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Re: AF assist light
No, it doesn't have an AF assist light, but it hardly ever needs one - f1.8 is the widest aperture on any digicam (and also on the 3040 and 4040 of course) apart from the really expensive interchangeable lens SLRs. The maximum aperture is gradually reduced to f2.6 at the full tele end of the zoom, but even that's better than most, and since the focusing is always done wide open (whatever aperture will actually be used to expose the shot), the camera "sees" very well to focus in low light.
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You are possibly using an Fulltime AF mode for focussing.See user manual page 34 or the AF mode is set to AF Tracking. If these modi are set, the camera continuously tries to focus on the subject, hence the sound.
This is the AF Assist feature. If you don't have a hot-shoe flash mounted, but you do have the pop-up flash raised, the camera will strobe the pop-up flash in low-light situations to provide illumination for the auto-focus to work. You can disable it by turning off the AF ILLUMINATOR option in the "Wrench 1" settings menu.
Full-time AF keeps the image on the LCD monitor focused at all times without having to press the shutter release button. Note the following:
Using full-time AF will drain the battery more quickly
Full-time AF is not available when the LCD monitor is turned off
For "Card set-up" or "Card cover alarm", the AF operation of the camera does not halt. Once resumed, the camera always puts the AF in action for immediate focusing