Canon Powershot A590 IS Review

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Canon Powershot A590 IS

Steve's Conclusion

The newest "A" series model from Canon is the PowerShot A590 IS, upgrading the A570 IS from last year. With many of the same features as before, the A590 IS includes the same 2.5" LCD screen, AF assist lamp, Face Detection AF/AE/FE Technology, VGA sized movie mode (20fps instead of 30fps) and multiple shooting modes from full automatic with multiple scene modes to full manual for complete control. The main upgrade added to this model is an 8-Megapixel imaging sensor.

This compact camera shares the same dimensions as past A series models, featuring a large handgrip, making it comfortable to hold and easy to operate with one or two hands. The controls on the top and back of the camera are very well laid out and easily accessible when shooting. The 2.5" screen is very bright and easy to see in most lighting conditions. I did have a little trouble on a bright day with fresh snow on the ground, due to the reflective coating on the display. The screen also gains up in low lighting conditions to help you when framing your shots. A feature that has been carried over is the optical viewfinder, which is not found on many new cameras. This option gives the user an additional option when shooting fast moving subjects or a way to save on battery power. The optical view finder only shows about 80 - 85% of the image that will be captured compared to the LCD's 100%.

As usual the performance from this Canon camera was excellent. It was able to capture its first image in just 1.9 seconds from power up. Shutter delay, the time from when you press the shutter release until the image is captured, is less than 1/10 of a second when the camera is pre-focused and just 4/10 of a second when you allow the camera to focus. In single shot mode, the camera was able to capture 5 images in 7.3 seconds (.7fps) and 5 images with the flash in 18 seconds (.3fps). When shooting in burst mode, I was able to capture 10 images in 5.6 seconds (1.8fps), better than the 1.4fps listed by Canon. With the flash I captured 10 images in 12.2 seconds, a respectable .8 fps. All of our tests were completed using a Sandisk Ultra II 1GB SD memory card with the camera in Program mode, ISO Auto, flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless otherwise noted. Times may vary depending on camera settings, lighting conditions, media, etc.

Image quality from this 8-megapixel consumer model was excellent. The outdoor samples showed great exposure and vivid colors. Canon includes a nice 4x lens on this camera, that also features their Optical Image Stabilization system. This actually enables you to shoot at shutter speeds 2-3 stops lower than normal, helping reduce the effects of camera shake in your low-light or telephoto shots. The lens itself has a 35mm equivalent of 35-140mm, which is great for landscape and portrait shooting, giving you the ability to zoom in to help aid with framing. However, it is not enough of a zoom to single out an object off in the distance. The camera did an excellent job in controlling noise in the image and controlling chromatic aberrations (purple fringing), only showing slight instances in areas of high contrast.

Indoor portrait quality was also pleasing. Using Face Detection, portrait mode, auto flash and auto ISO makes taking portraits a breeze. The camera does an excellent job adjusting the flash to produce an image with good exposure and natural skin tones. Shooting at mid telephoto from about 6 feet away easily fits into the flash range of 11' at the wide angle. However, don't expect to be able to take close up portraits from across a room, unless you have plenty of available light.

There are several different movie modes that you can choose from for your video recording including 640x480 at 20fps (and LP), 320x240 and Compact (160x120) for email/web sharing. The video quality is good and they run very smoothly. The optical zoom is not functional during recording, however you can preset the desired focal length before starting or use the digital zoom when in a bind. The OIS is also very helpful for capturing steady videos without a tripod.

Powering the A590IS are two standard AA batteries. We recommend using NiMH cells which will allow you to take roughly 2x as many pictures (approx. 500) as standard alkaline batteries (220). Using NiMH batteries, I was able to capture around 100 images, several videos and complete all of my tests without having to recharge. We still recommend keeping an extra set of batteries on hand at all times, though in a bind you can always pick up a set of alkaline batteries.

Bottom Line - Much like the A570 IS, the Canon PowerShot A590 IS is an excellent compact digital camera. With an 8-megapixel imaging sensor, 4x optical image stabilized zoom lens and shooting modes that include auto, manual and everything in between, this is a camera that anyone will be able to use and enjoy. With all of the features, performance and quality from this camera it is an excellent choice and highly recommended with a street price of US$179 or less.

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