The S30 / S40 mark a design departure for Canon, a long, short body with a distinctive sliding lens cover (similar to the Olympus D-490Z/C-990Z). The S40 body is a medium gray metallic gray colour with a hint of blue. The front and top of the camera sport a 'brushed metal' strip, the rest of the camera is made from metal (apart from battery cover, buttons etc.). Canon has once more gone for the flat surfaces look with most controls either kept as shallow as possible or recessed into the body.

The sliding lens cover is also the power switch, open it fully and the camera will power up, lens extends, push it towards the lens and the camera will power off, lens retracts. You can't close the lens cover on the lens as you can't move it past a set position until the lens has retracted.

Other distinctive design features are the vertically rotated text (I can imagine lots of adverts with the camera hanging vertically), the super-slim flash window and the single (integrated) battery and compact flash compartment. At the back of the camera it's worth noting the new shooting priority play switch, flipping this switch to the right enters play mode, a half-press of the shutter release always returns it to shooting mode. Also new is the slightly odd rolling multi-controller (hmmm).

Here beside its close brother the four megapixel PowerShot G2 you can see that the S40 is actually the same width but considerably shorter (in height) and not as deep. You can also see the significant difference between the lens systems, the G2's fast F2.0 - F2.5 versus the S40's slower F2.8 - F4.9.

Holding the S40 to shoot it is surprisingly comfortable, despite the lack of a 'proper' hand grip at the front, the camera is still deep enough to feel steady in your hand. The thumb recess moulded into the back of the camera aids grip and stops the camera from tipping anti-clockwise. The second 'in hand' shot above gives you an impression of the S40's size and proportions.

LCD Monitor (rear)

The S40's 1.8" LCD sits behind a protective plastic cover, unfortunately Canon haven't blessed it with the excellent anti-reflective coating seen on the G2's flip-out LCD.

That said the LCD is fairly bright and sharp and provides plenty of feedback. Through the setup menu you can select two levels of backlight brightness (obviously the brighter of the two will have an affect on battery life).


A standard 'optical tunnel' style of viewfinder, unlike the G2 there's no dioptre adjustment. Through the viewfinder you'll see central aiming brackets which also correspond (roughly) to the edge of the three focus points. There are also no parallax correction lines which would assist framing at close distances. The viewfinder provided approximately 84% frame coverage. My advice; get used to using the LCD monitor.

The two lights beside the viewfinder indicate the following:

Green Steady Good AF Lock, sufficient light
Green Flashing CF Card activity / Camera startup
Yellow Steady Macro focus / Manual focus mode
Yellow Flashing AF difficulty, cannot lock focus
Orange Steady Flash charged and will fire with next shot
Orange Flashing Shot may suffer from shake blur (slow exp.)

The Green Steady (Good AF) and Yellow Flashing (Bad AF) indications are now repeated on the main LCD in the colour the selected focus area bracket turns after the AF has finished.

Battery / Compact Flash Compartment

Canon have gone all Sony on us! On the base of the camera you'll find a single compartment door behind which are found the CompactFlash slot (Type I or II; Microdrive supported) and the battery slot which takes the new NB-2L 7.2V, 570 mAh (3.9 Wh) Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery. Battery is charged by supplied charger (below).

Those who are very observant may have noticed a small channel running from the battery compartment to the right side of the camera, this is for the optional AC adapter. The cable from a dummy battery runs along this channel and out of the side of the camera through a small spring loaded door.

Battery Charger

To complement the new NB-2L Lithium-Ion battery there's also a new charger, the CB-2LT(E) has a rated input of 100 - 240 V AC. There's a large light on the front which glows red during charging and turns green at the end of a charge.

It takes approximately 80 minutes to fully charge the battery pack.