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If you are new to photography or on a budget then the Canon PowerShot may be the camera for you. Released in January 2011, it is available in red, black, silver and grey for just £67.
The camera is powered by AA batteries, which is great if you are out shooting for a long time as you can replace the batteries and carry on shooting.
Sadly there is no HD video mode on the A800, but you can shoot 640 x 480 VGA videos @ 30fps, with the maximum length of a video being 1 hour or 4Gb.
- 10.0Mp sensor
- 3.3x optical zoom lens
- ISO100 - 1600
- 2.5in LCD screen
- Smart Auto mode
- Blur Reduction mode
- Easy to use design
- 16 Shooting modes including FaceSelf-Timer
- Long Play Movies
- AA Batteries
According to CIPA / Canon the camera can take 300 pictures on a single set of AA batteries. A pair of Duracel Plus AA batteries have been used during testing and the batteries haven't needed changing at all. If you want more life from one set of batteries you can purchase a set of Canon NB-3AH batteries which are capable of 500 shots on a single charge.
The camera is ready to shoot within a couple of seconds of switching on but it is sluggish in between shots. Using continuous shooting the A800 is capable of 0.35fps. It was able to shoot 2fps using the Low Light scene mode.
ISO and Noise PerformanceAt ISO100 and ISO200 there isn't any noise really affecting images but at ISO400 there is some creeping in, with a slight loss in sharpness. At ISO800 noise is really starting to affect the image detail, which is even worse at ISO1600 although the images produced at these levels look fine for use on the internet, such as on Facebook and Flickr.
Whether using the flash or not, the A800 takes good portrait pictures with pleasant skin tones although the better results are when you're using the camera in auto rather than portrait mode.
|Indoor portrait, ISO640, 1/60, f/5.8, 22mm (35mm equivalent: 122mm)||Outdoor portrait, ISO400, 1/125, f/5.8, 22mm (35mm equivalent: 122mm)|
The wide-angle image below has plenty of detail in the building but as you look at the edges, particularly in the trees there is clear chromatic aberration and purple fringing, which gets worse in the brighter areas of the images. Although slightly underexposed, the full optical zoom image has good detail throughout. When using the maximum digital zoom the A800 is capable of taking images suitable of sharing on the web. Macro pictures are really good thanks to the minimum focus distance of just 1cm.
White-balanceThe auto white-balance generally gives good results. Under the incandescent lights in our studio the incandescent preset does a better job than the AWB. Under the fluorescent lights the AWB preset does an excellent job.
The A800 has a range of scene modes available: Blur Reduction (2Mp), Portrait, Kids & Pets, FaceSelf-Timer, Low Light (2Mp), Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Beach, Foliage, Snow, Sunset, Fireworks and Long Shutter.
|(Above) Vivid, ISO100, 1/500, f/3.5, 10mm (35mm equivalent: 53mm)
(Right) Foliage, ISO100, 1/160, f/3, 7mm (35mm equivalent: 37mm)
Video ModeBelow is an example of a video shot on the A800, it is a 640 x 480 VGA. During filming it is possible to use the optical zoom.
Value For MoneyOther cameras to consider at the budget end of the compact market are the Nikon Coolpix L23 @ £59.99, Fujfilm FinePix AV100 @ £57 and Fujifilm FinePix JV100 @ £64.99. The Coolpix L23 has a 5x optical zoom and 10.1Mp and scored seven out of ten in our review. The FinePix AV100 and JV100 both have a 3x optical zoom, 12Mp sensor and HD video recording abilities.
Nikon Coolpix L23 which is now available for £59. The price of the A800 is bound to drop shortly which will make it much more competitive in the market. If you are not as limited by a budget then the Canon PowerShot A3300 IS is worth consideration as an alternative.
Canon PowerShot A800: ProsGood macro performance
AA battery powered
Acceptable image quality
Easy to use
Canon PowerShot A800: ConsLots of purple fringing and chromatic aberration in bright conditions
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
|Optical zoom||3.3x optical zoom, 6.6–21.6mm (35mm equivalent: 37–122 mm), f/3.0-5.8|
|Max image size||3648 x 2736|
|Focus points||AiAF (Face Detection / 5-point), 1-point AF (fixed centre)|
|Focus distance||1cm (W) from front of lens in macro|
|ISO sensitivity||ISO100 - 1600|
|Metering types||Evaluative (linked to Face Detection AF frame), Centre-weighted average, Spot (centre)|
|Exposure compensation||+/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments|
|Shutter speed range||15 – 1/2000 sec.|
|Movie mode||(L) 640 x 480, 30 fps
(M) 320 x 240, 30 fps
|Monitor||2.5in TFT, approx. 115,000 dots|
|Media type||SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, MMCplus, HCMMCplus|
|Interface||Hi-Speed USB (MTP, PTP) dedicated connector (Mini-B compatible)|
|Power||2x Size-AA Alkaline or Ni-MH Batteries (Alkalines supplied)|
|Box Contents||AA alkaline batteries, wrist strap, interface cable, getting started guide, digital camera solution disk and warranty system booklet|
|Size||94.3 x 61.6 x 31.2mm|
|Weight||186g including batteries and memory card|
The Canon PowerShot A800 cost £67 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Canon PowerShot A800