Canon PowerShot A400
At a Glance
Canon's PowerShot A400 proves that inexpensive does not always mean cheap. This quality $180 model, a most economical point-and-shoot, has a snazzy case--our test model came in two-tone lime green and silver. "Sunset Gold" and "Sky Blue" are other accent options, as is plain silver. The camera's drawbacks: limited features, such as a relatively short 2.2X optical zoom, and short battery life.
Output quality was terrific, particularly given this model's low price. The PowerShot A400 produced properly exposed shots with good color fidelity and skin tones. Ranked against other cameras in the point-and-shoot category, it earned top scores for color and exposure accuracy. While its sharpness and distortion scores were relatively low, its sharpness was typical for a 3.2-megapixel camera, and it outscored Canon's 3.2-megapixel PowerShot A75--a Best Buy on our Top 10 chart.
Though bulkier than other point-and-shoot models, the A400 benefits from the heft. It's easy to hold and shoot with. The model lacks the grip of the PowerShot A75, but its buttons and dials fit well under your fingers and are easy to press. One quirk: Our test unit exhibited really slow processing times. Even when using our own high-speed SD Card media and the camera's Quick Shot mode, our test model required on average 9 seconds to process between shots.
The PowerShot A400 is short on features--but hey, what do you expect for $180? The camera comes with eight scene modes, among them Portrait, Night Scene, and Underwater (housing not included). You also get a stitching feature for panorama shots, the option to attach audio notes to still images, and the ability to record video clips. Basic features include light-metering modes, manual exposure settings (1/3 stops between -2EV to 2EV), white-balance presets, and ISO speed options; however, you get nothing like the aperture- or shutter-priority modes that you can find on some other point-and-shoots.
The A400 comes with better-than-average documentation. Our test model had a quick-start guide as well as full printed manuals for hardware and software--all in both English and Spanish. Speaking of software, bundled with the PowerShot A400 is a suite of photo utilities, including ArcSoft's Camera Suite 1.3 (PhotoImpression and VideoImpression) and Canon's own basic photo and video editing tools.
This bargain-priced, attractive camera produces excellent image quality at the expense of speed and features.