Canon PowerShot SX400 IS Review: Performance

October 2, 2014 by Jamison Cush Reads (423,267)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 6
    • Features
    • 4
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 5
    • Performance
    • 8
    • Expandability
    • 6
    • Total Score:
    • 5.80
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10


It’s tough to keep expectations in check when reviewing a Canon camera, especially its entry-level devices given that even mid-range smartphone cameras are so impressive. But the PowerShot SX400 IS does one thing really well, zoom, and is either acceptable or lacking in many other areas. There’s really not much else going for it from a shooting performance perspective, and it lacks Wi-Fi or any wireless connectivity to boot.

Shooting Performance

Users can whip out, power up, and snap a pic with the PowerShot SX400 IS in about 3 seconds, provided the lens cap is off. Canon claims the “PowerShot SX400 IS camera is equipped with Canon’s latest advancements in autofocus (AF) technology,” and it has an “AF that is significantly faster than on previous models.”

In practice, the AF is quick, or at least quick enough for fast shooting, and Canon packed the PowerShot SX400 with multiple focus modes, including a center focus, intelligent focusing that prioritizes faces, and tracking AF. Users can also set the frame to small and normal sizes, and opt for a servo AF, continuous AF, and an AF assist beam.

The problem once again is that these options are stuck in the menu, making them nearly impossible to swap and change on the fly. To be fair, there are shortcuts for locking the focus area and toggling tracking focus, but they aren’t intuitive. A touchscreen with touch to focus, which just about every smartphone now features, would go a long way toward making this camera more appealing.

All of that is moot when the camera is in Canon’s Smart AUTO mode, and the PowerShot does an admirable job in figuring out the optimum settings for various shooting situations. Image stabilization is great, and the focus is generally where the user wants it to be. Auto white balance can be a bit wonky, especially indoors, but it’s tough to complain otherwise.

The flash is reasonably powerful, ranging from 1.6 to 16 feet (w) and 4.6 to 9.8 feet (t), according to Canon. It has a slow 10-second cycle time. The battery is good for about 190 shots, or 260 in ECO mode, also according to Canon.

Lens Performance

The camera’s 30x optical zoom is its main selling point. At this price range, that’s about as deep a zoom as one can expect, though the Nikon Coolpix P600 has a 60x zoom for as little as hundred dollars more and change.

The zoom lever is large and provides decent control. Overall, the operation is quiet, but the noise will turn up on the footage if shooting video. Its f3.4 maximum aperture is suitable for most users, but zooming will introduce noise and produce muddy images.

The lens does a great job handling pin cushioning and barrel distortion, both of which aren’t very noticeable at either end of the zoom. Chromatic aberration is also very slight, and will be a nonissue with this camera’s intended users.

Video Quality

The Canon PowerShot SX400 IS only shoots 1280 x 720 resolution video at up to 25 frames per second. Though that’s often marketed as HD resolution, it’s below what many refer to as full HD, or 1080 x 1920 (the same resolution as a common HDTV).

That’s disappointing, as most video-capable devices released in 2014 shoot full HD video. Viewed on a computer or small screen, the difference isn’t noticeable, but it certainly will be on a larger HDTV.

The camera has a dedicated video record button, which is conveniently placed right on the thumb rest. So even though there is about a half-a-second recording delay from when it’s pushed, users won’t miss much of any action.

The on-board mic unfortunately picks up any camera jostling, but works well enough for narration. Any voices that are more than a few feet away and aren’t directed at the camera will sound muddled. There is no external mic option, which limits its overall appeal beyond casual video shooting.

Image Quality

Those familiar with Canon cameras know what to expect from the PowerShot SX400: bold reds, blues, greens, and yellows that have just the right amount of saturation, but retain accuracy. Overall, it’s a pleasant effect. In good outoor lighting, images come out crisp and clean, with little chromatic aberration and excellent exposure.

Of course, in good outdoor lighting, smartphone cameras also do well, so we compared the SX400 against the HTC One M8, which is currently an Android flagship with what many critics called an average camera.

Canon SX400 IS
HTC One M8

At a glance, both images appear roughly equal, with the HTC One offering a bit more saturation, but zooming in reveals the SX400 offers better contrast and exposure control.

Canon SX400 IS
HTC One M8

To be fair, the HTC One M8 has a 4-megapixel camera, but HTC claims it has larger “UltraPixels” that have better low-light sensitivity. In testing, that bares true. Check out these samples taken under the same low-light conditions.

Canon SX400 IS
HTC One M8

Sample Images

Please click over to the image gallery for larger versions.




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  1. VaishaliV

    The price for Canon PowerShot SX400IS is ranging from Rs.12605/- to Rs.9090/- at online shopping websites. Get the best deal by comparing pricing, product and services @

  2. Mukeshdudi

    Can i take clear photo from this camera in night.