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Canon Powershot A400

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    8 Reviews
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      26.11.2012 13:15
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      Old model but a good digital camera with basic features.

      The Canon PowerShot camera series was introduced in 1996 and since then the line has expanded with a range of compact digital cameras. The A series includes the entry-level PowerShot models.

      ~ ~ The Camera ~ ~

      Canon A400 is a 3.2 Megapixel digital camera with high-quality 2.2x optical zoom lens, 3.2x digital zoom and a total zoom capacity of around 7x. It has a Canon DIGIC processor for superb image quality. It is equipped with a Canon zoom lens with a range from 5.9 - 13.2 mm and the quick shutter speed (1-1/1500 sec) prevents blurry images if the object is moving.

      When the camera is turned on the lens extends and the shooting target is shown on the display screen. The 115,000 dot resolution display LCD screen with 1.5" size is clear but it's kind of small. The camera has an inbuilt flash unit with 2 meters range.

      There are 8 special scene modes for easy shooting under different photographic conditions (Portrait, Night Scene, Indoor, Beach, Foliage, Fireworks, Underwater, and Snow) and a movie mode with sound. You can record movies of up to 3 min in low resolution and up to 30 sec with high resolution. The video can be edited from the camera with the available settings.

      In addition there are Photo Effects of Vivid, Neutral, Low Sharpening, Sepia, Black and White. For the continuous shooting feature (up to 12 images) which is useful for me when I take photos of people, the shooting speed is approximately 1.3 frames per second.

      It can be connected to PC and Macs via a USB port and it has direct print option to PictBridge compliant printers. This means that you can connect the camera to your printer and print the pictures without transferring them to the computer first.

      The memory capacity of the provided card is 16MB but you can buy a larger one if you want to store more images and videos. The amount of memory that each picture occupies depends on the file size and the selected quality (superfine, fine, normal) and those parameters can be changed by the user from the menu options.

      The Canon Powershot A400 model comes in 4 colours: silver, sky blue, lime green and sunset gold. It is currently unavailable by Canon but in can be found on amazon.co.uk and on ebay.co.uk starting from very low prices. The product is made in China and it comes with 2 years worldwide guarantee and thief insurance.

      ~ ~ The design ~ ~

      The body design is metallic silver and it looks sturdy. The dimensions of the camera are: 107 x 53.4 x 36.8 mm and the body weighs 165 gr without the batteries. The camera looks simple with nothing impressive concerning the design. The menu setting keys, the zoom function controls and all the access and control buttons are located next to the display screen on the back side. The battery compartment and the slot for the SD memory card are placed on the side. The on/off button, the shutter key and the built-in speaker are placed on the top of the body and the tripod socket can be found at the bottom. The menu buttons are conveniently located on the back side next to the display screen and they are easily accessible with your thumb.

      ~ ~ Battery ~ ~

      The camera works with 2 standard alkaline AA batteries that are inserted in the battery compartment at the side of the device. Rechargeable NiMH batteries (size AA NB-2AH) can also be used and they are economically efficient as they can be recharged, they have longer battery life and they offer three times the amount of shots comparing to the AA batteries.

      The flash function consumes a lot of energy and in combination with the display screen energy consumption, it becomes slower to recharge when the battery runs low so you should always carry along a pair of additional AA batteries. Generally, I prefer cameras with lithium ion rechargeable batteries as I believe they last longer and they are environmentally friendly.

      ~ ~ My opinion ~ ~

      My brother purchased this digital camera for 159 Euros (around £ 139) in 2005 and he was using it for a few years. When he decided to replace it and buy a new camera with advanced features he gave it to me as a gift. I have been pleased with the quality and durability of this digital camera. It's an entry level camera that will meet your needs if you want it for capturing family memories, holiday's photos, social events and everyday use.

      It captures enough detail, it has a good picture quality and it's simple and very easy to use. I always use it in the full-auto mode and I am pretty happy with the majority of indoor and outdoor pictures although you can get some blurry shots occasionally. The colours are satisfying even when the lighting is poor but there is a red eye problem if I forget to use the red-eye reduction feature. With this feature on, the problem is reduced but it doesn't disappear. The flash is a little slow to recharge, especially when the batteries are running low.

      It's a decent camera with basic design and good size to carry around. I can take it with me wherever I go and it feels pretty solid but one thing that might be worthy to note is that it's over 36 mm deep which is almost double of the newest digital camera models. So if you are used to have a slim digital camera, it might not be so comfortable to hold.

      ~ ~ Box Contents ~ ~

      - Digital Camera PowerShot A400
      - Wrist Strap WS-200
      - 2-AA type Alkaline Batteries
      - AV Cable AVC-DC300
      - Interface Cable IFC-400PCU
      - SD Memory Card SDC-16M
      - Software CD-ROM

      ~ ~ Overall ~ ~

      To sum up, it's an easy to use portable digital camera with good features and satisfying image quality. However, this model is outdated and I would recommend searching for alternatives in newer items.

      Thank you for reading!

      This review was originally posted on ciao under my username sweetybi, on February 2012.

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      • More +
        10.02.2012 13:24
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        Although outdated and chunky, this camera's ideal for simple shots and learning to 'go digital'.

        If you've read my other review on the Sony Cybershot camera that I've ended up using lately, then you'll know that this Canon PowerShot A400 has been the digital piccy-taking love of my life in recent years! Now I'm not a technical person, so the fact that this camera has 3.2 mega pixels was not a criteria for me for choosing this camera, although it has helped with the image quality that I have enjoyed from it! So, this review is not a technical know-how review, it's purely on how I have found this camera in everyday use!

        *** What's to like ***

        * Although this has all the digital components that you would expect, overall this camera is a very basic digital model, but this does mean that it's very easy to use. For me, it made the transfer from 'film' cameras to digital very easy, from the logical and well designated buttons on the back to the very easy set up and transfer of digital images to your PC or laptop.

        * Image quality has been absolutely fine. There is the facility to zoom in or widescreen your photos, which makes having the right set-up very easy. I like the fact that you have to do this manually for yourself - the automatic settings I have been subjected to with other digital cameras have led to some very disappointing results from those one-off moments. With this camera though, I felt in control and that the pictures reflected what I felt I had seen and 'set up' rather than the camera doing an alternative 'thing' - particularly where an automatic setting may or may not include the flash, I like to control this myself as lighting in a photo can be very subjective. There's no automatic red-eye function to this Canon Powershot either, so there is the danger of red-eye in your pics, but as most photo processing packages (such as Picassa) allow you to remove red-eye, I never found this to be a problem.

        * My comments for image quality also cover the use of this camera for taking short videos. This camera is simple to use and set up for taking videos: just turn the small dial at the top left of the back of the camera to the film camera icon and off you go. When playing back via the camera itself or through your hardware, both image and audio quality are absolutely fine. I had no problems with taking video footage properly - you can easily tell when the camera is recording (unlike some others that I have used) which have been less obvious and less intuitive.

        * One of my favourite aspects of this camera that I used endlessly is the timer function. As with the rest of the camera, this was very easy to set up and the approximate 15 secs delay for the shot is usually just right for setting up the camera and running into the shot yourself. As we take most of our dog walks and outings as a couple, the timer facility allowed us to take many 'couple' shots without having to harass passers by! There's a tripod screw facility in the base of the camera for setting up in this way if you wish or for adding stability to other shots.

        * Overall, battery life has been pretty good with this camera. We use two AA rechargeable batteries each time and always carry two spare. This covers most eventualities on outings. However, as the camera has become older, I've found that the battery life has become less consistent (although this may be down to the life-span of my rechargeable batteries themselves than the camera).

        *** Other comments ***

        To be honest, I have been very happy with this camera so I was disappointed when it decided that it had given up the job -showing me instead just a white screen and no action after six years of pretty consistent use. My understanding is that repair would be more expensive than replacement, so my immediate thought was to replace this camera on a like-for-like basis. However, whilst I've been using my husband's Sony and my school's camera in the interim, I have realised that this Canon A400 is already a bit of a dinosaur compared to other models (some of which are themselves already a couple of years old). More recent models are far slimmer - this Canon's a bit of a chunky monkey and I had not realised how small the viewing screen on this Canon is compared to the relative size of the camera and compared to other models, and these are mainly the reasons why I've deducted one star from the rating, rather than usability & functions.

        However, the Canon PowerShot A400 can be obtained relatively cheaply now, particularly second-hand, so if your camera budget is very tight or you are looking for a first digital camera for a child or someone who wants to try their hand at digital photography, I'd recommend this camera wholeheartedly and I still have a pang for it when I have to try to work out how to get the shot I want using the Sony!

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        • More +
          26.10.2011 18:09
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          The start of a good range... but this one is among the least impressive of them

          ** Introduction **

          Sometimes it seems as though I'm fated to end up with a complete collection of Canon's long-running PowerShot A4xx series. They're popular beasts, and quite cheap second-hand, so they tend to appear both in job lots and in the occasional part-exchange deal. Curiously enough I hadn't owned the A400, the camera that started it all, until relatively recently. This is a 3.2-megapixel compact digital camera from 2004, so by digicam standards it's getting on a bit. On the other hand, Canons tend to last, so I was hopeful that the A400 would still be worth a try.

          ** Looks and handling **

          Canon's website insists that this model was available in four metallic colours: silver, blue, orange and green. However, I've hardly ever seen any but the silver models, and that (unsurprisingly) is the colour I've ended up with. Some people find silver cameras a little cold and boring, but I'm not personally fussed about that. Nor do I mind too much about the looks, which is just as well since this camera began several years of boxy, chunky A4xx digicams to which the adjective "brick-like" could be quite reasonably applied!

          Although this isn't a fully metal-bodied camera in the way that the more expensive Ixus models are, build quality is more than adequate. It doesn't creak too much when you try to flex it, and the front panel is metal - brushed aluminium to be precise - which gives it quite a classy look. (It does pick up hairline scratches annoyingly easily, however.) Despite the bar-of-soap shape, the A400 is a fairly light camera, and you can comfortably hold it in one hand while shooting, though the rather weird small, bulbous grip on the right-hand side (as you hold the camera) may not be to everybody's taste.

          As was startlingly often the case even later than this camera's 2004 vintage, the button layout is a bit of an ergonomic car crash. Controls are scattered hither and thither across the back plate, and it's all too easy to press Menu when you mean Disp until you get used to it. Unlike in later A4xx models, the A400 has a relatively conventional separate zoom control, a small rocker switch at the top right. It's acceptably designed, if nothing to make you exclaim in wonder, and though the zoom motor itself is a bit reluctant to get going on occasion, once it's up and running it moves fairly smoothly, if not terribly silently.

          ** Optics and screen **

          The A400 offers a rather unimpressive optical zoom: it's slow at f/3.8, and has a magnification of just 2.2x, with an equivalent range of 45 to 100 mm. Yes, that's 45, not 35, making this one of the worst cameras around for wide-angle architecture or landscape shots. It also suffers at the telephoto end thanks to that small zoom; the impression is that Canon was aiming the camera at people wanting to take snapshots of their friends and family. For this sort of work the range is usually fine, and as you would expect from Canon the optics themselves are of good quality. Most of the lens is inside the case, so the barrel doesn't protrude very much even when zooming.

          The LCD screen is a mere 1.5 inches across, titchy by today's standards and not enormous even by those of 2004. It's also a little laggy, though it does have a fairly good resolution (115,000 pixels) and so once you have a subject still in the frame things look pretty clear. I've always found Canon's menus and icons to be among the more readable on a small screen, and despite a little bit of a learning curve until you work out where everything is, I still feel that the placement and orientation of such things is superior to those on many contemporary cameras: some Olympuses in particular drive me up the wall with their poor menu design! There's a basic optical viewfinder too.

          ** Features and settings **

          Although this camera does not offer full manual controls, it does offer a cut-down "manual" mode in which you can select a reasonable number of settings. Crucially, ISO control is available, from 50 to 400, and exposure compensation lets you adjust for very bright or dark surroundings. White balance is catered for too, and I was pleased to find that even this basic model has the "custom" white balance setting I've found so useful over the years: this allows you to point the camera at a piece of white (or neutral grey) card and set that as a base, so as to give better results in awkward lighting conditions. It's not foolproof, but it's often useful.

          For those more interested in consistently nice-looking snapshots than in messing around with menus, the auto mode is fairly reliable in choosing the correct options. There are eight scene modes, covering the usual settings - Foliage, Snow, Portrait and so on - and an autofocus assist lamp making sharp pictures in dim lighting more easily obtained. That said, the autofocus mechanism itself does seem to be very slow in low light, hunting around in a way I wouldn't expect from a Canon. This doesn't always happen, but when it does it can be extremely annoying.

          The A400's movie mode is not very thrilling. Yes, you can record in VGA (640 x 480) resolution, but as you can only do so at a near-useless 10 fps you may well not want to. Even at 320 x 240 the frame rate only increases to 15 fps, and in fact this is as smooth as it gets. The camera's other features don't stand out in any way, but they're those you would expect to find: a self-timer, a reasonable 1.3 fps burst mode (though you'll need a fast SD card to make this useful) and a menu option for "low sharpening", which gives a soft-focus look to your pictures.

          ** Performance **

          This is not an area where the A400 shines, and I really could not recommend this camera to anyone who gets frustrated with anything less than super-snappy responses. At the heart of the camera is Canon's first-generation DIGIC chip, and unfortunately its age does show. It takes about five seconds to power on and take a photo, which doesn't sound much but is quite enough for you to miss that unexpected shot, and about three seconds even between shots. With the flash on, it's even worse: A-series cameras are notorious for their slow flash recycle, and the A400 lives down to that reputation, taking not far short of ten seconds to recharge.

          ** Consumables **

          There are no dragons lurking here to trap the unwary purchaser, as the A400 is resolutely standard in this respect: it takes two AA batteries and one SD (but not SDHC) memory card of up to 2 GB in size. The usual combined card/battery compartment is on the right-hand edge of the camera, rather than underneath as on many models, and this does at least make the batteries slightly less likely to fall out when you're changing a card! Changing consumables is just a tiny bit fiddly owing to the compactness of the unit, but as long as your fingers aren't very large you should be okay.

          I wasn't terribly impressed with battery life, although when using a camera of this age you can never be quite sure what state its circuits are in. Canon claimed that you could get 100 shots out of a pair of alkalines with 50% flash use, but frankly I think that might be a little bit optimistic. I don't use flash very much, and even so 120 or so is about the limit. With a pair of high-capacity NiMH rechargeables, though, battery life is utterly transformed, and 250-300 shots are more than possible between changes. You can save your batteries further by transferring photos with a card reader rather than a USB lead.

          ** Photo quality **

          I have high expectations of just about any Canon in this most important of aspects, and thankfully the A400 turned in a respectable performance. Although pictures came out slightly on the soft side, as seems to be the case with the vast majority of Canon compacts, there was a good deal of detail there (for a camera of this resolution) and a little sharpening on the computer resulted in really quite attractive photos. Colour reproduction is mostly pretty decent, and it has the usual Canon punch, though just occasionally - for example in pictures taken in wooded areas - there can be a slight brownish colour cast.

          Image noise is controlled pretty well at low ISOs, but much less so at the top of the scale. Frankly, you really don't want to use ISO 400 unless you have absolutely no choice, and probably not even then. Macro shots seem to come out consistently well, even at the limits of the 5 cm minimum focus distance. A few reviews have noted this digicam to have some trouble with the tungsten white balance setting, but actually this wasn't something I thought particularly acute. Of course, with tungsten lighting itself now on the way out, this may become less and less of a problem anyway!

          ** Problems? **

          For me, the most significant drawback of the A400 is its unimpressive optical zoom: 2.2x really is limiting, even if all you've known before are standard 3x models, and that 45 mm wide-angle can be extraordinarily annoying in confined spaces. You can also really notice the slow performance, especially in low light or any sort of pressure situation.

          ** Buying and verdict **

          This is among the cheapest optical-zoom Canons you can buy: with a modicum of patience a tatty but working camera with no leads or accessories can be had for a mere tenner, and £15 sometimes stretches to a boxed example. On the face of it that's very tempting - but when there are substantially better models just a little way up the price range (eg the A430), it's hard to give an unequivocal recommendation to the A400. It's not by any means a dreadful camera, but it is at the very bottom of the A4xx range, and in several ways you do notice that. Two and a half stars, rounded down with some regret to two.

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            25.10.2010 19:38
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            It's not about technology. . It's about great pictures

            I don't know where to start with this review, this camera has given so many happy family photos I feel it really needs some justice before we get a new one in a few weeks time :o(


            Along with the pentax (see other review) the canon power shot was a present to my partner from his Nan. However he had this camera long before I met him which is over 5 years ago now. He probably had it since the model came out as I can't see his camera fanatic grandparents buying anything other than the newest there is at the time. He actually dint use the camera much until he met me. I am one of those people that literally have to take photos of everything. I am actually running out of room and have nowhere to display my lovely pictures!


            With the camera basically being mine now days I was devilishly upset when my partner suggested we upgrade to a better newer model. I really like this camera and it is the best one I have ever used despite it not having the credentials of some of these newer models. Since I set my hands on this camera it has presented us with literally thousands of amazing pictures. Half of them being of my daughter, somebody once said to me "make sure you take lots of photos as the time just flies by." I might have took that to heart a bit too much as for the first few weeks of my daughter's life I mush have taken around 10 photos a day, mostly of which all look somewhat similar. Anybody who has the patience to sit through my dozens of photo albums are guaranteed to flick through the pages saying, "I'm sure I have looked at these before." To somebody else there is no difference between a photo of my daughter sleeping one day and then her sleeping the next. But to me I can see every different movement, position; hair growth, slight change in smile (possibly wind) and most importantly I will now have those photos to look back on for the rest of my life.


            This camera has been everywhere with us! Every trip to the beach, holiday, zoo, every birthday, Christmas this camera has been there to provide us with some amazing pictures and memories. It's not once failed to deliver and every photo ever developed has turned out beautifully.


            The camera is slightly bulky but it's not ridiculously heavy, it fits in my handbag easily and is great to whip out at a moment's notice. Like I said, we have had this camera for over 5 years so it is very old, I'm not to fussed about being up to date with technology as long as what I do have works well for me I'm not fussed. This camera does just that, after 5 years I can confidently say that I know how to use 'most' of the functions on this camera. Saying that the camera doesn't have a lot of snazzy functions but it does what I want and it does it well.


            In appearance the camera is a very subtle silver colour. I have also seen these cameras in an array of different colours such as, green, blue, orange etc. They look very stylish and modern. On the back of the camera there is a smallish sized screen where you can view the photos you have already taken as well as view the thing you are trying to take a photo of. This isn't the only option of taking a picture as there is a hole (I'm not sure of the actual term, but you know, it's the thing that you look through to take a picture!) that allows you to focus more clearly on the thing you are taking a photo of. I used this most frequently on sunny days where I was unable to see the screen clearly and wanted to make sure I was actually taking a good picture.


            On the front of the camera there is a flash which works really well, and then there is the lens. This has a cover over it to protect from scratches and dust, things like that, once the camera is switched on this automatically opens up and then the same when you turn it of it closes.


            The camera has 3.2 mega pixels (no idea what that means) but by my partners constant ranting, i am assuming that it's not the best and to be honest our other camera is a lot more than that. I assume it has something to do with the picture quality; I have picked up a few things since as he tells me all of the time, but I have found that the picture quality is really good. A slight niggle which I think is to do with mega pixel's is that when you zoom in on a picture on the computer the quality is really bad and you can hardly make out what the picture is. The camera also has 2.2x optical zoom, again with the technical terms I'm not so good with. When the camera is turned on the lens comes out of the camera. Now with the zoom function there is a handy little button at the back which allows you to zoom in and out, the zoom really is good and allows you to focus on something quite a distance away without compromising the image quality. That's mainly my job when on the beach, lounging in my sun chair taking photos of my daughter and her daddy playing in the sea.


            There are a few different settings on the camera which I won't go into too much but the ones I find most useful are the ability to turn the flash of and a setting to control red eye. There is nothing worse than looking like a vampire on something that could have the potential to be a nice picture. There are 12 different picture settings in total and these range from, Indoor use, outdoor, portrait, night scene etc.


            The memory on the camera is not the best, I'm not sure how many photos it will hold without a memory card as we have always used one but our camera does hold around 400 photos and we only have a 128 MB memory card. The camera takes 2 AA batteries and they do have to be quite strong ones to get a lot of use out of it. On our last holiday we took Duracell batteries and by the time I got home I emptied my handbag to find (apart from sand) 16 used batteries scattered around the bottom. That is a ridiculous amount to go through in 2 weeks but then again I think me taking the maximum 400 photos in 2 weeks is also ridiculous. On the camera there is room for it to be plugged into a computer, TV and there is also a socket for something I am totally unsure about.


            Another good and important factor about the camera is that it has the ability to record a video. This isn't something we use frequently however my partner (who was on picture duty) did happen to record me literally screaming, sliding down one of those huge and in their own right scary looking inflatable slides with my daughter. This provided my family with a great laugh at my expense when he actually went to the lengths of plugging the camera into the TV to totally embarrass me and show everybody! The video aspect also has a playback which enables you to see the video on the camera as well as to hear the sound which does play at a reasonable, definitely hear able sound. The video isn't designed to be a camcorder/camera combo as it only allows you to record 3 minutes at a time, but it does come in handy if you want to record a special or funny moment.


            So all in all it's a fun attractive looking camera which takes good quality pictures and has the added bonus of a video recorder. I really don't want to get rid of it but this year we have started to realise that it's perhaps time for a new one. After 5 years it has been dropped countless times and that's really starting to show on the appearance. The whole thing is full of scratches which really don't bother me but when we were on holiday this year a lovely couple offered to take a picture of all three of us on top of the castle and we returned the favour by taking a picture of them. It wasn't until we saw their camera we realised how bad ours was and we were so embarrassed about the state of the thing. Then on the same holiday we dropped it from the top floor of the medieval mansion and then lost the case. Despite the camera still working like a dream we need to get a new one because of the appearance. I am still going to keep it though for use in the house as I looked on eBay and these cameras are now selling for only£20, not that ours would. Good news though, if you are going to buy one of these cameras which I highly recommend you do, you can by them for next to nothing.


            This camera is designed for simplicity and I am not looking forward to the complicated and most probably technologically advanced one that we are most likely to get. I will miss my power shot A400!


            Thank you for reading my very longwinded review (tribute) about my camera and I want to apologise about my lack of technological knowhow! :o)

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            • More +
              26.10.2008 10:06

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              The design of the Canon PowerShot A400 is slab like and extremely user friendly.

              Canon strikes again there is not much that needs to be said or even examine when it comes to a Canon digital camera. Canon is one of the moist reputed brands of the digital camera mass market followed by Sony, Kodak and Konica. Canon has always shocked, astonished and thrilled digital camera buffs with outstanding and spell bounding technology.

              The digital cameras introduced by Canon are usually excellent than most digital cameras existing in the market. Similarly, it can be said that the new Canon PowerShot A400 is no exception to the rule. Yes, however, it might be an added glory to the already famous Canon brand.

              The design of the Canon PowerShot A400 is slab like and extremely user friendly. It comes along with three software CDs. That is really exciting. The key point of the Canon PowerShot A400 is that it is extremely user friendly. There are perfect instructions available for using the camera and even better software available for getting most out of it.

              The Canon PowerShot A400 is 3.2 mega pixel camera. The design is comfortable and ergonomic. It makes the use of AA batteries. However, the AA batteries do have very limited life. But they are very affordable as well.

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              27.08.2006 23:14

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              buy it, love it, live with it

              Oooooh, you just have to love this one! I have one for two years and i wouldn't change it for anything, not even a better model of canon, kodak or nikon! What i love in it is that it has everything i need in a cam: 3.2 Mpixel zoom lense (mind you, the lenseholder only moves when you open it, the lense moves only inside it, so it won't jump out of your hand like some cameras do), 16 Mb SDCard provided, i use a 128 Mb and it's more than enough. It also has portrait, landscape , fireworks, beach, and other pro settings selectable, but it also has an automatic setting mode - for those about to rock. And you can make movies with it too, stored in .avi(DivX) format (and unlike most cameras it takes sounds too, with the videos or even with the pictures). And you can customize it in the menu and through the computer alike, since they provide you some predefined themes, pictures and sounds used for shutter or start up, but if that's not enough customization, you can buy it in three colours(that i know of). Altogether it's great, and not only for taking semipro photos, but for your pockets too ;)

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              29.01.2006 14:23
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              decent starter camera, nice price, excellent pictures.

              I confess, I don't actually own this camera. My brother does however, and he lent it to me for the weekend and I liked it so much that I decided to review it here for your edification! It's a little belter!

              I have several cameras, two digital and two SLRs. Both SLRs are made by Canon and I have been nothing but delighted with them. They are excellent middle range cameras, suitable for the semi-pro. I bought a Kodak for my first digital simply because it was cheap and cheerful, and an Olympus for my second. After my experiences with this camera, I will be buying a Canon next.

              I borrowed my brother's camera to download his pictures of my new nephew and to see how well the Canon compared with the cameras I own. I found that it was vastly superior to the Kodak on all levels and is comparable to the Olympus except for screen size. The body of the camera is more solid and it looks more attractive. I know this isn't vital, but it helps! There are four colourways available, blue, gold, silver and green. The front panel is the coloured bit, the body of the camera is silver.

              So, features. The camera is 3.2 mega pixels, which for the uninitiated means that the photos will be of high quality but not the highest quality available. Usually the more pixels the higher the price of the camera. I have found that anything over 4 Mega pixels is redundant for my picture taking needs. I'm only taking pics of family and holidays, I haven't got the quality printer and don't need that kind of resolution. The viewing screen is a good size but smaller than on my Olympus. The camera runs on 2 AA batteries and I am reliably told that the batteries last quite well in energy saving mode.

              It has a 2 times optical zoom. Useful for closing in on landscape features without losing definition. It has a 7 times digital zoom. This means that you can zoom in on parts of your picture after you have taken it but you will lose definition the more you zoom in.

              The start up modes can be themed. I found this the gimmicky bit to be honest. You can fanny about setting it to an ornithological theme where you get bird pictures on start up and wildlife noises
              with different functions. There is also the standard Canon theme and another more fancy Canon theme. Silly. A waste of space. Otherwise the menus are simple to figure out and you can get up and running straight away.

              There are the standard functions you might expect from a digi camera: different auto focus modes for portrait, landscape, night photos, red eye reduction, auto orientation of the pictures, self-timer. There is a movie mode with sound and you get about 40 seconds of movie. There is a "quick shoot function" enabling very fast shutter speed for action shots. The camera is pict bridge supported, which basically means that you don't need a PC to print off pictures, you can use a dedicated photo printer. You also get a share button, useful for e-mailing pictures etc.

              What did I think of the pictures? The quality is superb. the colours are true and there are no problems with delayed shutter speed. You get the picture you think you are getting! The photos are equally as good as my Olympus produces, despite the pixel difference. I took the camera withme on my daily dog walk and snapped pictures in low light with no flash and also with flash, both were excellent. The camera is robust enough to be casually plonked in your pocket or bag and not suffer.

              I didn't upload the software that comes with the camera, Windows XP recognised the hardware and let me get the pictures without it.

              In all, I would recommend this camera to those who are looking for a reasonably priced, simple to use first or second digital camera. I think it would make a superb gift for a teenager, it is cute enough to be envied yet robust enough for the treatment that a clubbing, party animal or snowboarder might give it! At 94 pounds from Amazon.co.uk it won't break the bank either, which is no bad thing!


              Cheers!

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              • More +
                27.04.2005 16:31
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                As a long time fan of Canon digital cameras I was keen to get my hands on the Powershot A400. Having used the A310 for sometime, the A400 was an attractively priced upgrade and I'm pleased to report that with a little coercion Santa delivered the goods. So, four months down the line, what is my verdict?

                Firstly - compared to all other digital cameras I have used this is my favourite. I have used a range of cameras including many of the leading brands but for sheer 'bang per buck' value for money this camera is superb.

                Slightly larger than some entry level cameras this camera contains all the connectivity you may sensibly expect in a small camera, the facility to produce short movies and even a range of editing features direct on the camera so if you're away from your PC you can still produce some after effects on your image.

                The colours on the camera seem to be superb in any lighting conditions. The camera has presets for a range of lighting conditions but the ability to set the 'white' using a plain sheet of paper is absolutely guaranteed to generate vibrant and realistic colours. Very occasionally the preset does appear to let you down producing a slightly jaundiced tinge to indoor skin tones - the use of the white balance removes this and I think it can be reasonably attributed to the range of colour in indoor lighting. If you look carefully at skin tone under a variety of indoor lights you will see what I mean - it must be just about impossible for a manufacturer to cover all of these variations on one preset. The Canon does have a number of presets for indoors but even so, if you are keen for accurate skin tones in artificial light do take the extra second or so needed to set the white balance manually.

                Having provided an overview let me deal with some aspects of the cameras functionality separately - feel free to skim through this picking out the sections relevant to your own digital imaging needs.

                MEMORY:
                As with all digital cameras I have ever owned the included memory allocation is woefully inadequate. The camera uses the smaller format SD memory card which is ideal for storage as they really are incredibly tiny. The card comes with a 16Mb card - this needs to be used as a toothpick in my own experience as used as a memory card it is marginally better than useless. Immediately invest in a 1Gb card or similar and you will then be delighted. At the higher resolutions the camera produces images approximately 2Mb in size and why would you want to lower the resolution and produce anything other than the best image your camera is capable of?

                MAIN FEATURES:
                The camera is a 3.2 MegaPixel camera. I wish they would stop using this method of describing camera resolutions however and instead move on to an honest description of image quality at a particular size. Basically, the more the mega pixel number the larger the image can be and still retain all original quality. At 3.2 MegaPixels you can reasonably expect 10" photographs to still look superb and enlargements up to A4 to be perfectly acceptable.
                The camera can emulate a range of ISO speeds from 50 to 400. This means it is acceptable for most every day situations. If you are trying to capture very fast movement you may want to opt for a camera capable of higher ISO speeds but expect to pay for that privilege. The ISO speed also enables you to make adjustments for light but with a range of presets including might time, underwater and fireworks, you may well find yourself letting the camera adjust the ISO setting most of the time.
                The camera had a digital zoom of up to 3.2X and this is a high quality digital zoom. Those who are used to previous incarnations of this camera including the A310 will be used to an optical zoom that produced good results and a digital zoom thereafter that was disappointing. This is not the case here - although lacking an optical zoom the digital zoom produces results of identical quality to the A310 optical zoom.
                Shutter speed is also adjustable from 1sec to 1/1500 sec which again is suitable for most every day tasks.

                FOCUSSING:
                The focussing on this camera is stunning! Using some clever technology that Canon call '9 point AiAF' the camera breaks the image in to 9 segments and can simultaneously focus in all of the segments or be directed to only focus in the centre segment if you prefer. This enables you to produce those artistic 'soft focus' shots used on close up images and portraits. The effect with this camera is stunning and well worth playing around with.

                FINISHING:
                Sepia, black and white, vivid - you name it the camera can produce it. 'Busy' shots with lots of texture and tone look truly superb in black and white - for example, a shot taken in woodland with the criss-crossing of branches really is made for finishing in black and white.

                SCREEN:
                The LCD screen on the back of the camera is good in a variety of conditions. The only problem you will experience is a lack of brightness and clarity if the sun is shining directly onto the screen. This of course is a common complaint with LCD screens.

                SOFTWARE:
                The camera comes bundled with a range of image editing and enhancing software and again, for every day use what you get is entirely sufficient. If you begin to take up the after shot editing as a hobby you may wish to invest in further more capable software but if you simply want to adjust colours or reduce red eye then everything you need is in the box. One of the more interesting software titles makes use of the 'stitch' facility on the camera. If you stand at any point and employ the 'stitch' effect on the camera you can move around and take a full 360 degree panoramic photograph. Using the Stitch Assist software the computer will then identify the overlap and 'stitch' the images together - the effect is stunning and enables some superb landscape shots to be developed. (If anybody knows of a photo printer that will produce these long narrow prints please do let me know!)

                BATTERY LIFE:
                If you're anything like me with any portable device the battery life is where you make your purchasing decision or otherwise. The news here however is great. The camera runs on 2AA batteries and using standard off the shelf batteries you will get about 300-400 shots per battery change. This is with the LCD screen switched on. However, if you choose to invest in rechargeable batteries, this can be almost doubled!

                SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:
                Please, before I go into the details contained in the Canon instruction book consider whether or not your computer is capable of moving around 2Mb images. If you can work comfortably with files of this size and not suffer too much lag then this camera should be fine. If however your computer matches the specification below but 2Mb images reduce your machine to a tearful heap of grinding silicon then do the sensible thing and upgrade your computer before buying a digital camera such as this - the end result otherwise will be superb images on the camera and a frustrating experience attempting to improve and print those images.
                The camera supports:
                Windows XP, 2000, ME, 98, 98 SE, Apple Mac OS X, OS 9.0-9.2.

                OVERALL:
                Overall I come back to my starting point - I have never used a better entry to mid range digital camera and of course I have my sights set further and will be back with a review of a Digital SLR as soon as my finances allow but until then the results from this camera are superb and the price was great to at a fraction over £120.

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