The PowerShot A1400 offers a zoom lens with a modest maximum magnification of 5X. It does, however, offer a wide angle of 28mm to help you capture broad vistas or widely dispersed subjects in tight settings.
Note also that the lens can focus as close as 1.2 inches, which will get you up-close macro shots of tiny subjects.
Lens Focal Length
- 5.0 (W) - 25.0 (T) mm (35mm film equivalent: 28 (W) - 140 (T) mm)
- Normal: 1.2 in. (3cm) - infinity (W), 3.9 ft. (1.2m) - infinity (T)
- Macro: 1.2 in. - 1.6 ft. (3-50cm) (W) Macro: 1.2 in. - 2.0 ft. (3-60cm) (W)
The camera offers an optical viewfinder as a backup or alternative to using the LCD. This is a welcomed feature for a few reasons. First, even the sharpest and brightest LCD screen can be difficult to use in bright sunlight. But like most features on this camera, the LCD is of the garden variety. Its 230,000-dot resolution is low, the 2.7-inch size is slightly smaller than most, and its angle of view is limited. Turning the camera upward, downward, left or right soon results in a dimming image at roughly 45 degrees, making it difficult to extend your arm or get creative angles.
As you can probably tell from the photo, this viewfinder is small. Looking through it feels a little like peering through a pinhole, with your subject far away. On the plus side, it has moving optical elements that parallel the use of the zoom lens to help you see a similarly magnified preview.
The viewfinder gets the job done, but you won't feel as intimately connected with your subject as you do looking at the LCD. Because the viewfinder looks straight through the camera, offset from the lens, you will run into framing issues when photographing close-up subjects, which will end up off-center when you've placed them in the middle of the frame, for example.
In addition to the autofocus "box" turning green and a two-beep indicator, a green light beside the viewfinder lets you know you have locked focus on your subject. Note also that the dedicated movie button is well placed to fall under your thumb.
The flash is small and adequate for close subject matter. With a limited specified range of under 10 feet at wide angle, it's not going to light up a group shot in a big room. It's best suited for near-field snapshots.
Also, it's not the quickest to recharge. You'll have to wait at least a few seconds before taking another shot each time you fire the flash (the official specification states up to 10 seconds). Using burst mode with the flash on, I averaged 2.9 seconds in between shots.
One nice touch is that your flash mode selection is associated with shooting mode. This can be handy if, for example, you turn off the flash in Auto mode, but have the flash turned on in Program mode. Without having to navigate the flash menu, simply using the top position on the four-way control to switch from Auto mode to Program mode will get the flash to fire.
- 1.6 - 9.8 ft. (W), 3.9 - 6.6 ft. (T)
- 10 seconds or less (Battery Voltage: 3.0V)
Flash Exposure Compensation
The LCD is a little smaller than most, at 2.7 inches, and its resolution is a modest 230,000-dots. Neither of these traits make it unpleasant to use, it's simply not a super-sharp burst of vivid color, but it gets the job done.
To my eye, the biggest drawback of the LCD is its limited viewing angle. Turning the screen in any direction results in a dimming picture at roughly 45 degrees. If all you plan to do is point straight ahead and shoot, you'll never notice. But if you have any interest in holding your camera at arm's length to get creative angles (or, to aim while holding it high overhead) the inability to angle the camera very much may disappoint you.
- 2.7-inch TFT Color LCD with wide-viewing angle
The back panel has, for the most part, a familiar layout. At top, dedicated movie and help buttons perform their expected functions, as do the playback and menu buttons below. The help system in particular is well designed, as illustrated on the Playback Menus & Screens page, offering a camera icon and descriptions of functions for beginners.
The four-way control on this camera offers similarly common functions. The top position serves as the trash button in playback and launches Auto mode in record mode. The right position launches the flash mode menu, and the bottom position toggles the LCD between views; in shooting mode it also has a display off mode you can use to save battery power.
The oddity here is the Eco position at 9 o'clock. This stands for economy mode, and you press it to turn the mode simply on or off. With Eco turned on, the LCD will turn off after roughly 2 seconds when in shooting mode. Pressing the shutter button halfway turns it on again.
How much more battery life this Eco mode will offer was not publicized at press time: The company website simply said TBA for battery life specifications in both Normal and Eco modes.
The A1400 has simply one port, a mini-USB/AV port. However, the camera does not include a USB cable, so to transfer your photos and videos you'll need to make sure you use an SD memory card that's compatible with the card slot on your computer (or external card reader). Or, of course, buy the optional USB cable.
I found transferring files to my Windows Vista PC easy via USB cable, using drag-and-drop in Windows Explorer. I didn't even have to eject the camera as an external drive to avoid an error message; I simply turned it off.
On my Mac running OS 10.6, however, the camera didn't show up in Finder and I had to use a software program to upload my files. The camera does not come with a CD-ROM. You must go to the company's website to download the manual and software programs, if you choose. ImageBrowser EX is used for uploading, editing and organizing photos, and PhotoStitch for making panoramas.
The top panel offers a zoom ring around the shutter button on the right side of the camera, with extra operating room provided by the hand grip contour of the body. The small holes to the left of the viewfinder are for the tiny speaker that plays movie audio and camera sounds.
The PowerShot A1400 runs on two AA batteries instead of a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. As a result, the camera does not come with a battery charger, but you can of course run the camera on rechargeable AA batteries, which are widely available. Accommodating the AA batteries adds a little bulk to the camera body, so it does not slip as comfortably into a shirt pocket as slimmer models. On the plus side, this serves as a hand grip.
The camera supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC Memory Card formats.