The Canon Powershot A460 is the only digital camera I've ever owned and it's been a loyal servant on several holidays and special occasions. Luckily for me, Canon designed it specifically with ease of use in mind making it perfect if you simply want to point and shoot. At the same time however, beneath its user-friendly appearance the Powershot is packed with features and shooting modes to help you take better pictures.
The boxy shape of the A460 might have you instinctively reaching for your 35mm film, and it's nothing like as streamlined as its Kodak or Nikon equivalent. I have the red model, and personally I'm not wild about the coloured section at the front, preferring the 'gun metal' grey version. Models like the Kodak EasyShare M1073 have the whole front the same colour, which I think looks more tasteful than the 'bolted-on' feel of the Powershot. Weight is a slight issue and combined with the size, means that the camera won't comfortably fit in your pocket. The case is hard-wearing enough except for the battery casing, which feels slightly flimsy.
I received the Powershot as a gift along with a brand new memory card as the inbuilt memory is nothing to speak of, allowing you to store only about 12 photos. The original pricetag of £99 seems a little archaic today, seeing as you can now get a 12 megapixel camera for half that price, and the Powershot is only 5 megapixels. You get all the usual features: a tripod mount and DC and AV connections (the latter lets you watch film recordings on your TV). Downloading images to your PC is done through the DC cable either directly via the camera interface or through handy software from the CD-ROM that the camera comes with. Battery life is not great, so take plenty of spare AA batteries with you.
The camera's interface is very user-friendly and easy to grasp. If you want to simply point and shoot then you hardly even need to consult the instructions. For the slightly more adventurous the camera has special modes for close-up or landscape shots and a Movie Mode that allows you to record VGA quality films (with audio) of up to 60 minutes in length. The close-up mode is perfect for 'macro' shots where you need to pick up tiny details of an object- the bumpy surface of a basketball, the petals of a rose etc. The film quality was a little grainy and I found that the audio quality suffered if you made films outdoors.
As I was a pretentious wannabe photographer at the time, I used the landscape mode to take pictures of the industrial suburbs of Paris where I was living. While I was no David Hockney, the Powershot allowed me to take photos that I'm really proud of. The 'My Colours' mode lets you apply colour effects directly from the camera, and I found the Black & White setting ideal for photos of buildings, while the Sepia setting gave photos a lovely timeless feel. A brief comment on the zoom- while the camera lets you zoom to 16x, objects taken with anything more that 4x tend to look very faded and two-dimensional. If you're desperate to photograph a pigeon sitting atop Nelson's Column then it might be worth spending a little more.
While the digital camera industry has moved on since the Powershot's heyday, it remains a good basic camera for everyday use.
I remember a few years ago I was given this as a birthday present and I was really pleased because I had always wanted a better camera. You will be pleased to note that my profile picture was not take by this camera!
The first holiday I took it on was to Florida to Disney, Wet 'n' Wild, Universal / Land Of Adventures, Sea World and Busch Gardens and I think I dropped it at least once in all of them and it still stays strong with a few scratches, so it is pretty tough.
The screen size is 2" (which was good for a camera when I got it. It may seem small nowadays but it still is big enough to see what you are doing). It comes with a cable to attach to the TV and a 16-mega-byte SD card (I bought a 2gb because it only held about 20 photos), which you can also fit into a Nintendo Wii. It also has the computer software to add your photos to the computer and edit them, etc.
It has 5.0 mega pixels and four times optical zoom. The colours it comes in are: red, silver and blue. At the top on the back, there is a mode dial; on the dial, there are the following settings:
1: Picture/Movie Review - lets you view your pictures and movies
2: Automatic Camera. - Automatically selects settings for your shot
3: Manual Camera. - Allows you to select settings yourself
4: Special Scenes Camera. - Has settings such as Portrait, Night, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Foliage, Snow, Beach and Fireworks, to help get better results in these situations
5: Video Camera. - Shoots a movie when you press the shutter button.
The Multi Function Button allows you to:
Turn flash on/off
Choose close (Macro) or far (Infinity) setting
I prefer the colour red over the blue and the silver because I think it makes it look cool and funky. The small-ish screen size doesn't bother me, but you may prefer a bigger screen. Only one thing to consider, when you are about take the photo you may click the on/off button instead, which I have done many a time, as they are right next to each other.
I find it easy to use and think it would be an ideal first camera for most people, especially as you can probably find it for less than £100 now.
Very Highly Recommended
Ahh, I remember this wee thing. I got one of these from Tesco a few years ago for about £120, brand new. Obviously it will be a lot cheaper now, but it had only been out for a few months at the time. Ok, so it isnt that old, but I havent used it in a wee while.
If I remember correctly it was my first camera, and one of the reasons I got into Macro photography. It's quite a good wee thing, great size, easy to carry around with you. It doesnt take ages to turn on (unlike some) so you can use this to get a good photo in seconds.
It comes in a range of different colours, mine was pink, so it's a great camera to accessorize with! Not a bad choice for your first camera, for example if you want to buy it as a gift for a kid. I dropped mine a few times and never had any problems with it. It has a fair few features, not as many as you would find on a more expensive hi-tech camera but it's relatively easy to use and takes a good shot.
I gave mine to my mum when I got my DSLR, and she thinks it's brilliant. She isnt very technology literate, but she still finds it easy to use. It's a good camera to use if you are a beginner and want to learn more about photography. Hence why I think it'd be a good gift for a child (of around 12+).
It's easy to get your pictures onto a PC, as it comes with a USB as well as a memory card slot. I think it comes with some software too, but you dont have to use that. That stuff just takes up space.
On first glance, the Powershot A460 might not impress many people with its only average aesthetic features, that makes it either bad or good. When you try to look at the camera, it does not remind you of a cheap generic camera nor does it remind you of a high end stylish camera. However, the camera has been designed ergonomically with a decent finish that is quite nice to touch and silver accents which gives the camera more redefined dimensions.
The camera has a lens that is capable of 38mm to 152mm zoom, which is slightly higher than the average range for a camera of this size and considering the amount of lens protrudes out of the camera. The flash is quite closely alligned to the shuttle button on the right, therefore you might get uneven flash distribution due to your fingers blocking it, which should not be a problem after initially getting used to it.
The size of the display screen is rather small compared to the ideal size, however it does perform quite well and shows images clearly. There is also a viewfinder placed on the left of the camera directly above the display screen which is useful, since the industry seems to try to phase out them as a standard feature on a digital camera. Although not many people use them primarily, it is extremely useful if you want to converse battery or even use it because intense sunlight makes the display screen hard to view.
As a whole this camera captures images quite well, with reasonable sharpness and colour accuracy. However, it can be rather annoying when using this camera to capture moving objects because of its slightly longer shuttle delay which makes it not ideal for high speed photography. The auto focus copes quite well, without needing too much time to focus on the object. The zoom does prove handy at times when the shot is out of your reach.
The ISO of the camera could have been higher to make it easier to cope with low light conditions. Since it is only limited to 400, which is quite low. There are a number of creative/fun features which can make photography more enjoyable at times.
The camera depends on standard batteries instead of custom batteries, therefore it is ideal for travelling where it is not always possible to recharge your batteries.
As a digital camera for first-time users, especially those on a tight budget, I can highly recommend the Canon PowerShot A460. Its compact and easy-to-navigate design means that even the most inexperienced of beginners will find it simple to use, whilst at a little under £100 it surpasses most other cameras in its price-range.
Once you have quickly adapted to the way the PowerShot works, I find that the manual mode is more useful than the auto, as it provides a wide selection of features which can be altered to your satisfaction (including exposure, ISO, black and white, sepia, or the colour setting of your choice). The use of macro, infinity, and supermacro settings enables to you to take photos of subjects which are (respectively) close to, far away from, or very close to the camera. The supermacro setting in particular is very impressive, allowing for photography of incredibly small objects which would otherwise be missed by the camera. The 'Special Scene' mode further improves control over your pictures, with a range of settings that include Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids and Pets, Indoor, Foliage, Snow, Beach, and Fireworks. The PowerShot can also be used to record moving picture and sound, and includes a self-timer for taking still images after an adjustable period of delay.
5 megapixels and 4x optical zoom is more than adequate for a camera of this price and is enough to contend with for a first-time user, providing good quality images with no hassle - you can literally point and shoot, with excellent results almost every time. The camera body itself is attractive and surprisingly resilient, my model having withstood a few knocks and drops without any apparent ill effects. The battery life, however, could be better, and is heavily decreased with frequent use of flash.
With the camera you get a software disk, advanced user manual (in addition to the basic one), USB cable (for connecting the camera to your computer), AV cable (for connecting the camera to your tv/video), wrist strap, AA batteries, and SD memory card. Inconveniently, a carry case is not included, and another necessary purchase is a larger memory card as the 16MB one provided is pitifully small.
However, on the whole I believe that the advantages of the Canon PowerShot A460 significantly outweigh its disadvantages - at such a low price it has an abundance of interesting and useful features, and is incredibly easy to use.
As graduation presents go, many people gave me many things, most of which were either money or vouchers. My parents gave me vouchers for John Lewis knowing that I like going to this store for quality even though I do moan often about the prices of their goods compared to products online which can be purchased for a cheaper price.
Their line up of small, compact digital cameras started at £99 and continued well into £500 and more, even though I had a small amount of vouchers with me on the day of purchase I decided to do the usual research and visit Comet, Dixons and Jessops who all sell cameras and have staff who can offer good and independent advice without the hard sell. And so the list of products started, from names of camera firms I had never heard of, to established names such as Samsung, Olympus and Kodak who all offer price competitive starter cameras which all purposefully are designed to take pictures, have the facility of extra memory card storage and can be downloaded to any PC, Mac or Laptop. This is really all that I was looking for!
Have I found my ideal camera then? At £114 I may just have; the price was definitely a consideration against the spec although the look and the ease of controls plus using a demo model in John Lewis finally swung its way in my favour. The result is the Canon A460 Powershot digital camera:
Measuring 10cm length by 4cm height and a depth of 3.5cm, the Canon Powershot A400 series is a very compact camera which can fit into pockets and bags with ease. Although at the time of purchase I received the camera in the usual box, the A460 comes complete with a small memory card, user manual, software installation disk and the camera itself. I did think that initially it was mean of Canon not to put a carry case in with the package itself and was shocked at the initial additional charge of £25 for something which more of less resembles a zipped protective material bag which Dixons staff hoped I would buy. In this respect Ebay came to the rescue and the bag I eventually bought (Canon branded and in offensive with a slip in hook for the actual camera sling which then doubles as the main carry string for the bag and camera) the same bag Dixons were charging £25, for a mere £8 including postage and packaging; three cheers for Ebay then!
This is a long review
** Nar's Quick Skip Product Spec **
This spec chart has been taken from Canon's website (UK) Additional info has been included to show what it all means by me!
* 3 fun colours: John Lewis had three coloured Canons available to buy; an all in Silver version (what I wanted) but had sold out, funky pink and the version I bought in lieu of silver, blue.
* 5.0 Mega pixels: A competitive rate against other cameras and an instant advantage at the time of purchase.
* 4x optical zoom: Very easy to use and apply.
* DIGIC II, iSAPS and 5-point AiAF: A myriad of features with Canon's excellent quality colour options and built in electronics for auto or non auto focusing. The Canon will consider the best option of the photo before it is taken and use its inbuilt technology to adjust the photo clarity. There are tons of different additional tints available from this camera such as Sepia, Black and White, colours, one suitable for pets, people, and objects and all interchangeable with the PictBridge software which also includes Adobe Photoshop software.
* 12 shooting modes and My Colours: Optional presets and user option to save colour tint for personalised photos.
* VGA movie clips with sound - Very easy to apply and use; built in microphone.
* Additional 1 year guarantee from Canon.
* 1cm Super Macro mode - means that the Canon can photo up to the tiniest of objects up to 1cm.
* 2.0" LCD screen: Very clear and easy to view from a distance.
* PictBridge and Print/Share button - software installation disk supplied
* Powered by AA batteries - not rechargeable or can be charged through the camera however!
* Red eye reduction built in, flash built in, optional MIDI cables provided for microphone and video playback.
* 2.0 USB cable supplied and carry strap. (Can be tricky to slide in though!)
* Shutter speeds of 15 to 1/2000 second
* Selectable ISO settings from 80 to 40
* 211g weight (with batteries fitted) 168g (without!)
So what do all these tints actually mean? (Experienced photographers can just skip this bit!)
Well, the A460 is fitted with quite a lot of different modes as to the tints or colours you can have with your photos. So for example if you wish to highlight a picture, for example of fireworks taken at night, you can either specify options which will add light to the photo, shadier or darker colours or have a combination of the two; nothing new in the hands of a professional photographer or someone with a traditional SLR camera who could fine point the precision manually - but then also have to buy additional tints to put over the lens; here you don't have to. You don't of course have to go through all this palaver of what kind of colouring you can add, but these options are good to have, especially as one is from Scotland and usually a fresh day means clouds, dark casting and grey everywhere!
Officially there are 8 "special scene" modes which allow owners to take pictures with different tints and characteristics ranging from:
"Portrait," "Foliage," "Snow," "Beach," "Fireworks," "Indoor," "Night and Day," " Indoor," and one of my favourites, "Kids and Pets," which has been very useful for taking pictures of my friend's new puppy where we've been taking pictures of his growth from pup to medium dog!
These features however have not prevented me from choosing my own input settings and the Canon can be selected very easily from its in built "3 colour" settings simply by choosing a flower motif/icon which adds colour suitable for taking pictures of people, or for a brighter contrast, whilst the mountains motif/icon casts a medium spread of light onto the photo before it is taken or the standard colour shown on the LCD screen before the picture is shot.
The other option of course is to choose whether to have auto focus or not. But before you start to worry about just how easy or difficult it is to select these options, the buttons and scroll pad at the back of the Canon is extremely well marked and easy to understand, with the only additional help you'll need is to look at the user manual to see the settings in more detail. This of course sounds like the usual aspect of any camera, but handily Canon also include a quick easy set up manual second to the bigger paged book.
** Controls & General Design **
One of the considerations I thought long and hard about was the ease of use and controls and this was something I found difficult when testing an Olympus camera of the same specification at £100. Whilst the Olympus was physically taller and shorter by width to the A460, the buttons at the back were confusing and didn't move with the same precision which the Canon oozes with. Put simply this is a very high quality camera in terms of the electronics built in, wrapped around a brushed stainless steel unit which has some plastic to cut the cost and metal to add longevity.
But that's just the outside casing; whilst there is the usual LCD screen which seems to be a standard fit on most digital compacts these days, the Canon offers a slightly larger 2.0" sizing as well as a view hole giving the owner the advantage of either using the lens viewer or the LCD screen together; then there are the controls sited to the right hand side of the camera; the scrolling pad being the bigger of the smaller controls, allowing the ease and logic defying control of zooming in and out whilst the left and right hand sides of the circular disc allow users to apply the colour differentiations. All this however is second to the primary select wheel at the back of the Canon sited at the top; five different stages of camera output at available here in terms of what the camera mode can do such as Auto focus aided photos to be taken, without focus mode, movie camera mode, still image mode and a further screen mode. All this can be activated within milliseconds for the need of taking an actual picture, although if you don't agree with the camera's decision you can automatically cancel out auto focus by simply pressing a button.
Installing batteries is easy too, and the door for this is located on the right hand side of the camera (or left hand side if judged by the front). Handily the battery cover can only be activated by pushing in a sprung lock and then slid down to reveal the battery door which swings back to reveal the batteries and the push in push out SD Memory card, which in this case is a small 16MB memory card. Anyone who says buying a memory card isn't cheap must be nuts; a 1GB card cost me in the region of £18 from John Lewis and it now seems JL are selling the A460 with the card I had to buy optionally, all for £99 as opposed to the original price I paid (£114) for the camera alone. Obviously I'm aware that the price of SD memory cards change because of their memory allocations but I brand spending over £10 expensive for any camera card if it's to allow for more photos kept in memory and in this case the 1GB card allows me to keep over 700 photos on the Canon. Just how many photos do I need??!
In short the A460 seems to be a good camera just from the trial I put it through. However as a consumer, I have never had any other printer other than Canon branded products and in some way this camera from Canon made sense if not just for brand loyalty.
** The Software **
Which brings me onto PictBridge; PictBridge is the software which Canon uses for their Powershot cameras and indeed a few other ranges in the Canon photography camera range. Once the software has been installed which includes Adobe Photoshop It is not an easy programme to use but for first time users, the Canon simply fixes through the computer via the enclosed USB 2.0 cable which (once the software has been installed and is suitable for any computer system with XP and Vista systems) immediately hones in on the software and the pictures taken come up on the computer.
For a start, the software has Adobe Photoshop Album Starter Edition 3.2 fitted to it as standard and it can become confusing when more than one window pops up asking the owner if they would like to download the photos taken from the Canon. What then occurs is the option to change the photos such as resizing, closer zoom properties, colouring and usual photo software editing aspects. I haven't found any problems with this software so far but I do wish one window would spring up as opposed to three because the PictBridge software isn't really for sizing, cropping or adjusting original photos! The PictBridge solely exists for printing out photos and Canon helpfully suggest that if you own a Canon SELPHY printer you can print ID photos and movie stills. If not, then any Canon printer which has PictBridge included can print out colour photos in seconds. My Canon printer cannot print out these photos in seconds but my neighbours' Canon can!
** In General Use **
As such taking photos with the Canon is extremely easy and fast. At times I find that the built in flash however doesn't flash in an instant because the camera is trying to figure out the photo intended before the camera can take the photo. This can easily be done if setting the camera to just take pictures through the manual setting rather than allowing the little boffins inside the camera try and do their best for you. This occurred late at night when I tried to take a picture of the lights across the sea on nearby mainland. The sky was beautifully dark with shades of blue and purple hues coming through from the moonlight and I really wanted the Canon to take what I saw. With the auto focus activated however the Canon decided that what I saw would be instantly re-focussed to include the spray which was coming up from the sea on the beach line and the result of the photo looked like I had ghostly orbs of light all over the photo. With the manual setting however I got a much better picture without orbs all over the image and the colour of the skies came through perfectly - just as I had seen with my own eyes. The SCN mode however allows users to take photos without camera shake and reaffirms images without sacrificing the final photo.
And what of the quality of the photographs taken from this camera? Well whilst I think the pictures are excellent; the colours, contrasts and details which the Canon picks up has been very impressive. Already many of my friends have commented on the Canon and its ease of use (whenever I've allowed them to use it!).
** Price **
As stated originally I bought my Canon from John Lewis in March at the cost of £114. It now includes the 1 GB card and has fallen in price. John Lewis seem to be selling more of the all in silver version compared to my blue version but regardless of the colour differences all versions look and feel superbly made.
** Any other downsides? **
If there is one grumble that I don't like about the Canon it is the fact that it uses 2 standard AA Alkaline batteries and the batteries which come with the Canon don't last that long, nor do future batteries which are non-rechargeable. This doesn't mean however that if you have taken photos and the camera fails to start up, all is lost; the moment you take a picture, it gets saved to the memory card not on the camera's internal memory. As such I have now changed to rechargeable batteries for the sole reason that the A460 has a fast appetite for power. There are power saving settings available on the A460 as a result anyway but they make little difference with them activated or not in my experience.
Another downside but not one of major importance is noise. The Canon doesn't have the loudest shutter speed or activation noises when using or selecting different options but it does have a start up song rather like a mobile phone. As an owner you can stop all noise emitting from the camera other than the shutter when taking photos or the sound of the flash - but ideally speaking there's nothing to worry about as it doesn't impede photo quality.
Lastly despite the colour, the Canon can get grubby both on the LCD screen and on the top where a metal strip has the snap shot button as well as another button to turn the camera on. This is also where the microphone is sited. The front of the camera however doesn't get dirty in use however which is good as I'm already starting to like the blue colour on my camera!
** Conclusion **
For the ease of taking pictures wrapped in a classy and non eventful body the Canon A460 will surely boost anyone who has a burning desire to take pictures. It is not a camera which shouts of the very latest features which have indicator LED's and flashing lights around the body but where doctoring photos is concerned, the A460 sports many applications which are easy to find and easy to apply. It has easy to use controls, the controls are well marked and the all important viewer allows owners with glasses to be able to take photos as well as using the LCD screen at the same time.
For most consumers a camera which can take photos as easily as working out the applications which can improve them is all that a compact digital camera needs to do. If your camera can't do it, then this Canon can! Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2007
Canon Powershot A460