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Canon Powershot S410 Digital ELPH Digital Camera Review
by Ben Stafford -  6/22/2005

The Canon Powershot S410 Digital ELPH is the second from the top in Canon's "S" line, under the S500. The S410 has a 4 megapixel CCD, 3x optical zoom, and a 1.5 inch LCD. The image quality is excellent, as should be expected from Canon and the form factor is the same familiar Digital ELPH size. The only downside of this camera is that it doesn't enjoy the speed of the "SD" series with their DIGIC II imaging processors.

In the Box
In the box, you will find the camera, documentation, a 32 MB Compact Flash, the NB-1LH battery, the A/V cable to connect to your computer or a TV, the battery charger and software.

canon S410

Specifications Highlights
4 megapixel CCD
3x optical zoom
Color LCD: 1.5" 118K Pixel LCD Screen
Focus: 9-point AiAF (Automatic Focus Point Selection)/1-point AF (Fixed to center)
Minimum Focus Distance (non-macro): 1.5 ft
Macro Mode: 2"
ISO: Auto, 50, 100, 200, 400
Shutter Speed: 15 - 1/2,000 sec.
Self-Timer: Yes, 2 seconds, 10 seconds
MPEG Movie Modes: 320 x 240, 160 x 120

Features
The camera features a 4 megapixel, 1/1.8 CCD sensor and an all glass 3x optical zoom lens. The camera offers an additional 3.6x digital zoom (for a total of 11x). The 1.5 inch LCD, while not large by the standards of the latest cameras, fits the Digital ELPH body just fine. If you want to keep the LCD off while shooting, the S410 does include a real image optical viewfinder.

The lens has a focal length of 36 -- 108 mm (35 mm equivalent). In normal shooting mode, the range starts at 1.5 feet and goes to infinity (and beyond). In Macro mode, you can shoot at subjects between 2 inches and 1.5 ft at wide angle and 1 - 1.5 feet at full zoom. The S410 autofocus system uses either the 9 point AiAF (where the focus points are chosen by the camera) or a 1 point AF, fixed on center.

The S410 has your usual point-and-shoot feature set with several shooting modes and picture effects. The camera has 4 shooting modes: Auto, Manual, Stitch Assist, and Movie. For fun effects you can try Vivid, Neutral, Low Sharpening, Sepia and Black & White. Images can be captured at 2,272 x 1,704 (Large), 1,600 x 1,200 (Medium1), 1,024 x 768 (Medium2), 640 x 480 (Small) and then stored at compressions of Superfine, Fine, or Normal.

The exposure control options are pretty standard. While in Auto shooting mode, the ISO sensitivity is chosen for you. If you head over to manual land you get your pick of ISO 50, 100, 200 and 400. Once you decide on a sensitivity level, you have some metering options. The one used by most people is Evaluative, where the camera evaluates the light in the entire frame to determine proper exposure. The other two light metering options are Center-weighted Average and Spot. These two give you some more control to be creative with lighting as you can "bracket", or lock your exposure, in one spot. Also, in Manual shooting mode, you can modify the exposure compensation from -2 to  +2 stops at 1/3 stop increments. The above features, along with aperture settings between f/2.8 and f/4.9 and shutter speeds from 15 - 1/2,000 seconds give you a wide range of exposure control.

The white balance options are pretty typical as well. Digital cameras have to be told what counts as white in a image. Depending on what your light source is, the values of light that the camera's sensor picks up are different -- so by using a white balance setting the camera can adjust the colors in an image accordingly. When shooting in Auto mode, the S410 adjusts the white balance on its own. When you switch to manual mode, you can choose between the following: Pre-set (Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H), or Custom White Balance.

The built-in flash has a range of 1.5-11 feet when taking wide angle shots; 1.5-6.6 feet at full telephoto; and 1 in --1.5 feet when shooting in Macro mode. The flash modes are Auto, Red-Eye Reducing and Slow-Sync and you can adjust the flash exposure from -2 to +2 stops in 1/3 stop increments.

The images and movies that you shoot with the S410 are stored on a Compact Flash card. Movies are limited to 3 minutes long. They can be captured at a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels (15 frames per second) or 160 x 120 pixels.

The S410 uses a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery (the NB-1LH or NB-1L models). According to Canon, the battery is good for 190 shots with the LCD on and 440 shots with the LCD off.

Form & Design
This S410 body is the familiar Digital ELPH body. Solid, metal construction that is heavy enough to feel significant in your hand, but light enough to be comfortable in a pocket. As far as dimensions, the S410 is 3.4 inches wide x 2.2 inches high x 1.1 inches deep.

canon S410

On the front of the camera, you'll find the lens (whew!), viewfinder window, focus-assist light and flash. On the left side of the camera (if you're looking at the front) there is another little piece for attaching a lanyard.

The top of the camera has the power button with a little ridge around it to protect it a bit. There is a green LED that indicates the power status. Finally, the shutter release and the zoom control (the collar around the shutter) can be seen.

canon S410

The back of the camera gets a bit more interesting. The 1.5 inch LCD takes up most of the space. Above the LCD, we have the shooting mode selector to let you select the 4 modes (you did read above, right?). The viewfinder is self-explanatory. To the right of the viewfinder is a slider switch to toggle between capture mode and playback mode. Below that slider is another slider to open the Compact Flash/battery compartment. Below (and to the right) of the LCD are the usual control buttons and the "directional" pad that allows navigation through the menu system and other camera functions (like macro mode).

canon S410

The bottom of the camera allows access to the Compact Flash card and the battery. There is also a tripod mount, and in case you don't notice in the picture, it's not aligned with the lens.

canon S410

The left side of the camera (when viewing the back) has a little rubber cover that covers the A/V jack and AC adapter jack.

canon s410

Finally, here's a shot of the camera on and the lens extended.

canon s410

Image Quality
Since everyone has different tastes in image quality, I think it's more effective to show samples images under different conditions and let the reader decide for themselves. That said, the S410 possesses the Canon high-quality images with good exposure, good colors and good detail. When I compare some S410 shots with some SD500 shots, I found slightly different color casts and the SD500 images were a lot sharper. However, some people might find the SD500 shots too sharp (and the SD500 is at least $150 more expensive).

canon s410 samples
(larger) (original)
canon s410 samples
Macro (larger) (original)
canon s410 samples
(larger) (original)
canon s410 samples
(larger) (original)
canon s410 samples
Wide angle (larger) (original)
canon s410 samples
Full optical zoom (larger) (original)
canon s410 samples
Full Zoom (digital and optical) (larger) (original)

canon s410 samples

Ease of Use
The camera is very easy to use. If you've used other Canons there will be virtually no learning curve as all the buttons are pretty standard. As with the rest of the Digital ELPH line, the S410 feels solid in your hand, the buttons aren't "squishy" -- the build is always top notch.

The controls are laid out well. A feature that I like is the zoom control that is laid out for use by the shutter finger (as opposed to zoom controls on the back of the camera for use by your thumb. There is a slider switch on the top right to toggle between image capture and playback mode. The shooting mode dial is on the left, in the same plane as the back of the camera. After owning the A95, where the shooting mode dial is on the top, I prefer the top mounted dial since I can just reach up with my thumb and spin the wheel.

The menu system is easy to use and navigate. The "Menu" button access many of the set up items (like start up sounds, volume, disabling/enabling digital zoom, red eye reduction, etc.). The "Set" button is used as the Enter or Return key. Left and right on the directional pad either navigates between tabs across the top or chooses options on the menu items (navigated by the up and down buttons). The "Func." button allows you to access a menu that lets you set options about image captures (like resolution, timer options, ISO sensitivity, and shutter speed). The options available in the Func menu depend on the shooting mode.

canon s410

canon s410

Battery Life
Battery life was excellent. I shot close to 300 pictures with the LCD and flash on the entire time.

Conclusion
The Canon S410 is a great little camera, although it's a little "behind the times". Newer models have eclipsed this model as far as quickness and image processing. Canon continues to keep quality as a high priority in all of their camera models. At a current price around $250, it's still not cheap, but Canon knows that people are willing to pay for the compactness and solidness of this camera (and the Canon brand).

Pros
Excellent build quality
Compact, solid camera
Excellent image quality
Battery life

Cons
Smaller LCD
A bit sluggish compared to some newer cameras
No scene modes

Recommended For: People looking for a compact (but not ultra-thin) camera for snapshots and everyday use. Good camera as a graduation gift for a non-photographer.