Canon Powershot S410 Review

Steve's Digicams

Canon Powershot S410

Steve's Conclusion

For 2004 Canon took their popular PowerShot S400 and gave it some upgrades such as an all new Print/Share button, which allows users to quickly print/transfer images. You can see the direct-print PictBridge capabilities by viewing our Canon i960 printer review. The S410 sports a stylish matte finish Cerabrite front that's scratch resistant and tough. All of the Digital ELPH cameras are small and built like tanks and are perfect for today's active lifestyle users. Many of today's ultra-compact cameras have impossibly tiny buttons or 4-way controllers that are difficult to operate. The Digital ELPHs have always maintained a good balance between small size and excellent user ergonomics and the S410 continues this tradition.

The S410 sports a four megapixel imager that produces images up to 2272 x 1704 pixels which is large enough to create 13 x 19 inch prints on a photo inkjet printer like the Canon i9100. A high-resolution camera has to process a lot of image data and process it quickly so Canon developed a highly integrated DIGIC processor. It not only processes image data, it also controls just about every other operation of the digital camera as well. Integrating all of these functions into one processor makes it fast, accurate and also extends the battery life. With this robust processor comes robust auto focus, white balance and exposure systems. It also allows the S410 to record full motion video in QVGA (320x240) resolution up to 3 minutes in length with sound. Not the equal of a video camcorder but three minutes is considerably longer than the 30-second movies created by most other digicams.

The S410 is a bit faster than the S400, its ready to go in about two seconds from pressing the Power button. This is pretty amazing considering that it must extend the lens and boot itself up. It's even faster when powered down and once the lens is retracted into the body it is protected by an automatic cover so there's no lens cap to lose. In the Large/Fine image size the performance is impressive with a shot to shot time of just under three seconds in single frame mode. The timing is the same even when using the flash. In the Continuous Shooting mode there are two settings: Standard and High-Speed. In Standard it shoots approx. 1.5 frames a second. In High-Speed is shoots approx. 2.5 frames a second. This all depends on the shooting conditions and settings. Switching from record to playback brings up the image in about two seconds and it's about one second when going from image to image. The total shutter lag (time from pressing shutter to actually capturing) varies from less than a second to about a second, this is a little better than average.

Canon's S410 auto focus system is as robust as its image processing and is enhanced by a focus assist lamp that insures proper focus lock even in total darkness. The auto focus employs a very accurate 9-point AF system that does its job quickly, even when the subject is not in the center of the frame. If the LCD is on you'll see which of the nine AF points were used for the focus lock. The Macro mode has excellent coverage from two inches to about one and a half feet and controls the flash perfectly even at the closest range.

The S410 features a high-resolution 1.5" color LCD with a non-reflective coating that makes it quite visible in bright light as well as resistant to nose smears. The image color and contrast on this LCD is most impressive, when reviewing pictures there's no doubt that you recorded what you wanted. The back light for the LCD is supplied by energy-efficient white LEDs. Small cameras require small batteries. The S410 is powered by a proprietary rechargeable Li-ion pack that's good for almost 200 shots when using the color LCD. With the LCD off you can more than double that number. The new DIGIC processor has improved the overall battery life considerably. We still recommend the purchase of a second battery pack because the camera cannot be powered by any other type of battery. Canon includes a very compact and portable AC charger for the battery that takes a little over two hours to charge a fully depleted pack. The charger plugs directly into an 100-240V AC outlet and has fold-away prongs.

The S410 images are stored on CompactFlash Type I cards, Canon includes an 32MB card which is OK for a starter card but you'll want to get a larger one. I'd suggest at least a 256MB size card which isn't too expensive nowadays and can be had for around $70. The USB port lets you easily transfer pictures and movies to your computer using the included Auto Download software and today's modern operating systems like Windows XP. There are drivers included for older OS like Windows 98 SE and pre-OS 9 Macs. Canon includes the handy Remote Capture software that lets you operate the camera while tethered to the computer. Also included is a full suite of software that includes printing and panorama stitching applications as well.

The overall image quality is excellent and there are a number of Photo Effects that can be applied such as Vivid color, Neutral, Low Sharpening, Sepia and B&W. If you like shooting night pictures then you'll appreciate the "Long Shutter" option that gives you access to 1 to 15 second shutter speeds. To insure the best possible image, Noise Reduction is automatically applied when the shutter speed is 1.3 second or longer. The ISO sensitivity is adjustable from 50, 100, 200, 400 or Auto. In addition to an excellent automatic white balance there are presets for sunny, cloudy, incandescent, fluorescent, fluorescent H (daylight temperature) and a one-push custom setting for use with a white or grey card.

The 3x zoom lens exhibits moderate barrel distortion in full wide angle and a little pin cushioning at full telephoto but no more than most zoom lenses and better than some. The zoom mechanism is smooth and fairly quiet and the control is conveniently located around the shutter button. The optical viewfinder although a bit small has a good eye point and covers about 90% of the captured image, it lacks any dioptric adjustment.

The Powershot S410 is perfect for anyone who wants or needs a very portable and extremely durable camera. Canon started the whole mini-camera revolution many years ago and they just keep getting better and better. It's a great choice for vacationers as you can just toss it in your luggage without worrying about it getting damaged. If you're going to the tropics you might want to consider purchasing the underwater case, it's rated for 130 feet depths. The S410 is a great addition to Canon's Digital ELPH line.

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