Camera setting mode and playback mode are fairly self-explanatory. Video mode does as the name suggests and lets you use the A400 as a fairly primitive video capture device. The length of captured video will vary depending on chosen resolution and memory card capacity, but the table below offers a break down of what can be expected for the supplied 16MB SD card.
A single channel of sound is also captured and can be heard during in-camera playback thanks to the built-in speaker. Exposure, focus and zoom are all locked during video capture which greatly reduces its usefulness.
Special scene mode allows novice users to set a specific shooting situation while the camera automatically sets itself for the best results. Available presets are Portrait, Night Scene, Foliage (which enhances colour saturation), Snow (for limiting bluish tones and strong highlights), Beach, Fireworks, Underwater (for enhancing the white balance in the bluishy-skewed watery world when the optional waterproof casing is used), and Indoor.
Below the mode dial is the four-way navigation dial, or omni-selector, as Canon likes to call it. In addition to navigating through your photos in playback mode, this lets you dial in quick camera settings while shooting. A central “set” button is mainly used to confirm the chosen settings.
Pressing the right arrow toggles the flash through its available modes, which include off, auto and forced on. Red-eye reduction can also be enabled and is provided by pre-illuminating your subject using the focus assist light to reduce pupil size. However, red-eye remained a problem in some situations because of the aforementioned proximity of the flash to the lens.
Pressing the left arrow toggles the camera through standard, macro and infinity shooting mode, whereas pressing the up arrow moves you through evaluative, centre-weighted and spot metering modes. Finally, pressing the down arrow toggles from single shot mode to multiple shot mode (which offers around 1.3 frames per second), and then again to activate the two or ten second self-timer. With no remote control available for the A400 the self-timer is the only way to take pictures at slow shutter speeds on a tripod.
Left of the omni-selector is the menu button which gives access to a plethora of camera based settings and below this is the function button, which concentrates more on photo-based settings and doubles as the delete button in playback mode. The menus are typical of those find in many of Canon’s cameras and include the “my camera” menu for assinging startup sounds and pictures. A quick snapshot of the menus is shown below.
For a camera at this price point you’re not short-changed when it comes to a bit of tweaking. Included is +2 to -2EV exposure compensation, five photo effects covering sepia, B/W, vivid, neutral and low sharpening (soft), plus ISO ratings of 50, 100, 200, 400 and Auto.
There’s a manual mode too that allows for tweaking the settings mentioned earlier but that’s as far as the human intervention goes. Though you can influence the shutter speeds and aperture by manipulating these settings, there are no actual shutter priority or aperture priority exposure modes.
The final button on the rear is the print/share button, which activates direct printing or initiates transfer of images to your PC. Bubble Jet Direct, PictBridge and CP printers are supported out of the box.
Lastly, behind a swinging rubber dust cover below the omni-selector is a USB port for data transfers, a DC in jack for use with the optional power adapter and an A/V out jack to display your photographs on a TV with the supplied lead.
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