Canon, earlier this year added an assemblage of A-series digital cameras to its leading PowerShot line.
In an accelerated world of gadgets today, it is practical for the buyer to place a requisition for a camera that bundles quality with features, while adhering to a limited budget. Launched to fulfill this demand is Canon’s 10-megapixel model – the PowerShot A800. This model is elementary, and completes the casual, point- and -shoot photographer.
The A800 takes the place of the A495 and A490 which were launched last year.
Design And Build Quality
The Canon A800 form is not styled very different from the models it has replaced. Shaped like a wedge, and the exterior made from engineering plastic, the A800 appears to be solid. This form fits neatly in your hands. Few may find the camera to be slightly bulky. The tripod mount too, is made from plastic. This won’t pose a problem since the camera weighs approximately 186g, and not many users will employ a tripod for the A800. The two segmented lens sits flush when the camera is switched off.
The A800 features a 10-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch Type CCD sensor (6.16 x 4.62mm). The DIGIC III image processor with iSAPS technology ( Canon’s in-house original scene-recognition technology developed for digital cameras) can deliver images with a sensitivity range of ISO 100-1600. Although this model does not pack too many features, it is ideal for everyday photography.
The lens on the A800 is similar to that on the previous model, a 37 – 122 mm equivalent, with an aperture range of f/3 to f/9 at the wide-angle end, and f/5.8 to f/17 at the telephoto end. The shutter speed ranges from 15sec. to 1/2000sec.
The camera features 9 focus points. The Normal focus range extends from 1cm to infinity at the wide- angle end, and from 25cm to infinity at the telephoto end. While shooting Macro, the lens focuses from approximately 1 cm to 50cm at the wide-angle end, and from 25 to 50cm at the telephoto end.
The metering modes include Evaluative, Center-weighted average, and Spot. Exposure can be compensated +/- 2EV in 1/3 EV steps. The available AF modes are Single, and Continuous, which is available only in the Auto shooting mode. The camera also supports Face AiAF which detects people’s faces and sets the focus, exposure (this is set during Evaluative metering only), and White Balance.
The camera is equipped with four shooting modes – Auto with Scene and Motion Detection Technology, Program, SCN and Movie. The Scene modes include Blur Reduction, Portrait, Kids and Pets, Face Self-Timer, Low Light, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Beach, Foliage, Snow, Sunset, Fireworks, and Long Shutter. The White Balance function offers Auto White Balance, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, and Custom (manual setting). You can also change the image tone to Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, B/W or Custom Color (allows you to set it as per your preference) using the My Colors feature.
With no image stabilization, low light shots may prove to be difficult. But the Blur Reduction option boosts the ISO, enabling you to use slow shutter-speeds. This attribute also eliminates shake from the images. The camera has a 2.5- inch TFT LCD featuring approximately 1,15,000 dots. VGA video recording is possible up to 640 x 480 pixels at 30fps. The A800 is powered by 2xAA batteries, or Ni-MH batteries.
The PowerShot A800 is light, and easy to use. It features no hand grip, hence it may feel slightly unsettled in your hands. But, the indentation on the body provides a basic grip while shooting. The 1,15,000-dot 2.5-inch color display, is a setback, considering the resolution currently offered by most cameras. The buttons are easily accessible. The top features the Power button, and the Shutter button. The rear has the Control Dial which smoothly handles the Exposure compensation, Macro, Self-timer, and Flash; and the rocker switch that controls the 3.3x zoom is quick. Menu takes you to a simple interface that enables you to set the shooting options, and general setup. The user can switch between Video and Image via the Mode button. Since the camera is really compact, there is a possibility of unintentionally pressing the buttons on the rear.
The A800 delivered bright, and satisfactory images. The images showed no darkening of corners. Generally this feature is tested at the widest aperture, and since the camera is completely automatic, it selected a smaller aperture. Barrel distortion could be seen at varying degrees throughout the focal range, except at the 122mm equivalent. Lens flare was quite distinct in against-the-light shots. Prominent magenta, and blue coloring adjoining strong light sources was detected. Blue fringing was also observed.
The Macro shots were reasonably sharp. The range of sensitivity available in the A800 is ISO 100 to 1600. The native print size was 9.12×12.16 inches at 300 ppi. At 16.7 percent screen size, noise was not seen throughout the ISO range. Faint noise was observed at ISO 1600, with screen size at 25 percent, but it was not disturbing. Noise was visibly prominent from ISO 400 onwards, at 50 percent screen size. At ISO 1600 the images also appeared to be slightly softer, which could be because of noise reduction kicking in.
On the White Balance front, the Canon PowerShot A800’s performance was impressive. Preset White Balance (Daylight and Cloudy) saw good color reproduction, but a very slight yellow cast was noticed in Cloudy. Auto White Balance (Daylight and Cloudy) performed extremely well. A weak blue, and yellow cast was noticed when the camera was set to AWB Fluorescent, and Tungsten respectively.
Value For Money
The Canon PowerShot A800 retails at an MRP of Rs.4,995. At this price, and performance it is good value for money.
+ Not expensive
+ Good image quality for price
– Uses pencil cells
Design and Build Quality 16/20
Key Features 15/20
Noise Control 4/5
Extra Features 3.5/5
Value for Money 8/10
Grand Total 75.5/100
The Canon PowerShot A800 is designed to cater to casual photographers who do not need the sophistication of more expensive models, and yet expect satisfactory results.