In February this year, Canon launched a range of compact cameras catering to the needs of different audiences. One of the cameras that had been launched was from their A series of compact point and shoot cameras, called the PowerShot A4000 IS. This camera is seated in the above entry level segment of compact cameras and is primarily designed for those interested in casual photography. However, what’s really neat about this model is that it features an 8x zoom lens, a feature that is not usually found on compact cameras retailing in this price range. Read on to know about this offering.

8x zoom found on this compact camera

8x zoom found on this compact camera

Design and Build Quality
At first glance, one could easily mistake this camera for one of the higher end offerings from Canon, as it has the classy finish, matching their IXUS models. The A4000 IS is available in four colour options and the review unit we received has the silver finish. The other colours available for this camera are black, blue and red.

The design of the camera is reminiscent of other PowerShot models with its chunky styling and tapered edges. However, this camera looks a lot better than some of the previous PowerShot cameras we reviewed in the past. The face of the camera features the Canon branding, lens that occupies majority of this area, an AF assist and an LED flash. The rear of the camera features a 3-inch LCD display that flushes along the body of the camera. The buttons at the back are featured on a depression, adding to the style of the camera. The buttons found here include the standard ones found on compact cameras, which are a four way navigational pad that is located around a set button, a menu key, playback button, a help button and a dedicated control for video recording.

Matte silver finish on the front

Matte silver finish on the front

The top of the camera features the shutter release button that is housed next to the zoom trigger and the power button. The build quality of each of the buttons appear sturdy, the brand, however should have made them slightly larger as they are quite tiny overall and someone with large hands would have some amount of difficulty adjusting to the buttons. The connectivity option for this camera is an AV mini USB port that is located under a flap. The battery bay is located on the bottom of the camera and it houses an SD card as well. This flap is sturdy and though it does not feature any spring loaded mechanism to keep it closed; when locked it remains secure, nonetheless.

The overall build quality is good and it can withstand a few accidental knocks here and there. Summing up this part of the review, we feel that the camera is designed well and has a build quality to match.

Features
If one wants a camera that has all the latest features, alongwith the ability to customize their images to a fairly large degree, then this camera may not be an ideal choice. It is designed keeping in mind the needs of a casual photographer, also that of the one who would need an option for social events or general photography. However, there are some neat features that are featured in this point and shoot option. The camera comes loaded with a 16 Megapixel CCD sensor and is powered by a DIGIC 4 processor. With this sensor size, one can capture large format images and the largest resolution of a still image is 4608 x 3456. The most interesting feature of this camera is that it features an 8x zoom in such a compact frame. The focal length found here is 28 – 224mm in respect to a 35mm equivalent lens.

3-inch display is not that great

3-inch display is not that great

The interface of the camera is extremely simple to use and most of the operation is done using the set and menu buttons. A first time digital camera user can get familiar with the functionality within a matter of minutes. Ease of use is something Canon has done effortlessly with their cameras. The auto button on the body of the camera also doubles up as the option for switching between the auto mode and various other modes. Since there is no mode dial found here, all operations are done through the interface itself. The program mode is the most customizable option and in it one can adjust settings like white balance, ISO sensitivity, etc. If one is looking to change settings, such as aperture priority and shutter speed, then this camera would not be an ideal option.

The A4000 IS has various presets that allow one to capture artistic images and these include fish eye effect, miniature effect, toy camera, discrete mode, etc. As for video recording, one will have to contend with HD 720p at 25fps shooting and not 1080p video capture as found in some of the higher end cameras. The camera features an inbuilt image stabilizer, which helps in reducing blur during photo capture. Images are captured in JPEG and can be stored on a 4GB SD card that comes bundled with the camera. Alternatively, this camera can also support memory cards such as SDHC and SDXC.

Performance
The performance of the camera was tested on a number of factors, which include usability, image capture outdoors, indoors as well as in a controlled environment. To start off with this section of the review, we will talk about the handling bit of the A4000 IS. Being light in weight and weighing just 145g with the battery and memory card included, it is easy to carry it around and shoot images quickly. The spacing between the buttons is not adequate, requiring one to use both hands to adjust the options or modes. This should not be a problem in the long run and one can get used to it in a matter of time.

ISO sensitivity test

ISO sensitivity test

ISO Sensitivity Test
There are not many sensitivity ranges for ISO on this compact camera and with this camera, Canon aims to reduce image blur and hence makes a lot of images at higher ISO sensitivities appear soft. The ISO range found here is 100 – 1600. Images shot at ISO 100 appear crisp and there is little noise noticed up to ISO 400, however the images did tend to have a bit of colour bleeding, which can be a turn off, unless the environment is controlled. The maximum ISO recommended to be used for most environments is ISO 400.

Performance Continued
While capturing outdoor images, we observed that the colours rendered were extremely accurate and nothing appeared vibrant or dull. This is one of the strongest points of the A4000 IS. Colour fringing was present, but it stops short of ruining an image, by any means. The purple fringe is present only at the border when the camera is facing direct sunlight. The screen is not the best we have seen and images onscreen appear washed out and completely white when facing a bright area. However, in images, this issue was not seen and pictures appear natural and as they were meant to be. Indoor images appear slightly grainy, but overall images are usable and this camera does well in most lighting conditions.

Zoom test

Zoom test

The autofocus works well and there was a lot of detail noticed in the captured images. When we used the 8x zoom, there was a lot of image detail found and there were no issues in focusing. The image stabilizer works well and there was no blur noticed, whatsoever. Macro shooting is not the best on this camera and it takes a bit of time to focus. While capturing videos in HD 720, we noticed that there were slight transition issues when panning from a dark surface to a bright one. However, this was not much and overall video quality was good.

Close-up shot

Close-up shot

The flash of this camera is good and can light up an area of approximately 12 feet. The brand bundles a 680mAh battery with the camera and they rate it at approximately 175 shots.

Styled a lot like the IXUS range from Canon

Styled a lot like the IXUS range from Canon

Verdict
The Canon PowerShot A4000 IS is available in India at an MRP of Rs.11,995. It is one stylish looking camera that is easily pocketable. As mentioned earlier, one can easily mistake this for a high-end compact camera from the brand. Feature wise, it is not loaded with manual or semi manual controls, but rather a range of presets for leisure shooting. The 8x shooting is an extremely neat feature for a camera priced at this amount, in this form factor. This camera performs well and outdoor photography is where the camera really excels. Colours do not appear too vivid and it captures natural photos brilliantly. This camera is ideal for those on a budget looking to buy a stylish point and shoot compact digicam for casual photography. With its stylish looks and range of colours available, it can be a definite head turner.

Publish date: April 2, 2012 1:02 pm| Modified date: December 18, 2013 9:57 pm

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