Canon Powershot A550 Review

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Canon Powershot A550

Review posted 2/20/2007

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The PowerShot A550 is a very affordable 7.1 megapixel model with a 4x optical zoom lens and a 2.0-inch LCD screen. It features Canon's DIGIC II image processor for crisp, vibrant images, responsive performance, and low power consumption. Replacing last year's popular PowerShot A530, this new model offers not only higher resolution and a bigger LCD screen, but also better battery life and compatibility with SDHC memory cards. Operating this camera is even easier than before with a redesigned mode dial featuring five of Canon's most popular Special Scene modes for easier access, as well as standard fully automatic settings. The PowerShot A550 digital camera retains many hallmark A-series features, including an optical viewfinder and a comfortable handgrip, making it ergonomically friendly for comfortable handling while providing yet another option for viewing the subject and saving battery power while shooting.

The PowerShot A550 delivers high-resolution images without requiring users to exert additional effort. Using Canon's AiAF "Smart" autofocus system with their patented iSAPS intelligent scene analysis algorithm to determine optimum settings for focusing, exposure and white balance. The user simply snaps the shot with the push of a button. This model features 11 standard shooting modes for still pictures, automatically adjusting the cameras' settings to match the surroundings. Still shooting modes include Full Auto, Auto with manual adjustment of exposure compensation and white balance, Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids and Pets, and other Special Scene modes. Additionally, the A550 can record movies with sound - so you can capture your baby's first steps or first words with point and shoot simplicity.

Canon recognizes that capturing an image is only the first step towards the full enjoyment of digital photography and movie making. That's why all new PowerShot digital cameras are equipped with a variety of features to make viewing and printing your images easier than ever. For example, both still images and movies can be played back through compatible personal computers or television sets with accessory cables that are supplied at no extra charge. Additionally, the PowerShot A550 supports one-touch automatic downloading to compatible personal computers, and the supplied software automatically organizes images and movie clips according to the shooting date for easy archiving.

Canon enhanced the 'My Colors' mode found in the new PowerShot line. Where previously, users could only enable 'My Colors' while shooting, the current iteration permits captured images to be retouched as well, without the need for special software applications or tools. Available My Color playback modes include Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, and Vivid Red; lighter and darker skin tones, as well as options for creating black & white, sepia, neutral and positive film effects. A color accent setting turns all colors but the one selected by the user to monochrome and the color swap mode enables users to alter specific colors in an image by sampling another color from the same image or any other image on the memory card.

Like all PowerShot digital cameras, these newest additions to the A-series work seamlessly with Canon's petite SELPHY Compact Photo Printers - an essential PowerShot accessory. Consumers simply connect their PowerShot digital camera to a SELPHY printer - such as the SELPHY CP510 and CP710 models. Press the lighted Print/Share button, and within seconds , images emerge. Presto! It is that simple. Canon's SELPHY Compact Photo Printers are PictBridge compatible. They work with PictBridge enabled digital cameras and offer excellent image quality and ease-of-use, especially when paired with a Canon digital camera. At 28 cents-per-print , printing photos directly from a digital camera is both easy and affordable.

Powershot A550 Features:

  • 7.1 Megapixel CCD imager for up to poster size prints
  • 4x optical 35-140mm f/2.6-5.5 zoom, 4x digital zoom
  • 2.0" color LCD with up to 10x playback zoom
  • Advanced TTL AiAF 9-point autofocus system
  • Auto, Manual, and 10 Pre-programmed creative scene modes for beginners
  • Movie mode w/sound, 640x480 / 320x240 up to 1GB, 160x120 up to 3 minutes
  • 1.7fps Continuous burst capture of Large/Fine images
  • 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
  • Orientation sensor that automatically detects vertical or horizontal shooting
  • Low-light focus assist illuminator
  • Light-guide zoom flash, angle changes with focal length
  • Optional High-Power Flash HF-DC1
  • Shutter speeds of 15 seconds to 1/2000 second
  • Selectable ISO settings from 80 to 800
  • Voice memo (up to 60 secs) can be attached to images
  • Built-in microphone and speaker
  • Powered by two standard AA type batteries
  • Direct print and PictBridge Compatible
  • USB 2.0 high speed connectivity for PC and Mac
  • Secure Digital/SDHC memory cards, 16MB supplied

The PowerShot A550 digital camera is available now for an estimated selling price of US$199.99. The digital camera kit includes a USB cable, an audio/video cable, a wrist strap, a 16MB MultiMediaCard and AA-size alkaline batteries as well as the Canon Digital Camera Solution Disc Version 30, featuring the latest versions of Canon's powerful software.

Physical Views

Canon Powershot A550

Canon Powershot A550

Canon Powershot A550Canon Powershot A550

Canon Powershot A550

Canon Powershot A550

Canon Powershot A550

The A550 compared to an average CD disc.

Canon Powershot A550

The Powershot A550 and the 5-megapixel Powershot A460.

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Features & Controls

Powershot A550 Specifications
Camera Effective Pixels Approx. 7.1 million
Image Sensor 1/2.5-inch CCD (Total number of pixels: Approx. 7.4 million)

5.8 (W) - 23.2 (T)mm (35mm film equivalent: 35 - 140mm)
f/2.6 (W) - f/5.5 (T)

Digital Zoom Approx. 4x
Optical Viewfinder Real-image zoom viewfinder
LCD Monitor 2.0-inch, low-temperature polycrystalline silicon TFT color LCD, approx. 86,000 pixels
AF System TTL autofocus
Focus lock and Manual focus are available
9-point AiAF/1-point AF (fixed to center)
Shooting Distance (from the front of the lens)
Normal AF 45cm (1.5ft.) - infinity
Macro AF 5 - 45cm (2.0in. - 1.5ft.) (W)/
33 - 45cm (1.1 - 1.5ft.) (T)
Shutter Mechanical shutter + electronic shutter
Shutter Speeds
15 - 1/2000 sec.
The shutter speed varies according to the shooting modes.
Slow shutter speeds of 1.3 sec. or slower operate with noise reduction.
Metering System Evaluative, Center-weighted average or Spot (Center)
Exposure Control System Program AE, AE lock available
Exposure Compensation ± 2 stops in 1/3-stop increments
Sensitivity Auto*, High ISO Auto*, ISO 80/100/200/400/800 equivalent
* Camera automatically sets the optimal speed.
White Balance Auto, pre-set (Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent or Fluorescent H) or custom
Built-in Flash Auto, Auto w/Red-Eye Reduction, Auto w/Slow Synchro, Flash On, Flash On w/ Red-Eye Reduction, Flash On w/ Slow Synchro, Flash Off
Flash Range
Normal 45cm - 3.5m (1.5ft. - 11.5ft.) (W)
45cm - 2.2m (1.5ft. - 7.2ft.) (T)
Macro 30 - 45cm (1.0 - 1.5ft.) (W/T)
when ISO speed set to Auto
Shooting Modes
Auto, Camera M, Portrait, Landscape, Special Scene (Night Scene, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks) Indoor, Kids & Pets, Night Snapshot, Movie
Continuous Shooting
Approx. 1.7 shots/sec.
(Large/Fine mode, LCD monitor off)
Self-timer Activates shutter after an approx. 10-sec./2-sec. delay. Can be set using the custom settings.
Recording Media SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card, MultiMediaCard
File Format Design rule for camera file system, DPOF Version 1.1
Data Type
Still images Exif 2.2 (JPEG)*1
Movies AVI (Image data: Motion JPEG; Audio data: WAVE (monaural))
Compression Superfine, Fine, Normal
Number of Recording Pixels
Still images
Large: 3072x2304 pixels
Widescreen: 3072x1728 pixels
Medium 1: 2592x1944 pixels
Medium 2: 2048x1536 pixels
Medium 3: 1600x1200 pixels
Small: 640x480 pixels
640x480 pixels, 30/15 frames/sec. (max. 1GB)
320x240 pixels, 30/15 frames/sec. (max. 1GB)
160x120 pixels, 15 frames/sec. (approx. 3 min.)
The data in parentheses refer to the maximum movie length per shooting.
Playback Modes Still Image: Single, Magnification (approx. 2x-10x), Jump, Auto Rotate, Rotate, Histogram, Index (9 thumbnails), Sound Memos, Auto Play, Resume Movie: Normal Playback, Special Playback
Direct Print Canon Direct Print and Bubble Jet Direct compatible, and PictBridge compliant
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 2.0 high speed (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)
approx. 140 shots with alkaline batteries
AA-size rechargeable NiMH batteries (sold separately)
approx. 500 shots using NiMH batteries
AC Adapter Kit ACK800 (sold separately)
Operating Temperature 0 - 40 degrees C (32 - 104 degrees F)
Operating Humidity 10 - 90%
Dimensions 3.59 x 2.52 x 1.70 in. / 91.2 x 64.0 x 43.1mm (excluding protrusions)
Weight Approx. 160g (5.64 oz.) (camera body only)
Specifications as represented by the Manufacter

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Features & Controls

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