I'm this close to getting a Canon PowerShot S400 to replace my aging Kodak DC-290. I want a small 4MP camera that uses Compact Flash.

I wanted an S40, but it's not being made anymore. Then I considered the S45 and even the S50, but I've decided that I really want a small form factor more than I want options to play with.

There's a lot to like about the S400. Can anyone think of a better alternative for the money? Or a good reason not to buy the S400?

I've done a fair amount of research but figured a blog sanity check couldn't hurt...

Update: Thanks for all the advice. I pick up my new camera this evening! (The story of why on-line shopping really sucks sometime will follow in a few days.)

Posted by jzawodn at May 22, 2003 03:04 PM

Reader Comments
# Bill said:

I'd recommend it, and at the same time I'll recommend getting a decent case for it as well. Being so small it's easy to just stick it in your back pocket without any case, but like I learned with my S200, the LCD is fragile. Smashed LCD == no fun. Still, those little Canon cameras are fantastic.

on May 22, 2003 03:37 PM
# Derek Vadala said:

I bought this camera about four weeks ago and I'm really happy with it, but I have two complaints:

1. Sometimes it's a bit of a pain to focus on very close object (less than a meter), but that's to be expected with a camera of this nature. I'm just a nitpicker.

2. The high speed shooting craps out after about 3 or 4 succesive shots (about 1.5 seconds). They advertise a rate of ~2.5 shots per second, which you do get for the first few shots, but then the camera chokes and you get about 1 shot every 1 or 2 seconds. It's sort of a pain if you are taking sucessive action shots.

That being said, I'm still really happy. I bought this because of the small size, and I'm figure that around this time next year I'll get something high-end, like a digital SLR.

There are a lot of cool features too. Video out, for example. It's always nice to be able to get home and plug the camera directly into your TV and view the photos immediately.

Overall it's awesome. Close to iPod quality.

on May 22, 2003 03:50 PM
# Ask Bjoern Hansen said:

For form factor the little Canon's win. For features and maybe for quality the Coolpix 4500 wins. The swivel design might look geeky but people who use it don't want another camera without it.

- ask

on May 22, 2003 04:13 PM
# Steve Lambert said:

Jeremy, I really like my S100 bought a few years ago. The size is wonderful. Yes, get the case for carrying it in your briefcase, etc. The only problem I have is that the pictograph menu system is tough to remember how to get it to do what you want. I tend to leave it on a standard setting and use it like any point & shoot camera, or else I have to get out the manual.

on May 22, 2003 04:32 PM
# Dan Isaacs said:

Well, I told you to look at it, so I'm not going to say anything bad. :)

on May 22, 2003 04:46 PM
# Josh Woodward said:

I've got the S230 (3MP) and I love it. It makes things very easy, but gives you control over a lot of things if you want it. The battery life is *amazing*, I can shoot hundreds of pics with the viewscreen on the whole time. The video is a neat feature, though the audio quality is subpar. Little features like autorotate, machine gun photos, and the zooming on the browser are nice. It's quick and easy to upload the pics. The biggest negative is that indoors without a flash it tends to overcompensate the exposure and it ends up blurry. Plus, it's a bit hard to focus on something specific and you don't have manual focus control (beyond "near" or "far"). Overall, highly recommended.

on May 22, 2003 05:15 PM
# Rainer Brockerhoff said:

If you want a really small formfactor without loss of quality, look at the 3-megapixel Pentax Optio S.

on May 22, 2003 06:01 PM
# Richard Clarke said:

I have no idea whether it's a good camera or not but dpreview published a review not so long ago if you haven't already read it.



on May 22, 2003 06:25 PM
# tlack said:

IMHO it depends entirely on what you'll be using the camera for.

I had the S200 but I found it too large for my jean pockets without making me look bumpy. It also takes forever to focus at night: "hold still guys! only 16 more seconds!!" For daytime use, like while flying, it may be acceptable.

I sold the S200 and got the Casio Exilim: the quality is worse (but not dramatically so), but it's incredibly tiny (much, much better form factor than the awkwardly thick S200 which means I actually have it on me when I see something interesting) and requires only about half a second of warmup before you can take a picture.

If I was in the market again I would look into the new Pentax 3MP Optio-S which fits into an altoids tin and should have decent image quality.

on May 22, 2003 06:47 PM
# Bill Brown said:

My previous digital camera was the Kodak DC3400 and I bought the Canon S200 to replace it. I haven't regretted it for a second; I would assume that the S400 is the same only better.

You'll love the Canon's ability to be carried everywhere. That makes up for any deficiencies the camera may have (there aren't many).

on May 22, 2003 08:07 PM
# Jamie Gillespie said:
on May 22, 2003 08:59 PM
# Jamie said:

Or... this one… :)

on May 22, 2003 09:00 PM
# Hans said:

This camera has caused me a lot of time researching and price checking. I also have been one-click (oops, isn't there a trademark on that term? :') from buying it. The review on dpreview.com as noted above is well worth the read. Be sure to check out the discussion forum for users comments:


on May 22, 2003 10:38 PM
# Jonathan Sanderson said:

Minolta's Dimage X cameras are tiny, seem to produce very good results, and do things like 'turning on' and 'taking the shot after you've pressed the button' relatively quickly.

I'm just writing this to confuse you further, you understand. :-)

on May 23, 2003 04:25 AM
# Andrew Robinson said:

I love my S40. Canon makes fantastic cameras - great picture quality, easy to use, and well thought out features. And they just keep getting better every year. I can't imagine the S400 could ever be regarded as a 'mistake' purchase.

on May 23, 2003 07:05 AM
# Jason said:

Well, it's not quite as small, but the Canon PowerShot G3 is about the best 4mp digi-cam you can get. In my opinion. I own one and have zero complaints with it. Does the screen flip out on the s400? I know a lot of pros who complain that the screens on their 1D's do not flip out, it's a nice feature for sure, and the G3 has it. So does the G2.

The G3 is a little more expensive, but well worth it for sure. I carry mine every day. It's not so much bigger than the s400 that you won't be able to take it with you.

I would say spend a little more and buy the G3.

on May 23, 2003 07:22 AM
# Charles said:

I just got an S50, I love it. I even bought it below cost, with a 10% off coupon at Sears. My only complaint is that the S50's file format is not supported in Adobe Photoshop RAW plugin, I expect that Silverfast has an alternate plugin.

on May 23, 2003 08:59 AM
# Gerald said:

IMHO the delay between pressing the button and the snapshot itself is a really critical factor. from my old mirror reflex camera I am used to have a instantaneous release, thus getting the scene I saw just before in the mirror reflex finder. with digital cameras it's sometimes annoying to press the button in order to make the ingenious snapshot - and have to realize that the scene changed in between the last 0,3 secs. I have not found the delay factor for the camera but I think it will have quite good values.

on May 23, 2003 10:26 AM
# Bill Brown said:

I bought my S200 from BuyDig and I got a great deal. Plus, the experience was as pain-free as Amazon.

I just checked and they've got an S400 for $496. Are you getting a better deal than that?

on May 24, 2003 10:24 AM
# MichaelE said:

I've got the S200 and the form factor is fine for a pack around camera. I still have one of the Aiptek Pencams but the lack of LCD was really crippling. I tend to shoot more adhoc stuff with the S200 than I do my main camera (Minolta DiMage 7). The the S400 sounds great!

on May 25, 2003 02:24 PM
# Robert Nicholson said:

I still have my 1GIG microdrive left over from when I sold my EOS D30. That's the only thing keeping me looking at the S50 in that it can take Compact Flash 2 including Microdrive.

A friend of mine just bought the A300 and loves it.

on May 26, 2003 09:23 AM
# just_jane said:

I bought a Canon PowerShot SD110 3.2 MP
which is giving me the nicest pictures I ever made. It uses a battery pack, which I am able to reload which makes my hobbie very cheap.
Till now I have nobody seen using this lovely little/big camera.

on January 26, 2005 03:07 AM
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. My current, past, or previous employers are not responsible for what I write here, the comments left by others, or the photos I may share. If you have questions, please contact me. Also, I am not a journalist or reporter. Don't "pitch" me.


Privacy: I do not share or publish the email addresses or IP addresses of anyone posting a comment here without consent. However, I do reserve the right to remove comments that are spammy, off-topic, or otherwise unsuitable based on my comment policy. In a few cases, I may leave spammy comments but remove any URLs they contain.