The Canon IXUS 40 represents a ‘breakthrough in lens technology' according to Canon. It features an all-new lens technology that helped to ensure the camera is kept extremely small yet retains good optical quality.

Its all-metal body is certainly small, it's 20.7mm thin and weighs a sprightly 130g. The IXUS 40 is now Canon's smallest digital compact with a 3x zoom lens 4 megapixels and a lens that provides a 35-105mm (35mm equiv) focal range and fast, F2.8 to F4.9, maximum aperture settings.

The brushed metal construction lends the camera a distinct air of 'poshness' and styling highlights such as the knurled ring around the lens and a chromed wrap-around signature feature that starts at the on/off button on the top and swoops round the body to the SD/MMC storage and battery compartment below, making it an attractive little beauty indeed.

Given the stylish-yet-tough build, it's a shame the storage and battery bay cover is made of plastic; it is by far the weakest link in terms of build and cheapens an otherwise exemplary package.

Specification is very good though, the camera offering 9-point AiAF (Artificial Intelligence Auto Focus) that selects the ‘correct' part of the subject or scene in the frame to focus upon. It also boasts a very nice 2in colour LCD that's backed up by an (disappointingly blurred) optical viewfinder.

You also get a thing called iSAPs (Intelligent Scene Analysis based on Photographic Space), which actually means the camera has a built-in computerized ‘expert' that can help set the camera the correct way for the subject you're photographing and you don't have to lift a finger. Well actually, that's not quite true, since you still have to lift a finger to press the shutter button.

The IXUS 40 uses an ‘image processing engine' simply called DIGIC II. Confused? Don't be, this is technology borrowed from Canon's professional level digicams and it's the part of the camera that helps make it so fleet of foot in the shooting department, chewing over your images and pumps them across to the memory card. DIGIC II is fast and really helps make the most of the new lens technology as well.

Budding Spielbergs take note here please. You can capture movies with mono sound to the limit of the storage (up to 1GB) at 640x480-pixel resolution, which is enough for ‘normal' TV viewing. Shooting at 30fps produces nice, smooth video too and you can even edit the movies in camera via simple menus.

The IXUS 40 has a boosted frame rate movie mode that makes it the first digital still camera of its type ‘in the World' to have a 60fps movie mode. It allows one-minute clip capture at 320x240-pixel resolution that allows in-camera slow motion replay.


It's all very well having bags of new technology, but does the camera work properly and are the pictures any good?

I'm glad to report that despite the camera's small size, it is very easy to use, the metering and AF (Auto Focus) work wonders and the combination of easy to use subject modes such as portrait and landscape settings, with a full manual control option, combines to create not just as stylish little camera but one that can take cracking pictures too.