What does the S95 have that the SD4000 doesn't?

Started Jun 13, 2011 | Discussions thread
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What does the S95 have that the SD4000 doesn't?
Jun 13, 2011

My son and I have been looking into getting him a camera as he heads into his college years and wants to keep memories of his time there. From our research here we've narrowed down the options to the S95 and the SD4000. Both cameras image qualities seem spectacular for such pocket-friendly styles, but I'm looking for something of a tie-breaker that it would seem only firsthand experience would suffice. This is especially unfortunate as we can not seem to find any SD4000's (or 4500/500 HS models) in the immediate area of stores. So here we are talking with active users of these cameras.

First I guess we should identify our needs:

  • This camera is going to mostly be used for social situations. Outings with friends, dorm/house parties, eventually bar outings. I'd imagine travel vacations as well. Essentially an all-purpose general camera but low light (indoor and outdoor low light too) performance is a factor.

  • He can't see prints any bigger than 8x10' being done but will be getting them developed beyond personal printing quality. RAW format isn't a necessity.

  • We're not professional photographers, but he does like having a degree of control to be able to do any adjustments he may need. So full Manual may go unused, but PAS settings probably not. That said some learning/experimenting would have to be done to be able to mentally translate the idea of something like F2.8 vs F4 of the same image into what the finished result actually looks like. This applies to a number of the settings. Ultimately he's up to the challenge of learning this stuff beyond reading it online, but he's not coming from firsthand experience so a lot of the numbers are all very relative/conceptual right now. (His words, not mine.)

  • We're looking to get a good lifespan out of the camera. All of his college years (and some good time afterward hopefully).

  • My son is a good kid who knows the value of a dollar (and I've been around the block), so potential damage to the camera prohibiting getting the S95 isn't a concern. He knows to keep his stuff in good shape. If anything he can be a little anal about other things he owns in the same regard.

The current mental breakdown for these two:

  • We're lead to believe that the SD4000's Automatic features are better executed. However, we were informed that the automatic aperture control of the SD4000 tends to stay around F2/F2.8 even in shots where a higher aperture value is better suited. How true is this? Granted Av mode is there, but we'd like to know what we're getting into when in P/Auto.

  • The SD4000 has better video capabilities. We were worried about focus-hunting issues, but it seems the focus can be locked. So at worst the videos will be pretty equal. (As an aside, when focus-locked is the optical zoom still possible while recording?)

  • The S95 ultimately has better IQ, however it does seem a slim difference.

  • The S95 operation seems faster by virtue of less menus to fiddle with than the SD4000, though some videos seem to show that the SD4000's menus are quite speedy.

On the surface it would appear that the SD4000 can do everything we would need. Image quality seems good enough, but we've managed to find few images in the low light, indoor, party-esque environments online for both cameras so we're not positive for that realm. Honestly the best we've found have been images at the bottom of the review here for the SD4000. http://www.infosyncworld.com/reviews/digital-cameras/canon-powershot-sd4000-is/10995.html . They look good, but I'm not sure how to compare them against the S95 (or if they just hosed the settings). Between that and the first camera bullet above, we're just looking for some recommendations. I guess to some extent we're trying to see if we should be going for the S95 instead of the SD4000. Any thoughts? Thanks for any and all help.

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