Canon Ixus 400

With so many compact, sleek and metal-bodied digital cameras from Canon in the Ixus range, it’s not always a good thing that they all look so similar. On the outside the Ixus 400 looks no different to the Ixus v3. Here we compare and contrast the two to tell you what’s new.

The first and probably most important thing you’ll notice is that the Ixus 400 is a four mega pixel camera compared to its younger brother’s three. Furthermore the Ixus 400 also has a quick selection jog wheel on the rear of the camera and slightly different button location.

Like the v3 the size and usability of the 400 is just about right. It's still small enough to fit in your pocket without causing too many problems. Although the design isn’t as curvy as the Olympus’ Mju 300 for example, the Ixus remains stylish. The red eye stunner and optical viewfinder accompany the built-in flash. The rear holds a plethora of buttons making accessing the menu system a breeze. Users can quickly and easily change between auto, manual, panorama and movie modes with the addition of a new jog wheel. Switching between playback and shooting mode is, like the v3 and other Ixus models, still performed by a sliding switch.

Those wishing to use the optical viewfinder instead of the 1.5in LCD display will suffer from major parallax. Placing the new jog wheel elsewhere so the viewfinder could be better aligned with the lens would have been a better design choice. The rear of the camera houses quick access menu buttons for deleting images, choosing flash modes and setting some of the pre-programmed options.

Battery life is pretty good giving you about two short trips out before asking to be recharged and it faired about the same as the Ixus v3.

Canon has included a 32Mb Compact Flash card in the box and this will soon get filled up with pictures when at its highest setting. Connection to the PC is via a USB socket and the camera also offers a TV out for those people wishing to view their images away from the constraints of a PC. To aid in this and save cricked necks, the camera also has the ability to detect the camera orientation. If the image was taken portrait or landscape style the cameras software will make sure that the image is displayed accordingly on the LCD monitor on the camera and the Television set.

Inside, the camera is fairly similar to the Ixus v3 bar the mega pixel count. It too sports a 3x optical zoom offering 36 - 108mm equivalent in a 35mm camera all at an f/stop range of 2.8 to 4.9. The camera also offers a digital zoom as well, giving you a combined total of 11x zoom, but as always the digital option should be used sparingly. The Ixus 400 offers users a 5cm Macro mode for close up detail and four ISO settings ranging from 50 to 400 for different situtations.

When it comes to picture quality the Ixus 400 offers four picture sizes with the additional option of selecting superfine, fine and normal for the compression. Still image sizes are: (L)2272 x 1704, (M1)1600 x 1200, (M2)1024 x 768, (S)640 x 480.

Verdict

The shooting results of the Ixus 400 were very good. Images were crisp and clear, with plenty of detail similar to the v3, but the higher resolution made for even better pictures.

Pixellation on images really only started to become apparent at 300 per cent when blown up for further inspection and this shows that making these images larger without fear is easily possible. Skin tones, sky and greens all coped well, even when they were in the same picture and colours were vibrant (see Tigger and fairground images)

Overall this is a very good four mega pixel camera in a small case. It will be interesting to see how it fairs against the Mju 400 digital or the Konica's Revio KD-400Z in the market place. In the meantime this is still a good camera with plenty of options to keep you going. If you're a Canon fan through and through you won't be disappointed.