If you just want a basic digital camera at the cheapest possible price, the Canon PowerShot A1400 is a good choice. Stripped of most features (although it does have an optical viewfinder -- rare on all but the priciest cameras these days), the A1400 still shoots better photos than other super-cheap cameras.
Want an optical viewfinder? Here you go. The Canon A1400 is one of the few cheap cameras you can buy with an old-fashioned optical viewfinder -- and you can practically hear the sighs of relief from owners who hate squinting at an LCD screen. Of course, there's a 2.7-inch LCD screen, too.
The A1400 proves extraordinarily easy to use in tests: Just set it on Auto and go. If you have questions, hit the big question-mark button, and help will pop up on the screen. At over 6 ounces and more than an inch thick, it's not the sleekest compact camera. But it's easy to hold, with a thick handgrip. All of this makes it a great starter camera for kids, reviews say -- and great for adults who don't want a lot of bells and whistles.
Best for bright-light snapshots. For the price, reviews say the Canon A1400's photo and video quality isn't bad. It can't match pricier cameras, but experts and owners get nice, sharp 16-megapixel photos in bright outdoor light. For dim light, though (ISO 800 and up), you'll need to use the flash to avoid grainy photos.
Slow shot-to-shot times (two to 10 seconds, depending on whether you're using flash) make the A1400 ill-suited to any kind of fast action. Video records in 720p HD (not full 1080p), and you can't use the optical zoom while filming. The A1400 runs on two AA batteries. Canon doesn't list battery life, but Eric Butterfield at Steves-Digicams.com manages more than 400 shots on regular alkalines. Owners say lithium batteries do even better.
Cheap-feeling plastic body. Built of lightweight plastic, the Canon A1400 "does not inspire much confidence that it could survive many hard knocks," says Butterfield. A few owners at Amazon.com agree that it does seem cheaply made, but none report that the camera has actually broken or malfunctioned.
Small zoom and basic features. The Canon's modest 5x zoom ranges from 28 mm wide-angle shots to 140 mm telephoto. You won't get any manual controls -- this is strictly point-and-shoot -- but you can choose from several preset shooting modes, like Fireworks and Snow.
PCMag.com's Editors' Choice for budget cameras, the Canon A1400 has a lot going for it: It's easy to use, captures sharp images and even boasts an optical viewfinder. It has its flaws, but at this price, says Jim Fisher, "it's tough to complain."
Review: Canon PowerShot A1400, Jim Fisher, April 2, 2013
Not surprisingly, the $100 Canon A1400 lags behind pricier cameras in image quality, speed and features. But for this price, "What more can you expect?" says Eric Butterfield after a thorough test. He says this basic point-and-shoot works best for basic snapshots in Auto mode.
Review: Canon PowerShot A1400 Review, Eric Butterfield, April 26, 2013
ConsumerReports.org includes the Canon A1400 in its rigorous test of more than 130 point-and-shoot digital cameras. Editors rank the cameras from best to worst, based on their photo and video quality, ease of use and more. Descriptions here are very short, though.
Review: Canon PowerShot A1400, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated
Owners tend to be plenty pleased with the Canon A1400, awarding it an average of 4 out of 5 stars in about 590 reviews. Several say they just wanted a basic, inexpensive camera without a lot of extra stuff they'd never use. Others wind up trading up to a better camera.
Review: Canon PowerShot A1400 16.0 MP Digital Camera, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of May 2014
The Canon A1400 earns an average of 4.3 out of 5 stars from around 40 owners here. The optical viewfinder is a big draw, and several recommend the A1400 as a good starter camera for kids.
Review: Canon PowerShot A1400 Digital Camera, Contributors to BHPhotoVideo.com, As of May 2014