Canon Powershot A85 Review

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Canon Powershot A85

Review posted 8/19/2004

Click to take a QTVR tour of the A85

The PowerShot A85 is the 4-megapixel "big brother" of the PowerShot A75 and replaces the Powershot A70, one of the most successful cameras in Canon's seventy year history. The A85 builds on this success by adding new features that make it even easier to use, while at the same time giving the experienced user more options. Along with improved ergonomics and refreshed styling, the A85 includes a larger 1.8-inch LCD, 13 shooting modes, VGA resolution movie clips with sound, 9-point AiAF auto focus, and a Print/Share button plus extended print functionality.

The 13 shooting modes have been extended with 6 'special scene' presets, which help the user to get great looking results in sometimes tricky shooting conditions. They include presets for the beach, fireworks, underwater, foliage, snow, and indoor. The focus system has been upgraded to 9-point AiAF, for consistently sharp auto-focus even with non-centered subjects. The 3x optical zoom extends to 11x when combined with the digital zoom and has a respectable f/2.8-4.8 aperture.

The Canon DIGIC processor integrates all image processing algorithms onto a single chip to deliver fast processing and write times, minimal shutter lag, optimal image definition and consistently clean and natural color reproduction. iSAPS, an in-built photographer's assistant, analyses composition factors such as zoom position and luminosity in order to predict the type of photo being taken. This results in faster auto-focusing, more accurate auto-exposure and precise auto white balance.

The A85 features Canon's Print/Share button for single step printing and file sharing. When the camera is connected via USB cable to any PictBridge or Direct Print compatible photo printer or Windows PC, a blue light on the Print/Share button comes on to indicate successful connection. Pushing the button when lit instigates a print of the currently displayed image (based on the connected printer's default settings) or an automatic transfer of images to the PC . The camera transfers all images, all images not yet transferred, or all images marked for transfer, depending on the user setting selected in the Camera's set up options.

A wide range of optional accessories extends the camera's versatility, increasing both the range of circumstances in which it can be used and the type of photographs it is capable of taking. Wide and tele converter lenses vastly increase framing options and extend the camera's effective focal length range from approximately 25mm to 250mm , while an optional close-up lens is available for macro photography. The 40m depth waterproof case is great for diving, surfing, skiing, snorkeling and general beach fun.

Powershot A85 Features:

  • 4 Megapixel CCD imager for up to 2272x1704 pixel images
  • Postcard (1600x1200) mode with 3:2 ratio for making 4x6" prints
  • 3x optical 35-105mm f/2.8-4.8 zoom, 3.2x digital zoom
  • 1.8" color LCD with up to 10x playback zoom
  • Advanced TTL AiAF 9-point autofocus system
  • Program AE, Shutter-speed priority, Aperture priority and Manual modes
  • Movie mode w/sound, 640x480 for up to 30secs, 320x240 up to 3 minutes
  • 1.5fps Continuous burst capture up to 8 frames
  • Evaluative metering on focus point, Center-weighted or Spot options
  • Stitch Assist mode for perfect panoramas
  • Exposure compensation: +/-2EV in 1/3-step increments
  • White Balance: Auto, 5 presets or Custom
  • Photo Effects: Low Sharpening, Vivid Color, Neutral, Sepia and B&W
  • New Special Scene mode for shooting six common shooting conditions
  • Orientation sensor that automatically detects vertical or horizontal shooting
  • Low-light focus assist illuminator
  • Shutter speeds of 15 seconds to 1/2000 second
  • Selectable ISO settings from 50 to 400
  • Voice memo (up to 60 secs) can be attached to images
  • Built-in microphone and speaker
  • Powered by four standard AA type batteries
  • Direct print and PictBridge Compatible
  • USB connectivity for PC and Mac
  • CompactFlash Type I memory cards, 32MB supplied
  • Optional WP-DC30 Waterproof Case

Software supplied includes browsing and printing software ZoomBrowser EX (Windows) and ImageBrowser (Mac). Other software includes PhotoStitch, photo and movie manipulation software ArcSoft PhotoImpression and VideoImpression. Drivers include TWAIN (Windows 98/2000) and WIA (Windows Me). Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) support allows the camera to connect to any Windows XP and Mac OSX (v10.1/v10.2) system without the requirement for a driver installation.

Physical Views

Canon Powershot A85

Canon Powershot A85

Canon Powershot A85Canon Powershot A85

Canon Powershot A85

Canon Powershot A85

Canon Powershot A85

The A85 compared to an average CD disc.

Canon Powershot A85

The Powershot A85 and A95 for size comparison.

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Features & Controls

Powershot A85 Specifications
Camera Effective Pixels Approx. 4.0 million
Image Sensor 1/2.7-inch CCD (Total number of pixels: Approx. 4.2 million)

5.4 (W) - 16.2 (T) mm (35 mm film equivalent: 35 - 105 mm)
f/2.8 (W) - f/4.8 (T)
9 elements in 7 groups (1 aspherical element)

Digital Zoom Approx. 3.6x (Up to approx. 11x in combination with the optical zoom)
Optical Viewfinder Real-image zoom viewfinder
LCD Monitor 1.8-inch TFT color LCD, approx. 118,000 pixels
AF System TTL autofocus
Focus lock available
Focusing frame: 9-point AiAF/1-point AF (Fixed to center)
Shooting Distance (from the front of the lens)
Normal AF: 46 cm (18.1 in.) - infinity
Macro AF: 5 - 46 cm (2.0 in. - 1.5 ft.) (W)/
26 - 46 cm (10 in. - 1.5 ft.) (T)
Manual focus: 5 cm (2.0 in.) - infinity (W)/
26 cm (10 in.) - infinity (T)
Shutter Mechanical shutter + electronic shutter
Shutter Speeds
15 - 1/2000 sec.
15 - 1.3 sec. or slower shutter speeds are available in Shutter-speed priority mode or Manual mode.
Slow shutter speeds of 1.3 sec. or slower operate with noise reduction.
Light Metering System Evaluative, Center-weighted average or Spot
Exposure Control System Program AE/Shutter-speed priority AE/Aperture-priority AE/Manual exposure control
Exposure Compensation ± 2 stops in 1/3-stop increments
Sensitivity Auto, ISO 50/100/200/400 equivalent
White Balance Auto, pre-set (available settings: Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H) or custom
Built-in Flash Auto*, on*, off, Slow synchro
* Red-eye reduction is available.
Flash Range
Normal: 46 cm - 4.2 m (18 in. - 14 ft.) (W)
46 cm - 2.5 m (18 in. - 8.2 ft.) (T)
Macro: 26 - 46cm (10 in. - 1.5 ft.) (W/T)
(ISO speed set to Auto)
Shooting Modes
Creative zone: Program, Shutter-speed priority, Aperture priority, Manual
Image zone: Portrait, Landscape, Night scene, Fast shutter, Slow shutter, Special Scene (Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Underwater and Indoor), Stitch assist and Movie
Continuous Shooting
Approx. 1.5 shots/sec. up to 8 frames
(Large/Fine mode, LCD monitor off)
Self-timer Activates shutter after an approx. 2-sec./approx. 10-sec. delay
PC-controlled Shooting Available (USB connection only. Exclusive software program is included in the camera kit.)
Recording Media CompactFlashTM (CF) card (Type I)
File Format Design rule for camera file system and DPOF compliant
Image Recording Format
Still images: JPEG (Exif 2.2)*1
Movies: AVI (Image data: Motion JPEG; Audio data: WAVE (monaural))
Compression Superfine, Fine, Normal
Number of Recording Pixels
Still images:
Large: 2272 x 1704 pixels
Medium 1: 1600 x 1200 pixels
Medium 2: 1024 x 768 pixels
Small: 640 x 480 pixels
640 x 480 pixels (Approx. 30 sec.)*2
320 x 240 pixels (approx. 3 min.)
160 x 120 pixels (approx. 3 min.)
Approx. 15 frames/second
The data in parentheses refer to the maximum movie length per shooting.
Playback Modes Single (histogram displayable), Index (9 thumbnail images), Magnified (approx. 10x (max.) in LCD monitor), Auto play or Sound memos (up to 60 sec.).
Direct Print Canon Direct Print/Bubble Jet Direct/PictBridge compatible
My Camera Settings The start-up image, start-up sound, shutter sound, operation sound and self-timer sound can be customized using the following methods:
1. Using the images and sounds recorded on the camera.
2. Using downloaded data from your computer using the supplied software.
Interface USB (mini-B, PTP [Picture Transfer Protocol]) Audio/Video output (NTSC or PAL selectable, monaural audio)
Power Source
AA-size alkaline batteries (included in the camera kit)
AA-size rechargeable NiMH batteries (sold separately)

Battery Life: Alkaline approx. 250 shots (LCD monitor on)
Approx. 800 shots (LCD monitor off)
Approx. 280 min. (Playback)
NiMH (NB-2AH) approx. 500 shots (LCD monitor on)
Approx. 1200 shots (LCD monitor off)
Approx. 360 min. (Playback)

    AC Adapter Kit ACK600 (sold separately)

    Operating Temperature 0 - 40 degrees C (32 - 104 degrees F)
    Operating Humidity 10 - 90 %
    Dimensions 101.0 x 64.0 x 31.5 mm (4.0 x 2.5 x 1.2 in.) (excluding protrusions)
    Weight Approx. 200 g (7.1 oz.) (camera body only)
    (W): Wide-angle end, (T): Telephoto end
    *1 : This digital camera supports Exif 2.2 (also called "Exif Print"). Exif Print is a standard for enhancing the communication between digital cameras and printers. By connecting to an Exif Print-compliant printer, the camera's image data at the time of shooting is used and optimized, yielding extremely high quality prints.
    *2 : Recording time obtained when using the FC-32MH CF card (included with the camera) or the separately sold FC-256MH or FC-512MSH CF card (not sold in some regions).
    All data is based on Canon's testing standard. Subject to change without notice.

    Package Contents (U.S./N. America)

    • Digital Camera
    • Wrist Strap
    • 4-AA alkaline batteries
    • CompactFlash (CF) Card 32MB
    • Case for CompactFlash Card
    • AV Cable AVC-DC300
    • USB Interface Cable IFC-400PCU
    • Digital Camera Solution Disk (CD-ROM)
    • ArcSoft Camera Suite Disk (CD-ROM)
    • User Guides

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