If you're looking for a fuss-free family compact camera, then the Canon PowerShot A4000 IS's versatile 8x zoom range, good build quality and undemanding point-and-shoot operation are likely to impress.

However, while Canon has delivered a reasonable set of features for the price, there are some sore points. With its slow shot-to-shot rate and lacklustre continuous drive setting, the Canon PowerShot A4000 IS isn't well suited to photographing fast-moving families. Its battery life is below average at 175 shots too, meaning more frequent recharges are required.

Video shooting is restricted to 720p (some rival cameras, such as the Olympus SH-21, offer 1080p), with the focus and zoom being locked once recording begins. Video quality is merely OK as well, with an overall lack of sharpness.

We liked

The Canon PowerShot A4000 IS is easy to get to grips with via its intuitive menu navigation and controls, and a Smart Auto mode that's mostly effective.

We disliked

It's a slow-shooter, and the disappointing high ISO performance and so-so image stabilisation mean that it's not a particularly good choice for low light photography.

Final verdict

The Canon PowerShot A4000 IS faces some stiff competition from other entry-level cameras. It might be smaller and lighter and offer a larger LCD than its nearest rival, the Nikon Coolpix S6300, but in terms of key specifications, the Nikon has the Canon beat.

With the Coolpix S6300, you get higher resolution movies (1080p vs 720p), a bigger zoom (10x vs 8x), a wider lens (25mm vs 28mm) and a much longer battery life (230 shots vs 175 shots).

There are also cameras that offers bigger zooms for similar cash, such as the Panasonic Lumix SZ1.

Ultimately, though, if you can live with some of the drawbacks of the Canon PowerShot A4000 IS, then you're getting a camera that's capable of taking excellent images in good light at ISO 100-200 - although its performance at higher ISOs is less convincing.

The Canon A4000 IS is easy to carry with you all the time, so you'll be inclined to use it more often - and it's for this reason that it represents good value for the money.