Canon Powershot A1000 IS Review
One of Canon's new "A" series models, the Powershot A1000IS, is a 10-Megapixel compact digicam that comes packed full of features. Leading the way is the 4x optical zoom lens with Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S.). It also features face detection software, VGA movie mode, an optical Real-image zoom viewfinder that zooms along with the camera, and finally is Canon's DIGIC III processor. The stylish camera is available in 4 different two-toned color combinations: Gray, Blue, Brown and Purple.
The ergonomics of the A1000IS provide a very comfortable to hold and handle camera. It is a little bulkier than a lot of the new cameras that have been coming out lately, but the size and weight give it a very solid and sturdy feel. There is also a built in handgrip on the right for added comfort and control. On top of the camera you will find the power and shutter release buttons, with the zoom control coupled around the shutter release button. Between them you have the mode dial, allowing you to easily change your shooting mode. On top of the back of the camera is the PLAY/REC button and built in speaker. Under that are the Face Select button, allowing you to select one face for the camera to focus on over everything else, and the programmable quick print button. Next you will find the 4-way controls providing you with shortcuts to the ISO, Flash, Focus mode and burst/timer settings. Inside the 4-way control is the FUNC/Set button that gives you access to the Function menu while shooting and selects your options from the menus. At the bottom are the DISP. and Menu buttons.
You have two choices when it comes to framing your images, either use the 2.5" LCD screen or the optical view finder. The LCD screen is bright and easy to see in all lighting conditions, even direct sunlight. On the down side, there are only 115,000 pixels, which is half of what comes on most current cameras. This gives you a pixelated, grainy image all the time. You also have the option of using the Real-image zoom viewfinder. This viewfinder does not show you all of the information that you will find on the LCD screen, but it does adjust what you see to the level of the zoom. It also does a good job of showing you close to 100% of the actual image that the camera will record.
Performance from the A1000IS is good for an entry level model. It turns on and is able to capture its first image in just 1.9 seconds. The shutter lag is also acceptable being almost instantaneous when the camera is pre-focused and just 4/10 of a second when allowing the camera to auto-focus. In single shot mode, I was able to capture 5 images in 8.9 seconds without the flash and 5 images in 18.7 seconds with it. The camera also features a burst shooting mode that can be used with or without the flash. Using this mode I was able to capture 10 images in 14.6 seconds with the flash and 10 images in 6.5 seconds without it. Our tests where completed using a Lexar Professional 133x 2GB SD memory card, Program mode, ISO Auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
The quality of our outdoor images is very good for a camera in this class. Our pictures show very crisp and clear images with rich colors and good exposures. There is a slight barrel distortion at the wide end of the zoom and when looking at the image at 100% on a computer you will see some slight pixelation in the shadows. Don't worry though; you will not notice these in your prints. The 4x (35mm equivalent of 35-140mm) optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization gives you good versatility when you shoot. At the wide end you have no trouble shooting landscapes and group portraits, while the telephoto end gives you the ability to get a little closer to distant objects or helps you frame your images.
Our indoor image quality is just as good as the outdoor. The biggest thing I noticed indoors is the ability of the auto white balance to adjust and provide the same colors with and without the flash. This is a problem for some cameras. The flash has a range of 1.0 to 13 ft. at the wide end and 1.0 to 6.6 ft. at the telephoto end with the ISO set to auto. In our flash sample you can see that the flash had no problem from 6 ft. away at ISO 80 and mid telephoto zoom. From ISO 400 and down the noise level is very good. At ISO 200 you can start to see a little noise when viewing your image at 100%, but even at ISO 400 you can still see some of the fine detail in the flag and easily read the magazine titles.
Shooting portraits with the A1000is is a breeze thanks to the camera's face detection software. When the camera detects a face, it automatically adjusts the exposure, focus point and white balance to the single face, or it adjusts to the best possible exposure for all the faces when it detects more than one. Using this software is very easy, as it does an excellent job of quickly recognizing faces and following them. The camera also has a face selection option via the face selection button on the camera. This feature allows you to select one face out of a group and the camera will always follow and focus for this face over all others. This is great when you have more than one person in a group and they are doing a lot of moving around. The quality of our portrait image is very good. The face detection allowed for the camera to base all of its settings on the face to provide good exposures and realistic colors. Without the red eye reduction flash turned on, you do see a little red eye in the photos. This can be fixed easily by using the red eye reduction flash or the red eye removal tool in playback mode.
Movie mode allows you to capture video with audio at resolutions of 640x480, 320x240 and the compact 160x120. In movie mode you have access to the full optical zoom range if you pre-set it before you start recording. While recording you can use the digital zoom, however, the higher the magnification the more pixelated your video will be. Video quality is good and runs smoothly, while the subject is kept in focus very well. While panning and using the full telephoto end of the zoom it is hard to keep the camera steady enough to avoid jerking all together when handheld, even with the O.I.S. turned on. The onboard mic is very sensitive and picks up a lot of background noise, meaning that the closer the audio source is to the camera, the better the sound quality will be in your movie.
Powering the A1000IS are two standard AA sized cells. We recommend using NiMH cells which will allow you to take roughly 2x as many pictures (approx. 450) as standard alkaline batteries (approx. 220) and provide roughly two hours more continuous playback time. Using NiMH batteries, I was able to capture around 100 images, several videos and complete all of my tests without having to recharge. We still recommend keeping an extra set of batteries on hand at all times, though in a bind you can always pick up a set of alkaline batteries.
Bottom Line - Canon's new Powershot A1000IS is a stylish, versatile and easy to use 10-Megapixel camera. With automatic shooting modes, pre-set scene modes and Optical Image Stabilization, this camera is easy enough for anyone to pick up and start shooting. Performance and image quality are also good for an entry level model. With all things considered and a MSRP of US$199.99, this is an excellent choice for anyone looking for an entry level digicam.
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