Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS
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.