Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS Performance, Timings, and Image Quality

March 14, 2010 by Andy Stanton Reads (13,543)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 8
    • Features
    • 9
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 9
    • Performance
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 8.50
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

The PowerShot SD1400 is a quick, responsive camera that’s fun to use. Its extreme portability is very appealing to photographers who don’t want to carry a heavy camera draped around their neck or shoulder.

Shooting Performance
The camera starts up and closes down almost instantaneously. As clearly outlined in the performance tables, the camera’s times for shutter lag and auto focus acquisition are short, though a little longer than others I’ve seen. I found auto focus to be reliable, both outdoors and in low light. Time between shots averaged from two to three seconds with an extra second or two added when the flash was used. The SD1400 IS is slow when it comes to continuous shooting, so avoid using it for multiple quick shots, like at sporting events. The camera never paused to write to the memory card.

Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)

Camera Time (seconds)
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 0.01
Casio Exilim EX-G1 0.01
Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS 0.02
Nikon Coolpix S70 0.02

AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)

Camera Time (seconds)
Casio Exilim EX-G1 0.20
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 0.26
Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS 0.43
Nikon Coolpix S70 0.67

Continuous Shooting

Camera Frames Framerate*
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 10 11.4
Nikon Coolpix S70 2 1.5
Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS 0.9
Casio Exilim EX-G1 0.5

*Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera’s fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). “Frames” notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.

The flash on the SD1400 IS may be tiny, but it works well. According to Canon, it can cover 13 feet at wide angle and 6.6 feet at maximum telephoto, which I have little reason to doubt. The flash can be set to auto, red-eye reduction (using the auto focus assist lamp), flash on, flash off, FE lock (for a flash shot of consistent intensity) and slow synchro (slows shutter speed to brighten the background).

Canon SD1400 Test Images
Flash off

Canon SD1400 Test Images
Flash on

The PowerShot SD1400 IS uses Canon’s NB-4L rechargeable lithium-ion battery which Canon rates for 230 shots. Even after shooting 125 photos, several movies, and examining the menus for awhile, the “low battery” icon never showed up, so I suspect Canon’s assessment is accurate. However, shooting movies and using the flash will reduce the battery life. If you’re going to be shooting all day, it’s wise to bring along some extra batteries.

Lens Performance
The 4x optical zoom lens (28 to 112mm) is slightly longer than you’ll find in cameras of similar size and weight. It has a fairly wide maximum aperture of f/2.8 at wide angle and f/5.9 at telephoto, which helps in low light shooting.

The lens consistently produced sharp pictures with only minor softening in the corners. Chromatic aberration (purple and sometimes green fringing) occasionally appeared in high contrast shots like with trees or buildings against a bright blue sky.

Canon SD1400 Test Images

As is evident from the photos below, there was some barrel distortion at wide angle but no pin cushion distortion at maximum zoom:

Canon SD1400 Test Images
Wide angle
Canon SD1400 Test Images

Video Quality
HD movies are smooth with good sharpness, color, and decent sound. Optical zoom cannot be used in movie mode, but digital zoom is an adequate substitute if not zoomed in too close. Our sample movie below was shot in the Library of Congress, located in downtown Washington, D.C., across the street from the U.S. Capitol.

Image Quality
The image quality of Canon’s small cameras is consistently good, and the SD1400 is no exception. Colors are strong, but realistic. The images are sharp, thanks to the high quality lens. Overexposure sometimes affected the photos because the SD1400 IS’s (1/2.3 inch type) small sensor has a limited dynamic range. However, Canon’s i-Contrast feature helps to compensate for the setback, as demonstrated by the photos below:

Canon SD1400 Test Images
i-Contrast off
Canon SD1400 Test Images
i-Contrast on

The SD1400 IS has white balance settings for daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent and fluorescent H. I mostly used auto white balance though occasionally I found that auto was a bit yellow under incandescent light.

Auto White Balance, 3200k incandescent light

Image quality is very good through 200 ISO, with some softness present at 400 ISO that gradually increased through 800 ISO and 1600 ISO. Canon has clearly decided that aggressive noise reduction resulting in softer photos is preferable to minimal noise reduction and sharper but noisier photos. I’m not sure I agree with that decision, but I have to admit the higher ISO results from the SD1400 IS aren’t too bad, especially since the camera does a good job of retaining color at the higher ISO settings.

Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS
ISO 80

ISO 80, 100% crop
Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS
ISO 100

ISO 100, 100% crop
Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS
ISO 200

ISO 200, 100% crop
Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS
ISO 400

ISO 400, 100% crop
Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS
ISO 800

ISO 800, 100% crop

ISO 1600

ISO 1600, 100% crop

Additional Sample Images

Canon SD1400 Test Images Canon SD1400 Test Images
Canon SD1400 Test Images Canon SD1400 Test Images

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