- Good build quality
- Very good images
- Limited optical zoom
- No aperture/shutter control
- Some purple fringing
- Despite typical problems at higher ISO settings, the PowerShot SD1400 is another successful ultracompact from Canon.
As I unboxed the Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS I asked myself, “Didn’t I just review this camera?” This past October, I critiqued the Canon SD940 IS, an ultra-compact camera with some fun features. Apparently Canon decided it was time for an update, though aside from a resolution increase from 12 to 14 megapixels, I was hard pressed to find major differences between them. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, considering the high quality of the previous version. However, one welcome change is that the SD1400 IS has a lower introductory list price, $249.99.
When an email arrived from DCR asking if I’d be interested in reviewing the PowerShot SD1400 (also called the Ixus 130 IS in some parts of the world), I was warned that the camera was “very, very pink.” Sure enough, the camera is a deep, metallic pink, almost magenta, and is rather attractive. In addition to the traditional silver and black, Canon also offers the camera in bright orange. Its bright colors and appealing size makes the SD1400 IS well-suited for young people and anyone who wants an attractive, slim camera that can be easily transported in a pocket or purse.
BUILD AND DESIGN
The PowerShot SD1400 IS is very small, only 92x56x18mm (3.6×2.2×0.7 inches), with a weight of 133 grams (4.7 ounces). According to Canon, it’s the thinnest PowerShot to date. Despite its small size, it’s sturdy, with a body that’s mostly metal. The SD1400 IS is tapered at the sides and all controls are recessed to allow the camera to easily slide in and out of a pocket.
The most vulnerable part of the camera is the thin, plastic latch for the battery and memory card, located at the bottom. Of course care should always be taken to avoid damaging the 2.7-inch LCD screen, which means using a case is probably a good idea.
Ergonomics and Controls
The SD1400 IS can be held with the right hand. The camera’s front panel has a wide area at the left to grip with your fingers, while the back of the camera contains an A/V out and an HDMI latch on the upper right hand corner, which is a good place to put your thumb. However, if you’re a person who likes to shoot with two hands (like me), you have to be careful so your left hand doesn’t block the thin flash on the upper left edge of the front of the camera.
The camera body houses a 4x optical zoom lens, 5-20mm zoom length (28-112mm, 35mm equivalent), which is recessed when not in use, an auto focus assist lamp and the aforementioned flash. The top of the camera contains pinholes for the microphone and speakers, an on/off button, the shutter, and a small zoom toggle switch. Despite my initial misgivings (I really like a zoom ring), I found the toggle worked well.
The rear of the camera is dominated by the 2.7-inch LCD screen (230,000 dots), with the camera’s controls at the right of the screen. They consist of a four-way circular panel for controlling flash on the right, delete picture button and self-timer at the bottom, distance modes (macro, regular and infinite) on the left and exposure compensation at the top. In the center is the function/set button, which accepts menu selections and allows access to the function shortcut menu.
Beneath the control panel are a button for displaying information on the LCD screen and another button for activating the main menu. At the top left of the panel is a photo review button, next to which is a three-way selector for auto, program and movie modes. Many of the functions around the circular panel and in the regular menu and shortcut menu will not activate while the camera is in auto mode. The camera’s bottom contains a combination battery/memory card compartment and a solid, metal tripod mount.
Canon provides a brief “Getting Started” pamphlet, with a comprehensive 178-page user guide in the form of a PDF file located on a CD (which also contains the Zoom Browser EX photo management software and Photostitch software for making panoramas).
Menus and Modes
The S1400 IS uses Canon’s two menu system,a main menu accessed by the menu button and a shortcut menu accessed by the function/set button. The main menu contains two columns: one for shooting settings and the other for basic camera settings. While both the shortcut and main menus offer several options, many of them are inaccessible many when the camera is in auto mode (you’ll need to be in program mode to access them). Menu selections are accompanied by brief, but helpful, explanations.
The three shooting modes activated by the three-way selector are as follows:
- Smart Auto: When the camera is in smart auto mode, it will automatically select what it determines to be the best exposure settings with 22 predefined shooting situations. These include scene modes (portrait, night snapshot, kids and pets, indoor, low light, beach, underwater, foliage, snow and fireworks, distance modes (macro and infinite), “smart shutter” (smile detection, wink detection, face detection), “i-Contrast” (contrast compensation), servo AF (which keeps focus adjusted on moving objects), white balance settings (daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent and fluorescent H), flash, and continuous optical image stabilization. This works well for most shooting situations. In both smart auto mode and program mode you can use a self-timer set at 10 seconds, two seconds or custom.
- Program: When program mode is activated, you can customize various settings yourself. In addition to scene modes and other settings discussed above, you can also adjust light metering, ISO, drive modes (such as continuous shooting), image recording size, image quality (amount of compression used) various effects such as “color accent” (the picture is black and white except for a certain area that’s in color), color swap, fisheye effect, miniature effect, and Canon’s “My Colors” mode, which lets you make adjustments to the color (vivid, vivid blue, vivid green, vivid red, neutral, sepia, black and white, positive film, lighter skin tone, darker skin tone) as well as custom (for individually adjusting sharpness, contrast, saturation, red, blue, green and skin tone). You have no direct control on shutter speed or aperture.
- Movie: When in movie mode, you can choose to record at three different quality levels at 30 frame per second: 1280×720 (HD), 640×480, and 320×200. Movies are produced in the MOV format (QuickTime). There’s also an HDMI port so you can send your HD movies directly to an HD television. Users can incorporate color accent and color swap into your movies as well. Maximum movie length is 10 minutes for HD and one hour for other modes, though the maximum recording size is four GB.
The SD1400 IS has a 2.7-inch LCD with 230,000 dots of resolution and 100% coverage. It can be adjusted to five brightness levels. There is no viewfinder, which is par for the course with most recent small cameras.