Canon PowerShot A610 5.0 MP Digital Camera - Silver Reviews
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Canon PowerShot A610 5.0 MP Digital Camera - Silver

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Canon PowerShot A610 5-Megapixel Digital Camera - A Worthy Successor to Canon A95?

Oct 12, 2005 (Updated Nov 7, 2005)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

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

Pros:Compact, fast, easy to use, excellent picture quality, battery life, good LCD, resolution, features

Cons:Build quality, uses 4 AA batteries (I would prefer it used 2), ISO 400 noise

The Bottom Line: I highly recommended the Canon PowerShot A610 if you need a capable compact camera that produces excellent photos with print sizes of up...


After having positive experience with Canon PowerShot A520 and Canon PowerShot A95, I was eager to try the new 5-Megapixel Canon PowerShot A610. The A610 is a replacement for the acclaimed Canon A95 and I was able to buy it for only $249. Is it a worthy replacement for the A95?

Pictures

The pictures of the Canon PowerShot A610 as well as sample photos I took using it are available at the address below:

http://www.review-shop.com/Canon_A610/Canon_A610_Samples_1.html

You can copy and paste the above address into your browser's address area.

Two Reviews

I will provide two reviews below. The first one (short version) will be targeted to people who don't want to read through multiple pages of text to figure out if the camera has what they want and if it performs well. It is targeted to a casual user rather than somebody who cares about the small details and features.

The second version will contain the description of the more advanced aspects for those who are interested in them. By separating this information into a second, larger review, I hope to avoid boring casual shooters to death with information about things they might not need.

What is Canon PowerShot A610?

The Canon PowerShot A610 is a 5-Megapixel compact digital camera with a 4x optical zoom (35-140 mm equivalent), 2-inch articulated Vari-Angle LCD screen, zooming optical viewfinder, acclaimed Canon DiG!C II (Digic 2) Image Processor, 20 shooting modes including Full Auto, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual Mode, Scene modes. It stores pictures on SD (Secure Digital) or MultiMedia memory cards (16 MB SD card supplied) and features USB connection to PC and Mac computers.

It also supports direct printing (without computer) with PictBridge compatible printers. The camera is powered by 4 AA batteries (four disposable alkaline AA batteries are supplied, rechargeable NiMH batteries are recommended).

Features

The Canon A610 is an update to the popular 5-Megapixel Canon PowerShot A95. It upgrades the A95's 4x optical zoom to newly designed sharp 4x optical zoom (35-140 mm in 35mm equivalent with maximum apertures f/2.8-f/4.1). The shutter speed range is 15-1/2,000 sec.

Just as the A95, the A610 uses 4 AA-type batteries. Canon claims about 350 shots on alkaline batteries or 500 shots on AA NiMH rechargeable ones.

The A610 has a low-light focus assist illuminator that helps it focus in low light. The orientation sensor detects if the camera is held horizontally or vertically and saves the pictures appropriately.

The camera features selectable Evaluative, Center-Weighted and Spot metering modes. The camera has a built-in flash with adjustable output (+/- 2 stops in 1/3 EV steps). The camera has Auto or selectable ISO of 50-400.

The available movie mode records movies with sound (the camera has a microphone and a speaker) at 640x480 with 30 or 15 fps frame rate, 320x240 at 15, 30 or 60 fps and an economy movie resolution of 160x120 at 15 fps.

The camera also has a Macro mode where it can focus as close as 0.4 inches (1 cm) at wide angle or 9.8 inches (25 cm) at telephoto.

---------------------------Short Review---------------------------

Getting Started

Once I got the camera, I inserted four of my rechargeable AA NiMH batteries (Panasonic brand, 1600 mAh) and my SD memory card and was ready to shoot. The Canon PoweShot A610 is nice-looking and seems to be durable. Its body is made of combination metal/polycarbonate. It is rather compact and convenient to hold. The camera itself is rather light for its size, but gains weight and feels solid once loaded with four NiMH batteries.

One issue I have with the A610 is that it does not seem to be as well made as the A95 was. The removable ring around the lens (can be removed to attach accessories) rattle slightly when touched. The zoom control is not smooth when moved and makes a slight scraping sound. It feels like there is some unnecessary friction is going on there. And when you grab the handgrip, you can hear and feel the plastic panels squeak/move slightly against each other.

Also, the buttons on the back panel require different amount of effort to engage and some of them need to be pushed further in than others. The lids for the battery compartment and the ports/inputs seem to be on the flimsy side as well. Everything works well and I would not call the A610 flimsy, but it does not seem to be as well built as its predecessor.

The camera has an on/off button on the top deck as well as a zoom rocker, large shutter release button and a large rotating mode dial. The mode dial can be set to Auto mode, Program mode, multiple scene modes as well as, more advanced, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority or Manual mode as well as Custom setting.

The bottom of the camera has a threaded tripod mount and a battery compartment lid. The rear houses a 2-inch LCD monitor that can be flipped out and rotated, an optical zooming viewfinder, a review/shoot switch and control buttons. The buttons are well-arranged and clearly marked.

The side has a cover, underneath which you can find a USB jack, A/V jack and a DC power input. The cover is thin and seems to be a bit on the flimsy side. Below it, there is a cover for the SD card compartment. It is rather sturdy and if you open it while the camera is on, the camera turns off automatically to prevent data corruption.

The camera has a retractable lens that extends and has a lens cover that opens when the camera is powered on. When the camera is powered off, the lens retracts and the lens cover closes.

The camera takes about 2 seconds to power on and can capture images at about 1-2-second intervals (I used my Kingston Elite Pro SD memory card). The focusing takes less than a second and the shutter lag, when pre-focused, is almost unnoticeable. The zooming from wide angle to telephoto (or back) takes about 2-3 seconds and is responsive. I would prefer that it was more smooth, but it works well enough.

The camera can take more than 400 pictures on one charge of high-capacity NiMH batteries (I recommend at least 2000 mAh). I was able to take 170 photos using my old 1600 mAh batteries and the low battery warning has not appeared yet. Unfortunately, unlike cameras that use proprietary batteries, this camera does not show you the battery status. It can only detect when the battery is low.

The camera can be used in full auto mode (by rotating the mode dial to Auto position), where it is extremely easy to use. In this mode the camera sets all parameters automatically and you only have to point and shoot.

You press the shutter release button halfway to make camera focus and the camera shows you (on the LCD screen) where it focused by displaying one or more green rectangles. Then you take the picture by pressing the shutter release button all the way.

You can go one step further and select an appropriate scene mode (e.g. Portrait, Landscape, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Kids & Pets, etc.) to let camera know what effect you want. For example, in the Portrait mode the camera will try to keep the subject sharp while keeping the background blurry, but will try to keep both foreground and background sharp in the Landscape mode.

And if or when you are ready to take control, you can use the Aperture Priority mode (to control how much of your picture will be in focus) or Shutter Priority mode (to freeze fast motion or, on contrary, create motion blur) or even full Manual mode to control both the Aperture and Shutter Speed.

In most modes you can use Exposure Compensation to make pictures the camera takes brighter or darker. You engage it by pushing the upper-left button and then using the right and left arrows on the control disk. I discovered that it is slightly inconvenient that in the Aperture Priority mode you have to use the same left and right buttons to adjust the aperture.

This makes it a little difficult to adjust the aperture and the exposure compensation at the same time. You have to set the aperture first, then push the Exposure Compensation button and adjust the exposure compensation. Then push the button again to get back to the aperture adjustment. No big deal, but why did not they use the up and down buttons for one of the functions?

DIGIC II

The camera uses the newest version on DIGIC processor: DIGIC II. It is the same generation that is used in expensive Canon digital SLR cameras. It makes the camera fast in operation, responsive and helps it produce excellent pictures.

Easy of Use

I found the camera to be very easy to use. I have not read the manual, but was able to use all of its functions.

LCD

The LCD is one part of the camera that feels very solid and well-built. The 2-inch LCD screen flips out and can be rotated and the hinges feel very well-built. The amount of effort required to open, close or rotate the screen is a bit on the high side, but it gives impression of solidity.

The screen has good visibility in sunlight, has pleasing colors and is very fluid in good light. It gains-up in dark environments (increases brightness) but gets a little noisy and less fluid. Still, it is useful in situations where LCD screens on other cameras would be of no use at all.

Flash

The flash has an effective red-eye reduction mode and is sufficient at up to 10-12 feet away. It has a recycle time of about 6-7 seconds (depending on output and battery status). I find the flash powerful enough for most indoor situations.

Picture Quality

I discovered that the A610 produces excellent photos that are very sharp, contrasty and have amazingly beautiful colors. The automatic white balance worked very well and produced nice green foliage, nice-looking sky and richly-saturated reds and yellows. The camera has good detail level in both shadows and highlights. The pictures are very sharp and you can see individual blades of grass in the sample photo I took.

The skin colors are true to life and pleasing. Unlike some other cameras (including Canon SD Digital Elph series) that have noticeably softer edges of the frame, the photos taken with the A610 are sharp at the edges of the frame as well as at the center.

Usually, the smaller the camera and the higher the optical zoom it can provide, the softer the image becomes, especially at the corners of the frame as it is difficult to produce compact optics with high zoom levels. Surprisingly, the lens on the A610 is very good, despite its compact dimensions and the 4x power and produces sharp photos.

I did have to use some amounts of exposure compensation. For example, the camera (in default mode: evaluative metering mode) overexposed the outdoor shot slightly to preserve the shadow detail. I had to use -2/3 EV exposure compensation to prevent the sky from becoming too bright. The camera was still able to capture shadow detail at this exposure compensation level. See the aforementioned sample made with -2/3 EV compensation at http://www.review-shop.com/Canon_A610/Canon_A610_Samples_1.html

Noise and Print Sizes

The image noise is virtually absent at ISO 50 and appears (slightly) at the ISO 100 in the shadows. It gets more pronounced at ISO 200 and gets rather bad at ISO 400. Still, if you are printing 6x4 or 5x7 pictures, the noise should not be visible up to (and including) ISO 200 and barely visible at ISO 400. And with 5-megapixel shots the camera produces, you can print your photos at up to 8x10, 11x14 (ISO 50-200) and even 13x19 inches with good detail (ISO 50-100).

Recommendation

I highly recommended the Canon PowerShot A610 if you need a capable compact camera that produces excellent photos with print sizes of up 13x19 inches, has 4x zoom and uses AA batteries. Whether you want point-and-shoot simplicity or full manual control, the A610 delivers excellent results with sharp, pleasantly-colored photos.



---------------------------Full Review---------------------------

More on Image Quality

The A610 produces sharp and contrasty photos that have a pleasing "Canon" color with slight oversaturation, slight warm cast and cyan shifted towards blue - the kind of color consumers like. The automatic white balance works well.

The photos seem to have good dynamic range and preserve detail in both shadow and detail well.

The lack of noise at ISO 50 and very minimal amount of noise in the shadows at ISO 100 is a good thing. But the noise at ISO 400 makes the ISO 400 all but unusable at any size over 6x4 or maybe 7x5 inches.

I was able to find only small amounts of chromatic aberration (purple fringing) in the areas of high contrast. You can see the sample photos I took to see the results for yourself.

LCD and Viewfinder

The camera has a 2-inch articulated (rotating) LCD screen and an optical zooming viewfinder. The LCD coverage as about 100% - you can see exactly what will be recorded. The viewfinder, however, is tight and does not cover everything that will be recorded. This is typical for a compact digital camera.

Computer Connectivity

The camera uses USB connection to transfer pictures to a computer. You can also remove the SD memory card and use a memory card reader (if you have one). I used my memory card reader for photo transfer.

Color Effects

You can adjust color saturation by selecting Vivid or Neutral color in addition to the standard setting. In Vivid mode, the saturation is increased and I find that it provides too much saturation. I don't use this mode.

In the Neutral mode, the saturation is decreased. I find it useful mainly in the low light conditions to reduce noise and make images more true-to-life.

Also available Black and White, Sepia and Low Sharpening effects. The former two are nothing to write home about - just regular modes that are quite useful if you want to give your photos an old look. The Low Sharpening effect reduces in-camera sharpening and lets you sharpen your photos later, in software (e.g. Photoshop). This gives you more control over sharpening and might help with noise in low-light conditions shooting at high ISO.

Image Quality Settings

The camera lets you select between Standard, Fine and Superfine compression levels (regardless of resolution). At the highest resolution of 2592x1944 pixels, the Fine JPEG can be of about 1.9-2-Megabyte size. This is the setting I used more often.

In the Standard mode, some fine detail is lost. I would only use SuperFine mode for high-resolution pictures intended for printing or post processing. But for web/email or conserving space on the memory card, other modes are viable options. The Fine mode is more than enough for 6x4 or 5x7 prints.

White Balance

The camera's automatic white balance is quite accurate and worked well.

Build Quality and Ergonomics

Some camera elements are on the flimsy side, but the materials as well as fit and finish are good. The rotating mode dial and the sliding review/shoot switch require just the right amount of effort. The LCD hinges are a bit stiff. The battery door and the lid that covers inputs could be more solid.

The camera is convenient to hold and its compact size lets you put it in a jacket pocket or a purse easily. The major controls are within easy reach and the tactile response is OK.

Menu System

The menu system is rather easy to use and has pleasing colors. It is pretty responsive too, which is an improvement over the previous cameras as well as the A520 and A510, which use older version of DIGIC.

Focusing

You can let camera focus using its AiAF 9-area focusing system and the camera will show you green rectangles over the areas where it focused so that you can confirm the focus areas. You can also switch to the 1-point focusing or use the manual focus.

The arrow down button switches the camera to Macro mode when pushed once, and to the manual mode when pushed again. The camera shows you a scale in your chosen units (cm or inches) and magnifies the central portion of the screen to let you confirm the focus. Cumbersome but it works. In dim lighting the magnified portion can get pretty noisy, however, which makes manual focusing more difficult.

Manual Mode

You can adjust both the aperture and shutter speed in the Manual mode. The camera shows you the under/overexposure as evaluated by the camera once the shutter button is half-pressed. You can also adjust the flash output (albeit only in three steps) in the manual mode.

How Does It Compare to Canon PowerShot A520?

There are several key differences with the 4-Megapixel Canon PowerShot A520. The A520 has lower resolution, slower lens, smaller fixed LCD screen and uses an older version of DIGIC processor. But it only needs 2 AA batteries and seems to be better built. If you don't need to print big enlargements and if 4-Megapixel resolution is sufficient for you, the Canon A520 may be a good choice.

How Does It Compare to Canon PowerShot A620?

The Canon PowerShot A620 has higher resolution (7.1MP vs. 5MP) and comes with a 32MB memory card vs. A610's 16MB. Aside from that, it is pretty much the same. If you need higher resolution, check out the 7.1-Megapixel Canon PowerShot A620.

What I Like

The camera is fast, easy to use and produces excellent picture quality. It has a lot of features and manual controls. It has good size and weight and excellent LCD screen. The battery life is very good.

What I Dislike

The build quality could be better. I would prefer that the camera used 2 AA batteries instead of 4. The noise at ISO 400 is high.

Bottom Line

I highly recommended the Canon PowerShot A610 if you need a capable compact camera that produces excellent photos with print sizes of up 13x19 inches, has 4x zoom and uses AA batteries. Whether you want point-and-shoot simplicity or full manual control, the A610 delivers excellent results with sharp, pleasantly-colored photos.




My Reviews of Other Digital Cameras

Canon:
Canon Powershot S2 IS Digital Camera Review
Canon Powershot S1 IS Digital Camera Review
Canon PowerShot A620 7.1-Megapixel Digital Camera Review
Canon PowerShot A610 5-Megapixel Digital Camera Review
Canon PowerShot A520 4-Megapixel Digital Camera Review
Canon PowerShot A510 3.2-Megapixel Digital Camera Review
Canon PowerShot A410 3.2-Megapixel Digital Camera Review
Canon PowerShot A95 5-Megapixel Digital Camera Review
Canon PowerShot S70 7.1-Megapixel Digital Camera Review
Canon PowerShot S60 5-Megapixel Digital Camera Review
Canon PowerShot S500 5-Megapixel Digital Camera Review
Canon PowerShot S410 / Digital IXUS 430 Digital Camera Review
Canon PowerShot SD200 3.2-Megapixel Digital Camera Review
Canon PowerShot SD300 4-Megapixel Digital Camera Review
Canon PowerShot SD400 5-Megapixel Digital Camera Review
Canon PowerShot SD450 5-Megapixel Digital Camera Review
Canon PowerShot SD500 7.1-Megapixel Digital Camera Review
Canon PowerShot SD550 7.1-Megapixel Digital Camera Review

Panasonic:
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5 5-Megapixel Digital Camera with 12x Optical Stabilized Zoom Review
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20 5-Megapixel Digital Camera with 12x Optical Stabilized Zoom Review
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ1 4-Megapixel Digital Camera with 6x Optical Stabilized Zoom Review
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ2 5-Megapixel Digital Camera with 6x Optical Stabilized Zoom Review
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ4 4-Megapixel Digital Camera with 12x Optical Stabilized Zoom Review
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ15 4-Megapixel Digital Camera Review
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ3 Digital Camera Review
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2 Digital Camera with 12x Leica Lens and Optical Image Stabilizer Review
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1 Digital Camera with Optical Image Stabilizer and 12x Leica Lens Review

Olympus:
Olympus Camedia C-765 4.0-Megapixel Digital Camera with USB and ED Lens Review
Olympus Camedia D-580 / C-460 4.0-Megapixel Digital Camera Review
Olympus D-565 Zoom Digital 4-Megapixel Camera Review
Olympus D-575 Zoom Digital Camera Review
Olympus D-595 Zoom Digital Camera Review
Olympus Stylus 410 4-Megapixel All-Weather Digital Camera Review
Olympus Stylus 500 Digital Camera Review
Olympus Stylus 600 Digital Camera Review
Olympus Stylus 800 Digital Camera Review

Sony:
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-H1 Digital Camera Review
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-M1 Digital Camera Review
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-P200 Digital Camera Review
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-S40 Digital Camera Review
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-S60 Digital Camera Review
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-T1 Digital Camera Review
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-T33 Digital Camera Review
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-T5 Digital Camera Review
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-T7 Digital Camera Review
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W5 Digital Camera Review
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W7 Digital Camera Review

Fuji:
Fuji FinePix A345 Digital Camera Review
Fuji FinePix A350 Digital Camera Review
Fuji FinePix E500 Digital Camera Review
Fuji FinePix E510 Digital Camera Review
Fuji FinePix E550 Digital Camera Review
Fuji FinePix E900 Digital Camera Review
Fuji FinePix F10 Digital Camera Review
Fuji FinePix F450 Digital Camera Review
Fuji FinePix S5200 Digital Camera Review

Kodak:
Kodak EasyShare C340 Digital Camera Review
Kodak EasyShare CX7430 Digital Camera Review
Kodak EasyShare V550 Digital Camera Review
Kodak EasyShare Z700 Digital Camera Review
Kodak EasyShare Z740 Digital Camera Review
Kodak EasyShare Z7590 Digital Camera Review

Konica Minolta:
Minolta DiMAGE Z2 Digital Camera Review
Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5 Digital Camera Review
Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z6 Digital Camera Review

Nikon:
Nikon D50 Digital SLR Camera Review

Pentax:
Pentax *istD Digital SLR Camera Review


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 249
This Camera is a Good Choice if You Want Something... Flexible Enough for Enthusiasts

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