There is no perfect digital camera; each has its own strengths and weaknesses. So buying one often involves compromises, choosing a camera with features you need most even though it doesn’t have every feature you desire.
Such is the case if you’re trying to decide between the Canon SD4000 and S90. Hopefully, my comments and insights about each camera will make your decision a bit easier.
The Canon PowerShot SD4000
It’s a long time since I’ve enjoyed a camera as much as the Canon SD4000. It feels great in my hands, has good ergonomics and is easy and intuitive to use. It easily fits into a shirt pocket or handbag.
I’m quite satisfied with the overall image quality and the lovely colors it produces. Images taken at the long end of the zoom could be sharper, but photo sharpness can adequately be addressed when editing (plus, like the S90, in-camera sharpening can be increased…or decreased…via the My Colors menu).
With the exception of Flash Compensation, the SD4000 has enough controls to satisfy most of my photo-taking needs. While I prefer using P-mode so I can tweak settings such Exposure Compensation and White Balance, Smart/Full Auto mode works quite well, a plus for those who simply want to point-and-shoot.
The SD4000 may not produce images quite as sharp as previous models but that’s part of the price one has to pay if you want High Definition video, which the S90 does not have. More importantly, none of my previous SD cameras did very well in low-light when shooting above ISO 200. The SD4000 simply bests them for higher ISO, low-light shots. They may lack finer detail but, when exposed correctly, they are usable and free from unsightly yellow blotches.
I’ve owned and used many SD cameras and the SD4000 meets my personal expectations for a sub-compact camera.
The Canon PowerShot S90
Though larger and boxier than the SD4000, the S90 is still a small-sized camera. Considering it’s size, the S90 exceeds my expectations in image quality. Photos are sharp with beautiful color.
But from the get-go, I hated using the S90. It has poor ergonomics without the addition of an accessory grip and the free-wheeling rear control dial drove me up the wall. Fortunately, there is a device that fixes the control dial problem too.
Once both fixes were installed, I was finally able to enjoy the S90. I could concentrate on taking photos rather than baby-sitting the camera.
The S90 has many more options and buttons to control settings than the SD4000. I appreciate the creative control these settings afford. For most casual photographers though, they are overkill. The S90 also has an intelligent, fully-automatic mode that does remarkably well.
Currently, the Canon S90 and SD4000 are about the same price. Keep in mind that if you opt for the S90, you could end up spending an additional $45.00 (including shipping) for a custom grip and control wheel device to improve its ergonomic flaws. If you can’t afford both of these accessories, consider getting the control wheel device.