Canon PowerShot A3100 IS 12.1 MP Digital Camera - Red Reviews

Canon PowerShot A3100 IS 12.1 MP Digital Camera - Red

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The great value camera my daughter loved

Sep 24, 2010 (Updated Sep 24, 2010)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Ease of Use:
  • Durability:
  • Battery Life:
  • Photo Quality:
  • Shutter Lag

Pros:Good pictures, practical, Optical Image Stabilization, intuitive interface, many special modes, face detection, enough features.

Cons:Shutter lag, flash may take a while to recharge.

The Bottom Line:

Considering its cost and size this camera takes great pictures with little photography knowledge. It is easy to use and I have very few complaints.


We bought this camera for our then ten year old daughter about 7-8 months ago. She used it extensively to take photos of herself, our dogs, her friends and other things. The second half of June, we took a vacation to Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, and to Washington DC. I left my camera at home so we used this camera for the entire trip.

It actually turned out to be a blessing that I forgot my larger and more advanced camera. My camera is a little heavy and bulky and cannot be carried around that easily. This camera fits in your Jeans pockets, like a small wallet, so there is nothing to carry. You can take it on rides, roller coasters, shows, and there is nothing to worry about. I took hundreds of pictures using this camera, as well as movies, and so did my daughter and it turns out that the quality is pretty good despite the cameras small size. You can see some of these pictures on my facebook profile. However, I will soon be posting them on my user profile here on epinions. Well you can already see one of the pictures, the one with Jasmine and my daughter, but it is a thumbnail and it does not say much about the camera.

Anyway, the camera broke yesterday and it looks like it is beyond repair. However, this was due to mishandling of the camera of the kind that not many cameras would have survived. Well, when our big dog Bronco (Leonberger) chewed up my son's laptop Best Buy said the service plan covered it. Maybe we'll get lucky.

Finally, this review might also be seen as a Eulogy for the camera.


The Canon PowerShot A3100 IS (Image Stabilizer)

The Canon Powershot A3100 IS camera is a cheap small (3.8X1.1X2.3 inch) 12.1 Mega Pixels point and shoot kind of camera that is easy to use. It has a 4X Zoom and feature an Optical Image Stabilizer. Image Stabilization reduces blur in situations with low light and maximum zoom. Optical Image Stabilizing is often considered a good approach to Image Stabilization and is usually more expensive. It should be noted that many cameras in this price range do not even have any Image Stabilization. The camera has a so called DIGIC III Image Processor which features Face Detection Technology. In my experience the Face Detection Technology works very well. Every time I took a photo of the family it found the faces of everyone in the family (except my face). It clearly displayed some artificial intelligence.

On top of the camera there is a round turn button which you use to set the mode (Program Mode (P), Smart Auto, Easy Mode, Portrait, Landscape, Night Snapshots, Kids&Pets, Indoor, SCN Mode, Movies). The SCN mode features; including Low-Light, Beach, Foliage, Snow, Fireworks, Super Vivid, and Poster Effect. Smart Auto works well in most every day cases. All you do is zoom in, focus by pressing the button half way, and then you press the button. It automatically adjusts for light conditions and background but not perfectly. The Easy mode is essentially the same thing except it makes other buttons/settings inoperable for "clumsy people".

The buttons and menus for this camera closely follow the interface standards for point and shoot Canon and Kodak cameras, and it is easy to figure out. For example, how to take pictures, turning flash on and off, how to view photos, delete photos, and change mode, are things even a kid instantly knows how to do without reading the user manual and without camera experience. I should say that I have handled small cameras that were quite unintuitive and strange and it wastes time trying to figure out. You should not have to read the users manual to do these things. Sometimes you are handling a stranger's camera and you don't have it anyway. So to me having the basic functionality instantly obvious is a great advantage.

Some interesting features included with the camera is that you can take long exposure photos up to 15 seconds, you can set a time delay 0-30 seconds, continuous shooting, changing ISO speed and white balance, shooting close ups (Macro), using index searching when viewing photos and skip 100 or 1000 at a time, or search by category (if you defined categories), select a particular face to focus on (based on face detection), just don't focus on mine. The image size choices that you have are 4000X3000, 3264X2448, 2592X1944, 1600X1200, 640X480, and 4000X2248. I should say that in dim light it may not be wise to choose a high pixel selection.

One minor complaint is that I think there should be a Macro mode immediately accessible by turning the top thumb wheel button. Instead you have to press two buttons to get there.

The images are stored to SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards that you naturally have to buy yourself. SDHC/SDXC memory cards not only have larger capacity but they are typically much faster which improves the performance of the camera. The camera feature a Lithium-ion battery which makes the camera light and it still does not discharge fast (two days hundreds of pictures). The negative aspect of that in comparison to a camera with AA batteries is that you need to charge the battery often, and you should buy an extra batter. AA you can easily pick up anywhere but not a Canon specific Lithium-ion battery. The camera has fairly large 2.7 inch LCD screen (it covers most of the back of the camera).

I can add that it also comes with software for loading and editing images. I have not really used it much since I have better Photo Editing software and I just copy over the photos/videos using Windows Explorer. The package included (in addition to the camera) battery and battery charger, a USB interface cable (computer), AV cable (TV), wrist wrap, warranty card.


Miscellaneous thoughts and experience

This camera is perfect for kids (like my daughter) as well as for situations where you don't feel like lugging around a bigger camera. You get pretty good every day pictures despite the cameras small size. Well, with every day pictures I mean those that you take at Disney World and at home. You don't use this camera for nature photography or photography that requires extreme zoom.

I should say that despite the Optical Image Stabilization, Smart Auto, and the intuitive interface you can still take blurry and fuzzy pictures. Just forget to zoom, always use Auto, or use the wrong mode, like Landscape when you take a photo of a butterfly, run while taking your photos, take a picture at night without flash, or a far away picture at dusk/night with/without flash without using the night setting, etc. You still need to teach your kids the basics about taking a photo. Well, I am actually amazed about how many adults think that flash works on objects 200 feet away. Just go to a show held in darkness or dim light at a large stadium for evidence. A thousand cameras will be taking flash pictures from 200 feet away. If you don't know anything about taking pictures and you know nothing about your camera you can take bad pictures with any camera, even this one. That's life!

However, I have a few minor complaints. The shutter speed is sometimes a little slow, a second perhaps, and the LCD screen is a little fuzzy in bright light. However, the LCD screen brightness is adjustable. Pictures in low light do not come out great if you use the Auto/Easy mode. You may have to wait a long time for the flash to recharge.

Dear Canon PowerShot A3100 IS thanks for all the photos and videos, the fuzzy and bad ones, as well as the good ones. You served us well for many months. Too bad it had to end this way.


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 159
This Camera is a Good Choice if You Want Something... Easy Enough for Anyone to Use

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