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Canon PowerShot A800 Digital Camera Review

Daniel Bell reviews the Canon PowerShot A800, a camera for the budget conscious with 10Mp sensor and 3.3x optical zoom lens.

| Canon Canon Powershot A800 in Compact Cameras
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Canon Powershot A800 front lens

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.

Canon Powershot A800 front

Canon PowerShot A800: Features

The A800 has a 10.0Mp sensor and 3.3x optical zoom and when combined with Canon's Smart Auto mode it is aimed at making photography simple and easy while delivering stunning images. If you want to venture away from the Smart Auto mode then there are a range of scene modes available.

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.

Canon Powershot A800 top

Key Features:

  • 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
Canon Powershot A800 rear

Canon PowerShot A800: Handling

When compared to many compact cameras on the market these days the A800 feels a little bulky, although this is an inevitable downside to a camera powered by AA batteries. The buttons are easy to press and there is a dedicated button to change modes easily. The screen is on the small size and can be difficult to see in bright conditions. The camera is easy to grip and the menus are simple to navigate.

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.

Canon Powershot A800 with AA batteries

Canon PowerShot A800: Performance

The A800 is perfectly capable of taking good, detailed images with colours accurately reproduced, although on occasion it did underexpose in bright situations. Infact, if you want to take a picture with the sun in the frame then the chances of a successful image are quite low. The camera is quick to focus although if using the flash the time between shots can be a few seconds as the flash takes a little time to charge.

ISO and Noise Performance

At 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.

Canon Powershot A800 ISO100 Canon Powershot A800 ISO200 Canon Powershot A800 ISO400
ISO100, 1/4, f/5.8, 22mm (35mm equivalent: 122mm) ISO200, 1/8, f/5.8, 22mm (35mm equivalent: 122mm) ISO400, 1/15, f/5.8, 22mm (35mm equivalent: 122mm)
Canon Powershot A800 ISO800 Canon Powershot A800 ISO1600  
ISO800, 1/30, f/5.8, 22mm (35mm equivalent: 122mm) ISO1600, 1/60, f/5.8, 22mm (35mm equivalent: 122mm)  

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.

Canon Powershot A800 indoor portrait   Canon Powershot A800 outdoor portrait
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.

Canon Powershot A800 wide-angle   Canon Powershot A800 full optical zoom
Wide-angle, ISO200, 1/1000, f/3, 7mm (35mm equivalent: 37mm)   Full optical zoom, ISO800, 1/800, f/5.8, 22mm (35mm equivalent: 122mm)
Canon Powershot A800 full digital zoom   Canon Powershot A800 macro
Full digital zoom, ISO200, 1/320, f/5.8, 22mm (35mm equivalent: 122mm)   Macro, ISO200, 1/60, f/3, 7mm (35mm equivalent: 37mm)


The 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.

Canon Powershot A800 Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting   Canon Powershot A800 Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting
Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting, ISO100, 1/20, f/3, 7mm (35mm equivalent: 37mm)   Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting, ISO100, 1/20, f/3, 7mm (35mm equivalent: 37mm)
Canon Powershot A800 Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting   Canon Powershot A800 Fluorescent preset in fluorescent lighting
Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting, ISO100, 1/6, f/3, 7mm (35mm equivalent: 37mm)   Fluorescent preset in fluorescent lighting, ISO100, 1/6, f/3, 7mm (35mm equivalent: 37mm)

Scene modes

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.

Canon Powershot A800 vivid   Canon Powershot A800 foliage
(Above) Vivid, ISO100, 1/500, f/3.5, 10mm (35mm equivalent: 53mm)

(Right) Foliage, ISO100, 1/160, f/3, 7mm (35mm equivalent: 37mm)


Video Mode

Below 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.

Sample video.

Value For Money

Other 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.

Canon PowerShot A800: Verdict

The performance of the Canon PowerShot A800 is acceptable for a camera of this price range but there are other cameras which perform better and cost slightly less, such as the 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: Pros

Good macro performance
AA battery powered
Acceptable image quality
Easy to use

Canon PowerShot A800: Cons

Lots of purple fringing and chromatic aberration in bright conditions
Occasional underexposure


Canon PowerShot A800: Specification

Price £67
Optical zoom 3.3x optical zoom, 6.6–21.6mm (35mm equivalent: 37–122 mm), f/3.0-5.8
Resolution 10.0Mp
Sensor size 1/2.3in
Sensor type CCD
Max image size 3648 x 2736
Aspect ratio 4:3
Focusing system TTL
Focus points AiAF (Face Detection / 5-point), 1-point AF (fixed centre)
Focus distance 1cm (W) from front of lens in macro
File types JPEG
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.
Frames-per-second 0.8fps
Image stabilisation No
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
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