Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS Review

The small cameras that fall under the category of “style-oriented” are the ones that makeup Canon’s SD/IXUS line. As the rest of the market has splintered into an infinite number of niches, the range has expanded to meet an ever-widening variety of requirements. The SD4000 IS is now at the top of the line-up because of its 3.8x wide-angle zoom and aperture and shutter priority settings, despite the fact that it is fundamentally a point-and-shoot camera.

In addition, the SD4000 IS is the first member of its family to be built on a back-lit CMOS sensor, which enables multiple different high-speed modes and offers increased low-light performance.

The low-key appearance of the SD4000 IS betrays the reality that it is actually a very well-specified tiny camera despite its size. It also has a lens that starts at a 28mm equivalent F2.0, which is impressive even though it ends up at a rather less noteworthy F5.3 at the 105mm equivalent end of its zoom range. In addition to the relative novelty of a back-lit CMOS sensor, it also has a lens that starts at a 28mm equivalent F2.0.

Because the promises made for the low-light capability of these sensors (which gather light from what would be the back of a conventional CMOS design and thus remove all the support circuitry from the light path), in our experience they are not always obvious in comparison to some of the most modern CCD designs, we are curious to see the effect of using a back-side illuminated CMOS sensor in the SD4000 IS. This is because in our experience the promises made for the low-light capability of these sensors (which gather light

However, the SD4000 IS does make use of the CMOS sensor’s faster readout in comparison to the CCD sensor. It does this by offering 720p HD video, 3.7fps continuous shooting at full resolution, 8.4fps images with reduced resolution, and even 240fps movies that are played back at 30fps to give the appearance of slow motion. The Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS is the most advanced model in the company’s line of stylish small cameras. It has a variety of additional shooting modes, including fisheye and tiny (mock tilt/shift) modes.

The Key Features of the Canon SD4000 IS

  • 28-105mm equivalent F2.0-5.3 image stabilized lens
  • 10 million pixels 1/2.3″ sensor (0.28 cm²)
  • LCD display measuring 3.0 inches (16:9 aspect ratio, 230k dots)
  • 720p 30fps HD video capture
  • Continuous filming at 3.7 frames per second with the full resolution
  • ISO 125 – 3200 (6400 at reduced resolution)
  • The output of HDMI

Design

The SD series began as a series of cameras that had a fairly boxy and styled appearance. In the years that have passed since then, the sharp corners have been gradually rounded off, but the relatively bare metal casings have been maintained.

The SD4000 IS is one of the most pebble-shaped SD/IXUS cameras that has been released so far and maintains this trend. Everyone in the workplace wanted to look at the matte black version as soon as they saw it, and it has continued to attract attention practically everywhere it has been taken. The red, white, and silver variants are all attractive enough, but the matte black version is the one that stands out the most.

In addition, the camera has a pleasingly understated appearance, even though the lack of button labeling that this necessitates is a sacrifice made in the interest of achieving more subtlety. If you gently push the control dial on the rear of the camera, on-screen suggestions will display, preventing the operation of the camera from becoming an exercise in pure guessing.

Even so, this means that in order to operate the camera quickly, you will either need to learn how to press the buttons lightly enough to receive prompts without actually activating one of the functions, or you will simply need to learn what each button does (of course, if you’ve used IXUS cameras in the past, their positions should be familiar to you).

Within your grasp

The SD4000 IS is surprisingly simple to grab a firm hold of, despite the fact that it has the look of a pebble. Although the little zoom rocker may not be to everyone’s liking, the controls are typically straightforward and simple to use with one hand.

The control dial is one of the best examples of its kind, but despite the fact that it moves quite precisely, we feel as though it might be a little bit more rigid. This would allow us to entirely eliminate the possibility of accidentally moving it.

The workings and the controls

It’s possible that the SD4000 IS’s understated design may cause you to believe that using it will be difficult; but, despite what first appearances may lead you to believe, it’s really an improvement above what you might expect.

Because of the usually excellent function menu, which is unfortunately not quite as fast to work as it was on earlier Canons, most of the settings can be adjusted rather quickly without having to navigate away from the shooting screen. Even better, accessing exposure compensation in modes other than auto is always quite straightforward, providing you a decent amount of control over the photo you are going to obtain. This is the case in modes other than auto.

Presentation as well as menus

The user interface of the SD4000 IS is quite similar to that of most of the small cameras in Canon’s current lineup, and it is typically very excellent. When the camera is set to Auto mode, there are very few options for manual control. However, the “Shooting” mode provides such an easy way to get the most out of the camera that we recommend using it for almost all situations, with the exception of those in which you need to “hand your camera to the waiter in the restaurant.”

Shooting mode is essentially an auto mode that may be overridden by the user; the camera will take care of everything for you until you specifically order it to do something otherwise.

With this mode, you will have access to a fully loaded function menu (in the auto setting, the only options available to you are self-timer, image size/quality, and exposure correction).

Comprehensive management and operation

Style has always been one of the most appealing aspects of Canon’s IXUS line of tiny cameras to potential customers. The IXUS SD4000 IS also has an abundance of style, which is a quality that distinguishes it. Thankfully, Canon has not compromised on the SD4000 IS’s ergonomics, and as a result, using the camera is an enjoyable experience.

It fits particularly beautifully in the hand, and although there are very few buttons to disrupt the elegant lines of its body, the essentials can all be controlled with the combination dial/4-way rocker switch and ‘func/set’ button. This is because the dial can be adjusted to any of four different positions.

The control dial has no labels, but when you put even the slightest amount of pressure on any of its four locations, the camera’s LCD screen will show you which choice corresponds to that position, so you’ll always know what you’re doing. Although it may take some getting used to, it is really effective.

The same is true for the most recent iteration of Canon’s ‘Func’ menu, which has been around for a long time. The new technique of accessing and changing settings in the Func menu requires at least one more button click to be performed each time, although it is simple enough to use without any difficulty.

Adjusting the exposure settings is another function of the control dial. While in AV mode, adjust the aperture; when in TV mode, adjust the shutter speed; and so on. When you press upwards to activate exposure compensation, the mode will stay in this state until you press upwards once again to deactivate it.

In contrast to the menu system, which can be explored either by spinning the dial or pushing it in different directions, the exposure compensation can only be modified by rotating the dial. Pressing left or right will vary the focus type or flash mode, respectively.

Performance

Overall performance

When compared to other cameras in its class, the SD4000 IS has exceptional speed and responsiveness. The time it takes to start up is a reasonable 1.3 seconds (about), although it seems much faster because of the welcome screen, which shows approximately 0.8 seconds after you push the “on” button.

The 28-105mm (equivalent) lens covers its whole focal length range in around 1.6 seconds, and after a brief delay of 1.2 seconds, photos emerge on the LCD screen (approx). The time it takes to go from one shot to the next in single-frame advance mode is only 1.4 seconds (approx, including AF reacquisition).

When in playback mode, the SD4000 IS is brisk and effective as well, with a scarcely discernible gap between pictures when scrolling using the left or right sides of the control dial. This demonstrates the SD4000 IS’ ability to handle its responsibilities swiftly and effectively.

Because the camera animates the transition between pictures on the ensuing filmstrip display, scrolling the dial takes a little bit longer than usual, but the camera still seldom makes you wait for anything.

The SD4000 IS responds sensibly to rapid scrolling by switching to a review display that is quicker but has a lower resolution. This ensures that you are always able to identify the image that you have scrolled to.

When in playback mode, it takes less than a second to zoom into an image, and one of the features that we really like is that when an image is zoomed, rotating the control dial will switch images while maintaining the zoom position. This is a great way to quickly view multiple images without losing the zoom position.

If you want to examine the fine focus across numerous photographs that are comparable to one another, this is an essential tool. (There is also a focus check option that is beneficial for similar scenarios, and it may be found under the image review and playback modes.)

Continuous shooting while simultaneously buffering images

The SD4000 IS is capable of an amazing 8.4 frames per second at its highest frame rate, however, it can only reach this rate at a resolution that is far lower than 8.4 million pixels. The SD4000 IS, on the other hand, is capable of shooting full-resolution files at an impressive 3.7 frames per second when set to the base ISO and with the AF and exposure fixed (assuming that the shutter speed is high enough).

In the continuous shooting mode of the SD4000 IS, the live view image cannot be maintained. Instead, the camera displays a stream of photographs as you take them, with brief gaps in between each new shot as the camera refreshes the images. This kind of speed isn’t all that useful in the majority of day-to-day shooting situations (the SD4000 IS is never going to be the tool of choice at sporting events, for example), but its speed does come in handy on occasion, and we’ve discovered that it is very useful for capturing the perfect expression in portraits.

Autofocus

The Canon SD4000 IS features two different AF modes: ‘center,’ which functions in face detection or traditional multi-point Ai AF if no face is detected, and Face AiAf, which operates in face detection or conventional multi-point Ai AF. The Centre AF setting is the easiest to use, as it positions an autofocus frame in the middle of the image area. This frame may be purchased in either a standard or a tiny size, with the smaller option providing a higher level of accuracy.

The autofocus system of the SD4000 IS, much like the autofocus system on every other IXUS camera that we’ve tried, is typically quite dependable and delightfully speedy in regular usage. An AF assist lighting helps provide sufficient contrast for the system to ‘lock’ even when the light levels are low.

It can slow down and lose accuracy in the absolute lowest light, but in general, as you’d want from a camera of this sort, you can typically just point and shoot away without having to worry about focus to any meaningful degree. This is what you’d expect from a camera of this type.

Battery capacity

The memory card and battery both slide into slots on the bottom of the camera. Despite the compact nature of the SD4000, the NB 6L battery still manages to produce 3.5Wh, which results in a rating of a good 250 shots when measured according to industry standard test settings.

There is a possibility that you may not obtain quite this many shots from a single charge, but the number is equivalent to the estimates given for other models.

Quality of the Image

Because the sensor on the SD4000 IS is just as small as the ones found on the vast majority of other compact cameras, it is quite unlikely that its image quality would ever wow the world. However, in comparison to other things of its like, it is rather agreeable. Even at high ISO levels, colors are displayed accurately and are not adversely affected by the setting.

When seen via the lens’ wide-angle setting, the photos are crisp and clear; but, when viewed through the lens’ telephoto setting, some of the lens’ smallest details become less defined. The processing that is set as the default seems to focus on creating photos that will create colorful, low-noise prints rather than preserving extremely fine detail, which we believe will be exactly what the majority of customers would desire.

Accuracy with regard to ISO and sensitivity

We simply compare the exposure for each image to the metered light level (using a calibrated Sekonic L-358), and we do this to determine the real sensitivity of each given ISO. This is done using the same shots that are used to determine the ISO noise levels. We estimate that these results are accurate to within a range of +/- 1/6 EV (the margin of error given in the ISO specifications).

When comparing these three cameras, it is hard to exactly define their ISO numbers because neither the SD4000 IS nor the WX5 has a completely manual mode. However, both of them were within 1/6 of an EV of the S90, which means that the results of the noise test shown below are directly similar to one another.

ISO Sensitivity / Noise levels

The ability to raise the sensitivity of the sensor of a digital camera is referred to as the ISO equivalent setting. The “volume” (gain) of the sensor’s signal amplifiers is increased in order for this to operate properly (remember the sensor is an analogue device). When you magnify the signal, you also boost the noise, and the noise becomes more apparent as the ISO value increases. At greater sensitivities, a lot of today’s cameras also make use of noise reduction and sometimes even sharpness decrease.

We take a series of pictures of a GretagMacBeth ColorChecker chart in order to determine the amount of background noise (controlled artificial daylight lighting). The exposure is balanced with the ISO (for example, ISO 200 and 1/200 of a second to maintain exposure uniformity between cameras). Our in-house developed and patented noise measuring software is then applied to the picture sequence.

Performance in a Flash

Even with the ISO turned up to 800, the range of the flash on the SD4000 IS is only 2 meters at the longest end of the zoom range. This is despite the fact that the ISO can be increased to 800. However, despite the flash not having much’reach,’ the SD4000 IS may (sometimes) get a touch overkeen and generate photographs with very overwhelming flash if operating within its relatively narrow range. This occurs when the camera is used to photograph subjects that are close to the camera.

Macro Focus

When it comes to macro photography, the SD4000 IS is quite capable. It can focus as close as 3 centimeters from the front of the lens, capturing an area that is 37 mm by 27 mm (approximately 2/3 of the area of a Compact Flash memory card), which means that 98 pixels are being used to describe the subject.

General Quality of the Image and Specifics

The SD4000 IS creates photographs that are, for the most part, of very high quality. Even at the lowest ISO, there are a few mildly unpleasant artifacts that appear if you zoom in too far on the image. They don’t hold up to extremely close inspection at the pixel level. These look to be the result of the picture having been over-sharpened, which produces pretty unusual textures by amplifying any noise and diffraction blur that may be present.

However, whether examined as prints of conventional sizes or at the resolution of a screen (which we anticipate will be the primary application of this camera’s output), they appear to be of high quality, with excellent color rendering and typically adequate exposure.

Movie mode

The SD4000 IS is capable of recording movies in 720p high quality, just as you would anticipate from a modern small camera. These are compressed utilizing the rather complex H.264 technology, and they are saved in the user-friendly MOV format with stereo sound.

During video recording, there are no choices to modify the shutter speed or aperture, which is to be expected with a device that is effectively a point-and-shoot. The lens may be zoomed while the shot is being taken; however, the zooming speed slows down in order to lessen the amount of noise produced; yet, there is still a very slight chirping noise audible when it is used.

Specifications

Sensor• 1/2.3″ type back-illuminated CMOS
• 10 million effective pixels
Image sizes• 3648 x 2736
• 3648 x 2048
• 2816 x 2112
• 2272 x 1704
• 1600 x 1200
• 640 x 480
• 320 x 240
Movie clips• 1280 x 720 @ 30 fps HD
• 640 x 480 @ 30 fps
• 320 x 240 @ 30 fps
• Super Slow Motion Movie – 320 x 240 @ 240 fps
Maximum clip lengthUp to 4GB or 1 hour
File formats• Still: JPEG (Exif v2.2)
• Movie: MOV [H.264 + Linear PCM (stereo) ]
Lens• 28-105mm (35mm equiv)
• f = 4.9 – 18.6 mm
• 3.8x optical zoom
• F2.0-5.3
• Construction: 7 elements in 6 groups (1 double-sided aspherical UA lens, 1 single-sided aspherical lens)
Image stabilizationYes (Lens-Shift)
Digital zoomup to 4x
Focus• Auto focus :TTL
• Face Detection / 9-point AiAF
• 1-point AF (fixed to center)
AF modes• Single
• Continuous
• Servo AF/AE
AF lockYes (on/off selectable)
AF assist lampYes
Focus distanceClosest focus distance 3 cm
Metering• Evaluative (linked to Face Detection AF frame)
• Center-weighted average
• Spot (center)
ISO sensitivity• Auto
• ISO 125
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1600
• ISO 3200
AE lockYes
Exposure compensation+/- 2EV in 1/3 stop increments
Shutter speed• Auto (1 – 1/2500 sec.)
• 15-1/2500 sec.
Modes• Auto
• Program AE
• Shutter Priority AE
• Program
Scene modes• Portrait
• Night Snapshot
• Kids & Pets
• Indoor
• Smart Shutter (Smile, Wink Self-Timer, Face Self-Timer)
• High-speed Burst (2.5MP)
• Low Light (2.5MP)
• Color Accent
• Color Swap
• Fish-eye Effect
• Miniature Effect
• Beach
• Foliage
• Snow
• Fireworks
• Stitch Assist
• Movie
White balance• Auto (including Face Detection WB)
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Tungsten
• Fluorescent
• Fluorescent H
• Flash
• Custom
Self timer• 2 or 10 sec.
Continuous shooting• Approx. 3.7 shots/sec.
High-speed Burst (2.5MP
• Approx. 8.4 shots/sec.
Low Light (2.5MP)
• LV: Approx. 6.0 shots/sec.[6] (until the memory card becomes full)
Image parametersMy Colors (My Colors Off, Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, Custom Color)
Flash• Auto, Flash On, Flash Off, Slow Sync, Red-eye reduction
• Slow Sync Speed: Fastest speed 1/2000 sec.
• Face Detection FE compensation
• Flash exposure lock
LCD monitor• 3.0 inch PureColor II G (TFT)
• 230,000 pixels
• 100% coverage
• Adjustable
Connectivity• USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
• HDMI mini connector
• AV out (PAL / NTSC switchable)
Print compliancePictBridge
StorageSD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, MMCplus, HC MMCplus
PowerRechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-6L
Weight (inc. batt)175 g
Dimensions100 x 54 x 23 mm

Conclusion

The SD4000 IS is part of a long-running and highly successful line of cameras called the SD series. These cameras have a reputation for being durable and have a high level of polish for their size. In addition, the SD4000 IS retains the same sparkle even though our test unit has a matte black surface.

It fulfills all of your requirements, not just admirable but also unobtrusively. There are certain flourishes that are practically expected to be present, such as the small model and the face self-timer, but we thought the majority of them to be either amusing or functional, and they were, on the whole, quite well done.

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Easy to use command and control mechanism
  • Excellent picture quality, especially with lower ISO settings
  • A color with a pleasing image
  • a level of specificity that is reasonable (it drops at the long end of the zoom or high ISO)
Need Improvement
  • Images do not usually hold up well under extremely close inspection.
  • The function menu is not as easy to use as it was in earlier generations of SD/IXUS cameras.
  • Limited control over the flash means you can’t always avoid accidentally overexposing your photos.

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