Top critical review
106 people found this helpful
Very promising but poor image quality
on July 17, 2010
Two weeks before the S4000 came out, I had purchased the SD1200. I waited for the SD4000 and planned to return the SD1200. How did it compare? First the pros:
- SD4000 is extremely sharp at wide-angle from center to edge (much better than SD1200 and SD850)
- ISO400 and 800 are indeed very usable (great improvement over SD1200 and other compacts)
- nice screen
Now the cons:
- when zooming in to 3.8x, the picture quality was extremely soft. Or in plain english: not sharp. To be clear, I did not have to crop to 100% to see it or do a side-by-side comparison. And I'm not talking about digital zoom either. Simply looking at the picture left me stunned: soft, blurry, not sharp, simply awful. I increased in-camera sharpness, but that was not nearly sufficient. It was REALLY BAD.
- it's not as compact as you might like (pretty long and think, the SD1200 is much more compact)
- as other reviews also mentioned, the buttons and menus make navigating cumbersome (many steps with a small super-sensitive dial).
Since the pictures at 3.8x were completely unusable, it was a definite no-go. To my big surprise, I kept the SD1200 although I'll miss the wide-angle and high ISO quality of the SD4000. Maybe it was a bad copy?! Note there is another review here that complained about softness, so it does not seem to be unique.
I'll try another copy later when the price has dropped and Canon has more experience with it.
Bottom line: I give it one star because the camera was simply unusable. As indicated, other features were good to great, but having to return a camera is not worth more than one star in my opinion. It's the first time I returned a camera (and I own 6! 2SLRs, one 12x zoom, 3 compacts).
Some people suggest I had a bad copy, others thought I used digital zoom. Quality is very subjective and I therefore quote the professional review from DPReview: "For the most part, the SD4000 IS produces very nice images. They don't hold up to very close scrutiny at the pixel level - even at lowest ISO there are slightly unpleasant artefacts if you zoom too much. ... But viewed as standard sized prints or at screen resolution (which we believe will be the main use of this camera's output), they look good, with great color rendition and generally good exposure."
I agree with their opinion (they are obviously more gentle with their choice of words). So, as long as you do not view pics at 100%, you might not notice the bad image quality at 3.8x zoom much. In real life however, everytime you do feel the desire to use the 3.8x zoom to bring a subject up closer, it's quite likely you are tempted to look at the picture up close, or zoom in a bit. Not a good idea! Therefore, if you expect to regularly use the 3.8x end of the zoom, I strongly recommend not to buy this camera. Otherwise, it's a fine camera.