The Canon Powershot A460 is an entry level digital camera. It has five megapixels and a four times zoom lens. The amount of zoom is slightly more than you find on most entry level models. The main attraction of the Powershot A460 likely to be the relatively low price that gives you a chance to buy a digital camera made by one of the leading brands.
106.0 x 51.8 x 40.2m
Taking into consideration the price of the camera I would say that the Powershot A460 does most things well. My biggest concern was that I felt a certain amount of noise was evident in all the test pictures I took. This has led to a number of the photos losing a degree of definition.
Starting off with the outdoor scenic shots the plus points are the colours and the way the camera handles the glare from the sun. In terms of focusing I would suggest the Powershot A460 is roughly average compared to other entry level models. If you can pay a bit more you should see sharper photos. If you look closely at the first test shot you will see that focusing tends to fall away as you move towards the edges of the shot.
Another point I noticed was that there is a small degree of purple fringing in places. This is where a purple line is added to the edge of light coloured objects where they are caught by the sun. The levels of fringing are small, but it is worth pointing out. Looking at the sky I can see noise starting to creep in. This detracts from the smoothness of the blue sky.
When the zoom lens is not in use at all, as in the second test shot, the Powershot A460 produces a good quality shot. Here the sharpness of the picture is more impressive when compared to other digital cameras in this price range.
The zoom lens is fully extended for the third test shots and I am impressed with the overall result. The only niggle is where the noise levels creep up in the skies.
As I mentioned above I like the colour levels in each of these shots. These have a natural feel to them. The balance of the colours is also highlighted in the test for colours. I also think the contrast in the colours works well too.
My favourite test shot is the outdoor portrait. Although noise creeps in again. I especially like the colours of this shot as they give a pleasing warm glow to the photo.
Moving inside for some lowlight tests the camera finds the job of focusing harder. It does fairly well, but the indoor portrait is not quite in sharp focus. Red eye levels are quite low. The shot of beer bottles comes out well, although the onboard flash unit struggles to light the photo quite as well as some other cameras manage.
Taking into account the price of the Powershot A460 the macro shot is pretty good. It is sharp enough and although it would have benefited from being a touch brighter I don't think there is too much to complain about.
The final test shot is for how the camera performs at higher ISO settings. Using a higher ISO setting can increase the lighting levels in a photo. This can be especially helpful in lowlight conditions where you are out of the range of the flash. The downside is that it can increase the levels of noise in a shot. Many cameras struggle at a higher ISO and this camera does shot above average levels of noise. This leads to a decrease in quality in the photos.
Shutter Lag and Recycling Times
Shutter lag times when the flash is not being used were a respectable 0.48 seconds for a single photo and 8 seconds for five photos. When the flash is used the figures change dramatically. The time taken for a single photo increases to 2.31 seconds and for five photos to 32.71 seconds. Therefore when using the flash you need to be prepared for some very serious lag times.
You can compare this camera to other models by taking a look at the Shutter Lag Comparison Table.
The zoom lens has a focal length equivalent to 38 - 152mm in 35mm format. The maximum aperture of the lens is f/2.8 (W) - f/5.8 (T). There is also a 4x digital zoom function. Using super macro you can get to within 1cm of the subject for close up work.
This is one of the few consumer level cameras that offer a viewfinder. As well as the viewfinder there is a 2" LCD screen. This is made up of around 86,000 pixels.
Some of the more advanced controls you can access are ISO sensitivity (80, 100, 200, 400), metering (Evaluative, Center-weighted average, Spot), exposure compensation (+/-2 stops in 1/3-stop increments) and white balance (Auto, Preset (Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H), Custom). Shutter speeds are under the automatic control of the camera. These work in the range 15-1/2000 seconds.
The built in flash unit can be set to always on, always off and automatic. Settings for red eye reduction and slow synchro can be used too. The maximum range of the flash unit is 3m. This falls to 2m when the zoom lens is in use.
If you need a bit of help to get the best possible photos then there are a series of scene modes. These are Portrait, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Indoor, Kids & Pets and Night Snapshot. When you select a scene the camera will use what it considers to be the best settings for the shot.
Other useful features include a continuous shooting mode, a self timer and some colour options. The maximum recording rate for continuous shooting is 1.5 frames per second. My experience with shutter lag suggests it will be very hard to hit that speed. The self timer has a two and ten second delay. The colour settings are: Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White and Custom.
You can connect the camera to a television, compatible printer and computer. All the cables and software you require are in the box.
Movies can be recorded at a maximum resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. The top speed is 10 frames per second. Sound can be recorded and up to 2x zoom can be used while recording is in progress.
Ease of Use
In my opinion there are entry level models out there that are easier to use than the Powershot A460. The small control dial on the back of the camera helps, but I still think the camera could be made more straightforward. I would also prefer to see a standard type zoom button control or ring.
You can pick up the Powershot A460 for about £85. Similar cameras are Fuji Finepix A500 (£58), Samsung Digimax S500 (£75) and Sony DSC S500 (£80).
The Powershot A460 is quite a chunky and heavy digital camera. It is too large to fit into a pocket and has an elongated, rectangular shape. It is available in silver, red and blue. It has dimensions of 106.0 x 51.8 x 40.2mm and weighs 165g.
Two AA batteries are all you need to run the camera. Canon estimates that the Powershot A460 is capable of 120 shots before a pair of typical AA batteries needs to be replaced.
The Powershot A460 is compatible with SD and SDHC memory cards. A 16mb card is supplied with the camera as standard. I was able to take 11 shots before the card was full. This is more or less enough for a quick test, but for any more than this you will need to consider a higher capacity card.
Click here to save money on SD cards.
Points I like:
Where it is not so hot:
Shutter lag times with flash
There is a lot to like about the Powershot A460, but the noise levels and also the shutter lag times when the flash unit is being used are major causes of concern. The strong points include the natural colours and small amount of extra zoom on an entry level digital camera.
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