General Information

Post processing
EXIF data
Photographing Sunsets
Printing at home
Lens Cleaning
UK printing services
Buying in the UK
Insurance (UK)
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Canon A40. Lenses/Filters. Equipment. General Information. Useful Software. Troubleshooting


The important thing is to remember never to change the original file. Always save the edited version as a copy, or make a copy and then work on that. (You could even make the folder 'Read only' when you transfer the photos to the computer, just to be sure.) ... then if you make a complete hash of it, the original is always there to go back to.

Sharpening should be the last step in processing the photo, and that includes resizing.

I normally take the JPEG from the camera, process it without any sharpening, and save it as an uncomressed TIFF. Then if I need a version of it for some purpose, I can take the TIFF, resize it if required, sharpen it, and save as a JPEG. In this way I always have the processed but unsharpened TIFF available from which to make any sized JPEG version I require.


I often apply a little sharpening to the photos, to help them 'pop', and particularly for images from the A40 because I find the image straight from the camera  is a little soft.

Many digital cameras apply sharpening to the photo in the camera. This can make a camera look better than it really is - especially compared to a camera that doesn't do this. More expensive cameras often give the user the option of whether to apply sharpening or not, and even how much. However, some consider it better to have a camera that, if it cannot provide the option in camera, leaves the sharpening to the user - how much sharpening to add is often a matter of taste.

On the other hand, I sometimes wish the photos from the A40 were a little sharper straight from the camera.

Several editing programs have an 'Unsharp Mask' function. It's an odd name to give that function, since it actually does the opposite. I believe it has some historical significance - something to do with making the image sharper by masking the unsharp bits.

Generally I would start with a raduis of about 0.6, and a percentage of somewhere between 50 and 100 - that may be all that's needed with a nicely focused photo. For the A40 in particular, I would probably start with a radius of 0.8, and perhaps go up to a percentage of 140.

I wouldn't normally use a radius of more than 2.5, or a percentage of more than 160, but there are no rules.Too much sharpening can give false outlines or halos to some elements in the photo, and can cause graininess.

A Threshold of 0 to 2 would normally be fine, but if the photo has areas that should remain smooth, like areas of skin in portraits, then I might increase the Threshold to 6 or 7.

From Ramon G Castaneda:, in the newsgroup:

... when you really need sharpening, use "Unsharp mask" --NEVER the "sharpen" command. In my experience, Unsharp Mask works best when applied to the color channels individually. This is the procedure I use in Photoshop, as recommended in David Blatner's book:
  • start with the Blue channel, and use only the "Despeckle" filter here. (additional "Dust and scratches" noise elimination will be helpful with scanned negatives, obviously not the case here").
  • In the Red channel, apply the "Unsharp Mask" with a small pixel radius and a moderate "amount"; then apply "Fade unsharp mask" immediately afterwards.
  • Repeat both steps in the Green channel, with the same pixel radius but a greater "amount".

  1. Having the Brightness and Contrast on the computer monitor set appropriately will help ensure that everyone sees the same thing in the final photos. For information on recalibrating the computer monitor see

EXIF data

The camera adds EXIF data to the JPEG files, and this includes details of the camera settings for the photo.

To quote Kodak (

"The Exchangeable Image File (EXIF) format is an international specification that lets imaging companies encode metadata information into the headers or application segments of a JPEG file. This metadata information includes shutter speed, aperture, and the date and time the image was captured.

"Current digital cameras store images using EXIF compressed files. These files use the classic JPEG DCT format. This means the image data can be read by any application supporting JPEG, including all Web browsers, image editing, desktop presentation, and document creation software programs."[1]

There is a common format for part of this data, but there's another field in the EXIF information known as 'MakerNote', which different manufacturers use to store further information in different ways for specific cameras, and this is where much of the info for the A40 is tucked away. This will be missed by ordinary EXIF viewers, unless it is particularly taken account of

There's a good breakdown of the Canon EXIF MakerNote at:
  1. If a JPEG is saved as a TIFF, then the EXIF information will be lost. Use something like 'Exifer' to save the EXIF information in a separate file, which can then be added back into a JPEG.


The rule of thirds

(... though I'm sure rules are made to be flouted when necessary.)
Imagine lines splitting the area into thirds horizontally and vertically, and then position the point(s) of interest at one of the four points of intersection ... it often makes a more satisfying composition.

Photographing Sunsets

Photographing the sun

As a general rule, anything that will damage your eye is also likely to damage the electronic sensors in digital cameras. So pointing the camera directly at the normal sun is not a good idea - at least not for more than a fraction of a second. However, if the sun is obscured, behind clouds or a tree, or is around sunrise or sunset, and can be looked at comfortably without risk to the eyes, then it should be OK for the CCD too.

(Note: digital cameras often don't have a shutter mechanism as such, and it may be possible for the CCD to become damaged just by leaving the camera accidentally pointing towards the sun. A lens cap is a good idea on bright sunny days.
This is also something to be watched out for on cameras that can take time-lapse photos, as when someone with a Nikon 990 took timelapse shots of the street outside, and  got the path of the sun permanently etched on his CCD.)

Photographing Sunrises/Sunsets

Where possible, use a low ISO number, set focus to infinity, and make sure the flash is off .

Use spot metering or centre-weighting, and fix the exposure on a bright area of the sky near to the sun. If you don't have spot metering, then meter on a bright area of the sky with the sun not in the frame.

And use Exposure Bracketing, or take several shots with Exposure Compensation, varying the exposure by perhaps as much as two stops either way.

When photographing sunrises or sunsets, the following tips might help:

Filters and Sunsets

Suppose one is taking a picture, not of the sunset itself, but of an scene around sunset, then metering on the scene can cause the sky to become washed out, and metering on the sky can cause the scene to be under-exposed. In this case, a graduated neutral density, or grad grey, filter can help even up the exposure.

A Neutral Density filter will have the effect of adding more stops to the camera, so will allow a darker picture or a longer exposure

A Polariser will also act as a modest neutral density filter, and may accentuate the colours, though bear in mind that under normal conditions a polariser will have greatest effect at 90 degrees from the sun, and least effect when pointing in the direction of the sun.

Enhancing filters, such as Didymium filters have often be used with film photography to enhance the reds of sunsets. For example, the Hoya Enhancing filter removes a portion of the spectrum in the orange region - an effect which can similarly be achieved in post-processing.

Lens Cleaning

Don't make a habit of cleaning the lens too often - only clean the lens when it needs it. The odd bit of dust or fluff won't normally affect image quailty, but scratches on the lens eventually will.

If there's water on the lens, touch the tip of a clean dry tissue to the water to soak it up.

Don't use a cloth on the lens if there any particles on the lens that might scratch it - use a lens brush, or puff of air (not canned/compressed air which may contain propellants), to gently remove any dust or fluff.

lenspenFor fingerprints and other smudges, a lens pen works very well, but before using it one should use the brush end to remove any particles. There are several brands - I have a Jessops lens pen. Some brands come in large and small sizes, and the small one would be better for the A40.

Modern microfibre cloths also work very well on fingerprints and other smudges, but using a totally dry cloth on a dry lens might not be best - breathe on the lens first to provide a little moisture. (It's been suggested that a sip of vodka before breathing on the lens works even better!)

The lens coating is fairly tough, but the minerals in crusty or dried on liquid or dirt (seawater, rain, mud, ...) can be even harder. In this case use some lens cleaning fluid (or maybe isopropyl alcohol if you have any), but it is important not to put the fluid directly on the lens - it might seep round the edges, entering the camera and causing more problems. Instead, put a little on the corner of the cloth and apply this gently to the lens, using a dry bit of cloth to finish.

lens cleaning kit I first bought a cheap lens cleaning kit from Jessops - it included lens cleaning fluid and blower brush, which will probably be useful.

It also contained lens cleaning tissues, which were surprisingly hard (use once - folded, fanned or rolled and torn to make a brush - use only with lens cleaning fluid - never use dry on a dry lens), a cloth (not microfibre) which kept shedding fluff from the edges, and cotton buds which also shed fibres.

The best equipment would probably be a lens pen, and/or microfibre cloth and blower brush, a soft tissue to soak up water droplets, and some lens cleaning fluid for problem dirt.
  1. To avoid fingerprints, it might be an idea to make sure the lens is retracted before handing the camera to others to view photos.
  2. Keep cloths clean and protected.
  3. With cloth or lens cleaning tissue, use an outward spiral motion - don't rub back and forth.

Printing at home

While the Canon S830D printer will print straight from CF cards, according to, the A40 is not compatible with the S830D

UK Printing Services

I've only had photos printed online. I used Photobox, and the prints were dispatched first class the same day.

Back in November 2002, 'alexd' posted the following in

Over the last month or so I have used five different photo printing services from the UK. This posting is largely UK-centric, but may be useful for most people. All prices in UK pounds sterling [UKP].
  •, an internet-based photo printing company
  •, ditto
  •, high-street printer with an internet presence. I used their internet service
  •   Bonsers, my local independant camera shop. Have a somewhat minimalist [ATM] internet presence at
  •   Jessops, a large UK-based camera chain with a sideline in photo developing. They have an internet presence, but I took a CDRW into one of their local branches with my pix on.
I printed, at a minimum, these 22 images:
Mostly 2560x1920 from my CP5700, two from my Canon S100 at 1600x1200
I printed additional images with Bonsers and Jessops, and for that reason, it is difficult to do a price comparison. But I'll try anyway:

Bonsers: 6.99UKP for 45 6x4"s. They will print from 81 to 100 6x4"s in one hour for 13.99UKP, which I think is very reasonable. This was a mixed bag of the 22 at 4:3 + some others taken with a Kodak DC-290 at 3:2 [I think: 1792x1200]. The images at 4:3 were printed at 5+1/4 x 4" and the 3:2 ones at 6x4". Not sure if this is good, bad or neutral. Some of the prints had banding[!] apparent. They were fairly soft and tended towards the warm/red end of the spectrum. Came in a "Kodak Express Service" wallet, I assume that was the system they use. Printed on "Kodak Royal Paper", with the filename on the back. Came with a nice quality index print.
Cost per shot: 700/45 = 15.6p
I could have had up to 60 shots for the same price, which would have been 11.6p each.

Jessops: 5.99UKP for 40 6x4"s. Not sure about other pricing. All images printed at 6x4", 4:3s cropped accordingly. Color saturation tended towards the middle, but still very slightly warm. Quite sharp, but not the sharpest. Occasional jagged edges in places. Uses Fuji FDI system, printed on "Fujicolor Crystal Archive" paper. Prints filename on the back of each image.
Cost per shot: 600/40 = 15p 4.05UKP for 22 6x4"s. Priced at 15p per shot + 75p post and packing. Took ages to get here, about 9 days. On the plus side, they didn't debit my card until they'd been dispatched. Poor quality, IMHO: Colors oversaturated all round. No option for printing 4:3s. No index print, although they are of limited use anyway. Mangled the filenames printed on the back, so not much use. Almost every shot looks overexposed. The shadows are darker and the highlights lighter than any of the other prints, almost as if they had been auto-equalised. Very sharp and no jagged edges. Printed on "Fujicolor Crystal Archive Paper". 1600x1200s had a distinctly "digital" look, not Klick's fault I guess.
Cost per shot: 4.00/22 = 18p

Colormailer: 5.90UKP for 20 6x4.5"s. Web form only allowed uploading 20 images. Color balance quite neutral, although it made one of my sunset shots look quite dull, almost as if they had corrected my use of the "wrong" white balance mode! Very sharp all round. Most useful index print. No filename on back of images, although they printed my name on the back of each one. Printed on "AGFA Prestige Digital" paper.
Cost per shot: 5.90/20 = 29.5p - Ouch! 6.78UKP for 22 6x4.5"s. Priced at 24p/shot + 1.50UKP P&P. Very slick, took less than 24hrs in total. Nice latching plastic photo wallet. Crap index print, looks like it came off a laser printer. Sent a monitor calibration print, v. nice! Sharpness second only to colormailer. Whites much whiter than others, very slight color shift towards red. My favourite overall. Printed on "Fujicolor Crystal Archive Paper", with filename on back of each. Gave me 100meg of storage space with my first order. My personal favourite of the bunch. Would be happy to accept longer lead time for a lower price.
Cost per shot: 6.80/22 = 30.9p - ouch!

Well, YMMV, IMHO, HTH, etc. Hope this is useful to somebody. Will probably be using Photobox in future.

Buying in the UK

Best thing would be if you could get a local shop to price-match with the best price you can find on the internet.

Jessops will price-match, but only with /reputable/ online companies. However, when Jessops didn't have the camera I wanted, I asked an independent Canon stockist here in Edinburgh, and they were quite happy to price-match too. So it doesn't hurt to ask.

For the best online prices, you could try:

Try or to find more prices.

If price-matching, go armed with printouts from the websites, showing prices and phone numbers. The shop may phone head office to see if they can price match against a certain company, and then perhaps phone that company to ensure the item is in stock, and they'll probably include any p&p in the final price.

Insurance (UK)

Here's a few companies I've come across, but don't know enought about to make a recommendation:

Alternatively, add it to House Contents insurance.