|Home | Reviews | Q&A | Links | Gallery | Free Photo Hosting|
Canon have this to say about the camera:
"A powerful 4x zoom is just the start of this affordable digital marvel. Easy enough for the whole family to use, and with manual functions and optional accessories for your creative side."
You can find more information on their website.
The Camera: It's
fairly compact and made out of silver metal and plastic.
Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm automatic.
Specifications / Features:
Average box contents
- a larger memory card and a case would have been nice, as would some
rechargable batteries. The 161 page printed manual is nice to see.
Battery usage: Up to 80 images with alkaline batteries and 300 images with fully charged Ni-Mh batteries according to Canon - as this camera takes AA batteries I would highly recommend you get some high power Ni-Mh rechargable batteries and a charger to go with this camera. Battery life seemed good.
Menu Options / Modes: The camera mode is selected using the rotating dial, or the Play/Photo switch.
Photo mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right below:
Screen / LCD display in photo mode: (shown on the left) The screen is a good decent resolution, and updates smoothly - the colours appear accurate. There is no live histogram available but the screen is clear and the text and menus are easy to read. Optical Viewfinder: The electronic viewfinder is a bit small for me as I wear glasses, although I've definitely seen smaller.
Photo menu options are: AiAF (on/off), Red-eye (on/off), Manual Focus point zoom (on/off), Auto Focus-assist lamp (on/off), Digital Zoom (on/off), Review, Date Stamp (available in Postcard mode).
The playback information can be changed by pressing the display button, it also displays a histogram.
Setup menu options: (shown on the right, above) Mute, Volume, Power saving, Date/Time, Format card, File number reset, Auto-rotate, Distance units (m/cm or ft/in), Language, Video system.
Playback (Review) mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right, below:
Playback mode: Scrolling through the photos is fairly quick. The zoom is fairly quick.
Playback menu options: Protect, Roates, Sound Memo, Erase all, Auto play, Print order, Transfer order.
Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures, and the following number of images will fit on the 16mb memory provided with the camera:
You can fit a small number of images on the 16mb memory card - a larger memory card is definitely recommended, unless you want to use the lower image sizes / higher compression options in order to fit more pictures in memory. There is a good choice of image sizes, and there is a very good choice regarding image compression.
A larger memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 128mb or 256mb memory card, and preferably a 512mb memory card, or larger, especially considering the relatively low prices - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to go on holiday then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in, as you don't always know when you will next be at a computer. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Canon Powershot A520:
128mb SD memory card
Speed: The camera is fairly quick to switch on - taking about 2 seconds - focus in darker indoor conditions is quite good thanks to the focus-assist lamp. The screen updates are quite quick and smooth (in good light). The playback mode is also fairly quick. Playback zoom and panning is quick. The camera has a fairly quick continuous shooting mode, at 1.9fps. The camera shutter response seemed fairly quick, although shot to shot time seemed quite slow.
Ease of use: The camera is easy to use, although the camera does have a lot of options and features. The controls on the back of the camera are fairly easy to use - the menus are fairly responsive and easy to read. The camera is compact and easy to hold. The menus are also easy to use, and the options are big enough and easy enough to see clearly. The modes are easy to access, quick and simple - there's a fully automatic mode as well as various scene modes for simple point and shoot operation.
Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are fairly easy to use, and they are in a good position. There seems to be the right amount of buttons. The buttons feel okay, the shutter release is quite decent. The buttons are labelled fairly well. I thought the camera felt very good ergonomically, and was the correct weight - it seemed a decent weight and felt solidly built. The play/photo switch makes it easy to know which mode you're in. The camer should fit into trouser pockets assuming you're not wearing tight jeans. I especially like the zoom control.
Image Quality: Here are some sample photos/video(s) taken in various settings, such as Inside, Noise, Outside, Zoom, Macro, Movie to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the new gallery!
Inside: The camera has very good colour. It has a powerful flash, and copes well with group photos. The camera did a good job at focusing the majority of the time, thanks to the focus-assist lamp. Red-eye didn't seem to be a problem.
Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels, and manual ISO settings (ISO50, 100, 200, and 400) - below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops from the image taken at different ISO settings.
Noise levels appear low at ISO50, and ISO100. At ISO200 noise is visible, and at ISO400 noise becomes much more noticable and in my test photos it was just about acceptable - although at ISO200 and ISO400 noise did seem quite high in the normal photos I took.
Outside, the camera had very good colour, with good contrast and saturation. There was good detail, although images were slightly soft. Noise seemed slightly higher than I would have hoped for. I didn't notice jpeg artefacts in the images. The vivid setting on the camera made colours more saturated, and personally I prefered this setting.
Zoom: This camera has a 4x optical zoom lens and a built in 3.5x digital zoom - in the case of this camera the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the photo and enlarges it using software blurring the image so that it is not pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it degrades the quality of the image and, often, better results can be obtained by using a photo package such as Adobe Photoshop. I've included examples below to show what the zoom is capable of.
Lens noise and zoom: The lens is fairly quiet. The lens is quick at going from wide to telephoto - there are 7 steps between wide and telephoto. This gives you good control on how you frame your subject.
Other Image Quality issues: There was some purple fringing, but not a huge amount.
Macro: To use this camera in macro mode, you switch to macro mode - you can use the macro mode at wide angle, all the way to telephoto. You can use the flash in macro mode. The camera can be roughly as close as 5/6cm away from the subject from the front of the lens in Macro mode.
The macro mode is good - the camera does a good job of toning down the flash (assuming your subject isn't too close, and you don't change the ISO setting), and colours and detail are good.
/ 10fps up to 30 seconds - 320x240 - 15fps up to 3 minutes - you can't
use the optical zoom / digital zoom when recording. The movie is recorded
as an .AVI file. The quality of the movie(s) is good - the VGA mode is
also good, although frame rate and limits to the length of the videos
is quite poor.
Summary: The Canon Powershot A520 is an excellent all round camera, with a decent 4x optical zoom lens, and features to suit every need, from basic point and shoot operation, to full manual controls. The camera takes AA batteries so can travel with you anywhere without any need to worry about running out of battery power or supplies. The camera is also expandable with optional lenses, and flash accessories, so will grow with you if you expand your requirements without the need to buy a replacement camera. Image quality is very good, the camera is capable of some excellent results - the only areas where this camera are let down is in the outdated movie modes, the slightly sluggish performance, and the slightly high price compared to some of the competition.
What I like:
What I don't like:
Remember to have a look at the test photos in the new gallery.