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Those who regularly read my reviews will know of my love of gadgets and technology. They will also know that above all this is my love of a bargain and the fact that Im thrifty, some would say as thrifty as a wildfowls rectum. It is then a source of pride that I can confidently assure you what this camera used correctly can pay for itself in a few short weeks. Thats right
a free digital camera. For further details of how, please do read on to the final paragraph. For now, what of the camera itself?
Bigger than some of the newer entry level cameras, this feels similar in weight and looks similar in appearance to the APS cameras when they first came out. In fact, it behaves so much like a regular camera that it is a joy to use. The front cover slides away to reveal the lens which is manufactured to a high standard. For those venturing on to the digital camera market for the first time sticking to a manufacturer who has also the experience of making cameras prior to their foray into the digital market is always a good idea as a safety net. Many of the new camera companies whos products are exclusively digital find themselves struggling to produce the quality that is found in the more long term camera companies.
The rear of the camera contains a 1.5 screen which although high quality is a real battery zapper. I tend to only use the screen if taking a photograph on zoom or recording video. Use it at your peril if you value batteries.
With a 3.2 Megapixels the A310 is a cut above the cheapest end of the market and is capable of producing photographic quality prints at up to A4 size. This is quite spectacular and with a decent printing service as are readily available over the Internet, the results are superb.
The digital zoom is fine but not spectacular at higher levels of magnification. My own preference with the specification of digital cameras would be for manufacturers to only claim a digital zoom that is worth producing a print from. In this case then, zoom of 2X is reasonable after that it is more grainy than Uncle Bens.
The camera has a number of specific settings for various different images including night time mode which takes a great evening picture. Most entertaining is the macro mode which focuses the lens from only 5cm away from the subject enabling you to take those photos loved by TV quiz shows where the viewer tries in vain to guess that the smudge they are looking at is actually the inside of a human nostril.
The auto focus works surprisingly well compared to other digital cameras I have used, focusing across the full print whatever the depth of the subject. This is superb as often even an image like a family portrait with differing depths can produce disappointing results. The instruction book claims this is because of the 5 point focusing whatever it works and is a real boost to image quality.
Unusually for a camera of this price and quality, you can also record movie clips. Now, this is a plus for sure but see it for the benefit it is. Firstly, the bundled 32Mb memory card is wholly insufficient for the purpose and needs upgrading to 256Mb as a minimum if you fancy grabbing movie clips. Secondly, the sound quality of the built in microphone is acceptable. Not great not dreadful, just acceptable. Finally, you can only record clips in three minute segments. This is not too much of an issue though because even when recording a family birthday or Christmas, three minute clips are ideal for editing.
The camera connects through USB and supplied software (completely idiot proof and quite feature rich) to any PC or MAC. It also has Canon Direct Print and Pictbridge technology allowing direct connection to many printers for simple one click printing of a selected image. Personally, taking into consideration the cost of ink and the quality of even a reasonable photo ink jet printer I still prefer sending to an online developer. I receive photographs the next day and they are of the very best quality.
Always a thorny one this digital cameras eat batteries like I eat pretzels. This camera has excellent power consumption if you are taking still images and are not using the built in screen. If you are taking video and/or using the built in screen then power consumption falls away to the point where two brand new Duracell AA batteries are probably not even going to fill your shiny new 256Mb memory card.
Overall, the camera looks good and produces great prints. The movie feature is a nice addition that makes the camera seem quite good value compared to many similarly priced models. I do think Canon could still work a little on the camera user interface as it is in no way as intuitive as the Olympus menu system. That said, if you carry the pocket size instruction manual with you for the first week or so youll soon have it sorted. This is a fair priced camera and I recommend it even if the freebie system below is not your cup of tea.
And so the final paragraph and the promised and much awaited free camera expose. For those who remember my printer review entitled How to make a million pounds on the Internet youll be delighted to discover that the title of this review again contains a delightfully simple solution to lifetime riches. Ebay, it is well known, is a worldwide market where one mans junk is another mans treasure. When selling on Ebay, one image added to the description it is said will add 11% to the final value of the item. Therefore, to obtain this spectacular camera for free please follow these simple steps:
1) Register for Ebay.
2) Buy this camera.
3) Go through your attic/shed/cupboards and find fourteen items that will retail for approximately £10.00 and then sell these items on Ebay remembering of course to include a photograph taken with your spectacular new digital camera.
4) Bank the bonus 11% of each sale and continue to enjoy your now FREE digital camera.
Thank you for reading this review and I look forward to reading any comments you may leave.