Steve's Conclusion

By

Steve's SnapShotcanon_A3300is_front.jpg

  • 16-Megapixel Imaging Sensor
  • 3-Inch LCD Screen
  • 5x Optical zoom lens: 28-140mm (35mm equivalent)
  • Easy mode
  • Discreet Mode
  • Li-Ion Battery power source
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC/MMC+/HC MMC+ memory card compatible
  • 720p HD Video Mode

Pros
  • Well built body available in 5 colors; Red, Pink, Blue, Black and Sliver
  • Comfortable control layout for size
  • Captures nice 16-megapixel photos
  • Decent high ISO noise control
  • Smart Auto shooting mode is accurate and makes the camera incredibly easy to use
  • Uses a Li-ion power source (past "A" series used AAs)
  • More compact body than previous "A" series models
  • Captures decent 720p HD video
  • Easy on the wallet
Cons
  • Weak flash
  • Flash location is very easy to block with your fingers
  • No optical zoom during video
  • Very sensitive built-in microphone
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 1.7 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 2/10 to 4/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 2.7 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 3.8 seconds
  • Sequential burst =  0.6fps
  • GUI Navigation =  responsive
  • All tests were taken using a 4GB Sandisk Ultra II SDHC memory card, Smart Auto and Program Mode, ISO Auto, Flash off, Review off, and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The PowerShot A3300 IS performed well during our tests, with good shooting performance, pleasing image quality, and loads of easy to use exposure options. At just $179.99 US or less, it offers a great value for the size, features, and quality you receive.
Pick This Up If...
You're looking for an affordable compact camera for snapshots of friends and family, that is simple to use without any complicated settings.
The PowerShot A3300 IS features a 16-Megapixel imaging sensor, 5x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization, 3-inch LCD screen, Smart Auto and Easy shooting modes, new Live View Control, and plethora of scene modes for more creative photographs. This unit holds the top-of-the-line spot in Canon's Affordable "A" series line of compact digicams. The A3300 IS boasts easy to use exposure modes, and class leading features for a camera in the sub $180 price range. All of this combined makes the A3300 great competitor for a starter camera. 

The size and shape of the A3300 IS makes it a great pocket camera that is easy to operate. Just a tad larger than a small cell phone, and just a touch smaller than a deck of playing cards, the A3300 will have no problem fitting into your pocket or handbag. While compact, the camera fit well in our hands, which we found wrapping our right hand around the camera and pinching with the left hand offered the most comfortable hold. With the zoom controls wrapped around the shutter release, and the mode dial on the top of the camera for easy access, the A3300 IS is easier to use with two hands but is also manageable with one.

The controls on the back are your average size, and are easily distinguishable by color and icon displays. Framing and viewing images is done easily on the large 3-inch LCD, which offers 230k pixels of resolution. While not as resolute as monitors found on more expensive digicams, the display produced a nice view that was easy to see in most lighting conditions. Reflections can cause some problems as there does not appear to be an anti-reflective coating. Indoors the display will gain up to help you see your subject, however depending on how low the lighting is the live image on the screen can get a bit grainy.

Like we mentioned earlier, the A3300 is packed full of easy to use exposure options. With Smart Auto and Easy modes, the most inexperience camera user can capture nice snapshots in various shooting situations, with the camera automatically choosing the best possible scene settings from 32 pre-defined options. This is done in an instant, with the camera quickly analyzing the scene being framed. Canon also includes Program mode for those who want to play with the setting a bit, with access to advanced options for ISO, White Balance, Exposure Compensation, etc. You can also manually select one of 12 Scene mode settings, like the new Discreet mode which shuts off the flash, AF-assist beam and all camera sounds to avoid distractions (or waking up your sleeping child or pet). They've also added their new Live View Control mode. This setting allows you to change brightness, color, and white balance Live on the screen, so you can watch what will be affected as you change the settings; before actually capturing the photo. This type of functionality was first seen on Olympus' PEN Digital series cameras, like the E-PL2. Lastly, Canon has included some of their creative filters that allow you to apply fun effects to your photos, like Fish-eye and Toy camera.

When looking over the photos we captured with the A3300, I was pleased with their overall quality for a camera in this price range. Exposures a relatively good, colors are pleasing, and the 16-megapixel image sensor combined with the camera's 5x optical zoom were able to produce nice sharp photos with good fine details. Like we've seen with a large majority of consumer digicams, the A3300's Smart Auto mode produces colors which are a bit more saturated when compared to photos of the same subject using Program mode. This helps make photos stand out a bit more. If you're one who likes more natural colors, Program mode will give you more accurate representation. 

The Canon 5x optical zoom lens on the A3300 offers a nice versatile zoom range of approx. 28-140mm in 35mm equivalence. This range will afford you simple framing in a variety of situations. The wide end of the zoom is great for nice wide landscapes or group shots, and is also much more usable indoors in tight rooms when compared to cameras that start at 35mm. The 140mm telephoto magnification will not reach across the basketball court or baseball diamond, however it will help you tightly frame close-up subjects and allow you to bring objects a bit closer. Canon also includes their proven optical image stabilization system, which will help you produce sharper images with less blur from cameras shake when using the telephoto end of the zoom or when shooting in lower lighting. While closely examining our photos at 100%, we saw typical amounts of barrel distortion and other aberrations.

Moving indoors, the camera also performed well for a camera of this size. Like the camera, the built-in flash unit is very small and has a limited range of about 13 feet at wide angle. This means you'll want to keep subjects within at least 13 feet when shooting indoors with the flash, or even closer if using the zoom at all. The flash is located at the upper right hand corner when facing the front of the camera, which I found is very easy to block with your fingers; so you'll want to watch that you're not blocking the flash output. We achieved the best results when shooting from about 6 feet or so, using the mid telephoto capabilities of the zoom to tightly frame my subject. When shooting photos of people, the Face Detection system is able to quickly (almost instantly) find faces within the frame, locking exposure and focus to ensure you get beautiful faces. Our indoor images showed good overall flash coverage and pleasing skin tones. Thankfully, the Smart Auto exposure mode is able to control the ISO well, helping boost the flash's effective range without adding too much noise to the photo. Speaking of noise, the A3300 handles noise well up to about ISO 800. Even the ISO 1600 setting was able to produce usable photos for smaller sized prints.

If you're wanting to record some video, the A3300 IS can capture movies at a maximum of 1280x720 (720p HD) with sound. The frame rate is fixed at 30fps, and you also have options for lower resolution settings of 640x480 and 320x240. The optical zoom can not be used while recording, however you can preset the desired focal length before recording starts. The camera also offers a digital zoom option (up to 4x in movie mode), however we caution you to use it sparingly; zooming in too far can degrade the video quality quite a bit. Our video quality was pretty average for a consumer point-n-shoot. Playback is smooth, and the overall quality of the video is decent. The A3300 won't replace a digital camcorder, but it can capture usable HD video. Like most all digicams, the audio portion of video is average, with the tiny mic being so sensitive that you'll pick up all kinds of background noise that you probably didn't notice while recording.

Battery life is pretty average for a camera in this price range. The Canon NB-8L, 3.6V 740mAh, Li-ion battery pack can power the camera for up to 230 shots according to Canon using CIPA Standard testing (flash used 50% of the time). We captured over 100 still photos, recorded various short video clips, and concluded most of our other tests on a single charge. While we didn't capture 200+ photos, with extensive use of the menus and playback system we are inclined to think that Canon's claim is accurate. If you don't think 200+ photos per charge will cut it for your next vacation, you can pick up a spare battery pack for $60 or less, which can be charged in the handy AC charger. This unit offers fold-away prongs, so no cord needed, and you can charge one pack while using another.

Bottom Line - Canon continues to create affordable compact digicams that produce pleasing results, and the A3300 IS is no exception. This is a well put together compact camera that is loaded with useful and fun exposure options that will allow you to capture nice snapshots of friends and family. With an appealing feature set, the PowerShot A3300 IS offers great "bang for your buck" with a street price of $179.99 US or less.

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.