Canon PowerShot SD940 IS Review

The Canon PowerShot SD940 IS is a compact camera that can be readily carried in the majority of pockets due to its diminutive size. It includes a simple snapshot shooting mode. The Digital ELPH style that is always appealing is included on the SD940 IS, making it an enticing option not just for its simplicity of use but also for its good aesthetics.

The Canon PowerShot SD1200 and the SD940 IS are very comparable digital cameras; however, the SD940 IS delivers a greater resolution thanks to its 12.1-megapixel sensor, a more streamlined appearance, and, in general, superior image quality at a price that is comparable.

The SD940 IS has a wide-angle 4x optical zoom lens that begins at 28 millimeters and goes all the way to 112 millimeters, which is another point of differentiation between it and its smaller Canon SD brothers.

Although it slows down to f/5.9 when used at telephoto, the f/2.8 lens is quick enough (has a larger aperture) to let more light enter the camera than previous versions do when used at wide-angle. When shooting in low light and using slower shutter speeds, the SD940 IS offers a little bit of an advantage over other cameras because of its quick lens and image stabilization (IS) feature built into the camera. A sensor with a resolution of 12.1 megapixels has sufficient pixels to allow for the creation of big prints without exhausting your computer with extremely large image files.

The Canon SD940 IS is a point-and-shoot camera, hence it does not include any manual exposure adjustments. Instead, the camera comes loaded with a variety of fully automatic shooting choices, such as Canon’s Smart Auto mode, Intelligent Contrast Correction, Face Detection, Blink Detection, and a broad variety of scene settings.

White balance, metering, and ISO are just some of the parameters that can be adjusted manually in the Program Auto mode of the Canon SD940 IS. This option is available to photographers who want a little bit more control over their photographs and is included with the camera.

The camera’s movie mode is able to record high-definition video with sound up to 720p resolution, and the presence of an HDMI connector makes it simple to connect the camera to an HDTV for viewing on a larger screen.


In a world where digital SLRs are making headlines left and right, the compact Canon PowerShot SD940 is a breath of fresh air and a welcome change of pace. It is convenient to wear around your neck with a lanyard as a fashion accessory because it is not only small enough to fit into some of the smallest pockets but also comfortable to do so.

Even though it’s a point-and-shoot model, the Canon SD940 is outfitted with enough features that are easy to use and intelligent enough to deliver both form and function to the casual snapshot photographer. Good looks are nothing without substance, of course, and despite the fact that it’s a point-and-shoot model, good looks are nothing without substance.

Look and Feel

The body of the subcompact Canon SD940 weighs only 4.23 ounces and has dimensions of 3.52 inches by 2.16 inches by 0.79 inches, making it the ideal camera to take with you wherever you go.

It is compact enough to bring along wherever you go, whether you are going for a short stroll around the neighborhood or on a trip somewhere far away. There are very few pockets that the Canon SD940 won’t fit into; the only exception would be if you were wearing jeans that were as tight as a second skin.

The camera may be compact, but it has a very high-quality build and a satisfyingly sturdy weight in the hand. At first glance, there does not appear to be a grip on the SD940 IS, which may give the impression that it is difficult to hold.

However, the smooth surface of the camera really gives a little amount of traction, and there is space for your thumb to rest to the right of the LCD with your forefinger on the front panel so that you may shoot with only one hand. Put the forefinger of your left hand on top of the camera, and then support it at the bottom with your left thumb. This will help you maintain a more steady grasp on the camera.

When you are shooting, you should still be sure to wear a wrist strap or lanyard to keep the weapon from slipping out of your hand by accident. When transporting the camera in a handbag or a compact camera bag, placing it in a protective case before placing it in the bag can help prevent the camera from becoming scratched.

It is quite unlikely that the camera will be turned on by accident when you remove it from your pocket or bag because the majority of the controls are virtually flush with the body of the camera. The only possible exception to this rule is the shooting mode switch, which is slightly raised from the back panel. Because of this, you need to double verify that it is in the correct position before you begin shooting.


The arrangement of the controls on the SD940 IS is quite typical for a camera of this class. Along the top edge of the camera is where you’ll find the Power button. It’s rather tiny and lies flush with the surface.

However, because of its flat location, it was difficult for me to hit the Power button with the pad of my forefinger. As a result, I had to press it with the tip of my fingernail instead. A sizable shutter button that is encircled by the zoom lever can be found to the right of the Power button on the back of the camera.

The rear of the Canon SD940 is divided into roughly two-thirds and a 2.7-inch LCD takes up about two-thirds of that space, leaving the remaining space for the camera’s external controls. The protective cover for the HDMI and AV-out connections may be found in the upper right corner of the screen (an interface cable and AV cable are included so you can connect the camera to your computer or TV).

You’ll locate the Playback button directly below the connection. Pressing this button also activates the Canon SD940 into Playback mode. Simply giving the shutter button a half push will switch the camera from Playback mode into Record mode.

The Canon SD940 does not have a mode dial; rather, it has a Mode Switch that may be set to either Auto, Program, or Movie mode. We will discuss each of these modes in more detail in the next section.

The largest of the camera’s controls is the Four-way controller, which can be found around the Function/Set button on the Canon SD940. This controller is conveniently located within easy reach of the thumb. Even though I have smaller hands than most photographers, I was still able to precisely adjust the settings for Exposure Compensation, Flash, Self-Timer/Delete, and Focus (Macro/Normal/Infinity). Photographers with larger hands may find the device to be a little cumbersome to operate.

The Function/Set button in the middle of the controller is probably used the most since it allows for immediate access to the settings that are changed the most frequently. The Light Metering, My Colors (for Canon’s special color effects), White Balance, ISO, Record Mode (including Scene modes), Drive Mode, Recording pixels (picture resolution), and Compression settings may all be found in the Function menu of the Canon SD940 IS (image quality).

The buttons labeled Display and Menu are the last two controls to be found on the back panel. Simply press the Display button to choose between having no data displayed on the LCD and having the most essential shooting information displayed there. The first one displays information such as the current battery level, the mode the camera is operating in, the flash setting, and the ISO speed.

When the shutter button is pressed halfway, the display shows the aperture setting along with the shutter speed setting. This allows you to determine whether or not the shutter speed is fast enough to allow you to hand hold the camera. This setting is independent of the display setting that is selected.

When you press the Menu button on the Canon SD940, the camera’s internal menu system is brought up.


The Auto setting, the Program setting, and the Movie setting can be selected using the Mode Switch located on the rear of the camera. The Auto mode is the most straightforward of the three, offering only a handful of manual settings for a straightforward photography experience. For instance, when the camera is set to Auto mode, the Function menu only provides access to image resolution and compression settings, and flash options are limited to Auto and Off. The camera takes care of the majority of the work, as suggested by the mode’s name, Auto, and this is where the Canon SD940 demonstrates its superior intelligence.

Following an analysis of the scene you are photographing, the camera will select the appropriate settings in accordance with the cues if any, that it discovers. In the event that the camera detects a face, for instance, the Face Detection feature is immediately activated. This results in the placement of a miniature box outline around the face (or faces), which then follows the face(s) as they move.

Half-pressing the shutter button causes an enlarged portion of the person’s face to appear on the LCD when Face Detection has locked in on that person’s face. This allows you to check the focus as well as the expression. The exposure, the white balance, and, if necessary, the flash setting are all chosen automatically by the camera at the same time.

When you bring the camera in close proximity to an object, the Canon SD940 will switch into the macro mode automatically. If there is nothing in the scene to cause one of the camera’s specialized functions to be activated, it will merely choose the optimal focus and exposure settings for the photograph.

Even though the camera chooses the aperture and shutter speed for exposure control automatically when in Program mode, the user still has the ability to manually modify a variety of settings, such as Light Metering, ISO, White Balance, Resolution, and Compression.

This shooting mode also grants access to the camera’s scene modes, which include Portrait, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Fireworks, Aquarium, Underwater (for use with an optional underwater housing), ISO 3,200, Indoor, Kids & Pets, Night Snapshot, Color Accent, Color Swap, Digital Macro, Long Shutter, and Stitch Assist. Other scene modes include Night Snapshot, Color Accent, Color Swap, Digital Macro, and Stitch Assist (for panoramas).

The third recording mode that may be selected is the Movie mode. There are three different resolution settings available, including high definition (1,280 by 720 pixels), standard definition (640 by 480 pixels or 320 by 240 pixels), and all of them run at 30 frames per second. Recordings of movies are made to MOV files with a maximum size of 4GB and H.264 encoding for maximum efficiency. While movie recordings are being made, optical zoom is not supported; however, digital zoom is available.

At the beginning of the film, the focal point is established. The Canon SD940 provides users with a number of interesting movie options, such as the capability to set white balance and image stabilization, despite the fact that the video clips it captures won’t win any awards.

You also have the option to utilize Canon’s color effects, such as black and white, sepia, selective color (where you pick one color from the scene and everything else will be in black and white), and a number of custom settings. You will want a Mini-HDMI to HDMI connection in order to view the video clip on an HDTV; this cable may be purchased separately.


The menu design of the Canon SD940 is straightforward, making it easy to comprehend and navigate whether used in either the Record or Playback modes. When you turn on the Hints & Tips on-board assistance feature of the camera, the Canon SD940 provides a brief explanation of each menu setting. This allows you to make an educated decision regarding the settings of the camera when you are configuring it.

In Record mode, there are two menus: one for shooting features such as turning the AF-assist Beam on/off, turning on Red-eye correction and the Red-eye lamp, enabling Blink detection, and many other options. The other menu is for playback features such as adjusting the volume and adjusting the playback speed.

The second menu is where you’ll configure the fundamentals of your camera, such as the noises that play at startup, camera operation, and the shutter. You’ll also be able to alter the brightness of your LCD and format your media card here.

The playback menus have the same set-up menu in addition to a printing menu and a menu that is specialized for playback. The latter includes functions such as slideshow creation and post-processing options such as i-Contrast (which helps maintain details in shadows and highlights), Red-Eye Correction, Trimming, Resizing, and special color effects via Canon’s My Colors feature. Other functions include the ability to resize and crop images.

Both the storage and the battery

The Canon SD940 is compatible with both SD and SDHC memory cards, as the SD name suggests. Additionally, the camera is compatible with the MultiMediaCard format, as well as MMCplus and HC MMCplus media. A 2GB SD card has the capacity to store around 626 large or fine images, while an 8GB card can store slightly more than 2,500 photographs at a high quality.

Because a 2GB card can only record around 10 minutes and 53 seconds of video, while an 8GB card can record approximately 43 minutes and 32 seconds of video, you should consider purchasing a card with a capacity of either 4GB or 8GB if you intend to capture high-definition video. The maximum duration of an HD clip is 10 minutes, whereas an SD video clip can be up to 60 minutes long.

The battery life of the SD940 is estimated to be around 220 shots, which is a bit less than the typical amount. The SD940 is powered by a compact lithium-ion battery that can be recharged (the Canon NB-4L 2). It is highly recommended that you get an additional battery for your camera, especially if you want to record a lot of video with it or if you want to bring it with you on vacation.


Using the Canon SD940 IS for photography was a really enjoyable experience. When I went on a stroll with a shoulder bag full of other, larger cameras for testing, including a DSLR, I discovered that the Canon SD940 was the one I reached for most of the time. This favorable treatment may have been due, in part, to the fact that I was carrying the camera around my neck on a lanyard, which made it convenient for me to access it at any time.

The fact that this camera was so much simpler to operate than the others was the second reason I decided to get it. Because Canon’s camera has an easy-to-access Function menu, even adjusting settings like ISO, white balance, and metering modes can be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time and with no effort.

When I went outside to take pictures of landscapes, I found that having a wide-angle lens with an equivalent focal length of 28 millimeters was incredibly helpful. I also played around with shooting towards the sun to illuminate some of the surroundings. I turned my back to the sun or hid behind a structure to avoid being blinded by the dazzling brightness since, unfortunately, that plan didn’t work out as well as I had anticipated it would.

On the 2.7-inch LCD of the Canon SD940, I was able to see that these photographs were significantly improved, with more precise exposure, colors that were (generally speaking) nicely saturated, and focus that was noticeably crisper. When used outside, the camera’s built-in flash proved unexpectedly useful in eliminating unwanted shadows when it was on.

Because the high gusts caused the objects to be continually shifting and out of focus, my attempts to take macro photographs of plants were unsuccessful. As a result, I took some macro photographs indoors. It was a frustrating and rewarding experience to shoot macro on static things like a Kachina doll.

Because the flash did not offer sufficient coverage in macro and had a tendency to vignette depending on the distance between the camera and the subject, I increased the ISO and switched off the flash in order to obtain photographs with more even lighting. However, when I switched out of the macro mode and either zoomed in or pushed the camera closer to the subject I was photographing, the light offered equal coverage.

Playing around with My Colors and taking pictures in black and white, sepia, and a few of the other color effects was also a lot of fun. There was no one present to try out the skin tone modifications (lighter or darker) that are available in My Colors, so instead, I decided to go for a little bit more vivid color by utilizing the Positive Film option, and the results were rather attractive.

The overall performance of the Canon SD940 was at least comparable to and in some cases even superior to, that of competing cameras in its class. The autofocus system works more fast when there is a lot of contrast in the scene. However, as is the case with the majority of point-and-shoot cameras, the focus point wasn’t always where I thought it would be. Because of this, I would try to gently move the camera so that it would pick to focus closer to the thing I had in mind.

If there is little to no contrast, the autofocus frame on the Canon SD940 will turn yellow and display a warning notice. This indicates that the camera will not be able to focus and that you will need to either recompose the shot or zoom the lens out to achieve a wider angle.

It is crucial to compose the photo and squeeze the shutter rather than snap it in order to eliminate autofocus latency, despite the fact that the shutter lag for snapshot cameras is approximately average. However, the zoom is not as responsive as I would like it to be, so you might have to pull and push the zoom lever back and forth a few times before you achieve the precise position you want.

Image quality

The image quality is remarkable for such a little point-and-shoot camera. The colors were pleasantly saturated while still having a natural appearance; if you want more brilliant colors, check using the My Colors function on the camera. When compared to its older sister, the Canon SD1200 IS, the Canon SD940 exhibits superior corner and overall detail. However, the prints produced by the SD940 IS aren’t quite up to the quality of those produced by the SD1200 IS.

Additionally, the SD940 IS appears to have some difficulty catching low-contrast details, particularly reds, which are particularly difficult. It would appear that Canon point-and-shoot cameras are moving in the direction of somewhat more aggressive noise suppression, which has the tendency to slightly blur details; nevertheless, you probably won’t be able to tell that the details have been blurred when they are printed.

Even though it is able to capture details, the lens produces photos that are more blurry in the top right corner. This fuzziness does not extend too far into the frame when using a wide-angle lens, and it happens much less frequently when using a telephoto lens. When used at its widest angle, the lens had less than the typical amount of barrel distortion.

If you zoom the lens all the way into telephoto, you will see that instead of the typical pincushion distortion, you will see a touch of barrel distortion, which is an effect in which the picture is gently bent inward.

I was generally satisfied with the results of my test photographs, taking into consideration the dimensions and capabilities of the SD940 IS. It is safe to assume that members of your family and circle of friends would be overjoyed to get prints of the size of a picture, and personally, I wouldn’t mind putting up a few copies of 8 by 10 inches on the wall.

I am more than happy to forsake pixel-peeping in exchange for a camera that is so cute and compact. I would much rather have a nice, little camera that is simple to use that I can carry around with me for taking photographs. However, those who are interested in photography should definitely search elsewhere.


Although the blurring doesn’t extend very far into the frame, the wide-angle end of the zoom on the Canon SD940 has quite a bit of softness in some of the frame’s corners, especially the upper right. When compared to the center, the corners have only a very slight amount of softness when telephoto.

Distortion of the Geometry

When shooting with a wide-angle lens, the barrel distortion is actually lower than average (0.6 percent), which, depending on the subject, is only slightly noticeable. A hint of barrel distortion is almost impossible to detect when shooting at telephoto (0.2 percent ).

Aberration of Chromatic Color

Chromatic aberration is on the moderate side across the board, with slightly brighter pixels visible on either side of the target lines when using either the wide-angle or telephoto settings. When viewed through a wide-angle lens, pixels have a green and magenta coloration, but when viewed through a telephoto lens, the distortion is more cyan and red.


Even though there is significant blurring extending from the corners down toward the middle of the image area when using the Macro mode on the Canon PowerShot SD940, the camera manages to capture a sharp image in the middle of the frame when using the Macro mode. The smallest area that must be covered is 1.53 inches by 1.15 inches (39 x 29mm). At its closest focusing distance, the lens of the camera prevents the use of the flash because it is focused so precisely.

Image Quality of the Canon SD940 IS.


Although there is some slight oversaturation in the bright reds and blues, the color as a whole looks good. Some colors, like yellow and cyan, have a hue that is slightly off, and some reds have a tendency to lean toward orange. Warmth can be seen in darker skin tones, and a hint of pink color can be seen in lighter skin tones. Nevertheless, the hue as a whole is earthy and attractive.


Noise and Detail: The level of detail is excellent at ISO 80 and 100, however it starts to get noticeably softer as early as ISO 200. At ISO 400, there is a noticeable blurring of details. Chroma (color) noise stays under control at all ISOs, but luminance noise becomes a concern.


Even though the ISO was adjusted to 320, the results of our testing according to the manufacturer’s specifications reveal that the camera is brilliant when used at its widest angle and is classified as effective up to a distance of 13 feet. When set to maximum telephoto, the camera required an ISO setting of 320 in order to get results that were sufficiently bright when measured at the recommended distance of 6.6 feet. Therefore, the flash on the PowerShot SD940 IS should work very well when the subject is relatively close to the camera, but its effectiveness will decrease with increasing distance.


In spite of a very slight magenta cast, our tungsten lighting test is handled more effectively by the manual white balance mode than by the auto or incandescent modes. While the Incandescent setting produced very pink results, the Auto setting has a very slight red tint to it.

Performance of the Canon SD940 IS

Shutter lag

The shutter latency for full autofocus is approximately typical, clocking in around 0.48 seconds for wide-angle shooting and 0.55 seconds for full telephoto shooting. The delay in the prefocus shutter is 0.077 seconds, which is considered to be rather quick.

The length of one cycle

In single-shot mode, the camera has a cycle time that is rather sluggish, taking a picture once every 2.37 seconds. The continuous shooting option of the SD940 is rated at 0.8 frames per second by Canon, which is likewise quite sluggish.

Recycle Flash Lights

After a full-power discharge, the flash of the PowerShot SD940 IS may be recycled in a relatively short amount of time of 4.4 seconds.

In the Box

The following items may be found inside of the retail package:

  • The body of the PowerShot SD940 IS
  • Battery Pack for Lithium-ion Devices, Model NB-4L
  • Charger for Batteries, Model CB-2LV
  • Wrist Strap
  • Digital Camera Solution CD-ROM
  • USB Cable as an Interface
  • AV cable
  • Guide in Printed Form

Accessories Highly Recommended

  • SD or SDHC card has a large storage capacity. If you plan on shooting video, you should have at least 2 GB of storage space, and having 4 GB or 8 GB is much better.
  • A spare battery pack in case your trip is very long.
  • Housing designed for use underwater by scuba divers and snorkelers


Body typeUltracompact
Max resolution4000 x 3000
Other resolutions4000 x 2248, 3264 x 2448, 2592 x 1944, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480, 320 x 240
Image ratio w:h4:3, 16:9
Effective pixels12 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Sensor typeCCD
ProcessorDigic 4
ISOAuto, 80 ,100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
White balance presets6
Custom white balanceYes
Image stabilizationOptical
Uncompressed formatNo
JPEG quality levelsFine, Normal
Focal length (equiv.)28–112 mm
Optical zoom
Maximum apertureF2.8–5.9
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaSingleLive View
Digital zoomYes (4x)
Manual focusNo
Macro focus range3 cm (1.18″)
Number of focus points9
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size2.7″
Screen dots230,000
Touch screenNo
Live viewNo
Viewfinder typeNone
Minimum shutter speed15 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/1500 sec
Aperture priorityNo
Shutter priorityNo
Manual exposure modeNo
Subject / scene modesYes
Built-in flashYes
Flash range4.00 m
External flashNo
Flash modesAuto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Slow Sync
Continuous drive0.8 fps
Self-timerYes (2, 10, Custom, Face)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpot
Exposure compensation±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
Resolutions1280 x 720 (30 fps) 640 x 480 (30 fps), 320 x 240 (30, 15 fps)
Storage typesSD, SDHC, MMC, MMCplus, HC MMCplus
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion NB-4L rechargeable battery & charger
Weight (inc. batteries)120 g (0.26 lb / 4.23 oz)
Dimensions89 x 55 x 20 mm (3.5 x 2.17 x 0.79″)
Orientation sensorYes


Even while its image quality may not be as good as that of higher-end cameras, the Canon PowerShot SD940 is a fun camera to use, and it will appeal to photographers who are looking for a little camera that they can take everywhere, that is stylish, and that is simple to operate. It’s wide-angle, 4x optical zoom lens gives a lot of flexibility, allowing you to shoot landscapes at 28 millimeters and moderate telephoto photos at 112 millimeters. Although the lens and camera together provide superb details, the lens tends to cause some softness in the top right corner when shooting wide-angle, and the camera’s noise reduction tends to somewhat soften the details.

Despite this, the camera features image stabilization as well as a fast wide-angle lens that may be used for photography in low light with a slow shutter speed. The Smart Auto Mode of the Canon camera is clever enough to make the appropriate choices when snapping an image so that you don’t have to, and features such as the automated Face Detection function do a good job of it. The SD940 IS gives you access to ISO, White Balance, and a variety of other settings that can have an impact on the image quality. If you want a bit more control, this camera gives it to you.

My Colors offers you an additional measure of creative freedom whenever you require it.
The performance is inconsistent, ranging from around average for a camera in this class to having a zoom that is slightly sluggish to respond and having a battery life that is below average. The second problem, on the other hand, is easily rectified by purchasing an additional battery. The quality of the printed snapshots is often attractive, and the color reproduction is generally of a satisfactory level.

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Tiny enough to fit in your pocket
  • Stylish appearance and a solid construction
  • optical zoom of up to four times with a wide-angle lens and picture stabilization
Need Improvement
  • Zoom has a sluggish response time.
  • Mode constant de retardation in motion
  • There is no optical zoom when the video is being shot.

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