Canon Powershot A40 Review
Playback Mode Screens & Menus
When you flip the Mode Dial to the Play position the last picture captured is
displayed full screen with the information shown above.
Pressing the DISP button toggles the extended exposure information that includes the
recording mode (auto or manual), the drive mode (single or continuous), the flash mode,
exposure compensation if any and the white balance setting.
Pressing the telephoto zoom button while an image is displayed full screen will
magnify it 10X in ten steps to allow for critical examination of details on the
small LCD. You can scroll around the image while it is magnified.
Pressing the wide angle zoom button brings the thumbnail index mode with
nine small images per page. You can quickly go through stored images and find
the one you want to display full screen.
If you have a lot of images on a large CF card you can use the Quick Jump feature
to go forward or backward more quickly moving 9 images at a time.
The Play mode menu options are shown above. You can
protect or unprotect images, rotate portrait mode images, erase a single frame or
all frames, Auto Play all images for a slide-show on the screen or on TV via the
Video out port, set Print Order information to the desired images, and Transfer
Print Ordered images.
Steve's ConclusionCanon's new PowerShot A40 is an excellent choice for those desiring an easy to use and compact size two-megapixel camera. If you want the smaller digicam then check out the PowerShot S110. Some users find these ultra-compact cameras a little too small so the new A40 and the A30 fill the gap between the "S" series and the much larger PowerShot G2. But don't let the size fool you, the A40 has a full 3x optical zoom lens, a robust image processor, a 1.5-inch color LCD that is highly readable and a great introductory price of $299 (as of 3/2002).
The PowerShot A40 is a step up from it's predecessor the PowerShot A20, it's now more than just an automatic "point-n-shoot" type of camera. The manual mode allowed us to set long exposures for a night scene that a camera meter will never correctly read (see sample photos page). An A40 feature that is a Canon (not industry) standard is the Focus Assist Illumination in low light levels. There is nothing more aggravating than attempting a shot in low light and finding out that the camera can't focus. Oh sure there is the option of setting the focus to infinity but by the time you remember how to do that, the shot is gone.
User exposure options are "Auto" (Point and Shoot mode), Program ("Auto" with all the over-ride options), Manual, image size: 640 x 480 for use on a web page or e-mail attachment, 1024 x 768 for 4 x 6 inch prints or 1600 x 1200 size for up to 8 x 10 inch prints. There are three quality levels for each image size; SuperFine, Fine or Normal. You can also select a flash mode; Auto fires whenever more light is needed, Red-eye reduction is ideal for "people" pictures, slow- syncro can be used for night pictures where you want to illuminate a foreground subject but not lose the detail in the background and the always-on or fill mode is useful for eliminating harsh shadow in bright outdoor or backlit situations.
The image quality of the A40 is noticeably better than many of the other 2-megapixel cameras. The color saturation and white balance is excellent. Indoor people pictures shot with the flash seemed to be a little extra saturated but that's the way most folks prefer them. There was very little need to correct the vast majority of the pictures that we shot. The focus is sharp and well defined especially when shooting closeup objects.
Timing and performance was impressive with most numbers being a three. It takes about three seconds to power up and be ready to take the first shot. In the Large SuperFine mode it takes about three seconds to process and store an image. And going from Record to Play or vice-versa also takes about three seconds. The all- important shutter lag (delay from pressing shutter until picture is actually captured) is about 0.6 to 0.7 seconds which is a little faster than average thanks the A40's robust autofocus system.
The zoom lens is sharp and relatively fast with a maximum aperture of F2.8 in wide angle. There is moderate barrel distortion at full wide angle but almost no pincushioning at full telephoto. The zoom mechanism is smooth and quiet. The Canon AFiF autofocus system is accurate and fast even when shooting macros at eight inches or in the total darkness thanks to a focus assist lamp.
I was happy to see that Canon continued using standard AA type batteries to power the A40. Too many cameras these dayys use proprietary battery packs which are expensive and often obscure. It's nice to be able to use rechargables or "off the shelf" batteries. There's a multitude of brands of NiMH rechargeable batteries to choose from as well as fast AC or portable chargers. In a pinch you can even use a set of one-use alkalines but they always end up in the local landfill. Battery life when using high-capacity 1700mAH NiMH was very good even when using the color LCD frequently to check the pictures.
The bottom line is that this is an excellent camera for those that just want to take good pictures without fussing with any controls, or for those that do. Turn it on, frame the shot, press the button -- you're done. And confident of a good image. Not bad at all for just $299!
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