Steve's Conclusion

By

Steve's SnapShot
A2400 IS blue front.jpg
  • 16.0-megapixel CCD image sensor
  • 5x Zoom Lens (28-140mm)
  • Intelligent IS (image stabilization) feature
  • 2.7-inch (230,000-dot) wide viewing angle LCD screen   
  • HD (720p) video recording  
  • Smart AUTO, which selects settings based on 32 predefined shooting situations
  • Program mode for minimum manual settings
  • Live View allows for quick adjustments
  • Help button provides tips and hints on various features
  • Toy camera, miniature, super vivid, poster, monochrome, and fisheye effects    

Pros
  • Camera is very easy to use
  • Help button provides explanations of A2400's various features
  • LCD is pretty bright and can be viewed in sunlight outdoors
  • Small camera fits easily in a pocket
  • Color accuracy is good
  • Special effects are easy to use
  • Several options for playing back images stored in the camera, such as multiple slideshow options
Cons
  • Control buttons on back panel are too small and aren't comfortable to use
  • Control buttons aren't raised away from the camera, making it difficult to press them at times
  • More experienced photographers won't find much to like due to a lack in manual controls
  • LCD screen is a bit too small
  • Larger optical zoom lens would be nice to have
  • No HDMI output
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 2.7 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = about 5/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay without flash =  4.5 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 2.6 seconds with review Off
  • Shot to shot delay with flash =  7.6 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 4.1 seconds with review Off
  • Continuous =  0.9fps @ 16M
  • All tests were taken using a SanDisk Class 4, 4 GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, Flash off, Review on, ISO Auto and all other settings at the factory defaults, unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
Although the extremely low price of the Canon Powershot A2400 IS will make it a tempting choice, keep in mind that it's aimed at beginners, and it doesn't give those with some photography experience much to entice them. The A2400 IS does do a decent job with photo quality, but its small control buttons are very uncomfortable to use.
Pick This Up If...
You need to pick up a digital camera at a low price that captures photos well indoors and out, and if you're willing to live with some flaws to achieve that low price. 
When Canon introduced its latest "A" series of PowerShot cameras early in the year, the company introduced a very narrow price range. All six "A" series cameras carried a suggested price tag between $100 and $200, and all are aimed entirely at beginning photographers. In the middle of that range is the PowerShot A2400 IS, carrying a suggested price of $159.99.

Among these new PowerShot cameras that included optical image stabilization, the A2400 IS is the least expensive model. For those who are unfamiliar, optical image stabilization is a nice feature for helping avoid camera shake in lower lighting, or when shooting at the telephoto end of the zoom range. Most cameras in this price range only offer digital stabilization, which is inferior to true optical IS like found on the A2400.

The A2400 IS follows along the lines of most budget-priced PowerShot cameras, as it's extremely thin and is available in a variety of colors. The front of the A2400 IS is available in blue, pink, silver or black; while the back panel is black. The lens housing is silver in all four designs.

Not surprisingly, with the A2400 IS aimed at beginners, you simply aren't going to find a lot of complex photography features with this model; nor are you going to be able to make use of extensive manual control options. Canon attempted to make this camera as easy to use as possible, and the company appears to have succeeded. Auto mode and Live mode are the only two options available at first glance, although you can reach a Program mode by drilling down through the Live mode menu.

Auto mode, which is where most beginning photographers will choose to spend their time, really gives you almost no control over the images, other than putting the flash in an automatic or off setting, as well as setting the resolution. In Program mode, you can make some basic manual settings, such as to the ISO or white balance. Canon also included a Help button on the back panel, which provides tips and advice for using some of the camera's features or for shooting in particular photography situations.

Outside of the inclusion of optical image stabilization with the A2400 IS, there just aren't any stand-out features here, which isn't all that surprising for a camera in this price range. The optical zoom lens is only 5x, which is going to disappoint some begining photographers. In addition, the LCD only measures 2.7 inches, which is smaller than most cameras introduced this year. The 16-megapixels of resolution looks great at first glance, but that's actually about average these days, even on low-priced cameras.

The look of the A2400 IS is a basic one that's pretty standard among low-priced Canon cameras. It has a standard rectangular look, and the camera's edges are slightly rounded. The lens fully retracts into the body of the A2400 IS when the camera is powered down, and the lens glass is protected by a panel when the camera isn't in use. When the camera isn't in use, it measures only 0.84 inches in thickness, with dimensions of 3.72 by 2.22 inches, all of which makes it easy to carry in a pocket. When you turn on the camera, though, the lens housing extends almost an inch beyond the camera body, and it extends even more when you use the zoom.

The back panel contains two of the most disappointing features of the A2400 IS camera. First, the LCD is small, as the camera's control buttons occupy a fairly large part of the back panel. Second, the control buttons on the back panel are far too small and are poorly designed to be used comfortably.

The LCD's quality is about average in terms of sharpness. However, Canon has created a surprisingly bright LCD screen in the A2400 IS, which is great to see in a low-priced camera. You can choose from five different brightness settings through the camera's menus, and when you use the brightest setting, you can easily view the LCD outdoors in bright sunlight without concerns about screen glare; which isn't always the case with lower-priced cameras. However, using the brightest LCD setting will drain the battery more quickly, so choose this option carefully if your battery power is running low. 

Canon has made a habit of using control buttons that are too small with its low-priced PowerShot cameras, and the A2400 IS, unfortunately, follows suit; which makes it difficult to press the buttons. None of the buttons on the back panel are raised away from the camera body, either, which makes it doubly tough to press the buttons properly. The four-way controler is worst of all, as it's depressed slightly from the camera body, which allows the FUNC/SET button to sit inside the four-way button. For someone with average-sized or large fingers, this type of button design will cause quite a bit of frustration. However, because you may rarely need to use the control buttons by using the camera in Auto mode the vast majority of the time, perhaps you won't worry about the tiny buttons as much as I did.

With only a 5x optical zoom lens, it's going to be tough to shoot a lot of great nature photos with this camera, especially if you're trying to capture animals from afar. Most beginning photographers are going to be pretty disappointed in the telephoto abilities of the A2400 IS, and they'll find that this camera is primarily best used for portrait types of photos because of the limited zoom. It does have some wide angle options, carrying a 35mm equivalent range of 28mm to 140mm.

Response times are about what you'd expect for a low-priced camera, with some shutter lag issues and some delays between shots, especially in low light or when using the flash. If you want to be sure that your images are going to be sharply focused, you're going to want to pre-focus as often as possible by pressing the shutter button halfway. If you are trying to shoot photos of fast-moving children or pets, you're probably going to miss a few images with this camera, thanks to its shutter lag and shot to shot delays. Trust me: You're going to become pretty tired of seeing "Busy" appear on the screen while the camera saves an image and prepares to shoot the next image. The A2400 IS has a burst mode, but it's only going to shoot about one image per second. This camera's start-up time isn't too bad at just under 3 seconds, especially for a budget-priced model.

When it comes to the quality of the images found with the PowerShot A2400 IS, you're going to find some nice results at first glance. The color quality is very realistic and images are bright, at least when shooting outdoors, which is a common strength for a budget-priced digital camera. However, the A2400 IS does a pretty nice job with the accuracy of colors indoors, too, with or without the flash. This doesn't always occur with cameras in this price range, unfortunately. Images do seem slightly dull when shot indoors with the A2400 IS, but its indoor images still are better than what you're typically going to find in similarly priced cameras. I was a bit disappointed that more aspect ratios and resolution options weren't included in the A2400. For example, there's only one resolution option (12 MP) at a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio. All other images must be shot at a 4:3 ratio, and you only have four resolution options, 16, 8, 2, and 0.3-megapixels.

The autofocus works pretty well in all types of shooting conditions. You'll notice a bit of softness when you view the images at large sizes on your computer screen, but this is a common problem for beginner-level cameras like the A2400 IS. As long as you aren't going to make extremely large prints, though, you probably won't notice this slight softness problem in most of your photos. The autofocus assist lamp does a better-than-expected job with images shot in extremely low light that require a flash, which is great to see. Considering how small the built-in A2400 IS flash unit is, it was nice to see this camera do as good of a job as it did with flash photos. Tiny flash units typically are a significant weakness for point and shoot cameras in this price range, so the A2400 IS does have an advantage over its competitors here. 

When you try to shoot without a flash and begin bumping up the ISO to 800 or 1600, you will notice some noise and softness in the images shot with this beginner-level PowerShot model, but you still can create small prints under these ISO settings. The A2400 IS doesn't include the ability to shoot at an ISO of 3200 or greater, but considering the quality of ISO 1600 images, we're probably not missing anything without an ISO 3200 option.

Movie quality is good with the PowerShot A2400 IS, but you probably aren't going to want to replace your digital camcorder with this camera. You can shoot either 720p HD or standard definition video. As with still images, the camera does a pretty good job with creating realistic colors when shooting movies. However, if you attempt to use the zoom lens when shooting video, you're going to be pretty disappointed, as the image quality suffers greatly when using the zoom, due to it being digital zoom only. If you want to capture video of more distant subjects, we recommend you zoom in with the optical zoom before you start recording. Audio quality is about average, too, as you'll have difficulty picking up voices or other desired audio unless there's very little background noise and you're located pretty close to the desired source. The A2400 IS does follow moving images pretty well in movie mode, but because the digital zoom's quality is so poor, shooting subjects that will be moving away from you becomes pretty difficult. This camera will work adequately if you must shoot video unexpectedly and you don't have your camcorder available, but I wouldn't rely on it all of the time for shooting movies. Another problem is that Canon did not include an HDMI slot with this camera, meaning your long HD videos will take quite a while to download through a USB connection.

I was pleasantly surprised with the battery life of the A2400 IS. Canon has included a pretty thin battery pack with this camera, so I wasn't expecting a good battery life span; but it was able to handle quite a bit of my testing and various work with the menus on a little over one charge session. Canon estimates the A2400's battery life to be about 180 photos and that number may even be a bit low, which is pretty rare for a manufacturer's estimate of battery life. Canon also included a separate battery charger with this camera, which is something that fewer and fewer budget-priced cameras include. This is a nice feature, because it means you can charge one battery while shooting with another. With other cameras, you must charge the battery inside the camera, meaning you are out of commission for shooting images while the battery charges. The battery charger plugs directly into an outlet with no need for a power cord that could be lost; which is also nice.

Bottom Line - Compared to other cameras that are in the PowerShot A2400's price point range, Canon has succeeded in the areas where it really should in a beginner camera: Ease of use and image quality. You aren't going to be able to make extremely large prints with the A2400 IS, but its image quality is above average versus other low-priced models. In addition, this model is one of the easier cameras to use that you're going to find, thanks to a limited number of features and because of its Help button. However, the A2400 IS has a significant design flaw in the size and placement of its control buttons. These buttons need to be larger and raised a bit away from the camera body to make them easier to use. This is a significant drawback for those who like to often work through the menus. If you're looking to capture nature shots, it's shorter 5x zoom may disappoint too. If you're someone who's happy shooting in fully Auto mode, meaning you don't have to use the buttons very often, and if you'll want to shoot more portraits than telephoto animal nature pictures, the low price of the PowerShot A2400 IS is tough to ignore.


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