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Canon is a huge name in camera tech! And this little digital wonder will not dissapoint. Fantastic value for money, this camera offers 10 mega pixels with 3 x optical zoom and video capture too! (The video is quite high quality and long capturing). The screen is high resolution so playback looks great. Battery life is long(ish) about 150 shot. Camera is light and easily pocketable. Great for family camera type, every day digital. Not for a professional photographer. All the usual camera extras (super macro, timer, auto focus) The auto focus however is slow and there is no image stabilisation! Those would be the two negs. On the whole though; as a canon entry level camera for around £80 - a brilliant buy and wonderful camera for capturing those moments in life!
Full product specification
3x optical zoom
150-shot battery life
up to 640x480 pixel video capture
I hate to bore you all with my intro of how I am a professional photographer who also tests and reviews cameras for my camera club as I am sure most of you have heard it all before but I do still get messages asking me how come I have so many cameras, so just to be clear I test them, sometimes for the companies that produce them and sometimes for my camera club itself.
I have over the time I have been writing on Dooyoo covered a variety of cameras from the basic point and shoot compacts to the top of the range DSLR`s but at this time of year with Christmas just round the corner and I guess a lot of people asking for or wishing for a camera, I have decided to review a very decent little offering from Canon which at its original price of £100 was a bit pricey but as Argos have it for half price right now making it very good value for money, it might just be the camera you couldn't afford for someone's special gift.
Many would say Canon don't make bad cameras but I have used and tested a few that just didn't deserve to wear the Canon name but this little Powershot A490 is a very useful little camera with all the necessary features and functions without being too fancy, but most of all it takes a very good photo and that's what cameras are all about.
Go back a couple of years and a ten megapixel camera was seen to be just about top of the range, forward to the end of 2010 where we are now and anything less than 12 is seen as puny but lets get one thing straight right at the top of this review, if you are shooting with a compact camera unless it is top of the range stuff like a TZ10 from Panasonic or a top of the range Cyber shot from Sony then anything over about 7 megapixels is a waste anyway because the lenses and sensors are simply not good enough to give the full benefit so at ten megapixels this camera has plenty to offer.
Build quality on Canon cameras is invariably always good and although this one is constructed entirely from plastic it is no different, it feels very sturdy in the hand and it is as durable as any other compact I would suggest. Looks wise it is not going to win any beauty contests but it isn't an ugly duckling either, it's a bit plain to look at but no one's going to laugh at it.
It has a bit of a retro roundness to it rather than the cutting sharp square or diamond edges of the majority of today's sexy compacts but the one thing this does give you is a very comfortable camera to hold, it fits the hand like a glove and the positioning of the controls means you always feel in control of what you are doing and it is easy to use.
Other than the shutter button the controls are confined to the rear of the camera but they are laid out very well and clearly marked with illustrations so you know within a few uses of the camera exactly where everything is and how to use it and what it does. The camera does not offer the option of setting shutter speeds, apertures, white balance or ISO manually so if you are looking for something that advanced well this isn't for you but the auto mode works very well and sets up the settings pretty close to what I as a pro would suggest they should be at for most types of photography so if you just need a camera that you can switch on, point and take photos then this will do as good a job on that front as any.
There are of course scene modes such as night, portrait, landscape and so on and so forth and if you want to come off of the auto and use a specific scene mode then you will get pretty close to the result you would expect, the night shot however slows the shutter speed down so the camera has to be held perfectly still or you will get blurry images and as there is no built in anti shake function there is no way of avoiding this other than a very steady hand.
Features and functions wise you do not get the massive range that you do with top of the range compacts and that is why at its original price of £100 I find it to be overpriced but at the Argos offer price of just £49.99 it becomes a different prospect, the A490 comes with face detection, red eye reduction flash settings, smart flash exposure, a low light shooting setting and it has a self timer and it can record video so it does all the basics and a bit more.
I won't go into the video function because the video footage you shoot will be very poor unless you shoot in bright daylight but then that is the case with 90% of cameras twice the price of this one so you cannot hold that against it.
The main thing with any camera should always be the photos it produces and with this Canon A490 it is good news. The images I took during the three days I tested it for were a wide variety of images such as portraits in my studio using full studio lighting, landscapes and waterscapes and some outdoor portraits and action shots and I was fairly impressed with all.
Under studio lighting you might think any camera could do a good job but remember there is no manual settings on this little unit so you are relying on the camera to get it right and many compacts over expose because they see the image dark then the lights flash and confuse it but using the sunset setting which makes the camera expect a hot spot in the image meant I could take some excellent studio shots with this camera.
Moving outdoors and leaving the camera on auto I got some very good results both in sunlight and shade, no over or under exposure and very good skin tone when I used the face detection setting.
Landscape shots were the only ones that failed slightly but not badly, there was some softness in the corners of the images which doesn't matter with portraits as long as the subject is sharp but you want over all sharpness in landscapes so this became a slight issue there.
The kids and pets setting speeds up the shutter speed so you can capture moving objects, be it people, animals or anything else but let's be honest this cannot freeze the action if something is doing 60mph you have to be reasonable and not expect too much from a basic point and shoot compact, with DSLR`s we are talking about shutter speeds of up to 1/8000th of a second and although the A490 claims to be able to shoot at up to 1/2000th of a second which is pretty good we have to remember that the camera sets the speed and you need absolutely perfect bright sunshine to get the camera to choose anywhere near that speed so you are talking about shooting around the 1/500th of a second mark which will allow you to capture some moving objects but not anything traveling at real speed, I took photos of my son on the trampoline in good light but there was still blur around his feet as he jumped.
Well I went into that a bit more than I had planned but I guess you get the message now, this camera takes very good photos in the main but of course has its limitations. Amongst the other things that are good about this little camera is that it has a fast enough start up time (around1.5 seconds) to make sure you do not miss those special moments, the auto focus works quite quickly in good light but does slow down a bit as the light gets poorer, it takes a simple SD card (up to 8GB) and it has a very decent 2.5 inch screen so you can get a very good look at the images you have taken and decide which are keepers.
Its limitations are of course the lack of being able to shoot in a manual mode, the fact it only has 3X zoom rather than the more typical 5 and it uses AA batteries rather than a rechargeable lithium although these days I feel I should say that some AA`s as an advantage (my co photography guide David here on Dooyoo for instance). He feels that at least with double AA`s if your batteries go flat you can pop to a shop to buy some more and I guess he's got a point.
THE CANON POWERSHOT A490 SPECIFICATIONS:
10-Megapixel, 1/2.3-inch CCD imaging sensor
Digic III image processor
3.3x optical zoom lens: 35mm equivalent of 37-122mm
2.5-inch, 115,000 dot LCD
Face Detection AF/AE/FE/WB
Intelligent Contrast Correction
Smart Flash Exposure
15 - 1/2000 sec. Total shutter speed range
ISO - Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
Smart Auto with 13 predefined shooting modes
Shooting Modes: Auto, P, Special Scene (Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Low Light, Beach, Foliage, Snow, Sunset, Fireworks, Long Shutter), Movie
Movie Recording at 640x480 and 320x240
Powered by 2 AA-Type batteries
PictBridge Exif Print
TO SUM UP:
What you will get if you buy this from Argos is the camera, 2 batteries, a wrist strap, an installation CD rom and a USB cable to connect your camera to your PC or laptop and all for under £50. This gives you a very decent camera that is probably most suited to teenagers or people just getting into photography.
It will offer you the ability to take some great photos and all whilst using a camera you can trust and rely on as it carries the name of one of the most well known companies in the world of photography. I would be happy to recommend this to family or friends as long as I knew they just wanted the basics and I had pointed out its limitations just as I have to you here. If you have someone looking for their first camera then you cannot go far wrong with this one at under fifty quid.
BUILD QUALITY 8/10
EASE OF USE 9/10
IMAGE QUALITY 8/10
FUNCTIONS AND FEATURES 7/10
VALUE FOR MONEY (at sale price only) 9/10 (at original price) 5/10
Thanks for reading.