Please excuse the quality of these screen shots. The camera did not include an AV cable, therefore we had to photograph the LCD.
In shooting mode the default screen shows basic information, such as the flash setting, file size setting, and shooting mode (indicated by the Auto icon at top right). The display also indicates that movie quality is set to 1280 x 720, and that there are more than 95 minutes of video time left on the memory card at the current quality setting. The white auto focus box indicates that focus is not yet locked. To hide all settings information you press the display position (downward) on the four-way control.
When the camera has locked focus, the camera beeps and the AF box turns green. Once this has happened, the camera also the displays the shutter speed, aperture and ISO setting to be used along the bottom of the screen. If the camera is in Program mode you will also see an icon in the lower left corner indicating the metering mode.
In addition to the typical Auto and Program modes, Canon offers something called Live mode. For beginning photographers with aspirations beyond automatic controls, this is a good place to start. Rather than relying on a scene mode to match a setting, the camera gives you three parameters for tweaking the color. The icon at bottom left directs you to press the display position on the four-way control (downward) to launch the Live menu.
In Live mode, almost all settings are automatic except for the color adjustments shown in the next screen. One exception is the focus range setting, which appears in the same menu as the shooting modes (and is explained below).
The Live menu has three adjustments, pictured above: dark to light, neutral to vivid, and cool to warm. It's a good place to start to begin understanding how slight color temperature changes can affect a photo.
The focus range feature has three settings: macro, normal (the default), and infinity. It's an odd setting for use with auto focus. It seems aimed at users who can't figure out the easier solution for inaccurate focus due to the camera misreading the depth of field: You simply place the AF box on your subject, press the shutter button halfway to lock focus, then reframe your shot while continuing to hold the shutter button halfway.
In Program mode, you can adjust the ISO manually from 100 to 1600. This, along with the ability to change the white balance in Program mode, is about the extent of the manual controls on this camera. There is no full manual mode (in which you can independently set the aperture and shutter speed), or aperture- or shutter-priority modes.
This ISO range does not go as high as many other cameras, but whether you would want it to is worth asking. That's because even at modest ISO settings, the camera produces images with a fair amount of digital noise in them. Even at ISO 200 in a room fairly well lit by ambient light, the camera's shot showed noticeable digital noise. This isn't likely to bother the beginning photographer, or those who will only view the images at modest sizes on phone or computer screens. But the artifacts are visible when viewed on larger screens.
Because of this camera's intended audience, there is not an ISO position on the four-way control. It's been traded in for other beginner-friendly options like the Eco mode for saving battery life and Auto mode.
In shooting mode, the center button of the four-way control (functions/set) brings up a column of settings on the left side of the screen. The options appear in a second column.
The shooting mode Digital IS is your third choice of shooting mode after Program and Live. The "IS" stands for image stabilization, yet how it works is different from what you might expect. Rather than use any sort of optical anti-shake technology or digital processing on a single image, the camera in this mode takes multiple shots and then combines them. The manual advises you not to use this for photographing people or any other moving subject matter. The ideal candidate is a building at night and you're hand-holding the camera and perhaps you've had too much caffeine. To compensate for your shaky hands, the camera combines three shots.
How much of an improvement this makes I found it difficult to determine for sure. Some fine details showed very little to no improvement over the same shot taken in Program mode, while others looked subtly sharper. The most dramatic difference I saw was on a smooth surface that looked blotchy with digital artifacts in Program mode and when shot in Digital IS (both images captured at ISO 1600) it looked smoother, with less digital noise. Rather than reduced blur, you might call that increased (but welcome) blur.
There are a total of 16 shooting modes on this camera. They cover the bases of the likely most-used scene modes and effects, foregoing more wildly imaginative and manipulative effects, such as beauty fixes and artistic effects such as sketch or water color.
Shooting modes menu:
- Live View Control
- Digital IS (composite image to reduce blur)
- Face self-timer (timer begins when new face enters the frame)
- Low light
- Fisheye effect
- Miniature effect
- Toy camera effect
- Super vivid
- Poster effect
- Long shutter
The leftward position on the four-way control brings up the Eco menu, which is a simple on or off affair. When turned on, Eco mode turns off the LCD after 2 seconds of inactivity in shooting mode (it doesn't affect playback mode). Per the company's specified battery rating, using Eco mode will get you an additional 80 shots on a single charge, increasing batter life from a modest 220 shots to a more noteworthy 300.
For a slim point-and-shoot camera without manual shooting mode, the PowerShot A2600 offers a fair number of adjustable settings. Most noteworthy are continuous auto focus, intelligent contrast correction, and auto focus point zoom.
- AF Frame: Face AiAF, Normal, Center
- Digital zoom: On, Off
- AF-Point Zoom: On, Off
- Servo AF: On, Off
- Continuous AF: On, Off
- Lamp Setting: On, Off
- Red-Eye Correction: On, Off
- i-Contrast: Auto, Off
- Review image after shooting:
- Display time: Off, quick, 2 sec., 4 sec., 8 sec., hold
- Display info: Off, Detailed
- Blink detection: On, Off
- Grid lines: On, Off
- Date stamp: Off, date, date and time
In the setup menu you select your preferences for settings such as file numbering, LCD brightness, sound volume, date/time, and the like.
The camera records video at 1280x720 at 25fps (high definition), or 720x480 at 30fps (standard definition). The optical zoom is operational during movie recording, so zooming in doesn't degrade the video quality as digital zoom would do. The auto focus tends to track pretty well, and though the video quality isn't quite what you might think HD should be cracked up to be, it's descent for a bare-bones point-and-shoot camera.