The slim PowerShot A2600 offers a telescoping zoom lens with a modest magnification of 5X. Its wide angle of 28mm (35mm equivalent) is a plus for shooting wide vistas or a broad area is tight quarters. The lens zooms in and out smoothly and quickly, and you can use it during video recording (a good feature to have), while some basic cameras only use digital zoom during video recording, which degrades the video quality. At wide angle, where the lens is at its best, optical distortion at the edges and corners is not obvious or very noticeable.
But the lens appears to have some optical challenges. The image quality of wide-angle landscape shots illustrates this: The sharpness of details is noticeably fuzzier when zoomed in midway, and even more so at full 5X zoom. If I had seen these shots without knowing, I might guess that the camera had used digital zoom. (See images IMG_0180 through 0182 on the Samples page.)
Where this lens performs best is up close. Macro shots turned out nicely for the most part - the lens can focus as close as 1.2 inch, which will get you very close to small subjects. I also liked how the lens created depth of field in macro mode (see IMG_0049 on the Samples page).
Lens Focal Length
5.0 (W) - 25.0 (T) mm (35mm film equivalent: 28 (W) - 140 (T) mm)
Normal: 1.2 in. (3cm) - infinity (W), 3.9 ft. (1.2m) - infinity (T)
Macro: 1.2 in. - 1.6 ft. (3-50cm) (W) Macro: 1.2 in. - 2.0 ft. (3-60cm) (W)
The small built-in flash does an adequate job for snapshots within a limited range. At wide angle, it's rated to work within 10 feet, and no farther than 6.6 feet when at telephoto. This won't allow a lot of flexibility, but for a basic point-and-shoot camera, it does its job.
Where you might get frustrated is in the slow recharging times. The company rates this vaguely at up to 10 seconds. Thankfully, I never had to wait that long, but I found that 3 seconds tended to be the typical wait time, which is still sluggish if you're trying to capture a lot of shots (or just trying to get people to pose for another group photo). In burst mode, the average time between shots with flash was 2.8 seconds.
Built-in Flash modes
1.6 - 9.8 ft. (W), 3.9 - 6.6 ft. (T)
10 seconds or less (Battery Voltage: 3.7V)
Flash Exposure Compensation
The 3-inch LCD screen has a modest resolution of 230,000 dots. It's adequate for shooting photos and viewing them. Even at this entry-level resolution, however, it's good enough for inspecting the focus on shots. When zoomed in on an image taken at a high ISO, the screen reveals the digital noise in the image.
For the most part, the screen has a wide viewing angle, so turning the camera partially away from you won't dim the preview and make it more difficult to take your shot. One exception, however, is when pointing the camera downward - here, the viewing angle is limited. When holding the camera overhead, the image begins to dim even before aiming 45 degrees downward. Another potential drawback is that the protective window is highly reflective, which can be a little problematic in bright sunlight.
3-inch TFT Color LCD with wide-viewing angle
Approx. 230,000 dots
The back panel of the PowerShot A2600 offers a fairly typical assortment of controls. The dedicated movie button at top launches video recording, and the playback and menu buttons at the bottom perform their appointed functions. The help button at top (labeled with a question mark) is aimed at beginners, and it launches a well-designed set of tips and explanations of the camera's features.
The four-way control offers a couple quick settings options: The rightward position launches the flash menu, and the bottom position rotates the LCD through three different views with varying amounts of camera settings information. The center button takes you to the main shooting menu where you can change the shooting mode, adjust the white balance or exposure compensation, among other options.
The top position offers a quick switch to Auto mode when you're in shooting mode; pressing it again returns you to the previously selected shooting mode (which can be a scene mode such as Portrait, or an effect such as Miniature). In playback mode this position serves as the delete button (indicated by the trash can icon)
The leftward position, labeled "Eco", is for saving battery life. Turning this feature on causes the LCD to turn off after two seconds of inactivity in shooting mode (it does not affect playback mode). According to the published specs, using Eco mode will increase your battery life from 220 shots to 300 shots. That's not the best battery life rating for a rechargeable Li-ion battery, but at least Eco mode can add mileage.
The top of this slim camera is where you'll find the power button and shutter button, which is surrounded by the zoom ring. You use this both to zoom the lens and to magnify images in playback mode (or zoom out to index views of thumbnails by pressing leftward).
No crazy assortment of ports here. This basic shooter has just the one mini-USB/AV port for transferring images to a computer. It sits behind a rubberized flap around the corner from the movie and help buttons. USB cable not included.
The PowerShot A2600 comes with a rechargeable Li-ion battery and charger. In Normal shooting mode its batter life is a meager 220 shots. Using the Eco mode to more quickly turn off the LCD in shooting mode will extend that to 300 shots.
Photos and videos are stored on an SD card. The camera supports the SD, SDHC and SDXC Card formats.
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