Canon Powershot SD400 Digital Camera

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  • 5 Megapixels
  • 3x Optical Zoom
  • 2" LCD Display

The Canon PowerShot SD400 Digital ELPH was unveiled as part of Canon's wide ranging digital camera announcements at this year's Photo Marketing Association tradeshow. The Canon SD400 is a lot like an SD-card based version of the prior PowerShot S400 in Canon's popular, diminutive Digital ELPH camera line. The Canon SD400 and SD500 models both offer extremely unusual (and frankly, rather cool) "My Color" modes that allow you to selectively replace any color in your photo with a different one, or to make the image black and white with the exception of a single color. The Canon PowerShot SD400 features a high resolution 5.0-megapixel CCD imager, big two-inch LCD, and use of the (very fast) Canon DiGIC II processor. Overall, one of the more appealing subcompact digital cameras we've seen to date. Read on for all the details!

Sleek and trim, with an elegant body design, the new Canon PowerShot SD400 features the great looks and sharp design that are a signature of Canon's ELPH cameras. Very compact and quick on the draw (thanks to a smoothly operating retractable lens design), the Canon SD400 is a convenient point-and-shoot digital camera with a handful of extra exposure features for added flexibility, including a few features that you might not use every day, but that add some "wow" factor. With the lens retracted, the Canon SD400's front panel is smooth and pocket friendly, and its all-metal body rugged and durable. Equipped with a 5.0-megapixel CCD, the Canon SD400 captures high quality images, suitable for making sharp prints as large as 11x17 inches, or 8x10 inches with some cropping. Smaller image sizes are also available for email transmission or Web applications, and a movie mode captures video clips with sound.

The Canon PowerShot SD400 features a 3x, 5.8-17.4mm zoom lens, equivalent to a 35-105mm zoom on a 35mm camera. Aperture is automatically controlled, but the maximum setting ranges from f/2.8 at full wide angle to f/4.9 at full telephoto. A maximum 4x digital zoom option increases the SD400's zoom capability to 12x, but keep in mind that digital zoom decreases the overall image quality, because it simply crops out and enlarges the center pixels of the CCD's image. Image details are thus likely to be softer when using digital zoom. Focus ranges from 1.0 feet (30 centimeters) to infinity in normal AF mode, and from 1.2 inches to 1.6 feet (3 to 50 centimeters) in Macro mode. Since the digital zoom only normally functions once the optical zoom has reached its telephoto setting, but macro focusing is closest at the wide-angle setting, a Digital Macro mode allows use of the digital zoom with the lens locked at wide angle. As with the regular digital zoom, this is obviously with a decrease in overall image quality. An Infinity fixed-focus mode is also available. The Canon SD400 employs a sophisticated, nine-point AiAF (Artificial Intelligence Autofocus) system to determine focus, which uses a broad active area in the center of the image to calculate the focal distance (a feature I've been impressed with on many ELPH models and have been happy to see continued). Through the Record menu, you can turn AiAF off, which defaults the autofocus area to the center of the frame. Also built-in to the Canon SD400 is an AF assist light - a very bright orange LED - which aids the focus mechanism in low light when it's enabled via a menu option. For composing images, the SD400 offers a real-image optical viewfinder, as well as a large 2.0-inch color LCD monitor. The LCD reports a fair amount of camera information, but excludes exposure information such as aperture and shutter speed. In Playback mode, a histogram display reports the tonal distribution of a captured image, useful in determining any over- or under-exposure.


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