Conclusion - Pros
- Very good resolution
- Incredibly slim, compact design
- Beautifully built and all-metal construction
- Excellent color and white balance in most situations
- Manual (custom) white balance
- Good exposure and generally very reliable focus (using single-point AF)
- Good flash performance at short distances
- Fast and responsive
- Good screen
- Excellent movie mode
- Nice handling and easy to use interface
- AF illuminator
- Excellent macro mode
Conclusion - Cons
- Some purple fringing
- Some edge softness at wide angle/max aperture
- Battery life when using LCD not fantastic
- No exposure information in record or playback mode
- Very little manual control
In an ideal world buying an ultra compact camera would not involve any compromise at all. But this ain't a perfect world, and if you want a camera you really can carry with you anytime, anywhere then you have to accept there will be some trade-off in terms of absolute image quality. The SD400 is a fast, easy to use, well-specified camera that can genuinely claim to be pocket-sized, and it produces images that - whilst by no means perfect - are sharp, clean and colorful, and it does so with the minimum fuss. It's so small, and is so enjoyable to handle and use that you cannot help but take it with you wherever you go, something you might hesitate to do with a larger camera. It's also nice to be able to report that there is a noticeable (albeit small) image quality advantage to be had by buying the SD400 over the less expensive 4MP SD300.
Of course there are limits to what you can expect, but I was pleasantly surprised by the sharpness of the images produced by the SD400, even with the fringing and occasional soft corner. At the end of the day, where it matters to the target market; exposure, color, focus, speed and noise, the SD400 exceeds expectations. If you can live without manual control over exposure (or any indication of shutter speeds or apertures) this is the perfect pocket camera and an ideal alternative for the days you don't want to take a bigger camera out with you.
If it hadn't been for the lack of shutter speed information and the minor problems with edge sharpness and fringing, this would have been a Highly Recommended, as it is I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone wanting a small, fast, capable camera, and near the top of the 5MP ultra-compact tree.