Canon PowerShot A30 Digital Camera @DASHING THING REVIEW

05 Jul
Camera QuickLook
Review Date
User Level
Novice to Experienced
Product Uses
Family / Travel / Special Events
Digicam Design
Point-and-Shoot or Manual control
Picture Quality
Moderate, 1.2-megapixel CCD
Print Sizes
4×6, 5×7 inches
April, 2002
Suggested Retail Price


Ask a photographer, be they professional or amateur, to name the first couple of camera manufacturers that they can think of, and chances are that one of those would be Canon. In the digital arena, Canon’s continued their history of innovation, with a broad line of products ranging from entry-level models all the way to no-holds-barred digital SLRs for professional photographers. In the consumer arena, their products are distinguished by superb design, sharp lenses, and excellent color.

Canon doesn’t play in the very low end of the consumer market, having decided instead to focus on providing very capable, feature-rich products even in their entry level models. Thus, although the A40 marks the low end of their line, it’s a very full-functioned camera, despite its modest 1.2 megapixel resolution. This will be a great camera for someone who rarely prints photos larger than 5×7 inches, but who doesn’t want to compromise on image quality just because they’re interested in a camera with more modest resolution. Read on for all the details…
Camera Overview
The A30 (and its slightly higher-end cousin the A40) are a continuation of the A10 and A20 introduced in 2001. Nearly identical in appearance to the earlier designs, PowerShot A30 offers the same great compact body with a few minor design changes and feature enhancements. The all-plastic body is very stylish, with silver and silver-gray accents and a light green handgrip that gives it a more playful look than the more serious looking A40 model. While the A30 probably won’t fit into a standard shirt pocket, it’s small enough for larger coat pockets and purses, and the wrist strap adds a feeling of security. Like many Canon digicams, the A30 features a shutter-like lens cover and a retracting lens that keeps the camera front fairly smooth when the camera is powered off. With no lens cap to keep track of (or worry about losing), the A30 is quick on the draw – You just have to wait a couple of seconds for the lens to extend forward before you can shoot. The A30’s 1.2-megapixel CCD produces good quality images, suitable for printing as large as 5×7-inches. You can also print 4×6 snapshot-size images, or select its lowest resolution for photos to use as email attachments.

Equipped with a 5.4-16.2mm lens, the A30 offers a 3x optical zoom range equivalent to 35-105mm on a 35mm camera. (This is a pretty standard range for digicams, running from a moderate wide angle to a moderate telephoto.) Maximum aperture ranges from f/2.8 at full wide angle to f/4.8 at full telephoto, and can be manually adjusted or left under automatic control. The A30 uses Canon’s AiAF (Artificial Intelligence Auto Focus) system, which judges focus based on a three-point area in the center of the frame. Whatever portion of the subject is closest to the camera and aligned with one of the AF points determines the overall focus. If you like though, you can also choose to base focus on the center of the frame only. Three fixed-focus modes set focus for specific distance ranges, including Macro (as close as 16 centimeters), Snapshot (from 4.9 to 8.2 feet or 1.5 to 2.5 meters), and Infinity modes. An AF Assist light on the front panel helps the camera focus in dark conditions, but can be deactivated if you want. (For instance, if you don’t want to “blow your cover” when snapping candid shots.) In addition to the optical zoom lens, the A30 also offers as much as 2x of digital zoom. However, I always remind readers that digital zoom decreases the overall image quality because it simply enlarges the center pixels of the CCD image.

The A30 has both a real-image optical viewfinder and 1.5-inch LCD monitor for composing images. (In my testing, the optical viewfinder was rather “tight” – You’ll need to resort to the LCD monitor for precise framing.) The LCD monitor’s information display includes detailed exposure information, including shutter speed and aperture settings in Manual shooting mode.

The A30 offers a variety of exposure options, including a full manual exposure mode for total control. A Mode dial on the camera’s back panel accesses Auto, Program AE, Manual, Stitch-Assist, and Movie capture modes, as well as Playback mode. The Auto exposure mode is perfect for snapshots, family events, and vacation photos, as the camera makes all exposure decisions except for flash mode. Under Program AE mode, the camera maintains control over shutter speed and aperture, but lets you decide about color balance, exposure compensation, metering, etc.

It’s quite unusual to find a manual exposure option on an entry-level camera like the A30, but I highly approve of its inclusion: There are times when an auto exposure system just can’t cut it (in very low light, for instance), or when you want to try for a particular exposure effect. In such situations, there’s no substitute for manual exposure control. Beginners may be intimidated by it, but (a) it’s an option, so you can entirely ignore it if you want, and (b) since you’re not paying film costs every time you snap the shutter, there’s no penalty for blown exposures: Experiment to your heart’s content!

In Manual capture mode, you can set the shutter speed and aperture settings independently of each other. (Although there’s only two options for the aperture, f/2.8 and f/8.0.) The LCD monitor reflects approximately what the exposure will look like, giving you a pretty good idea of the result of your settings. Stitch-Assist is the A30’s panorama shooting mode, which can capture as many as 26 images to be “stitched” together on the computer with Canon’s provided software as a single panoramic image. Panoramas can be vertically or horizontally oriented, or can be pieced together as a larger square. In Movie mode, the A30 captures moving images without sound (to record sound with your movies, you’ll need to step up to the A40 model), at 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 pixels, for a maximum of 30 seconds (depending on the resolution set and available memory card space).

Canon makes good use of the A30’s external camera controls, giving individual buttons multiple functions. Some settings still require delving into the menu system, but the majority of camera operations rely on the external controls. Exposure Compensation, White Balance, aperture and shutter speed (Manual mode only), Effects, flash mode, drive mode, and fixed-focus mode options are all accessed externally, while the Record menu offers image size, quality, ISO, Metering, AF mode, and more. The White Balance setting adjusts color balance, with settings for Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent, and Fluorescent H (for daylight fluorescent lighting). Exposure Compensation brightens or darkens the overall exposure, from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments. An ISO adjustment offers 50, 100, 200, and 400 ISO equivalents, as well as an Auto setting. By default, the A30 uses an Evaluative metering mode, which links the metering area to the area the camera has chosen for focusing (when AiAF is activated). Also available is a Spot Metering option, which bases the exposure on the center of the subject, essential for dealing with backlit subjects. The A30’s flash operates in either Auto, Red-Eye Reduction Auto, Forced, Suppressed, Red-Eye Reduction Forced, or Slow Synchro modes.

A creative and fun Effects menu lets you play around with image color, offering Vivid and Neutral color settings, as well as Sepia and Black and White options. A Low Sharpening option turns off the in-camera image sharpening, good if you plan extensive image modifications and cloning on the computer. Continuous Shooting mode works like a motor drive on a 35mm camera, capturing a rapid burst of images for as long as the Shutter button is held down (or until the memory card runs out of space). Actual frame rates will vary depending on the image size and quality selected, but range from about 1.2 to 1.5 frames per second. The A30 also features a 10-second self-timer, which delays the shutter for about 10 seconds after the Shutter button is pressed, letting you zip around and jump into the shot. (You can also set the delay interval to two seconds. This lets you trip the shutter without your hand on the camera, handy for low-light shots, with the camera on a tripod, propped on a table, etc.)

The A30 stores images on CompactFlash memory cards, and comes with an 8MB card. I highly recommend purchasing a larger-capacity CompactFlash card right away, as large cards are available separately for very affordable prices these days. (Buy at least a 32 MB card, or better yet a 64MB one.) The camera utilizes four AA-sized batteries for power, either alkaline or NiMH type. The camera was accompanied by four alkaline batteries, but I advise picking up a set or two of rechargeable batteries and a charger, and keeping a spare set freshly charged at all times. The optional AC adapter is useful for preserving battery power when reviewing and downloading images, and plugs straight into a DC In jack on the side of the camera. The A30 features a USB jack for downloading images to a computer, and comes with two software CDs, one loaded with Canon Digital Camera Solution Disk version 8.0 and the other loaded with ArcSoft PhotoImpression and VideoImpression (compatible with Macintosh and Windows systems). Additionally, a Video Out jack and the included video cable lets you connect the camera to a television set. The A30 is DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatible, with a range of print settings available through the Playback menu.

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Posted by on July 5, 2011 in Uncategorized


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