Steve's Conclusion

Steve's SnapShot
  • 20MP CCD sensor
  • 10x optical zoom lens
  • Image Stabilization
  • 720p HD video
  • Smart Auto mode
  • Scene Mode
  • Eco mode
  • Built-in Wi-FI (with a dedicated button)
  • NFC
  • Pros
    • Almost no shutter lag in adequate lighting conditions
    • Camera has a fast startup
    • 10x zoom lens is nice feature inside such a small camera
    • Camera moves through its full zoom lens range quickly
    • PowerShot 190 is extremely small, fits easily inside a pocket
    • Autofocus works well, produces relatively sharp photos
    • ELPH 190 is very easy to use
    • Some special effect options have advanced settings
    • Dedicated Wi-Fi connection button
    • Low priced unit
    • Colors reproduction isn't as accurate as it should be
    • Camera works very slowly when using the flash
    • Flash is embedded in a corner of the camera
    • Continuous shot mode isn't really usable because it's so slow
    • Very limited manual control options
    • Limited to shooting in JPEG; no RAW option
    • Maximum ISO setting is 1600
    • LCD is smaller than average at 2.7 inches
    • LCD resolution is below average
    • No touchscreen or articulated LCD
    • Maximum aperture of lens is below average at f/3.0
    • Video is limited to 720p HD resolution and 25 frames per second
    • Four-way button is so small that it's very difficult to use
    • Camera is almost too small to be held comfortably while shooting
    • Battery life could be quite a bit better
    Timing Test Results
    • Power up to first image captured = 1.5 seconds
    • Shutter lag when prefocused = less than 0.1 seconds
    • Shutter lag with autofocus = 0.1 seconds
    • Shot to shot delay without flash = 2.6 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 2.3 seconds with review Off
    • Shot to shot delay with flash = 5.6 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 5.2 seconds with review Off
    • Continuous Mode = 10 frames in 12.8 seconds @ 20M
    All tests were taken using a SanDisk Class 10, 16 GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, Flash off, Review on, ISO Auto and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
    Bottom Line
    The Canon PowerShot ELPH 190 IS feels like a blast from the past, as many of its features seem like they were more common on point-n-shoot cameras from a few years ago. The ELPH 190 is plagued with a 2.7-inch LCD screen, a maximum 720p HD video resolution, tiny control buttons, inconsistent color accuracy, and an unusable continuous shot mode, all of which were problems that were common a few years ago in the low end of the compact camera category. The ELPH 190 does have a 10x optical zoom lens and virtually no shutter lag in bright scenes, which are nice to find, but there's too many drawbacks with this camera to recommend it, unless you can find it at a significant bargain to its MSRP of $159.
    Pick This Up If...
    You're frustrated with your smartphone camera because it doesn't have an optical zoom lens, you don't plan to shoot many flash photos, and you have a very small camera budget.
    Having a chance to test the Canon PowerShot ELPH 190 IS point-n-shoot digital camera gave me a powerful feeling of déjà vu, At times, I was sure I had tested this same camera a few years ago.

    And that's the biggest problem for the ELPH 190: While using it, often it feels like the camera belongs in about 2012 or 2013, not 2016. Certainly there are a few aspects of the PowerShot ELPH 190 that performed better than expected. But for the most part, this is a camera that's going to struggle in this market, even when Canon is offering it at a low price.

    Before we discuss the Canon 190's deficiencies, let's discuss the positives for this model.

    Certain aspects of the Canon PowerShot ELPH 190's performance speeds are surprisingly good, especially considering Canon gave this model its DIGIC 4+ image processor, which was introduced a few years ago. You can record your first image about 1.5 seconds after pressing the power button, which is fast for a camera in this price range.

    The zoom lens in the Canon PowerShot 190 IS offers pretty good performance for a low-priced camera. It has a 10x optical zoom measurement, and the zoom moves through its full range in a quick 1.5 seconds.

    The camera's autofocus works well, resulting in decent sharpness with this model. It's not perfect, but it's pretty good for a camera in this price range. You'll have better luck focusing in decent light than in low light, which is common in a low priced camera.

    The PowerShot 190 IS camera is very easy to use. If you don't want to worry about manual settings or other complications, this model fits the bill. It works best when you're just pointing and shooting.

    Best of all, there's basically no shutter lag with this model when you're shooting in adequate lighting conditions, which is impressive for an entry-level camera.

    The disappointing aspects of the ELPH 190 begin with shutter lag problems when you're using the flash though. You can expect a shutter lag of at least 1.4 seconds when recording an image with the flash, which is slow enough that a fast moving subject is going to move through the frame before the image records.

    Trying to increase the ISO setting instead of using the flash in your low light photos isn't going to yield much better results, as the Canon ELPH 190 is limited to a maximum ISO of 1600, and even those images are going to have noticeable noise in them. Most cameras have made a big leap forward in ISO performance the past few years, but this model has not.

    Continuous shot mode with the PowerShot 190 is as poor as you'll find in a dedicated still image digital camera. There's only one continuous shot mode available, and it's extremely slow, requiring 12.8 seconds to record 10 full resolution images. Worst yet, the screen blanks out while shooting in burst mode, so you can't be exactly sure where you're aiming. This camera's continuous shot mode is so poor, it's really not worth using.

    Along those same lines, the control buttons on the back of the camera are poorly designed, making them uncomfortable to use. The four-way button is the biggest problem, as it is so small and set so tightly to the camera's body that it's difficult to press. And the Func/Set button in the middle of the four-way button is too small as well. This poor button design is common with Canon's compact point-n-shoot models, but it seems to be magnified with the ELPH 190.

    Another area where Canon's designers skimped on this model is in its LCD screen, which has the size and quality of a display screen that was commonly found on cameras from a few years ago, measuring just 2.7 inches diagonally. The screen suffers from glare problems too, which is disappointing because there's no viewfinder option with this camera.

    To continue the theme, movie recording is a disappointment with this model, as you're limited to 720p HD recording at 25 frames per second. At a time when digital camera manufacturers are beginning to incorporate 4K video recording resolution, the Canon PowerShot 190's inability to even provide full HD resolution video contributes to the feeling that this camera is behind the times. The camera has no HDMI port either.

    Then there's the ELPH 190's image quality problems. While most photos have pretty good sharpness, the camera's ability to set the exposure properly is inconsistent from photo to photo. Color accuracy is hit and miss too. During my tests I would shoot a series of four to six photos of the same object, and the color sometimes wouldn't be consistent from photo to photo. The test model of the ELPH 190 I had seemed to really struggle with keeping the consistency of warm colors, such as reds and oranges, from photo to photo. The differences are subtle, but noticeable. It's possible this was a flaw of the particular test model I was using, rather than a problem throughout the line of ELPH 190 cameras..

    Unfortunately, you can't do much to change the image quality by adjusting the camera's settings, as the ELPH 190 is designed as a very simple, automatic camera. This model has the least number of shooting menu settings options I've seen in a digital camera in a while.

    Canon did give this model 20-megapixels of resolution, which will help you maintain a high level of resolution if you need to crop your photo, but the 20MP setting doesn't help this model achieve great image quality, thanks in large part to the fact that the PowerShot ELPH 190 has a low-end 1/2.3-inch CCD image sensor.

    Battery power is a bit below average, even for a low-priced camera. And if you use the built-in Wi-Fi feature, you'll end up draining the battery pretty quickly. At least Canon included a separate battery charger with this model, which is easier to use than trying to charge the battery inside the camera.

    Bottom Line - It's tough to know exactly where Canon is aiming PowerShot ELPH 190 IS in the market. It's certainly an inexpensive model, but with an MSRP of $159, it's probably overpriced. Other than its resolution count, most of its features remind me of what you would have found in a low-end compact camera from a few years ago, so there's no reason for someone who already has a point-n-shoot model to migrate to this model. If you're looking for a first digital camera and you have a small budget, you probably can pick up a close-out model from a couple of years ago that's much less expensive, yet has similar features. And those who have a newer smartphone probably have a camera that can nearly match the ELPH 190's image quality, and perhaps even outperform it. That's not to say that the Canon ELPH 190 doesn't have some nice features. No smartphone camera can match the PowerShot ELPH 190's 10x optical zoom lens, and few can offer 20MP of resolution. As long as the lighting in the scene is adequate, this model has almost no shutter lag, which was a pleasant surprise. But there's still far too many below average features in this model, including a small 2.7-inch LCD screen, a maximum 720p HD video recording setting, a maximum ISO of 1600, tiny control buttons, slow performance when using the flash, and a continuous shot mode that's not really usable. Image quality is inconsistent in terms of exposure levels and color accuracy with warm colors. Even though the PowerShot 190 has a low starting price, I'd only recommend this model if you can find it at a pretty significant discount to its MSRP, you're frustrated with the lack of a zoom lens in your smartphone camera ... and you don't mind the feeling of déjà vu you're sure to have when you take this model out of the box.

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