Canon Powershot S40 Review

Click for our main menu

Canon PowerShot S40

Playback Screens & Menus

Switching the S40 into Play mode will bring the last picture captured up in fullscreen mode with overlay data for folder/picture number, current picture / total number of pictures, image quality and size, date and time of exposure.

Canon PowerShot S40

You can get all the picture information along with a histogram and visual highlight of over-exposed areas by pressing the DISPLAY button. It is very complete and includes folder and image number, ISO sensitivity, exposure mode, shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, flash compensation, white balance, focus mode, image size and quality, date and time.

Canon PowerShot S40

The playback image can be magnified 3x or 6x by toggling the zoom control to the telephoto position. You can stop at either enlargement step and scroll around inside the image.

Canon PowerShot S40

Toggling the zoom control to the wideangle position enables the thumbnail index mode. Here you can quickly search through the stored images and find one to playback in full screen mode.

Canon PowerShot S40

Pressing the JUMP button lets you move quickly forward or backward through the thumbnails a page at a time.

Canon PowerShot S40

You can record up to a 60 second "audio note" that will linked to the current image. These audio notes are saved as standard Windows WAV audio files. When in Play mode you display the picture you want to attach the note to and then press the metering button. This brings up the audio recorder interface as shown above with the familiar record, stop, play, delete buttons and a timer.

Canon PowerShot S40

The Play mode menu with options for Protecting images from accidental erasure, Rotate to re-orient portrait mode images for proper display on a TV screen, Erase All images. Single images can be erased by pressing the "Star" button while they're being viewed. The Slide Show option lets you select an interval time between images and and start and stop a presentation. The Print Order option lets you embed DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) information on the card so any selected pictures can be easily printed by DPOF-compliant printers or services. Transfer Order lets you specify which files to be auto-moved to the host computer via USB.s

Canon PowerShot S40

The 320 x 240 resolution movies playback fullscreen and the audio can be monitored on the built in speaker.

Canon PowerShot S40

Additional image data can be displayed just like in still image playback mode.

Canon PowerShot S40

This is the SETUP menu and it is available from any menu even when in Play mode.

  • Beep - On or Off
  • LCD Brightness - On or Off
  • Playback Volume - 5 levels
  • Auto Power Down - On or Off
  • Date/Time - set date and or time
  • Format - format the CF card
  • Language - set the menu language
  • Video - output format NTSC or PAL

Steve's Conclusion

The Powershot S40 could be called a compact version of the PowerShot G2. It uses the same high quality 4-megapixel imager with a 3x optical zoom lens and is housed in a stylish, pocket-sized and durable metal body. Missing is the swiveling LCD, flash hot shoe and considerable bulk, what isn't missing is the image quality. The S40 captures and processes up to 2272 x 1704 images (JPEG or RAW) very fast and stores them on any size Type I or II memory card or Microdrive. It also has a 3-point autofocus system with user-selectable focusing point and manual focusing with an enlarged view on the LCD plus a distance scale. Dim lighting conditions are handled with ease thanks to the focus-assist illuminator. If you feel the need for speed, the 1.5fps continuous mode is joined by a High-Speed 3fps Continuous mode capable of capturing up to 5 Large/Fine frames. And the movie mode is selectable for either 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 resolution.

In manual or shutter speed priority mode you can select speeds from 1/1000 out to 15 seconds. Noise reduction is automatically applied whenever the shutter speed is 1.3 sec or longer. The Program AE exposure mode now has Program Shift so other combinations of shutter speed and aperture can be selected and there's also five preset exposure modes. Playback mode offers a histogram plus over-exposure indication. White balance options include automatic, the standard presets, manual preset and a Fluorescent H setting for daylight temperature bulbs.

The S40 (and S30) are powered by a newly designed NB-2L battery pack lithium rechargeable type. This is a capable power source but nowhere near as powerful as the BP-510 used in the G2 camera. A compact camera requires an equally compact battery so one should use the color LCD conservatively or else keep a spare and charged second battery at the ready. My only real complaint with the S40 is that the optical viewfinder shows only about 75% of the captured image and it isn't very well centered either. The color LCD is close to 100% coverage so if you absolutely need to be sure of your framing then use the LCD if possible.

The S40's lens for the most part is excellent and produces sharply focused images but it does exhibit a noticeable amount of barrel distortion at full wideangle. Considering the size of this retractable aspheric zoom it is to be expected. I also saw some softness around the edges of the frame but almost no chromatic abberation. Chromatic Abberation is what most people call a "purple fringe" that is often seen around brightly highlighted objects and is present in a lot of today's digicams.

Software improvements include the new Remote Capture 2.0 that now has the option for "live" viewfinder display as well as Video Out or LCD output as well. And Canon now includes ArcSoft Camera Suite (featuring PhotoImpression & VideoImpression) in the software bundle. The PowerShot S40 can be connected directly to Canon's new 820D color Bubble Jet printer to make up to 8.5x11-inch photo prints without a computer. Like the other new Powershots, the S40 can also be connected to the pint-sized Canon CP-10 dye sub card printer.

If you're in the market for a compact but advanced and high-resolution digital camera that can be operated by novices as well as experienced photographers, then check out the new Powershot S40. If you don't need 4-megapixel output then maybe the 3.2-megapixel Powershot S30 will suit you better. Like the Powershot A10 and A20 twins, the S30 and S40 are physically identical and differ only in the resolution of their CCD and finished image size. These new Powershots are lean and real speed demons, it's a pleasure to use a camera that's this responsive both in its image processing and autofocus speed.

Continue on to
Sample Pictures

Return To Our
Reviews Menu

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.