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Canon PowerShot A620 Digital Camera@DASHING THING REVIEW

05 Jul


Canon PowerShot A620 Digital Camera
Review Date
11/30/2005
User Level
Novice to Advanced
Product Uses
Family / Travel / Special Events
Digital Camera Design
Auto, Manual, and Scene Exposure Control
Picture Quality
Very good, 7.0-megapixel CCD
Print Sizes
Excellent, sharp 11×17 inches
Availability
October, 2005
Suggested Retail Price
(At introduction)
$399

 

Introduction

The PowerShot A620 sits at the top of Canon’s A-series–a lineup distinguished by cameras that are fairly compact, relatively inexpensive and equipped with a robust set of exposure controls. The A620 is no exception: priced under $400, it has a powerful 7.1-megapixel CCD–ideal for photographers who like especially large prints or who frequently crop their photos. With exposure controls that range from full-automatic, snap-shot simplicity to full-manual creativity, the A620 is a good choice for a family with widely differing photography skills. Given its low price and breadth of features, it should also be attractive to budding shooters on tight budgets who want to advance their photographic skills.

 

Camera Overview

With a silver-metallic case and stylish shape, the A620 is an impressive step up from Canon’s A95, which also started out at $400 when it was introduced a little over a year ago. But the A620’s improvements are far more than skin deep, starting out with its 7.1-megapixel CCD–a significant jump from the A95’s 5-megapixels. Both cameras are distinguished by their fold-out LCD panels, but the A620’s is 2 inches, versus the A95’s 1.8 inches. Though that may not sound like much of a difference, it’s quite noticeable when you look at the screens side-by-side. For anyone who loves photography, the fold-out screen is worth the cost it adds to the camera. Rotate it out and down, and you can get better shots in crowds by holding the camera over your head and looking up at the LCD. For shy subjects, you can rotate the LCD up and hold the camera at waist level, when most subjects do not think you are actually taking shots. And if you love to have yourself in the shot, facing the LCD forward lets you make sure you have not accidently left out half of your head from the photo.

Calling the A620 compact would be a kindness. Though the mid-range A510 and A520 saw a reduction in size, the higher end of the A-Series seems to get a bit larger with each generation. The A620 (and it’s twin the A610, priced about $100 less) is a little bulky compared to past models at 4.1 by 2.6 by 1.9 inches. The large right-handed grip adds a lot to the camera’s size–necessary to accommodate the camera’s four AA batteries that give it such excellent battery life. It makes the A620 too big to fit in anything smaller than a coat pocket or small carry bag, but it does give your hand a solid purchase on the camera and pushes the shutter release and zoom control well out in front, where your trigger finger comfortably rests.

Every new generation of camera brings a few ergonomic changes–some for the better, some not. The A620 mode dial is one example of an improvement. It’s higher and more textured than the dial on the A95, which gives your thumb a better purchase when changing modes. Canon also spread the display, menu, exposure compensation, and transfer buttons further apart, making for more accurate use of the controls when you are in a hurry.

Not an improvement, but still one of the better features in Canon’s digital cameras is the Function button, which now resides in the center of the four-way thumb buttons. Pressing the Function button pops up a concise, well-organized menu of key exposure controls on the A620’s LCD screen. It lets you adapt to changing scenes and lighting conditions quickly and intuitively. On the other hand, Canon stuck with the sliding record/playback switch. It’s a bit more cumbersome to quickly go back and review photos than with the quick-review button you find on most modern digital cameras.

With the A620, the zoom range jumped from the A95’s 3X to 4X. The A620 focal length starts at the 35mm film equivalent of 35mm–a basic wide-angle length, and it can accept wide-angle and telephoto accessory lenses–almost unheard of in a camera in this price range.

Exposure modes in the Image Zone include Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Stitch Assist, and Movie. Portrait, Night Scene, and Landscape all make automatic camera adjustments to optimize settings for specific shooting conditions. The Portrait mode uses a large aperture setting to focus on the subject, while maintaining an out-of-focus background. Landscape mode slows the shutter speed and maximizes depth of field with a small aperture setting. Night Scene mode illuminates your subject with flash and uses a slow shutter speed to evenly expose the background. The Scene setting accesses several more specialized preset shooting modes, which include Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Underwater, Indoor, Kids & Pets, and Night Snapshot, all of which set up the camera for very specific conditions.

The Stitch-Assist mode is Canon’s answer to panorama shooting, in which you capture multiple, horizontal, overlapping images. They are then “stitched” together on a computer using Canon’s bundled software package or other image editing software. Proper overlap is critical for a successful panorama, and in the A620 you accomplish this by lining up a portion of the image framed in the LCD with a sort of ghost image from the previously recorded shot. It works well in moderate light, but the ghost image can be hard to see in full sunlight. Movie mode in the A620 is significantly better than its predecessor’s. You are no longer limited to 30-second clips at 640 by 480 pixels (and only 10 frames per second). You can now shoot at 640 by 480 at 30fps until you run out of room on your memory card (if you purchase a high-speed SD card – we used a Kingston 133x SD card to test the camera with). The higher frame rate should produce better movies when you’re shooting fast action. Like most digital cameras, the A620 doesn’t let you use the optical zoom while recording a movie; however, you can use the digital zoom.

Canon’s bundled photo application is an adequate, if basic, package for managing, downloading, and editing your photos. It does have one interesting utility called Remote Shooting, which, when you connect your camera to a computer via its USB cable, lets you change the camera’s settings from a window on the computer as well as let you press a virtual shutter button. The images are then immediately transferred to the computer. It would be a handy feature for photographers who do indoor macro shooting.

Canon’s documentation for the A620 (and A610) is relatively well-organized and comprehensive. There is a basic user guide to get you started, quickly, and a more detailed book that covers all of the camera’s many functions. The only knock is that the descriptions for some of the more esoteric features are a little cryptic. (And we really dislike having information spread out between two separate manuals.)

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Posted by on July 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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