Canon Powershot A530 Review

High Specification Compact Digital Cameras

Picture
Canon Powershot A530 Ease of Use 7
Features 8
Movie Mode 7
Build Quality7
Colours 9
Photo Quality 8
Style 7
Lowlight 8
Macro 9
Value for Money 9
5 Megapixels
4x Zoom
1.8 inch LCD Screen
90.4 x 64.0 x 43.2mm
170g

Overview

The Canon Powershot A530 is a five megapixel digital camera with a four times optical zoom lens. The camera has a fully manual exposure mode, but does not have aperture or shutter priority. If you prefer you can use the Powershot A530 as a straightforward point and shoot camera. It is easy to use in fully automatic mode.

I can see this camera appealing to a wide range of people. Basically it is suitable for anyone who is looking for a fairly inexpensive digital camera that can take a good photo in just about any situation.

Main Features

Megapixels:
Zoom:
LCD Screen:
Dimensions:
Weight:

5
4x
1.8 inches
90.4 x 64.0 x 43.2mm
170g

Macro:
HD Movies:
Manual Controls:
Batteries:
Memory Cards:

5cm
No
Yes
AA
SD/MMC

Image Quality

There is something very predictable about the quality of images you can get with the Canon Powershot range. In many ways I could have written the review of the Powershot A530 without having taken any test photos.

All of the test shots are of a high standard. There are none that I would describe as having major weaknesses. The camera is also capable of working well in lowlight as well as in bright conditions. As with other cameras in this range I find the images tend to be that bit sharper than with other digital cameras you can buy for a similar price.

Running through the test pictures starting with the outdoor scenic type shots you can see the extra level of sharpness showing. This helps to produces crisper prints. Sharpness is maintained towards the edge of the photo in most instances. The only time I felt this drifted away slightly was when the zoom lens was not being used. This leads to a softer focus away from the centre of the shot.

Again as is typical of Canon digital cameras the Powershot A530 produces strong colours without them losing a fairly natural feel. This is evident in the outdoor shots and also in the dedicated test for colours. Here no colours are overly dominant. This gives a balance to the colours and bodes well for most types of photograph you are likely to take.

The outdoor portrait is another winner. The Powershot A530 manages to give the photo a pleasant warm feel. This helps to enhance the skin tones in the shot.

Moving indoors for another portrait shot the camera again manages to produce a decent shot. This is a shot where many digital cameras struggle to focus. Here the shot is sharp and also bright. The only drawback is the level of red eye in the photo. Although it is hard to eliminate red eye altogether I would like to have seen the Powershot A530 lower the level in the picture.

The other indoor shot of beer bottles is taken in almost complete darkness. The result is again a sharply focused picture. Lighting is good as well. Considering the conditions this is a worthy attempt.

Looking at the macro shot I can see yet another sharply focused photo. It is also bright and clear. Whilst anyone who is really serious about macro and close up photography will be looking for a more advanced camera in general this is a high quality shot considering the price of the camera.

Finally there are the high ISO tests. You may wish to use higher ISO levels in lowlight when you are unable to use flash. To be honest this is an area where digital cameras are still capable of making a big improvement. The Powershot A530 produces standard quality shots at ISO 400 and 800. There is defiantly a loss of quality in the photos, but if there are no other options allowing you to take the picture then this will be the best you can do.

Shutter Lag and Recycling Times

It took me 0.53 seconds to take a single picture and 10.61 seconds to take five photos. These are quite slow times and are a bit longer than I am used to seeing with Canon digital cameras.

You can compare this camera to other models by taking a look at the Shutter Lag Comparison Table.

Features

The 4x optical zoom lens has a focal length equivalent to 35 - 140mm in 35mm format. The maximum aperture is f2.6 (wide) and f5.6 (tele). 4x digital zoom is available too. For close up photography there is a macro mode that allows you to get in as close as 5cms. Manual focusing is available as well.

The Powershot A530 is one of the diminishing number of digital cameras with a viewfinder. As well as the viewfinder you can use the 1.8" LCD screen for composing images. The screen is made up of approximately 77,000 pixels. As well as being used for composing and reviewing images the screen also displays useful information such as battery warning indicator, space left on the memory card and a histogram.

The built in flash unit has a maximum range of 3.5m. This decreases to around 2.2m when the zoom lens is in use. The power of the flash can be adjusted when required and flash exposure compensation is available too. The flash modes available are automatic, on, off, red eye reduction and slow sync speed. You can boost the power of the flash unit by buying an external flash unit. This is the Canon High Power Flash HF-DC1.

To help get the best possible photo Canon have included a number of scene modes with the Powershot A530. The camera stores internally what it believes to be the optimum setting for all the different types of scene. By selecting the most appropriate scene the camera uses the optimum settings for the photo. The scene modes available are Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Indoor, Kids & Pets, Night Snapshot, Color Accent and Color Swap. There is also a stitch assist setting to help you take panoramic photos.

If you would like to apply some different effects to your photos there are a number of colour filters available to use. These are Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone and Positive Film, There is also a Custom Color setting.

Among the more advanced settings are white balance (Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom), shutter speeds (15 - 1/2000 seconds), ISO speed equivalents (AUTO, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800), exposure compensation (+/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments) and three types of metering (Evaluative, Centre-weighted average, Spot (centre)).

Continuous shooting is available. This allows you to take photos continuously at a maximum speed of 2.1 frames per second until the memory card is full.

The standard aspect ratio of the camera is 4:3. The aspect ratio is important when you wish to print or display a photo. An aspect ratio of 4:3 matches a computer screen, but causes photos to be trimmed when printed. Some cameras offer a special printing aspect ratio of 3:2, but this one does not. There is a 16:9 aspect ratio. This is ideal for viewing images on a widescreen television and for producing panoramic prints.

For when you would like to appear in the picture yourself there is a self timer. The delay on the self timer can be set to either two or ten seconds. There is also a setting to set the delay time to up to 30 seconds and to fire off up to ten photos. Once a photo has been taken you can add up to sixty seconds of commentary to it.

Movies of up to 1GB can be recorded. The maximum resolution for shooting a movie is 640 x 480 pixels. At this resolution the top frame speed is 10 frames per second. You can also shoot at lower resolutions. For example you can record at 320 x 240. At this resolution the top capture speed is 20 frames per second. None of the available combinations are capable of capturing true TV quality movies. Sound can be recorded and you can also zoom in while a movie is being recorded.

Canon supplies all the necessary cables and software to connect the Powershot A530 to a television set, computer and PictBridge compatible printer.

Ease of Use

There are easier to use digital cameras on the market. This camera does have a few more features than a standard consumer level digital camera so it is understandable that it is likely to take longer than normal to get used to using the camera. Having said that I still feel the way the camera functions in particular are displayed could be easier to understand.

Cost

You can pick up a Canon Powershot A530 for around £135. This compares to around £200 for a Fuji Finepix F30, £170 for a Olympus SP 320 and £165 for an Canon Powershot A540.

It is not easy to find other digital cameras to compare the Powershot A530 to. All the other models tend to have slightly different specifications. Taking everything into account though I would say this camera offers very good value for money.

Style

Not everyone is looking for a sleek, pocket sized digital camera. Many people will find a camera like this one easier to get a good grip of when you are taking a picture. In many ways the Powershot A530 resembles a small SLR camera with a grip on the right hand side of the camera.

In terms of build quality these cameras do have a bit of a plasticy feel to them. This is certainly one area where I feel there is room for improvement.

It has dimensions of 90.4 x 64.0 x 43.2mm and weighs 170g.

Batteries and Memory Cards

The camera is powered by two AA batteries. Two alkaline ones are supplied with the camera. To keep running costs to a minimum it may be worth picking up a set of rechargeable batteries and a charger. Canon estimates you should be able to take around 90 shots with the Powershot A530 before the batteries will need to be replaced.

A 16mb card is supplied with the card as standard. I was able to take 10 shots with the camera before the card was full. Therefore I would suggest considering a larger capacity card to go with the camera. The Powershot A530 is compatible with SD cards.

Click here to save money on SD cards.

Points I like:

Picture quality
Value for money

Where it is not so hot:

Shutter lag
Red eye

Summary

Considering the price of the Canon Powershot A530 I think it offers very good value for money. The camera is not perfect, but the picture quality is much better than most cameras in this price range are capable of producing. Throw in the manual exposure mode and the camera is well worth the money.

Canon Powershot A530 Front View Canon Powershot A530 Front View

Canon Powershot A530 Back View Canon Powershot A530 Back View

Canon Powershot A530 Top View Canon Powershot A530 Top View

Sample Menus

Canon Powershot A530 Drive Mode Canon Powershot A530 White Balance

Canon Powershot A530 ISO Canon Powershot A530 My colours

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Related Pages

Canon Powershot A530 Review Canon Powershot A530 Specification Canon Powershot A530 Sample Images Canon Digital Cameras

Review Date

May 2006

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