Most compact cameras take their best photos when their ISO is set below 200; and the SD1400 IS is no different. Photos taken with the camera in plenty of light will give you excellent color and very good detail--though they look more digital than I'm used to seeing from Canon images. 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 straight up to ISO 1,600. Its color consistency is very good up to ISO 800; above that and there is some shifting and yellow blotching.
Low Light mode
Canon has renamed its High ISO mode to Low Light to help alleviate some peoples confusion about the setting. The mode captures 3.5-megapixel photos at ISOs from 400 to 6,400. This image was taken at ISO 3,200 in very dark conditions. It's 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 camera can focus down to 1.2 inches from a subject in Macro. The photos taken in Macro are reasonably sharp and detailed, even with the camera being held.
The SD1400's color performance is close to accurate and its photos 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). Overall, its exposure levels are very good; however, it will blow out highlights occasionally. That's typical for this class of camera.
Purple fringing in photos are 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, it can be seen in 8x10 inch prints and larger. This is also pretty typical of point-and-shoots.
There is mild barrel distortion at the camera's widest lens position (top), 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 (bottom).
The zoom range on the SD1400 IS is a modest 4x going from a wide-angle 28mm-equivalent to 112mm. It is just enough to help out with framing and get you a little closer to your subject. The main problem is that when these 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.
One of this Canon's creative modes is 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. Still, it's a fun way to add interest to what would otherwise be a boring shot.
the SD1400SI also includes a Fish-eye Effect mode, and it is even less effective. Like the Miniature Effect, it's just an approximation done with software of what a fish-eye lens creates. The shot on the left was taken in Auto while the shot on the right is taken with the Fish-eye Effect set to the default Medium setting. There are Low and High settings as well.