Before we go anywhere with this review let’s be quite clear that this reviewer is a big fan of Canon’s digital cameras, and a long term user of the IXUS series, currently being an IXUS 500 owner. This new IXUS 40 offers 4.0-megapixels and looks a treat with its polished metal casing. Plus it is extremely pocket-friendly and packed with features.
It’s the size that really amazes, on two fronts. First, the camera is tiny, measuring 86.0mm x 53.0mm x 20.7mm; no trouble to pop it into the smallest of pockets. But second, the LCD is vast, measure two diagonal inches. It dominates the back of the casing, offering an excellent view of images both when being framed and during playback.
To the right of the screen sits a bank of buttons offering quick access to all the key features such as timer, macro mode, flash settings and Canon’s direct printing system which allows you to access compatible printers without first downloading images to a computer.
The shutter button on the top of the casing includes access to the zoom features, so that as usual for Canon’s cameras it is easy to zoom into images both before you take them and when they are safely stored on a card.
So much for ease of use and design, but what about features? The zoom offers 3x optical and 3.6x digital. The latter can be turned off so you don’t accidentally lose image quality by using it.
When it comes to taking photos in unusual lighting conditions you can of course change the settings yourself, but there are some presets, whose names indicate the kinds of environments in which they might be used: underwater, indoor, kids & pets, night snapshot, portrait and digital macro. And an auto mode will make a best guess at conditions if you turn that on. Plus you can give images a sepia effect or shoot in black and white.
Canon’s panorama helper, Stitch Assist, is a lot easier to use with the larger LCD of this camera than the 1.4-inch one of the IXUS 500, and the PhotoStitch desktop software provided helps pull panoramas together. Also provide on the desktop software front are image editing utilities.
As always, you can customise the sounds made by this camera – Canon offers three libraries on board and there are more for download. You also get access to Canon’s Image Gateway, offering 100MB of online photo storage.
Images are saved to SD cards and the camera comes with a 16MB card to get you started. The size of this card is one of two gripes: it will accommodate around 6 images at the highest quality the camera can deliver, or 6 seconds of movie footage. You are really going to need another card straight away, and Canon should provide something larger. Also, Canon should provide a protective case rather than expecting you to buy one as an extra.
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