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Designed for the layman, the simple functionality should prove a hit with newcomers to photography while the Live button allows more manual control over your pictures. Take the Canon PowerShot A for example. This should be at the higher price and a year or two ago it would have been. Beats us. The lens on the front is a standard Canon type with a 5x optical zoom range.

That starts at 28mm and goes out to mm in 35mm format. A large chrome bezel surrounds the lens to separate it from the rest of the body. This design allows us to be more sympathetic to the fact that the lens remains black regardless of the colour of the camera. The grip sticks out to allow the AA batteries space to be inserted. This can prove handy as it provides the camera with a built-in grip, making it easier to handle when shooting.

On the top of the Canon PowerShot A, the first thing we notice is that the buttons are a lot bigger than is normally seen on a digital compact camera. The power button sits next to the shutter release while the zoom switch is ringed around the latter. Move to the back and this large button design idea continues through.

Buttons that normally take up less than the bottom half of the space next to the screen occupy the entire section. Arguably not and only using the camera will prove that to you personally.

Front Rear These buttons are dedicated to various modes and options to ease the picture taking process. At the top, the left button starts and finishes recording video without the need for going into a menu system. Located next to that is the Main menu button. These four buttons surround the navigation pad which is used when in a menu for moving up, down, left or right. This latter option is a relatively new feature that Canon have added to their lower end compacts. The Auto mode is an intelligent version.

Pressing the up button cancels this and switches you over to the other modes. From here you can choose from a line of modes including, Program, Live control, Portrait, Low light, Miniature, Toy camera or Discreet. On the surface this all looks very easy to use. Over easy, in fact as though someone has set out to make cameras as simple as is feasibly possible.

The case is obviously a plastic shell including the chrome lens surround. The lens is a standard Canon lens with a 5x optical zoom fitted into it. The lens has minimal wobble even when manipulated, which is good. The screen sits sunken into the body slightly and it must have been a cost issue to make it sit flush with the body. The buttons are responsive and firm. Downsides are the flimsy plastic covering for the USB port and the battery door not having a lock on it.

The door has enough strength, but no stability on the hinge. One major bonus is the metal tripod bush on the bottom of the camera. However, to the photographer that enjoys long night shots with car trails, the tripod is a godsend. Canon have spent years getting the menu system correct.

The Function menu is accessed by pressing the Ok button in the centre of the navigation pad. It will bring up a small menu to the left of the screen with modes such as ISO, resolution, shooting mode, white-balance, self-timer and burst modes. If you want to change more in-depth modes, press the menu button to go to the Main menu. There are two tabs here, one for camera options, one for the set-up. The camera tab changes areas such as the focus frame, red-eye correction, metering modes, review time and info and i-Contrast.

The latter being a feature that optimises the light in the image. It essentially neutralises contrast to enable detail to come out of dark areas and to cap burn out on highlights. The menu is a dark grey background with white lettering and orange highlighter. Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment From the powered off position, we managed to get the Canon PowerShot A switched on, focused and took a picture in a little over 2sec.

An average result is around 2. The continuous shooting mode on the A is just that. We managed eight pictures in a 10 second time period which gives an average of 0. Pressing the button with the blue arrow takes you into the playback menu.


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