Canon offer one of the most comprehensive digital camera ranges around. The PowerShot A30 fits in at the lower end, with Canon describing it as 'The ideal choice for first time users - full of features and great value for money'. Whilst it's not the cheapest 1.2 megapixel digital camera around, it does seem to be well featured.
- 3x optical zoom, (35-105mm 35mm equivalent)
- 1.2 megapixel CCD
- 3 point AiAf
- ISO Auto/50/100/200/400
- Optical and LCD viewfinder
- Uses CompactFlash Type I
- Exif 2.2 (Exif Print) compliant
- Movie Capture mode
- Uses four AA batteries
- Flash range of up to 4.2m
- Weighs 250g (excluding batteries and CF card)
With four batteries packed inside it, the PowerShot A30 has a weighty heft to it. With the external part of the body being predominantly plastic, it does have a decidedly budget feel, but still appears well built. The usual option for a carrying strap is available and the lens has a convenient automatic cover.
Backing up Canon's statement of this being 'The ideal choice for first time users - full of features and great value for money', is the simple user interface. Several functions have been applied to individual buttons, cutting down on the number of buttons overall. This makes it very suitable for beginners who may get confused by the vast number of options some more advanced digital cameras have.
The menus are straightforward and operated by left and right buttons directly below the LCD screen. The following images show some of the main options presented to the user by the menus.
|The main view in record mode on the LCD monitor shows various information on the settings currently being used. These include items such as the Flash, Continuous mode, Macro mode, Resolution, ISO speed, Compression, White balance and photo effects.
The record menu allows you to set up: Image resolution, Compression, Light metering, ISO Speed, Focusing, Digital Zoom, Self-timer, AF-assist beam, File No. Reset and there is a link to the setup menu.
The setup menu includes options for Auto power down, Date/Time, Video out, Beep, Format and Language.
|The play menu provides options for Protecting images, Rotating them, Erasing all, Auto play, Print order and Transfer order.
Working clockwise the A30 modes available are:
Replay: Replay or delete images from your CF card, download them to your computer or print them.
Auto: The camera sets most of the settings for you.
Program AE: This lets you adjust the exposure, white balance and other settings before shooting.
Manual: You are able to manually set the shutter speed and aperture to achieve a particular effect.
Stitch Assist: Lets you position your second shot next to the original to aid in creating a panoramic image from them both.
Movie: Allows you to record movies (without sound).
Being a budget camera, it's no surprise Canon have given the PowerShot A30 AA batteries rather than a more sophisticated Lithium-ion approach. Using high power Nimh rechargeables as opposed to alkalines, battery life can be good. AA batteries also offer the advantage that they are freely available and cheap to replace. If you're not sure about the different types of batteries, we have a battery buyers' guide.
There are connections for Video out, USB and DC power in, under a rubber flap on the side of the camera.
Cables for Video out and USB are provided, but should you want to power the camera from the mains you'll need to buy an optional power adapter.
LCD Screen and Viewfinder
The viewfinder on the PowerShot A30 has two brackets in the center, to aid composition. Although quite small, the viewfinder is average for a camera of this type. There is no diopter adjustment for spectacle wearers.
The LCD provides a detailed view and is moderately well protected by a plastic plate. Brightness levels and resolution seem more than adequate, meaning the display is clear to see in most conditions.
Many of the shots taken with the A30 showed some impressive strengths for such a budget camera. Noise levels were low, though as we'd expected, they increased with the higher ISO settings. Colour accuracy was excellent and thanks to the relatively comprehensive settings available, there's a great deal of customisation available for quality.
There were occasional signs of chromatic aberrations, but overall the levels of purple fringing were low.
Metering, focusing and white balance were all above average, though as with the majority of cameras, each did let us down on occasion. Combined with the added options for manual aperture/shutter settings, stitch-assist mode and image quality settings, most people should be satisfied with the options available to them.
|Although slightly overexposed, this shot shows a high level of sharpness, low noise levels and a good degree of colour accuracy.
|Again, this shot would require some exposure compensation to be properly exposed. Noise levels in shadow areas at ISO100 are very low. The 100% cropped section to the left shows the level of detail available from the camera.
|The metering system has had more success in this case. Not using flash, I had to set the camera to ISO400 to get a sharp enough shot, which has dramatically increased the noise levels. That'll teach me not to carry a tripod!
|This crop shows the levels of noise at a 100% view.
|Fine details throughout the photo have been captured accurately and their are low levels of noise in shadow areas at ISO100.
|The white balance and metering systems have performed well here. Detail levels are shown by the 100% crop of the balcony below.
For around 220 the Canon PowerShot A30 provides a reliable and well featured introduction to digital photography. Although not dazzlingly impressive in any one area, it offers users good all-round performance. It seems ideal for beginners and those people who don't take their photography too seriously and just want an occasional snapshot camera. We would have liked to have seen a slightly higher resolution at this price, but nevertheless the A30's strengths go a long way to make up for this weakness.
For those people who are thinking about taking up digital photography as a serious hobby, we'd advise looking at higher resolution cameras that will allow larger print sizes.
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