• Related content

 **Back**The rear of the camera is home to the LCD screen: a 1.8-inch, 118K pixel model. Although that’s not a particularly high resolution, it is more than adequate for the size of the screen, and looks surprisingly good. The controls are all located on a wide area to the right of the screen. From the top left clockwise, they are the mode switch (with positions for playback, movie and camera), the print button, the directional control (which also doubles as a control of the zoom, flash and focus modes), the menu button, and the Func./Set button.

 **Left Side **The left side of the camera is a feature-free zone.

 **Right Side **The entire right side of the camera is taken up by the cover for the battery and memory card compartment and the lanyard loop. The cover for the battery and memory card compartment clicks tightly in place, so dust and moisture shouldn’t get in (although the camera is not waterproof). To open it, you slide it out and then lift it up. This side of the camera is curved to make handling more comfortable than holding a box.

 **Top **The features on the top of the Canon PowerShot SD40 are (from left to right) the on/off button, the shutter button and the speaker. As you can see from this photo, the lanyard loop is the only part of the camera that sticks out, so it would slide easily into a shirt or other small pocket, or a small handbag.

 **Bottom**At the bottom we have the USB socket for the camera station (which is included with the camera) and the tripod socket. The camera clips nicely into the camera station, where the USB and AV outputs are located and the camera’s battery can charge.

**** ****

ViewfinderThere is no optical viewfinder on the Canon SD40: all viewing is done through the LCD screen.  **LCD Screen The screen is a 1.8-inch low temperature polycrystalline silicon TFT model with 118K pixels. Although this is much smaller than many other modern cameras, it fits in well with the design of the camera and is reasonably bright and clear. The screen’s brightness can be adjusted to 15 different brightness levels. Images are not particularly sharp, but they are sharp enough to be viewable and to allow you to check focus, framing, etc. The LCD screen doesn’t make a fabulous playback device because of its small size; it makes it hard to gather ten friends around to watch a slide show. However, its 100 percent coverage of the recorded image makes it a good viewfinder. ** **Flash The small, thin flash is located above and to the right of the lens (looking from the front). Canon claims a range of 1-6.6 ft with the zoom in wide angle mode and 1-4.3 ft in telephoto. That’s not much: it wouldn’t be enough for a group shot at a party, for instance. If you’re looking for a camera that can take photos of groups of people in the dark, look elsewhere. But if it’s for portraits, then it should suffice. If you need more flash power, Canon’s HF-DC1 can be used with the camera. Users can also access flash compensation from the Func./Set menu, where +/- 2 power is offered in full stops. The Canon PowerShot SD40’s flash modes can be changed with the right side of the multi-selector. The following modes are available: Auto, Auto with Red-eye Reduction, Auto with Slow Synchro, Flash On, Flash On with Red-eye Reduction, **
Flash On with Slow Synchro, and Flash Off.  **Zoom Lens**The 2.4x optical zoom lens is a Canon model with 4 elements in 4 groups, with a focal length of 6.3 - 14.9mm. Combined with the 1/2.5-inch CCD sensor, this means a 35mm film camera focal length equivalent of 38 - 90mm. That’s a little shorter than most (especially at the low end, which tends to be more useful), but it’s acceptable. The lens can focus from 3.9 inches in the macro mode and 1 ft normally. Many ultra-compact cameras have lenses that remain within the camera body, but the Canon SD40’s lens extends from the case when turned on.
********* *****Model Design / Appearance**The SD40 is a stylishly designed, small camera for the point-and-shoot crowd. The camera is available in 4 colors called Precious Rose, Twilight Sepia, Olive Grey and Noble Blue. Most of the shots we took are of the Olive Grey color. The camera is designed to fit into a pocket and be taken out for the occasional photo moment. Despite its small size, this model has handling in mind with the design. The right side of the camera is curved and is designed to be cradled in the palm of your hand. **** **Size / Portability**The SD40 is a very small camera: at 3.8 x 1.8 x 0.94 inches, it’s one of the smallest models out there. Combined with the low weight of the camera (around 4 oz), this size means it’s a very portable camera, ideal for taking on day trips or to parties where you wouldn’t want to lug a larger camera around.  **Handling Ability**Although the SD40 is small, it fits well into the hand, with the shutter button falling naturally under the index finger. The lanyard loop is on a curve that provides a natural grip point, and it should be no problem to hold the camera.

Related content


Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size **The Canon PowerShot SD40 takes a slightly unusual approach of combining the zoom control with the directional control; you push it up to zoom in, and down to zoom out. This takes a bit of getting used to, but it works well once you get used to it. The other control buttons are nicely sized and spaced, thanks in part to the undersized LCD screen that frees up space elsewhere. **** ****Menu**The menus of the PowerShot SD40 are accessed by pressing both the Func./Set button and the Menu button. The Func./Set button is mainly for accessing things that you would want to change while shooting, while the other menu is for more complex features. ** ****Ease of Use The SD40 is a very easy to use camera, with the Func./Set button placing most of the more commonly used options within easy reach. Many of the modes on the camera are automatic, making it easy to just point and shoot – and avoid options altogether.
**Auto Mode The full auto mode of the Canon PowerShot SD40 places control of most of its features in the hands of the camera itself, turning it into a true point-and-shoot camera. Most users would shoot almost exclusively in this mode. ** **Movie Mode The camera can record videos at a resolution of 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 pixels at frame rates of 30 or 15 fps. The smaller QVGA size can also record 60 fps for one minute of smooth video. There is also a video mail size of 160 x 120 pixels that records 15 frames per second for up to three minutes. Movies are saved as Motion JPEG AVI files, with mono sound from the built-in microphone. Movies can be recorded up to 4 GB of memory. ** **Drive / Burst Mode**A reasonable continuous shooting mode is available, which can continuously take photos at a rate of 1.6 frames per second until the SD card is full. There are no first or last shooting modes, though; the camera keeps capturing all of the images in continuous mode until you release the shutter.  **Playback Mode The Canon SD40 offers a variety of playback tasks, including the ability to create slideshows, set up favorites and perform basic video editing. However, this is limited by the size of the screen; a 1.8-inch screen isn’t really something that a group can gather around to view. An AV output feeds from the camera station, so if you want to show your photos off from the camera, you’ll need to take that along as well. Pictures can be viewed and magnified from 2-10x. They can also be sorted into categories and calendars, then jumped to with the multi-selector. Pictures can be rotated and the array of My Colors modes can be added. Voice memos can be added too.  Custom Image Presets**Scene modes for Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Stitch Assist, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Underwater, Color Accent and Color Swap are available from the shooting menu. The latter two modes process the image, with the color accent mode removing every color except the selected one (so you get a black and white image with one color) and the latter swapping over the two selected colors. Setting the colors in those modes is much like customizing the white balance in the Func./Set menu.  
 **Manual Control Options      Although I’d be surprised if many people will use it, the SD40 offers a full manual mode, where you can manually set the shutter speed and aperture. In full manual mode, you adjust the aperture, then hold down the exposure compensation button to adjust the shutter speed. It’s a far from ideal system, but it works and is adequate for occasional use. ** **Focus***Auto Focus – The auto focus of the SD40 seems to be snappy and responsive, quickly finding the right focus spot. We weren’t able to do much testing on the focus system in different lighting conditions, but it seemed to work adequately in the odd lighting of the Photokina convention center. It uses a 9-point focus system, with three focus modes: AiAF (where the camera picks the point to focus on), single point AF and facial recognition. The last mode is new to Canon digital cameras and is a hardware-based program that runs from the image processor. The camera picks faces out of the frame and automatically focuses on them. This feature seemed to work in our limited tests, but we’ll have to wait until we get a closer look at this to really determine how effective it is. * ***Manual Focus – No manual focus mode is offered on the Canon PowerShot SD40. But most users won’t miss it. ** ***Exposure Exposure compensation of two stops up and down is available by using the exposure compensation button, and this can be adjusted in one third of a stop increments. ** **Metering The standard three metering modes are included: Evaluative (where the camera analyzes the scene and picks the appropriate exposure), Center-Weighted and Spot metering. We were not able to test the efficacy of these different metering modes in the convention hall. The camera also uses facial recognition while metering; if this is enabled, it will try and spot the face, then tweak the exposure to make sure it is correctly exposed.  ****White Balance**As well as the standard auto mode, seven white balance presets are present: Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Florescent H, Underwater and Custom. The latter uses a white card (or other white object) to try and figure out what is truly white under the current lighting. That’s all pretty standard stuff, but it is a little frustrating not to see the ability to store more than one custom white balance setting.  **ISO**Although the SD40 uses the same image sensor as other PowerShot cameras, Canon claims that the new Digic III processor allows it to mitigate the effects of noise, which means that the maximum ISO can go up to 1600. Manual settings are available for the following ISO ratings: 80, 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600. Canon also has two automatic ISO modes: a standard Auto and a High ISO Auto mode for low light conditions.  **Shutter Speed The shutter speed range is from 15 seconds to 1/1600th of a second. Shutter speeds above 1 second are available only by enabling the long shutter speed mode. Aperture The aperture range of the 2.4x lens is from f/3.2 to f/5.4. That’s a pretty short range that won’t provide much in the way of depth of field, but that’s not unusual in point-and-shoot cameras with tiny lenses.
***Picture Quality****/ Size Options**Three options are provided for image quality, which Canon refers to as Superfine, Fine and Normal. No option is provided for shooting in RAW mode. The image size options are as follows: Large - 3072 x 2304, Medium1 - 2592 x 1944, Medium 2 - 2048 x 1536, Medium 3 - 1600 x 1200, Small - 640 x 480, Postcard - 1600 x 1200 and Widescreen - 3072 x 1728.** ****Picture Effects Mode**Canon provides a number of picture effects modes, which it calls My Colors modes. The effects offered include Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Positive Film, Vivid Blue, Vivid Red, Vivid Green, and Custom Color. The latter allows you to tweak how the colors will be processed with sliders for red, green and blue color enhancement and controls for saturation, contrast, and sharpness. Some pretty freaky effects can be created, but I’m not convinced by these; you could do the same thing with more finesse and better results in an image editing program.
 **Connectivity***Software Canon supplies their own ZoomBrowser EX software with this camera, which does a creditable job of organizing and editing images. It’s a Windows-only program, though; Mac users will have to find their own solution. Also included is the PhotoStitch 3.1 panorama creation software, which runs on both Windows and Mac, and TWAIN drivers for importing images directly from the camera into Photoshop or similar programs. * *Jacks, Ports, Plugs*No ports are present on the Canon PowerShot SD40 camera itself; all of the connections are made through the camera station, which includes connections for power, for USB 2.0 and for AV outputs. While this works well at home (as you can route the cable out of the way), it’s a bit of a pain on the road; you have to take both the cables and the camera station with you. However, it is worth remembering that you don’t need the USB port to read images into a laptop computer; you can use an SD card reader instead.  *Direct Print Options*As well as DPOF and PictBridge support (for flagging images for later printing and connecting directly to a PictBridge printer) the SD40 can connect to the Canon Selphy and Pixma printer ranges. The Selphy CP & ES printers can also print out stills from movie files.  *Battery***The battery in the SD40 is a small, lithium-ion rechargeable model. It is automatically recharged whenever the camera is inserted into the docking station. Canon claims a battery life of around 190 shots. We were unable to verify this figure, but this number isn’t worth boasting about.  *Memory*A 16 MB SD card is included with the camera, which is enough to snap only four pictures at the top resolution. The Canon PowerShot SD40 can accept MMC, SD or SDHC cards up to 4 GB.  **Other Features*** **Facial Recognition – The new Digic III image processor includes facial recognition, where the camera tries to pick out faces from the image. As well as using this to try and pick the focus point, the SD40 uses this for metering, setting the exposure and flash power to try and correctly expose the face.  
 ****Value**At $349, the SD40 is a mid-range point-and-shoot. There are much cheaper models (Panasonic has several at around $200), but the SD40 is good value for a camera this small and with a full range of manual and automatic controls.** ****Who It’s For***Point-and-Shooters* – Party people will love the size of the SD40 - it’s small enough to fit into a handbag and still leave enough space for a cool pair of shades. *Budget Consumers - *At $349, the SD40 is not the cheapest camera out there. But it’s not a bad value for the value-conscious consumer.    *Gadget Freaks* - Gadgeteers who like the smallest of everything will like the SD40: it will go with their near-invisible cell phone and nano laptop.  *Manual Control Freaks* - Manual control freaks should avoid the SD40. It can be manually controlled, but it’s not easy. *Pros/Serious Hobbyists* - It’s as thin as a supermodel, but it’s difficult to get full control of. It might make a nice candid backup cam for between shoots, but it’s not going to cut it as a pro cam.
  ** ** **Conclusion**The SD40 is a very small, rather cute camera. While this small size means that there are some compromises, these are relatively few. The manual controls aren’t very intuitive and a there is a limited zoom range, but that’s about it. And these aren’t going to be a problem for most of the users of this digital camera. The Canon PowerShot SD40 is a simple, portable point-and-shoot. We’ll have to wait for a more in-depth test to truly judge image quality, but so far this Digital Elph looks promising.  

Meet the tester

Richard Baguley

Richard Baguley



Richard Baguley is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.

See all of Richard Baguley's reviews

Checking our work.

We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

Shoot us an email