Canon PowerShot A4000 IS Review

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Canon PowerShot A4000 IS

“While the PowerShot A4000 IS isn’t going to blow any minds, it will fit the bill as a dependable, quality camera for quite a few.”
  • Nice, simple control interface
  • Inner-navigation is incredibly simple
  • Just enough extra options to keep exploring
  • You’re limited with it comes to ISO
  • Average low light performance at best

Make no mistake, this is an entry-level point and shoot if you’ve ever seen one. At first glance, though, you might be like me and figure you’re getting a higher-end model – it’s got a cleaner, sturdier look and feel to it than many of the budget pocket cams out there, as well as a 16-megapixel sensor and 8x optical zoom. Really, what’s happening is that there isn’t going to be such a thing as the all-auto, bargain-priced point and shoot much longer.

This shift means that the entry-level camera is going to get more expensive and it’s going to do more and last you longer – which is a good thing and a bad thing.

The Canon PowerShot A4000 IS digital camera is a great, if overly simplified entry level point and shoot – but it’s the little things that make this an impressive option for beginners.

Features and design

The PowerShot A4000 IS looks like what we’d expect from Canon: It’s sleek and slim without breaking any size barriers. Sony’s CyberShots have really laid claim to the thin-as-it-gets category, and while this model won’t slide as easily into your pocket, it’s still small and simple.

Its faceplate is completely smooth with no grip, only some unnoticeable text and the flash break up the chrome exterior. On top you’ll find the zoom toggle, power button, and shutter. The back of the PowerShot A4000 IS is largely dominated by its 3-inch LCD; off the side you have a dedicated video capture button, the question mark button (more on that in a moment), your very simple navigation dial, menu, and playback.

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The question mark button is sort of a digital, instant resource for beginners. At any point, on any screen, you can hit it for help navigating the camera or even just to explain what the icons mean and when you should use them. If this is a replacement digital camera, it’s likely you’ll never have to use this feature, but first-timers will appreciate the dead-simple explanations.

Canon’s also packed an array of effects, presets, and filters into the PowerShot A4000 IS. It covers the gamut of possible elements, including (but not limited to) snow, fireworks, and low light. There are also a few filters, including fisheye, miniature, poster effect, and toy camera. You can manipulate the individual settings as well.

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For most buyers, a camera of this caliber means you’ll largely default to Auto shooting, but the manual is so easy to use it deserves mentioning. Under the Program setting, you can determine exposure, ISO, and lighting.

The camera also shoots 720p HD video, and you’re able to use the 8x zoom while you’re recording.

What’s in the box

In addition to the PowerShot A4000 IS, you’ll get the battery, its charger, a wrist strap, USB cable, and digital camera solution software.

Performance and use

As you might expect, shooting with the PowerShot A4000 IS is easy. The learning curve – if there even is one – is so slight that it’s barely worth mentioning. Whether you’re a seasoned point-and-shoot user or unboxing your very first model, you’ll be able to turn it on and use it to its full abilities.

We immediately turned the camera to its manual setting and began to explore what Canon had to offer. As every Canon shooter is used to, the PowerShot A4000 IS yields accurate, if slightly warm colors. Still, compared to cameras in this class, it handles color accuracy wonderfully – and that’s a pretty important element to your photos. There’s also an in-camera option to manipulate how warm or cool photos tend to be, so you are able to opt for cooler images if you so choose.

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The camera boasts an ISO range of 100 to 1600, you’ll want to keep it below 600 if you plan on printing anything larger than a 4×6. Of course, if you’re buying a $200 point and shoot, odds are you don’t. Even when you’re viewing shots, things get pretty grainy when you zoom in on anything above ISO 600.

Low-light performance leaves something to be desired. The limited manual settings and ISO capabilities mean you aren’t able to push it unless the lighting is there – or rather, you can, but the results won’t be great.

Like with most Canon point and shoots, speed isn’t a selling point for the PowerShot A4000 IS. Continuous shooting mode is benchmarked right around 0.8 shots per second, which is on the slower end for cameras in this class. But the speed for powering on, to shot, to processing, to shot is workable – meaning just about everyone interested in buying this camera won’t notice. But be warned that this thing isn’t built for sports shooting.

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Video and audio playback was smooth as well, and zooming in and out you could tell the image stabilization mechanism was doing its job. It gets quite grainy on extreme close-ups, be forewarned.

Anytime we use a camera this simplistic, we’re torn. On one hand, the fact that it’s so easy to manipulate and get the most out of is great: Beginners and on-the-fly photographers don’t want to stumble through settings and experiment for hours before they get the results they want. These users want to throw in a battery and SD card and be able to get their money’s worth. On the other hand, though, we worry about outgrowing it too quickly. If you’re instantly able to master everything a camera has to offer, what’s going to happen in a few months?

It’s an unavoidable issue with entry-level point and shoots, but Canon deserves credit for doing its best to keep users busy. There are enough little adjustment options packed into the PowerShot A4000 IS that while you might master the manual shooter mode, you are able to dive into little manipulations in various settings – it might sound gimmicky, but it’s a new way to be creative and use your point and shoot in a way that you didn’t used to be able to, so it’s important.

Conclusion

We wouldn’t recommend this camera to anyone except beginners or buyers who don’t want to learn how to shoot – they just want to do it. And that’s plenty of people. You don’t have to be a electronics junkie anymore to want a capable camera; it’s pretty much just a standard utility everyone has now. Canon continues to fill the market will affordable yet above-average point and shoots, including the PowerShot A4000 IS.

There are a few things consumers should require in a pocket cam (with few exceptions): a 3-inch screen; presets, auto, and manual controls; filters or effects; li-ion battery, and some amount of instant controls (i.e., instant power on when hitting playback or a dedicated video record button). The PowerShot A4000 IS can check all of these off its list, and then some.

But it isn’t paving the way for the next generation of point-and-shoot cams (that’s up to other products from Canon): Touchscreens, panorama, and/or some degree of instant-sharing are becoming more common for cameras of this genre.

So while the PowerShot A4000 IS isn’t going to blow any minds, it will fit the bill as a dependable, quality camera for quite a few. And you might as well get used to it now: Close to $200 is very, very rapidly becoming the minimum you can spend if you want a camera that you’ll be happy with six months down the line.

Highs:

  • Nice, simple control interface
  • Inner-navigation is incredibly simple
  • Just enough extra options to keep exploring

Lows:

  • You’re limited with it comes to ISO
  • Average low light performance at best

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