 pixels on a screen that little just isn’t enough for a very clear picture.

Although the anti-reflective coating and the automatic brightening in sunny circumstances both aid with using the device outside, it is still difficult to see when the sun is directly above. The display ‘gains up’ automatically in low light, allowing it to continue to function normally even in extremely dark environments.

The optical viewfinder is nothing to write home about; it is tiny, not that clear, does not have any dioptre adjustment, and only displays around 82 percent of the picture. Having said that, it’s not any worse than 99 percent of the products that are in its category.

If you do choose to use the optical viewfinder, you will be able to eliminate shutter latency while simultaneously increasing the number of images you can take from a single charge of the battery to approximately 400. The current focus and flash settings are displayed via two LEDs to the right of the viewfinder.

Although the built-in flash is rather underpowered, it is completely adequate for use in the vast majority of social settings. There are five different flash modes: auto, auto with red-eye reduction, on (forced), off, and slow-synchro. The auto flash mode is the default setting.

At the wide end of the zoom, the flash has a range of 1.6 to 11.5 feet (0.5 to 3.5 meters), while at the long end of the zoom, the range is 1.6 to 6.6 feet (0.5 to 2.0 meters) (auto ISO). In the range of 30 to 50 centimeters, you may also utilize the flash in its macro mode (1.0 to 1.6 ft).

An add-on slave flash unit called the HF-DC1 is available for purchase from Canon. This item extends the flash range to around 30 feet and connects to the camera via a bracket.

With a maximum aperture that ranges from a beautiful and brilliant F2.8 at the wide end to a less remarkable F4.9 at the long end, the 3x optical zoom covers a practical range comparable to 35-105mm. This range is equivalent to a focal length range of 35-105mm.

When the power is turned off, the zoom may be entirely retracted into the body of the device. You can concentrate as near as 30 centimeters while using the regular photography mode, but when you switch to the macro mode, you can reach as close as 3 centimeters when using the broad end of the zoom.

The huge shutter release button may be found on the top of the camera, situated around one inch from the border of the frame. It has a pleasant positive sensation and a prominent ‘halfway’ mark, which ensures that you won’t take a shot by accident when you’re trying to activate the AF. The shutter release is surrounded by a big circular ring that functions as the zoom lever.

The zoom movement is a little bit on the “jumpy” side; there only appear to be six steps from wide to tele, which can make precise framing a little bit difficult. You’ll locate the primary power switch right next to the release button for the shutter.

On the back of the camera, immediately below the button that releases the shutter is where you’ll find the main mode switch. There is a play position, a movie mode position, and a stills mode position. You are able to power on the camera in play mode, however, the lens will not expand until you switch to the record mode.

As a result of the incorporation of such a sizable display, the primary controls have been relocated to a grouping on the right-hand side of the rear of the camera. Canon has resisted the urge to reduce the number of exterior controls and relocate functions that are often used in the menu system.

The workings and the controls

There is virtually total uniformity in the controls and menus throughout all of Canon’s tiny camera ranges, making it one of the most enjoyable aspects of reviewing a Canon compact camera. Each new generation is an evolution rather than a complete reinvention of the wheel.

And this is not without good cause; the combination of ample exterior controls and the ‘FUNC’ menu, which allows single-screen access to nearly every other facet of the camera’s functionality, makes understanding a PowerShot straightforward and utilizing it in a smooth manner that is quite impressive.

It goes without saying that this is a really straightforward camera; in fact, it is a “point-and-shoot” type that offers extremely little control over the manual settings. What you do get, however, is control over the majority of the critical settings, including metering, flash, ISO, white balance, file size and quality, and so on. What you do not receive, however, is any significant control over the apertures and shutter speeds of the camera, except a small selection of subject modes.

The back of the camera

The rear of the SD400 is dominated by the 2.0-inch screen (whereas a 1.5-inch LCD is far more popular on ultra-compact versions), and all of the primary controls are grouped around the ubiquitous four-way controller, which is located on the right side of the body.

Even though you have to utilize the ‘one-stop shop’ FUNC menu to modify things like white balance, ISO, file size/quality, etc., the metering, flash, macro, continuous (burst), and self-timer modes all have external controls.

The PowerShot SD400 has a print/share button, which is now a standard feature on all PowerShots. When the camera is linked to a Windows PC running Canon’s software, the button lights up to signal that it is ready to transmit photos. Additionally, when linked to a PictBridge printer, it will illuminate.

The top of the camera.

When viewed from above, it is easy to notice how thin the SD400 is; the main body has a depth of only a hair more than 20 millimeters, and when it is not in use, the lens fits totally flush to the body of the camera. The primary on/off switch and the lever that controls the shutter release and zoom are the only controls that are located on the top of the camera.

Presentation as well as menus

Despite a few small cosmetic changes here and there, Canon’s menu and on-screen display system have, for the most part, stayed impressively constant across all of the company’s camera ranges and generations. There is nothing here that can be considered very innovative; nonetheless, why should we alter a system that is successful?

When you press the DISP button, the camera will cycle between three different preview settings: off (use the optical viewfinder), preview image only (no information displayed), and full information, as illustrated in the example above. There is a substantial amount of information distributed in a row around the periphery of the preview image.

When you click the shutter button halfway, the camera will establish the focus and exposure for you, as well as indicate the focus point you have selected (in AiAF mode the SD400 chooses from one of nine focus points). Regrettably, there is no display of either the shutter speed or the aperture; rather, there is only a warning of camera shake if the speed is too slow.

When you change the settings for the flash, macro, or drive buttons while the record mode is active, a big symbol will temporarily show on the screen before an animation reduces its size to the regular level. Because of this, it is unlikely that unintended modifications will be made to the settings. The ever-present FUNC menu can be used in either of two distinct ways.

“auto” is set as the default, as demonstrated in this example. The only things you have control over here are the file size and quality. In addition to this, immediate access is granted to all six scene modes (digital macro, portrait, night snapshot, kids and pets, indoor and underwater).

If you choose the manual option, you’ll have access to more image and color effects, as well as extra control over AE compensation, white balance, and ISO sensitivity. As is customary, the FUNC menu is brisk and simple to navigate.

By selecting the ‘My Colors’ option, you are presented with a number of additional choices, including the ability to enhance particular colors, change the colors in the scene (screenshot), or eliminate all colors other than one (the result is that the other colors are black and white), and establish custom colors (screenshot). It’s no Photoshop, but it’s a fun little diversion all the same.

When you are in record mode and press the menu button, a list of less often used options, including AiAF, focus on/off, self-timer (2/10 seconds and custom), AF illuminator on/off, digital zoom on/off, review (2-10 secs), date stamp on/off, and long shutter on/off, will appear.

The outstanding stitch assists panoramic mode offered by Canon may be activated by selecting the final option on the list.

When you are in playback mode, you have the choice of seeing the photographs on full screen with no information overlay or with minimal information (file number, date, and time). A playback histogram is the last available option. When you are in record mode, you are unable to view any exposure information on the screen.

The display may be changed to nine (3×3) thumbnails by pushing the zoom lever to the left, which is the wide position. When using a Canon camera, sliding the zoom lever to the left for a second time toggles the display of the thumbnails into a mode called “jump,” which enables you to swiftly go through one page of thumbnails at a time. This is a standard feature of Canon cameras. The zoom lever may also be used to zoom into photos (magnify them), and it does so in stages of up to ten times each.

The playback menu includes all of the standard choices, such as protecting (locking) and deleting files. Additionally, you may rotate photographs, see a slideshow, record a voice note, and tag images for printing using DPOF.

You can discover additional basic camera options in the setup menu, which is available from both the playback and record modes. These settings include noises, power saving, date and time, LCD brightness, card formatting, language, and video output format.

Last but not least, the ‘My Camera’ screen, which is now standard on all consumer versions produced by Canon, gives you the ability to personalize the camera with your own start-up screen and noises.

Performance and timing of events

The PowerShot SD400, like the majority of other models in the PowerShot SD line, gives the impression of being very quick and highly responsive in usage, which was confirmed by our tests. The SD400 operates quite well in all aspects, including turning on and zooming, navigating the menus, shooting images, and utilizing the flash. It will keep you waiting for very little time, if at all.

Even though Canon is still behind some of its rivals in terms of focus speed, the SD400 is not a terrible camera by any means, particularly if the AiAF option is off. Even when using the telephoto end of the zoom-in conditions with somewhat low light, there is very little hunting.

When using the optical viewfinder, the shutter lag seems virtually immediate, and the continuous shooting performance is outstanding as long as you use a fast SD card. The performance of the camera when shooting in continuous mode is also excellent.

Timing Notes

The timings are determined by taking the average of three separate procedures. Unless otherwise specified, all durations were done on an image that was 2592 pixels wide and 1944 pixels high and were saved as a SuperFine JPEG (approx. 2,100 KB per image). A SanDisk Extreme III SD card with 1 gigabyte of storage capacity served as the test medium for these procedures.

ActionDetailsTime, secs
Power: Off to Record 1.2
Power: Off to PlayImage displayed1.1
Power: Record to OffAll activity ceased2.1
Power: Play to OffWhen the buffer is empty~0.2
Record ReviewImage displayed~0.5
Mode: Record to Play 1.6
Mode: Play to RecordLens already extended~1.1
Mode: Play to RecordLens not extended~1.4
Play: MagnifyTo full magnification (10x)~0.9
Play: Image to ImageTime to display each saved image~0.2
Play: Thumbnail view3 x 3 thumbnails~0.5
ActionDetailsTime, seconds
Zoom from Wide to Tele35 to 105 mm (3 x)1.3
Half-press Lag (0->S1)Wide-angle~0.45
Half-press Lag (0->S1)Telephoto~0.65
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)LCD live view~0.09
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)Viewfinder~0.06
Full-press Lag (0->S2)LCD live view, wide-angle~0.5
Off to Shot TakenLCD live view~1.7
Shot to ShotFlash off1.3
Shot to ShotFlash on (red-eye reduction off)2.9
Shot to ShotFlash on (red-eye reduction off)3.3

Half-pressing the shutter release is a common way for owners of digital cameras to prime the autofocus and exposure systems on their cameras. This is the length of time that passes between giving the shutter release a half-press and the camera displaying an indication of an autofocus and auto exposure lock on the LCD monitor or viewfinder (ready to shoot).

Lag from Half-press to Full-press (S1->S2)

Half-press Lag (0->S1)
Many digital camera users prime the AF and AE systems on their cameras by half-pressing the shutter release. This is the amount of time between a half-press of the shutter release and the camera indicating an auto focus & auto exposure lock on the LCD monitor/viewfinder (ready to shoot).

(Prime AF/AE)
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (assuming you have already primed the camera with a half-press) to the image being taken.

(Take a shot, AF/AE primed)
Full-press Lag (0->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (without performing a half-press of the shutter release beforehand) to the image being taken. This is more representative of the use of the camera in a spur-of-the-moment’ point and shoot’ situation.

(Take a shot, AF/AE not primed)

Continuous mode

The results of our test on continuous shooting are detailed in the tables that follow. Each table provides information on the actual frame rate, the maximum number of frames that can be captured, and the amount of time that must elapse before the next shot can be taken once the maximum number of frames has been captured. A SanDisk Extreme III SD card with 1 gigabyte of storage capacity served as the test medium for these procedures. Throughout these experiments, the shutter speed was maintained at a value greater than 1/200 of a second.

Continuous drive mode

The SD400 only has a single continuous shooting mode, and after each frame it captures, it displays a small review image for you to look at. The pace that was quoted to us was 2.1 frames per second, which was slightly slower than what we actually measured (which averages just under 2.3 frames per second).

Image TypeModeAvg. frames
per sec
Frames in a burst *1After
2592 x 1944 JPEG Super FineContinuous2.3 fpsUnlimitedn/a 
2592 x 1944 JPEG FineContinuous2.3 fpsUnlimitedn/a 
2592 x 1944 JPEG NormalContinuous2.3 fpsUnlimitedn/a 
2048 x 1536 JPEG Super FineContinuous2.2 fpsUnlimitedn/a 
1600 x 1200 JPEG Super FineContinuous2.35 fpsUnlimitedn/a 

There is nothing wrong with this camera; not only does it maintain a good 2.3 frames per second at all file sizes and quality settings, but the buffering is so fast that you can pretty much shoot indefinitely, even at the highest 5MP/Super Fine setting, as long as you have an SD card that is fast enough.

We did measure a slight drop-off in the frame rate after a burst of around 50 shots from time to time, but for all intents and purposes, it is impossible to fill the buffer. This means that you can keep shooting for as long as you have the battery power and card capacity to do so, provided that you do not run out of memory on your memory card.

File Display and Writing, as well as Sizes

The following timings represent the amount of time it took for the camera to process the image and “flush” it out to the storage card. The timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed, and it was stopped as soon as the activity indicator stopped lighting up.

Because of this, the timings also include the time it takes for the camera to process the image, and as a result, they are more indicative of the real time it takes to “perform the task.” A SanDisk Extreme III SD card with 1 gigabyte of storage capacity served as the test medium for these procedures.

Image TypeTime to store
Time to display
File size *1
Images on a *2
512MB Card
2592 x 1944 JPEG Super Fine~0.6~0.22,100 KB391
2592 x 1944 JPEG Fine~0.6~0.2920 KB695
2592 x 1944 JPEG Normal~0.6~0.2390 KB1376
2048 x 1536 JPEG Super Fine~0.6~0.21,100 KB607
1600 x 1200 JPEG Super Fine~0.6~0.15710 KB967

The SD400 is incredibly quick, clocking in at 3.5 megabytes per second, with write rates that average less than a second for a 5-megapixel fine JPEG. In contrast to the majority of tiny and ultra-compact versions, this camera has the ability to maximize the potential of a fast card.

Quality of the Image

A Perfect White Balance

In addition to the camera’s built-in auto white balance setting, the SD400 features a total of five different white balance presets: daylight, cloudy, incandescent, fluorescent, and fluorescent H. You may also set the white balance manually by pointing the camera at a white or gray object and using the ‘custom’ white balance setting. This setting is available as an additional white balance option.

Even if you switch the camera off, it will keep the custom white balance setting that you have previously selected. When shooting normally outside, the auto white balance serves its purpose admirably (as confirmed by our studio tests). Fluorescent illumination doesn’t pose much of an issue indoors, but incandescent (tungsten) lighting results in a rather strong orange color cast. This is something that we’ve experienced with the majority of Canon PowerShots.

If you want the colors to be more muted, it is best to remain with the preset (or use the one-push custom WB). When we asked Canon about their method of determining the white balance, we were told that the warm colors that appear on the camera’s display when it is being used to capture images in incandescent light are deliberate and are done so in order to “try to keep some of the warm atmospheres of this kind of shot.”

Performance in a Flash

At the broad end of the zoom range, the built-in flash of the SD400 is said to have a working range of 0.5 meters to 3.5 meters (1.6 feet to 11.5 feet), while at the telephoto end, it has a working range of 0.5 meters to 2.0 meters (1.6 feet to 6.6 feet). In macro mode, it can focus as close as around 30 centimeters (about 12 inches) (in all cases assuming the ISO is set to auto). During our experiments using the flash in the real world, it performed exceptionally well, achieving excellent exposure in a broad variety of scenarios and producing practically no color cast.

Additionally, it is rather quick, which means that even with the red-eye reduction feature off, you won’t miss any spontaneous images waiting for the flash to go off. In point of fact, as long as you keep in mind the range restrictions of the flash, you will discover that this is the ideal camera for taking “social” snapshots.

We discovered that the autofocus (AF) illuminator would enable focus in total darkness (or as close to it as we could get) at distances of up to approximately one meter. When the light levels are poor, the autofocus assist illuminator can help you focus at distances of up to about 1.8 meters.

The macro mode of the SD400 is most effective at the broad end of the zoom, which is typical of most tiny digital cameras. At this end of the zoom range, you can go as near as 3 centimeters, which is remarkably close for an ultra-compact camera.

Even if the performance is less outstanding at the long end of the zoom (with a subject distance of 30 centimeters), it is still rather handy. When filming extremely close up at the wide end, there is unavoidably going to be some degree of distortion, but it is not overly severe, and it is certainly less severe than with many of its competitors.

Distortion of the Barrel and the Pincushion

The barrel distortion is fairly minimal for a camera in this class, coming in at around 0.7 percent. This certainly does not detract from the quality of real-life scenic images. At the telephoto end of the zoom range, there is just the most minute amount of discernible distortion.

At the largest zoom setting, we did observe a very slight degree of vignetting, which is the darkening of the frame’s four corners, but we did not see this in images taken in the real world.

Noise Comparison

The following images are a visual comparison of four identical photographs taken in our studio at different ISO settings of 50, 100, 200, and 400. Because the exposures aren’t long enough, the noise reduction feature on the Canon camera won’t activate (according to the documentation this happens with shutter speeds of 1.3 seconds and over).

ISO 50 produces an extremely clear image, but ISO 100 and ISO 200 are equally as useful. Even though ISO 400 has a great deal of discernible noise, it is not significantly worse than the vast majority of its rivals.

Concerns Regarding the Specific Image’s Quality

When it comes to picture quality, it is inevitable that an ultra-compact camera like this one would involve some sort of sacrifice on the part of the user. The issue that has to be answered is, in order to get a camera that is genuinely pocket-sized, how much of a reduction in image quality are we willing to tolerate?

First, the good news: this is a Canon, and it has all of the typical Canon hallmarks, including outstanding color that is both bright and natural, highly precise exposure and focus, and a very high level of detail (see resolution tests). You do get somewhat greater clarity (and slightly less noise) than you would get with the 4MP SD300, despite the fact that the difference isn’t really significant (IXUS 40).

Although the SD400 (and its predecessor, the SD300) exhibits some corner softness at the broad end of the zoom range, this issue is not significant enough to be noticeable in the vast majority of ordinary photographs, especially when printed at sizes considered to be “average” (under 5×7 inches).

Although we discovered less of an issue with corner softness compared to the SD300 that we tested, this is more likely due to batch variation than a meaningful difference between the two cameras (which we presume to share the same lens). In addition to that, there is the typical issue of purple fringing.

Lastly, just like with almost every other Canon compact camera we’ve tested, we discovered that using the sophisticated 9-point AiAF system (which makes an educated guess as to where the subject is located in the frame) not only slowed down the focusing process but also resulted in a significantly higher number of focus errors compared to the more straightforward center-focus setting. We found that turning AiAF off was the best option for this evaluation, therefore we recommend doing the same.

Coloring along the edges

There is a trace amount of purple or blue fringing in all of the images that contain very bright (particularly overexposed) regions, and in some of the shots, it is fairly evident; nonetheless, it appears to be considerably less of an issue than what we found with the SD300/IXUS 40.

Highlights and dynamic range that have been overexposed

The SD400, much like every other tiny camera with a small sensor, has some issues with situations that have strong contrast and a very broad dynamic range. To Canon’s credit, the exposure system seems to do an excellent job of retaining highlight detail most of the time, and the default contrast is not as high as on some competitor models, which means more fine tonal detail is preserved. Although it is no worse than its competitors (this is more of a sensor issue than anything else), it is still a credit to Canon that it is able to do so.

Be aware, however, that there are situations in which the contrast between the darkest and brightest sections of a picture will result in the loss of something, typically highlighting detail. In these instances, you should be prepared for this possibility. We also discovered that there was a tiny propensity for the camera to underexpose images that had a significant amount of sky in the frame, although this does not constitute a significant problem.

Video Quality

It would take a bold manufacturer in this day and age to make even a cheap model without a fundamental movie mode, and the ability to record movies is becoming an increasingly significant component of the purchasing decision for cameras of this sort. 

The highest movie size that the SD400 can record is 640 by 480 pixels, which is sufficient to fit the majority of television screens when played back at 30 frames per second. 

The highest movie size that the SD400 can record is 640 by 480 pixels, which is sufficient to fit the majority of television screens when played back at 30 frames per second.  Additionally, it provides the option of shooting at a lower frame rate as well as a smaller size. The ‘high frame rate mode can record videos with a resolution of 320 by 240 pixels at a rate of 60 frames per second.

The videos are very smooth and have very few (if any) compression artifacts. The only significant issue is that the exposure system is occasionally unable to keep up with the quick changes in scene brightness. 

The videos are very smooth and have very few (if any) compression artifacts. The only significant issue is that the exposure system is occasionally unable to keep up with the quick changes in scene brightness.  The AVI files are rather enormous; while using the highest quality level (640×480 at 30 frames per second), you will need just under 2 MB of storage space per second. Because of this, if you plan to shoot a lot of movies, you will need to get some large and quick SD cards.

During filming, you won’t be able to make use of optical zoom, but you will be able to enable and make use of digital zoom, which is three times as powerful as the original.

When recording videos, the only information that appears on the screen is the elapsed time and a warning that the battery is becoming low. During the recording of a movie, you are able to zoom in digitally, but you do not have control over the exposure level. 

You have the ability to adjust the visual effects, white balance, video size (640×480 or 320×240 pixels), and frame rate (either 15 or 30 frames per second) through the FUNC menu (vivid, neutral, low sharpening, sepia, and black and white). 

There are four different modes for movies: Standard, Fast Frame Rate (which records at 60 frames per second at 320×240 pixels), Compact (which records at 160×120 pixels at 15 frames per second and is ideal for emailing), and ‘My Colors,’ which provides the same color settings and effects that you get when shooting stills.

When you are recording a movie, you may change the settings for the self-timer, the AF-assist beam, and the digital zoom by pressing the menu button. When scrolling through the stored photographs, a thumbnail of the first frame of the movie shows when the playback option is active.

When scrolling through the stored photographs, a thumbnail of the first frame of the movie shows when the playback option is active. To begin playing movies, press the FUNC/SET button. It’s interesting to note that if you hit the DISP. 

It’s interesting to note that if you hit the DISP.  When watching movies, a set of controls will display along the bottom of the screen. These controls will allow you to play the movie, skip to either end of the movie, stop the movie (and move one frame at a time), and edit the movie. 

The editing features are really basic, but at least they let you cut clips from the beginning or end in order to free up some additional storage space on the card.

Canon PowerShot SD400 Specifications

Street price• US: $370
• UK: £230
Body MaterialMetal
Sensor• 1/2.5″ CCD, 5.3 million total pixels
• 5.0 million effective pixels
Image sizes• 2592 x 1944
• 2048 x 1536
• 1600 x 1200
• 640 x 480
Movie clips• 640 x 480 pixels @ 30fps or 15fps (clip length limited by card capacity)
• 320 x 240 pixels @ 30fps or 15fps (clip length limited by card capacity)
• 320 x 240 pixels @ 60fps (max clip 1 minute)
• 160 x 120 pixels @ 15fps (max clip 3 minutes)
• Motion JPEG (.avi)
• Mono sound (.wav)
Lens• 35 – 105mm equiv. (3x digital zoom)
• F2.8 – F4.9
• 4x digital zoom
Focus• TTL autofocus
• 9-point AiAF
• 1-point AF (fixed to center)
• 3cm macro mode (Wide), 30cm (Tele)
Shooting mode• Auto
• Manual
• Portrait
• Night Snapshot
• Kids & Pets
• Indoor
• Underwater
• Digital Macro
• Stitch Assist
• AE compensation -2.0EV to +2.0 EV in 1/3EV steps
Sensitivity• Auto
• ISO 50,100,200,400
Shutter speed• 15 – 1/1500 sec
• Slow shutter speeds of 1.3 seconds or slower operate with noise reduction
White Balance• Auto
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Tungsten
• Fluorescent
• Fluorescent H
• Custom
Image parameters• Picture Adjust (Vivid, Neutral)
• Sharpness (low or normal)
• Color effects (Sepia, Black and White)
• My Colors
Continuous2.1 fps approx
Flash• Built-in flash
• Auto, on, off, slow-synchro, Red-eye reduction: on/off
• Range (normal, ISO auto): W: 0.5m – 3.5m (1.6 – 11.5 ft)
T:0.5m – 2.0m (1.6 – 6.6 ft).
• Range (macro, ISO auto): 30 – 50cm (1.0 – 1.6 ft)
Storage• SD Memory Card
• 16MB SD supplied*
ViewfinderReal Image Optical
LCD monitor• 2.0″ TFT LCD
• 118,000 pixels
Connectivity• USB 2.0 High Speed
• A/V out
• DC-in
Power• Rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery (NB-4L)
• (Optional AC adapter)
In the box*• Canon PowerShot SD400 Digital ELPH (IXUS 50)
• NB-4L battery
• Battery charger
• Wrist strap
• AV cable
• Interface cable
• 16MB SD card
• Software CD ROM (ZoomBrowser, PhotoStitch, PhotoRecord, ArcSoft PhotoStudio)
Other features• Spot (center), Center-weighted & Evaluative metering
• 2/10 sec self-timer + custom self-timer
• PictBridge, Canon Direct Print, and Bubble Jet Direct-compatible
• Playback Histogram
• Optional Slave Flash (HF-DC1)
• Optional 3m All-Weather case (AW-DC30)
Weight (inc batt)130 g (4.6 oz)
Dimensions86 x 53 x 20.7mm (3.4 x 2.1 x 0.82in) Excluding protrusions


In a perfect world, purchasing an extremely small camera would not need making any kind of sacrifices in any way. But this is not a perfect world, and if you want a camera that you can really carry with you anytime, anywhere, then you have to accept that there will be some trade-off in terms of the absolute image quality. If you want a camera that you can really carry with you anytime, anywhere, then you have to accept that there will be some compromise.

The SD400 is a quick and easy-to-use camera that is well-specified and can legitimately claim to be pocket-sized. It produces photographs that, although not perfect in any way, are crisp, clear, and colorful, and it does it with the smallest amount of trouble.

Because of its compact size and the fact that it is easy to hold and use, you just cannot resist taking it with you everywhere you go. This is something that you would be hesitant to do with a more substantial camera. It is also a pleasure to be able to report that purchasing the more costly 4MP SD400 model offers a discernible improvement, if a slight one, in the image quality when compared to the more affordable 4MP SD300 model.

Even with the fringing and the occasional soft corner, I was pleasantly pleased by how crisp the photos created by the SD400 were. Of course, there are limitations to what you can anticipate, but I was impressed by how sharp the images were produced by the SD400.

The SD400 outperforms expectations in every category that is important to the target audience, including exposure, color, focus, speed, and noise. This is the perfect pocket camera and a fantastic option for the days you don’t want to take a larger camera out with you. If you can live without manual control over exposure (or any indication of shutter speeds or apertures), then you will find that this is the best camera for you.

This would have been a Highly Recommended product if it weren’t for the absence of information regarding the shutter speed and the minor issues with edge sharpness and fringing. However, as it stands, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for a small camera that is both quick and capable, and it is near the top of the 5MP ultra-compact tree.

Canon PowerShot SD400 Price

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • White balance can be adjusted manually (customized).
  • Unbelievably svelte and condensed design
  • Stunning in its structure and composed entirely of metal
  • Excellent level of detail preserved
  • Outstanding color and white balance in the vast majority of instances
Need Improvement
  • There is hardly much room for manual adjustment.
  • a few hints of violet fringe
  • Some rounding of the corners at wide angles and maximum aperture.
  • The battery life is not outstanding when using an LCD.
  • There is no indication about the exposure while recording or playing back.


Image Quality
Battery Life


The image quality, user-friendliness, and great build quality of Canon's ELPH range of digital cameras have been consistently strong, and the new Canon PowerShot SD400 is not an exception to this rule. When it comes to capturing pictures, the actual exposure control is still done automatically; however, the photographer has the opportunity to make adjustments to the ISO, the white balance, and the shutter speed, which considerably expands the camera's shooting range.


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The image quality, user-friendliness, and great build quality of Canon's ELPH range of digital cameras have been consistently strong, and the new Canon PowerShot SD400 is not an exception to this rule. When it comes to capturing pictures, the actual exposure control is still done automatically; however, the photographer has the opportunity to make adjustments to the ISO, the white balance, and the shutter speed, which considerably expands the camera's shooting range.Canon PowerShot SD400 Review - Best of digital ELPH series cameras
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