Digital Camera: SD400/500 Buying Help


macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 14, 2004
I am looking to get my wife a digital camera for her birthday. It will be replacing a film camera for her so she'd be using it for digital prints, etc. I have about 2 weeks to work with here.

I was looking at the SD400 and SD500 since they both seem to be nice small compact cameras which my wife would appreciate. Can anyone give me any advice here? Are the differences between the two enough to spend the extra $75-100 for the SD500? Does the 5 vs 7 megapixel make that much of a difference for digital prints (or any for that matter)?

Also, any pointers where to buy would be appreciated. I was looking at which seems to be among the cheapest online places without getting into the USAPhotoNation types.



macrumors member
Jul 8, 2005
my brother is highly into the photo thing. when disgusing cameras with him the other day he said that anywhere from about 5 to 8 megapixles makes a very slight diffrence. so would say save the 75 dollars and put that towards either a printer or an good photo editing program


macrumors member
Nov 21, 2004
Vermillion, SD
I have the SD400 and I love it. Very nice pics, very nice prints, and very easy to use. I looked at the SD500 too, and I couldn't justify the price difference.

I got mine at Wal*Mart, but then again, I used my employee discount. :rolleyes:


macrumors 6502a
Jul 20, 2003
Bay Area
A different opinion

Note I'm not a professional photographer but I do know a thing or two about digital photography. There are a few issues you should look at here.

For one thing, you need to be careful about falling into the more-megapixels-the-better mindset. Digital camera makers like Canon and Nikon spend a lot of marketing dollars to convince you that more megapixels will give you a better picture so they can then charge you a lot of money for their higher-end models.

Well, if you understand how digital cameras work you know that in fact more megapixels will not give you a better picture and will very often give you a much worse picture. The reason for this is that fixed-lens digital cameras generally have really small sensors (the digital equivalent of film). This is especially true for ultra-compact cameras like the Canon SD series. The CCD sensor in the SD400, for example, measures 1/2.5" and contains 5.2 million pixels. The SD300, however, has the same sized sensor (1/2.5") but contains only 4.1 million pixels. This means that the pixels on the SD300 sensor are bigger than those on the SD400. And all else being equal as far as the lenses go, the bigger the pixels, the better the picture quality (less noise, primarily). This has to do with photon counting statistics, but I'm no physicist so I won't try to explain this :)

Things get a little better when we look at the SD500 because Canon increased it's sensor size to 1/1.8". So even though it has 7.1 million pixels on its sensor, the larger sensor size gives it an edge over the SD400 model in terms of picture quality. In fact, the SD500 is generally considered to produce some of the best pictures of all ultra-compact cameras. In my opinion only the Fuji F10 beats the SD500 in terms of picture quality. If I were you, I'd get the Fuji. But if you're set on getting a Canon for some reason, I would splurge for the SD500 unless you really can't afford it or don't care that much about picture quality.