Review: Canon PowerShot S410 / S500 Digital ELPH
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: February 25, 2004
May 18, 2004
of the most popular digital cameras in recent years have said "Digital
ELPH" on the body. And I can understand their success --
after all, they're small and stylish, and they take great pictures
latest ELPHs are the PowerShot S410 and S500, which are slightly
updated versions of the S400 (see
our review). The main difference between the S400 and S410/500
is the addition of a Print/Share button. Since the two are nearly
identical, I decided to cover both cameras in one review. But
before we begin, let me cover the differences between the two
there you have it. I decided to use the S500 as the "model" in
the review -- so the photo above is the only place you'll see
the S410. Aside from the color of the ring around the lens, they
in the Box?
PowerShot S410 and S500 have excellent bundles. Inside their
boxes, you'll find:
4.0/5.0 (effective) Mpixel Canon PowerShot S410/S500 camera
rechargeable Li-ion battery
featuring Canon Digital Camera Solutions and ArcSoft Camera
page camera manual + add'l software manual (both printed)
has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to bundled memory
cards. When everyone else was including 8 or 16MB cards with
their cameras, Canon gave you a 32MB card. Now they've taken
it a step further, by offering high speed memory cards. The bad
news is that they don't tell you just how high speed it is. Based
on my tests, I'm thinking they'd be rated as 8X cards.
of the speed of the card, you'll find that 32MB is a decent starter
size, but you'll definitely want a larger card soon after you
get going with the S410 or S500. I recommend a 128MB card for
the S410, and a 256MB card for the S500.
S410 and S500 use the same NB-1LH lithium-ion battery as the
S400. This battery has a modest 3.1 Wh of energy, which is average
for a compact camera like this. Canon estimates that you can
take around 315 photos (per charge) with 50% flash use, or spend
140 minutes in playback mode.
been visiting this site for a while, you know that I don't like proprietary
batteries for a number of reasons. Unfortunately, they're par for
the course on cameras like this. I do recommend picking up a spare
battery, which will set you back $45.
love this battery charger! The reason for that is that it plugs
right into the wall, with no cords to worry about. Your battery
will be charged in about 130 minutes.
with all the Digital ELPHs, the S410 and S500 have a built-in
lens cover, so there are no lens caps to worry about.
are just a couple of accessories for these two cameras. My favorite
is the WP-DC800 waterproof case ($170), which lets you take the
camera up to 40 meters underwater. Two power-related options
are the AC adapter ($60) and car battery charger ($50). Last
but not least, there's also a soft case available.
ImageBrowser (Mac OS X)
ZoomBrowser (Windows XP)
is now up to version 16 of their excellent Digital Camera Solutions
software. Included in this package are ZoomBrowser (for Windows)
or ImageBrowser (for Mac), PhotoStitch (for making panoramic
photos), plus TWAIN and WIA drivers for Windows. Zoom/ImageBrowser
can be used for downloading images from your camera, basic editing
of your photos, and photo printing.
(Mac OS X)
built-in to the "Browser" software is RemoteCapture,
which you can use to control your Digital ELPH over the USB connection.
Images are saved directly to your computer.
5 (Mac OS X)
included is version 5 of ArcSoft's PhotoImpression software,
which is getting better with each version. Here you can do more
photo retouching and printing. The user interface is quite good,
as well. VideoImpression is also included, for editing those
short movie clips the camera can record.
camera manuals have always been better than average, and that
continues to be the case here.
S410 and S500 are exceedingly beautiful cameras -- among the
nicest I've ever seen. They're all metal, except for the plastic
doors on the side and bottom of the camera. The front and top
of the camera has a special "Cerebrite" coating, which
helps prevent scratches (which are all too common on metal cameras
S410 and S500 are small, without being too small. The important
controls are all easy to reach, and there aren't too many buttons
to worry about.
a look at how the S410 and S500 compare to the competition in
terms of size and weight:
x 2.2 x 1.1 in.
x 2.4 x 1.3 in.
x 2.2 x 0.9 in.
x 2.2 x 1.2 in.
x 2.3 x 1.4 in.
x 2.2 x 1.3 in.
x 2.6 x 1.4 in.
x 2.3 x 1.0 in.
x 2.4 x 0.8 in.
x 2.4 x 1.3 in.
you can see, the ELPH twins are on the smaller end of the spectrum.
begin our tour of these two cameras now, beginning with the front.
S410 and S500 have the exact same lens as the S400. This F2.8-4.9,
3X zoom lens has a focal range of 7.4 - 22.2 mm, which is equivalent
to 36 - 108 mm. The lens is not threaded, and no conversion lenses
the upper-right of the lens is the built-in flash. The working
range of the flash is a respectable (for a compact camera) 0.46
- 3.5 m at wide-angle, and 0.45 - 2.0 m at telephoto. You cannot
attach an external flash to these cameras.
to the left of the lens is the AF-assist lamp, a staple on Canon
cameras for many years that other manufacturers are finally adding
to their cameras. This little lamp helps the camera focus in
low light situations.
S410 and S500 feature a bright, 1.5" LCD display. The screen
-- with a resolution of 118k pixels -- is quite sharp, and motion
is fluid as well. You can adjust the brightness in the setup
menu (discussed later).
above the LCD is a large (for a compact camera) optical viewfinder.
It does lack diopter correction, so if your vision isn't perfect,
you may not be able to see clearly without your glasses.
the left of that is the mode dial, which moves the camera between
record, manual record, Stitch Assist, and movies modes. Note
that manual mode isn't really "manual" -- it just unlocks
the full menu.
The function menu
are four buttons below the LCD, including one which does a whole
lot of things. From left to right:
- the "ok" button for the menus
- turns LCD on and off, plus info shown on it
compensation (+2EV to -2EV in 1/3EV increments)
shutter mode (1 - 15 sec) - only appears when this option
is turned on in the menu system
balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent,
fluorescent H, custom)
(Auto, 50, 100, 200, 400)
effect (Off, vivid, neutral, low sharpening, sepia, black & white)
- quickly adjust color
size (Large, medium 1, medium 2, small) - more on these
next two later
(Superfine, fine, normal)
manual white balance and long shutter speed controls are the
only manual controls on the S410 and S500. This is what I'd call
a "point-and-shoot plus" camera.
function button is also used to delete a photo while in playback
the right of those buttons is the four-way controller, which
are used for menu navigation and more. The "more" includes:
- Metering (Evaluative, center-weighted, spot)
- Flash (Auto, auto w/redeye reduction, flash on, flash off,
- Drive (Single-shot, continuous shooting, self-timer) - more
on the continuous shooting features later
- Focus (Macro, infinity)
the lower-right of the four-way controller is the one main difference
between the S410 and the S400: it's the Print/Share button (which
also lights up). When connected to a Direct Print or PictBridge-enabled
printer, pressing this button will let you print your photos.
When connected to a Windows PC, the following screen will be
shown on the LCD:
you can see, you can transfer all images, new images, images
that you've DPOF marked, or you can manually select some. The
wallpaper option sets the chosen image as the background picture
on your PC!
the top-right of the photo is the mode switch, which moves the
camera between record and playback mode. Below that is the release
for the CompactFlash slot door.
I tell you about what's on the top of the camera, I wanted to
point out that gold colored ring around the lens. On the S410,
on top of the camera, you'll find the speaker and microphone,
power button, and the zoom controller with the shutter release
button inside it.
zoom controller smoothly moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto
in 1.8 seconds. There are only seven zoom "steps",
so being precise isn't terribly easy.
this side of the camera, you'll find the S410/500's I/O ports.
These includes digital (USB) and A/V out. They are protected
by a rubber cover.
cameras do not support USB 2.0.
this side of the camera, you'll find the CompactFlash slot. This
is a Type I slot, which means that you cannot use "fatter" cards
like the Microdrive. The construction of the door covering this
slot leaves something to be desired.
included high speed CompactFlash card is shown at left.
the bottom of the camera, you'll find the battery compartment
and metal tripod mount.
plastic door over the battery compartment isn't the greatest,
so be careful with it. In case you're wondering where the AC
adapter plugs in, it's right here. You stick a "fake" battery
in the slot, and feed the power cable through the hole.
included li-ion battery is shown on the right.
the Canon PowerShot S410 / S500
ELPHs start up fairly quickly, taking about two seconds to extend
their lens and prepare for shooting.
up and running, you'll find autofocus speeds to be around average.
Focusing typically took anywhere from 0.7 - 1.0 seconds -- and
longer if the AF-assist lamp needed to be used. And speaking
of the AF-assist lamp, when lighting is poor, this reddish lamp
helps the camera focus -- and it does a good job.
lag was not noticeable at fast shutter speeds. At slower shutter
speeds (read: indoors) I did notice a slightly delay between
the time I fully pressed the shutter release button and when
the photo was actually taken. I didn't see a huge difference
with the "quick shot" feature (described below) turned
No histogram in record mode
speed is excellent. There's a delay of a little over one second
before you can take another photo -- assuming you've turned off
the post-shot review feature.
a shot is taken, you can press the function button to quickly
delete the photo.
a look at the image size and quality choices available on the
S410 and S500:
shots on 32MB card
2272 x 1704
1600 x 1200
1024 x 768
640 x 480
shots on 32MB card
2592 x 1944
2048 x 1536
1600 x 1200
640 x 480
no TIFF or RAW mode available on this camera. The camera names
files as IMG_####.JPG, where # = 0001 - 9900. The camera maintains
the numbering even if you erase or format the card.
S410 and S500 have the same, easy-to-use menu system as the other
Digital ELPH models. The items in bold are only found
in manual mode. Here's the full list:
Shot (on/off) - see below
(on/off) - turns multi-point autofocus on and off
shooting (Standard, high speed) - see below
(2, 10 sec)
(Off, 2-10 sec) - for showing image on LCD after it is taken
shutter (on/off) - see below
Quick Shot feature reduces shutter lag, but the image on the
LCD freezes while the camera is focusing. So you'll want to use
the optical viewfinder in that case.
of the main differences between the S410 and S500 is how many
photos they can take in continuous shooting mode. In standard
continuous mode, both shoot at 1.5 frames/second. Each image
is shown on the LCD as it is taken -- a necessity for tracking
a moving subject. In high speed mode, the S410 shoots at 2.5
frames/sec, while the S500 does 2.2 frames/sec. The images are
not shown on the LCD as they are taken, which means that you'll
need to use the optical viewfinder to follow your subject.
S500 must have a lot more buffer memory than the S410, as I was
able to take 16 shots in a row (at either speed), while the S410
started to slow down after 5 or 6 shots.
long shutter feature lets you use long exposure times, a must
for low-light shooting. Just don't forget your tripod. The shutter
speed range is 1 - 15 sec, with many points in between. You cannot,
unfortunately, manually set the shutter speed to something fast,
like when you want to freeze action scenes. There aren't any
scene modes, either -- a sports or action mode would've been
S410 and S500 also have a setup menu, with the following options:
(on/off) - turn off those annoying beep sounds!
volume (Off, 1-5)
volume (Off, 1-5)
volume (Off, 1-5)
volume (Off, 1-5)
volume (Off, 1-5)
brightness (-7 to +7, increments of 1)
power down (on/off)
off (10, 20, 30 sec, 1-3 min)
number reset (on/off) - maintain file numbering
rotate (on/off) - camera will automatically rotate portrait
photos on the LCD
(English, Deutsch, Français, Nederlands, Dansk, Suomi,
Italiano, Norsk, Svenska, Español, Chinese, Japanese)
system (NTSC, PAL)
is also a "My Camera" menu, which allows you to customize
the startup screen and various noises that the camera makes.
You can also turn them all off, thankfully.
enough about menus, let's do photo tests now. Since there two
cameras in this review, I'm going to do things a little differently.
Where different test results are expected, I did the same test
for both cameras. Otherwise, I used the S500 for the test.
many attempts, I was unable to get the S500 to take as nice of
a macro shot as the S410. The S410's shot is just a little sharper
(though the S500's isn't bad either). Both shots have good detail
and accurate color. The custom white balance feature was a must,
as I shoot under 3200K quartz lights.
can get as close to your subject as 5 cm at wide-angle, and 30
cm at telephoto. The image area is 58 x 43 mm and 107 x 80 mm,
View S410 night
View S500 night
must confess that I underexposed the night shots for both cameras.
I should've used a longer exposure. It looked good on the LCD
so I went home. Since the camera lets you manually select slow
shutter speeds, taking in more light is easy. Aside from the
underexposure, the only other thing worth mentioning is a bit
of purple fringing around some of the lights in the distance.
shots below illustrate two things. First, they show that the
S410 and S500 are capable of taking in more light than in my
night shot above. Secondly, you'll see how upping the ISO sensitivity
those ISO 200 shots? That's how I would've liked my original
shot to be exposed (minus the noise, of course).
of noise, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the
S500 has more noise at ISO 400 than the S410.
I reviewed the S400, I was shocked when it did a great job at
the redeye test. Well, the party's over, as you can see. I'm
in a different location now than I was when I did the S400 test,
and for whatever reason, there's redeye this time around.
are your options? Take the shot again. Add more lighting to the
room. Remove it in software.
since some people have asked, yes, I do use redeye reduction
when I do this test.
distortion test shows mild barrel distortion at wide-angle, as
well as some fuzziness in the corners (which was not a problem
in the real world photos that I took).
was the case with the S400, photo quality on both the S410 and
S500 is excellent. Colors are accurate, as is exposure. Images
have a smooth look to them, without seeming "overprocessed".
Purple fringing is kept to a minimum, and so is noise.
please, don't just take my word for it. Check out the S410 and S500 photo
galleries and decide for yourself if the quality meets your expectations.
You are more than welcome to print them, as well.
of the other areas that separates the S410 and S500 is their
movie modes. While the S410 can record at 160 x 120 and 320 x
240, the S500 goes a step further by supporting 640 x 480 movies.
both the frame rate and recording times aren't so hot. At 640
x 480, the frame rate is just 10 frames/sec, and you're limited
to 30 seconds. At 320 x 240 or 160 x 120, the frame rate is 15
frames/sec, and the recording limit is 3 minutes. Those recording
limits are fixed -- you can have the largest memory card on earth
and the limit will still be 30 seconds or 3 minutes.
is recorded along with the video. Because of that, you cannot
use the zoom lens during filming.
are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec.
are two sample movies for you. I apologize for the wind noise.
the frame rate stinks, the video quality is quite good on the
S410 and S500 have the same, excellent playback mode as seen
on other Canon cameras. Everything is very snappy.
ELPHs have all the basic playback features that you'd expect.
That includes slide shows, DPOF print marking, image protection,
thumbnail mode, and zoom and scroll. I've already discussed the
Print/Share feature earlier in the review.
zoom and scroll feature (my term) lets you blow up the picture
up to 10X, and then scroll around in the zoomed-in area. It's
very well implemented.
Sound Memo feature lets you add a 60 second sound clip to an
image. Another nice feature is the ability to rotate photos.
You can also mark photos for transfer to your e-mail program,
assuming that you use Canon's software.
you've recorded a movie, an editing function lets you trim unwanted
frames from the beginning or end of it.
S410/S500 provide a decent amount of info about your photos,
including a histogram. The shutter speed and aperture used would've
been nice, though. They move through images fairly quickly as
well -- about one second elapses between high res photos.
Does it Compare?
not as much of a standout as they once were, the two new Digital
ELPHs -- the S410 and S500 -- are still some of the best choices
in the compact point-and-shoot category. One of the strong points
of the old S400 was image quality -- and both cameras continue
that tradition. Both cameras produced saturated, sharp, and "smooth-looking" images.
For those who shoot at high ISO sensitivities, you'll find that
the S500 is noisier than the S410. The design of both cameras
is second to none (like I needed to tell you that!). Other pluses
for both models include performance: these cameras startup, and
shoot/playback images quickly. In low light, the AF-assist lamp
helped the cameras focus well. The software and camera bundle
are excellent, as well. Finally, the S500 gets bonus points for
a nice continuous shooting mode (for total shots taken, not the
did I say that these two cameras aren't as hot as they once were?
Mainly because the competition has gotten better. For example,
there are a grand total of zero scene modes on this camera (and
two manual controls) -- the competition (namely Casio and Nikon)
have tons, and I think these models should at least have a few.
Another example is movie mode. Most cameras let you record until
the memory card fills up; Canon limits you to 30 seconds or 3
minutes, depending on the quality. While the S500's VGA movie
mode is nice to look at, the 10 frame/sec frame rate makes for
choppy video. For some unexplainable reason, my (negative) redeye
test result was the opposite of the one I did on the identical
S400 -- who knows? Lastly, the two cheap plastic doors on the
camera don't fit in with the quality build of the rest of the
things considered, I still very much recommend these cameras.
Now, which one do you want? First of all, if you have an S400,
don't bother with the S410 -- the extra button on the back isn't
that exciting. Choosing between the S410 and S500 depends on
your needs. If VGA movies, more continuous shots in burst mode,
and large print sizes are important to you, then the S500 is
probably the best choice. For the average shooter, the S410 is
more than adequate.
good photo quality
beautiful metal body
burst modes (esp. the S500)
movie mode (S500 only), although limited compared to competition
I didn't care for:
plastic doors over battery/memory card compartments
frame rates, recording time limits in movie mode
modes would be nice
compact 4 and 5 Megapixel cameras to consider include the Casio Exilim
Fuji FinePix A340 and F700, HP
Photosmart R707, Kodak EasyShare CX7430 and DX7630,
Kyocera Finecam SL400R and S5R,
Minolta DiMAGE G400 and G500,
Nikon Coolpix 4200 and 5200, Olympus
Stylus 410, Panasonic
Lumix DMC-LC70, Pentax Optio 555, S40,
and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P100, DSC-T1,
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try
out the PowerShot S410 and S50 and their competitors before you
to see some
pictures? Check out the S410 and S500 galleries!
Feedback & Discussion
you have a question about this review, please send them to Jeff.
Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking
for a personal recommendation.
discuss this review with other DCRP readers, please visit our forums.