In addition to the company's standard creative shooting options--Color Accent and Color Swap--it's introduced a few new modes for 2010. One is a Miniature Effect, which blurs the top and bottom of the frame and boosts contrast and color saturation to make subjects look like painted miniature models. It works to some degree, but is not as convincing as true tilt-shift photography, which is what the effect is based on. Another mode, Fish-eye Effect, is even less effective because like the Miniature Effect, it's just an approximation done with software of what a fish-eye lens creates. That said, they're included and can be fun to play with if only to add some interest to what would be an otherwise boring shot.
For such a small camera you might expect it to automatically be quick. In reality its shooting performance is middle-of-the-road--neither good nor bad. The camera turns on and shoots in 1.5 seconds, but then you'll be waiting an average of 2.7 seconds between subsequent shots. That time jumps to nearly 5 seconds if you're using the flash. Shutter lag is OK at 0.5 second in bright conditions and 0.7 second in dim lighting. The SD1400 IS has an unlimited continuous shooting option that operates at a speed of 0.8 frames per second. These times make it fine for still subjects like portraits and landscapes, but not ideal for trying to catch anything in motion.
Ultracompact cameras take their best photos below ISO 200, and the SD1400 IS is no different. Photos taken with plenty of light will give you excellent color and very good detail. Canon typically does well at balancing noise reduction and noise in images, and that's the case here. Despite details getting softer, they're not smeared beyond recognition, giving you usable images straight up to ISO 1,600. Color consistency is very good up to ISO 800, too; above that there is some shifting and yellow blotching. Canon has renamed its High ISO mode to Low Light to help alleviate confusion about the setting. The mode captures 3.5-megapixel photos at ISOs from 400 to 6,400. As expected, the results are grainy and there's visible yellow blotching in the darker areas, but at least you'll capture something if that's all you're after. The main problem--regardless of settings and conditions--is that when photos are viewed at 100 percent they look soft and digital, so if you heavily crop your photos, you might not be happy with the results from the SD1400 IS.
The SD1400's color performance is close to accurate, and the results are generally excellent in bright natural lighting. The auto white balance leans toward warm indoors, so you're better off using the appropriate preset for the lighting you're under or using the Custom option (though those aren't available when shooting in Auto mode). Exposure is overall very good; however, highlights will blow out occasionally--typical for this class of camera.
There is mild barrel distortion at the camera's widest lens position, mostly on the left side. Likewise, the lens has very good center sharpness but gets softer on the left side, particularly in the corners. There is no visible pincushion distortion when the lens is fully extended. Purple fringing is at normal amounts with high-contrast subjects. It's visible when photos are viewed at 100 percent and depending on how sensitive you are to seeing it, can be seen in 8x10 inch prints and larger. This is also pretty typical of point-and-shoots.
Video quality is on par with an inexpensive HD pocket video camera and turns jittery when panning. There's no use of the optical zoom while recording; it's digital only.
The biggest disappointment about the Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS is that it doesn't improve on last year's SD940 IS or SD780 IS. The increase in resolution certainly doesn't improve photo quality; the camera's shooting performance isn't remarkably better; battery life is still average; and there are no new must-have features. The positives of the previous models remain for the most part, though. Good news if you're after an attractive, easy-to-use ultracompact camera at a good price with very good snapshot photo quality.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Time to first shot||Typical shot-to-shot time (flash)||Typical shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
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