Steve's Digicams

CANON

PowerShot A50 Review



Canon A50

The PowerShot A50 has minimal user controls and is really quite easy to operate without much "read the manual" time involved. On the top is the dial where you set the desired record, playback mode or connect to PC for image downloading.

Recording with the A50 can be done in one of three modes:

  1. Automatic - camera picks best shutter speed and aperture, white balance and flash set to auto, this is point-n-shoot mode.
  2. Program - user can adjust exposure compensation and flash mode.
  3. Stitch Assist - unique to the A50, allows you to easily create panorama files in veretical, horizontal or 2x2 grids. Your pictures are displayed on the LCD as you take them and act as guides for the proper overlap and alignment of the panorama.

In Program mode you can select Single (default) or Continuous picture taking modes using the button on top next to the dial. If you use the Continuous setting the image size is set to Small and you can take up to 15 pictures by keeping the shutter button depressed.


Canon A50

Most of the camera information you need is echoed on the top data LCD display. This helps to maximize battery runtime by not using the big Color LCD to view these settings.


Canon A50

When you want to use the color LCD as a viewfinder just press the LCD/Video button on the back. It is especially useful when framing macro shots.

The A50 is like its big brother the Pro 70, it does not output video in record mode. You can not use an external TV monitor as a viewfinder when doing macros on a copy stand or when using the camera in a studio environment.


Canon A50

Playback has two modes; Play Mode and Multi Mode. Play Mode is for single picture playback and/or slideshows.


Canon A50

Multi Mode is used to display nine thumbnails to make it easy to jump to a given image.


Canon A50

One really nice feature is the ability to Rotate portrait mode pictures for proper playback orientation on the TV screen. You select the images prior to playback and mark them to be rotated when viewed.





Steve's Conclusion

The Canon A50 is a great "pocket-sized" megapixel camera. It's small size allows it to be easily stowed in your coat pocket and carried along at all times. The classy (sexy?) aluminum body and automatic closing lens barrier makes it highly durable and able to withstand the rigors of day to day useage without worry.

The image quality is excellent, colors are very lifelike but the overall saturation is a bit heavy. The 28-70mm zoom lens lets you get indoor flash shots easily, even when dealing with limited space or large groups of people. Outdoors you can zoom from wideangle panorama to almost telephoto position whenever necessary. And speaking of panoramas, the Stitch Assist mode of the A50 is going to help a lot of folks create better panorama shots -- or maybe their first panorama.

The A50 is equipped with Canon's excellent TTL autofocusing system that includes an outboard light-assisted focusing aid to insure accurate focusing even in dimly lit conditions. The A50 shines when shooting sans the flash in low light conditions. You can switch down to 640x480 size and the camera will boost the sensitivity up to ISO 400.

As simple as any Point-n-Shoot camera, the A50 in Automatic mode lets you just pick the camera up and shoot! Indoors or outdoors it sets itself to take the best possible picture with no user intervention necessary. Want or need more control? Not a problem just switch it to Program mode and override the automatic exposure system or the white balance whenever it is required. For the really creative photographer try using the Slow Synchro flash mode with your next night shot.

The A50 uses CompactFlash memory cards so there's no problem of running short on picture storage capacity. Large (64-96MB) cards are now readily available. I used a 64MB Lexar CF card in the A50 and it let me shoot about 194 pictures in Large/Fine mode (over 500 in Small/Fine mode). Using Lexar's new JumpShot CF cards with builtin USB connectivity, the A50 will be able to download even faster for both PC and iMac users.

For an average retail of $500 the Canon A50 offers a good value to consumers. I would recommend buying the optional rechargeable battery, charger and DC power coupler kit for another $100 to really finish the package. Most people will think you are using a Canon Elph film camera until you turn it around and show them their picture on the LCD screen. Without reservation I can recommend this camera to anyone who needs a pocket-sized megapixel, it's a winner!




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