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Introduction ========== I'd been thinking about a digital camera for quite some time now but always thought it was too expensive. It was only when a friend took our wedding photos with his digital camera that I realised how wrong I was. The cost per print is far less than traditional film and because you choose what to print, you don't waste loads of money printing rubbish. You end up with fewer, better quality photos because you can see whether the photo has "come out" straight away. I was always taking duplicate photos "just in case" and getting double prints when the film was developed because the cost of reprints was so high. Now I can get as many copies of my best photos for just 10p/print and I'm not spending a fortune on dud photos.
My brother had just bought the Ixus 30 and recommended it as decent quality and easy to use. I decided to go for the Ixus 40 as this was exactly the same but with more mega pixels (4 rather than 3) which gives greater scope for photo enlargement. The basic features we (my technophobe husband and I) were looking for were: decent number of mega pixels; reasonable optical zoom; decent LCD screen; and nothing too expensive. At £140 the Ixus 40 met the bill.
The Package =========== Along with the camera, the box contains: - Wrist strap - Camera to PC USB cable - Audio-Video cable - One camera battery - Cover for battery - Battery charger - Software CD-ROMs - Instruction Manual - Direct print instructions - Quick start guide - Small (16MB) memory card
The memory card is basically enough to get started until you buy a larger one of your choice. It seems to be fairly standard that cameras only come with a small memory card (I guess then you can buy one according to your budget and requirements) but I've found the one supplied is a useful backup for when our main memory card is full and I don't have time to transfer the photos to the computer.
Size and Weight ============= The camera measures approximately 8.4 x 5.3 x 1.9 cm (width x height x depth) and with the battery it weighs just over 150g. This makes it pretty handy for taking photos on the move as no one wants to be lugging a huge brick about. It means you are more likely to have it handy for that unexpected photo opportunity.
Batteries ======= We have only recharged the battery about four times so I can't make detailed judgements on the battery life yet although it seems to last a good length of time. I would expect the battery to last for a whole day out taking lots of pictures. The manual says… Charging takes 90 mins which is pretty decent however, the main problem is that the amount of battery life left when the low battery warning comes on is very short. I would therefore say it is probably a good idea to buy a second battery so that a fully charged spare is always to hand.
Main Features =========== - Three levels of photo quality ("superfine" for photos that you want enlarge/zoom without losing resolution through to "normal" which provides decent 6"x4" photos and takes up much less memory.
- Various shooting modes (auto, manual, portrait, digital macro, might snapshot, kids&pets, indoor, and underwater). We tend to just use "auto" because we're lazy and don't want to work out all the settings to take the best photo but we have used the digital macro to take close ups of my engagement ring. My husband also tested it out on geranium flowers and you could zoom right in and see the pollen grains, stamen, etc.
- Continuous capture mode
- Timer (useful if you want to be in the photo or if you want the camera to be perfectly still when it takes the photo).
- Auto standby mode (saves battery)
- In auto mode, you can effectively "point and shoot"
- Quick start up (you can turn it on and take a picture in 3 seconds)
- 2" LCD viewfinder (also has a standard manual viewfinder)
- Automatic focussing
- Combined optical and digital zoom of up to 11x (I'd say this along with the fact you can instantly review your pictures is one of the best features)
- 30 frame per second video recorder (isn't amazing quality but fun if you don't have a video camera)
- "Direct print" with compatible printers; ours isn't so we haven't tried this.
General photo taking ================ For most photos, as I've said, we just use the "auto" setting. There are buttons for switching the flash between on, red-eye reduction and off and for switching between normal, timer and continuous photo mode so you can change quickly without having to go through the menus. The only time my photos don't really come out too well is when I do close ups with the flash but they are usually fine when I turn the flash off and make sure they are well lit instead. The zoom toggle switch is pretty standard so the camera is pretty good for all standard photo taking.
Instruction Manual ============== The instruction manual is quite comprehensive. I read a small amount to get me started (mainly about the physical things like battery, memory card, where all the buttons are etc.) but found that once I knew a few features, it was easiest to just work out the rest. Most of it seems to be self explanatory although I do use the manual from time to time (for example today I used it to find out how to work the continuous shooting mode) to check things.
Ease of Use ========== My technophobe husband managed to learn how to use the camera fairly quickly without much reference to the instructions and now spends ages just taking photos for fun as opposed to taking photos he wants to print and keep which I think is a good indicator that it is fairly easy to use.
As I said before, it is a small, lightweight camera which means it is convenient to carry in a coat pocket. The LCD screen is a good size and gives a very good indication of how the photo has come. Unfortunately it doesn't come with a carrying case but we just keep it in a large coin purse.
The menus are easy to navigate - this is a camera you can just pick up and take pictures with
The button to operate the camera is in a standard location on the top in one corner. Pressing half way shows you what the camera is focussing on which can be helpful. It also beeps to tell you if it cannot focus and when the flash isn't on that it is too dim.
There are effects available such as "vivid", sepia and black&white but to be honest, there's not really much point as one can just as easily take them all with standard colours and then edit them on the computer afterwards.
Uploading photos to computer ======================= The camera comes supplied with a USB cable and uploading is fairly quick and easy. The first time I uploaded it took me through a "wizard" which set up all the settings for transferring photos. I bought a memory card immediately - the camera can hold a lot of images, but memory cards are cheap these days so it never hurts to have more storage.
Available Accessories ================= There are additional accessories available to buy from Canon including - rechargeable batteries - battery charger - "all weather" (waterproof) case - needed for underwater photos in conjunction with underwater mode - memory cards.
Negatives ======== There are only two negatives I can think of: Firstly, it does not come with a camera case (although this seems to be standard for digital cameras). Secondly, we have been caught out by the battery running flat as it does not give much advance warning before it runs out. Other than that it is brilliant.
Conclusion ========= I would say that this camera gives pretty decent value and gives good quality photos for the average person. It has good specifications and a large range of features which makes it a very good deal. Overall I'd recommend it to anybody except for professionals (who wouldn't be asking my opinion anyway). If you want a small, low cost, decent quality camera it is worth looking at. It's easy to use, you can take it anywhere and the picture quality is excellent. I look forward to buying the Ixus 2000 in ten years time!