Canon SD4000 vs. S90

Canon SD4000 lens defect

Written by Gail Bjork

Check if your SD4000 has this lens defect, an ugly spot that can be seen on the LCD and in pictures when photographing solid areas such as a sky.

I thoroughly enjoy the SD4000 and recommend it to others if it meets their photographic style and needs. I’ve written about its strengths and weaknesses elsewhere in this Blog section and consider it a capable, easy-to-use digital camera.

However my copy has a lens defect and others should check their SD4000 to ensure the lens is okay. The defect, a fuzzy spot, can be seen on the LCD when photographing solid areas such as a sky. The unsightly spot also shows up in photos as seen in the 100% crop samples on this page.

I contacted Canon and here’s what they responded via email:

Clean the lens first

Canon first recommends cleaning the lens to make sure that this is no debris on the lens. They recommend the following steps to clean the lens:

  1. Carefully blow off any dust or dirt, using a blower brush or (very carefully!) compressed air.
  2. Place a drop of lens cleaning fluid on a clean piece of lens cleaning tissue, or blow gently on the lens so that moisture condenses on its surface.
  3. Gently wipe the lens surface from the edges toward the center of the lens, with a lifting rather than rubbing action.

Canon also suggests that for best performance, use only the Canon Lens Cleaning Kit which contains cleaning solution, lens tissue and blower brush. A micro-fiber cleaning cloth is a good alternative to lens tissue, and requires no lens cleaning fluid.

Canon’s lens cleaning kit is certainly fine but, quite frankly, you can’t go wrong with any name brand kit.

If the problem persists

If after cleaning your lens the problem persists then the SD4000 needs servicing. Exchange it if you can or contact Canon for their nearest Factory Service Center.

The spot is such that is can be cloned out in most images, but not everyone has this skill. But that’s not the point. When you buy a brand new digital camera you should expect it to be in top-notch shape, not have a defect!

Here are additional suggestions for testing a new camera.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.


  • oh i should’ve said that the gray spot on mine is much smaller than in pic above and towards right side of frame.  and it really can only be seen when against a white background.  i’ll live with it for now.

  • thx Gail for your advice.  i sent back to canon and they confirmed the repair charge would indeed be $129.  the first repair they had done was well over 2 years ago, so definitely out of warranty.  i called the Loyalty program and they said i could surrender my camera (for them to recycle) and get a refurbished newer model for reduced cost.  the ones they presented me with were SD960, SD1200, and SX120 when i pressed for more.  they gave me quotes for each of them.  i asked about SD4000 but they said it wasn’t part of their program [yet].
    the issue with my camera is not bad enough to warrant participating in their Loyalty program.  given their pricings, i could do much better selling mine and re-buying on my own if i really wanted to.  if my camera had been in much worse condition and something that absolutely had to be fixed, then the Loyalty option would’ve been useful.  so i requested my unrepaired camera back and will keep it for now.

  • ms9, the only way to know the actual cost of repair is contact Canon. If the estimate on the site is correct, the price plus shipping will be about 1/2 the amount you can get a new camera such as the SD4000. If the SD800 still meets your needs, the cost may be worth it. But it’s getting older and there is the possibility of other things going wrong sooner than not, something you can discuss with Canon.

    Tell Canon that this is the second time the camera encountered this problem. They probably won’t repair it for free but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Also ask about the warranty on the repair work, which usually is 90 days or less.

    Compact cameras have improved during the years, less shutter lag, improved sensors and low light capabilities, better video, to name a few. Also, a new camera will have a a full year warranty.

    Also ask what Canon can do for you under their Customer Loyalty Program.

    Go with your gut and with what your wallet can afford.

  • I’m having the same problem with Canon Powershot SD 800 IS.  Any idea how much Canon servicing will charge to fix it?  On their website, they do say Estimate Repair Cost:  $129.00, but that is before they even know what the problem is!  This is 2nd time this has happened to my camera.  First time was within a year, so they fixed it for free.  But now i’m out of warranty.

  • Speedy, the SD4000 is a relatively new camera. It should still be on warranty. If you’ve had it less than 30 days, you might be able to return and exchange it.

  • Thank you Gail I bought my SD400Is in may .
    this is my 6th SD Canon camera I wanted an up grade from my curent SD790 when it started to give me shutter orrors
    right out of the gate I noticed the picture quality was not as good as lesser SD Camera’s I’ve been using.
    When notifing canon usa they sent me tips on how to shoot better picture.??
    After reading your blog I looked at my lens on my SD4000IS and found fischer crack and it looks like the lens is deformed when looking at it from the side……..
    I only bought Canon cameras for years because they were the only ones using glass len’s instead of plastic  (less distortion)
    So thank you I now will contact the Canon service center and see if I can get some kind of warranty if I can’t get it fix It will go on the shelve as lesson learned not to buy another Canon camera   😐

  • Thank you Gail.  Now I’ll firmly recommend my cousin to buy it. 😀
    But why do you want to buy another one?

  • Occasionally a new camera has a defect. Many people have bought the camera defect-free. I think the SD4000 is a terrific camera, plan to buy it again when the price drops even more, and highly recommend it for someone who wants a fun, easy-to-use subcompact camera. The sd4000 is the most enjoyable camera I ever owned, which I’ve written about elsewhere in my blog.