The Canon Powershot A1200 offers you point and shoot simplicity. It has 12 megapixels and a 4x optical zoom lens. The Powershot A1200 has a couple of features that may appeal to you that are not readily available elsewhere. These are a viewfinder and the fact that the camera is powered by AA batteries rather than the more common lithium ion type.
Canon have also added a couple of features you are unlikely to find on digital cameras at this price point. These include the ability to shoot High Definition movies and a macro mode that can focus from 3cm away from your subject.
Canon has produced versions of the Powershot A1200 in black and silver.
Why Buy The Canon Powershot A1200
If you are looking for true "value for money" digital camera the Powershot A1200 could well be the camera for you. It produces photos that are superior to digital cameras that are twice the price of this camera.
97.5 x 62.5 x 30.7 mm
SD, SDHC, SDXC
Top 12 Features
Plenty of Megapixels
You may notice that there are digital cameras available that offer 16 megapixels. Unless you are planning to make prints larger than poster size you should find the 12 megapixels on offer with the Powershot A1200 is plenty for your needs.
Zoom with Wide Angle Capabilities
The majority of digital cameras now have lenses with the ability to capture wider scenes. This is true of the Powershot A1200. It has a focal length equivalent to 28 - 112mm in 35mm format. This gives you 4x zoom power.
Standard Size LCD Screen
The 2.7 inch LCD screen is about standard for this level of digital camera. If you shop around you may find a small number of digital cameras with larger 3 inch screens, but the majority of cameras at this level will have a 2.7 inch screen.
The Viewfinder as an Alternative to the Screen
Very few digital cameras offer a viewfinder as an alternative to the LCD screen for composing your photos. The Powershot A1200 is one of a declining number of cameras to have one. The size of the viewfinder is relatively small, but it still gives you an alternative to the LCD screen when conditions are bright and sunny.
High Definition Movies
High Definition movies are fast becoming the norm, but they are not available on very many digital cameras at this pricing level. Therefore if good movie quality is an attraction to you then the ability of the Powershot A1200 to shoot High Definition movies is likely to be a big plus point.
Close Up Macro Mode
For a cheaper digital camera to be able to focus from 3cm away from the subject is impressive. If you are serious about close up photography you are likely to be looking for a more advanced camera than this one, but the short focusing distance on offer with this camera is still a useful bonus that may come in handy from time to time.
Smart Auto and Scene Modes
Features such as Smart Auto and Scene Modes give a digital camera a helping hand when it comes to selecting the ideal settings for a photo. The Powershot A1200 gives you these extra options to help you capture the best possible shots.
Tracking Focus for Moving Subjects
This is another feature that is quite hard to find in cheaper digital cameras. Tracking focus keeps moving subjects in focus for you.
The upside of buying a camera that uses AA batteries is that they are widely available.
If you would like to add a novel twist to your photos you can apply a creative filter to your shots. The filters this camera has are Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid and Poster Effect.
Auto Red Eye Correction
Red eye can blight portrait photos taken using flash. The automatic red eye correction feature attempts to remove any red eye in a shot without the need for any intervention from you.
A Few More Advanced Features
From time to time you may wish to take a little extra control over the way your photos look. With the Powershot A1200 you have access to features such as White Balance, Exposure Compensation and ISO.
As the Powershot A1200 is that bit bigger than a true pocket camera it makes it easier for you to get a good grip. There is a raised area on the front that is shaped for you to lock your index finger on to. This acts as anchor for your hand and helps you keep the camera steady. Thumb positioning is a little awkward as the back of the camera is covered with control buttons apart from a sloping area at the top.
LCD Screen and Viewfinder
The quality of the LCD screen is quite good for a cheaper digital camera. You also have the option of the viewfinder when you are composing photos.
When it comes to response times the Powershot A1200 could be faster. It was on the slow side for all shutter lag tests. When flash is being used it is very slow indeed. This could cause you to miss shots occasionally.
Another area you might find slightly frustrating is when zooming in on a subject. It is difficult to fine tune the amount of zoom to create the perfect composition. You may need to move closer or further away from your subject from time to time.
Easy Mode, Tips and Hints
If you ever find the camera is complicated you can place it in Easy Mode. This cuts down on the options available to you. You can then concentrate fully on taking pictures. There are also tips and hints available within the menu system.
Controls on the Top of the Powershot A1200
On the top of the camera is the on / off button. To the right of that sits a shutter button inside a zoom ring. There is also a control dial with various shooting mode options.
Controls on the Back of the Powershot A1200
Towards the top are two buttons the first turns on and off face detection. Face detection helps to ensure you take crisp looking portrait shots. Next to that sits a picture review button.
Beneath those two buttons is the central control area. Running round the outside of this area are controls for exposure compensation, to rotate an image when the camera is in review mode, to set the flash mode, self timer, delete photo in review mode and switching the camera into macro mode. In the centre of the control area is a button to access functions and to confirm a setting. At the bottom are two further buttons. The first is to change the information on the LCD screen. The second is to access the menu system.
What's in the Menu System
Canon digital cameras have two separate areas where controls can be selected. The first is for main functions. The second is the menu system. Main functions are ISO, White Balance, Colour Options, Continuous Shooting, Metering, Resolution and Picture Quality. The menu system houses more basic items such as focusing mode, picture review time and turning on and off digital zoom. There are 13 options in the main menu plus a further 16 set up options.
Image Quality - See Sample Images Below
Outdoor Scenic Shot 1
Having high levels of contrast in a scene poses a good test for a digital camera. With a lot of contrast in this scene you can immediately get an idea of the overall quality of the camera. The Powershot A1200 copes very well with these issues. To start with it is able to capture plenty of detail in the lightest parts of the shot. This gives you increased levels of definition on the boats. The brickwork of the building in the centre of the shot is pin sharp. Focusing levels are very good throughout the shot. There is very little fall off as you reach the edges. Despite glare from the sun the colours are accurate too.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 2
This is routinely the test shot where digital cameras struggle the most. The Powershot A1200 handles the challenge very well. The sharpness and general level of detail showing in the shot are comfortably better than most cameras that are twice the price of the Powershot A1200. There is a very small amount of purple fringing. This is at such a low level that it is unlikely to be noticed unless you are planning to make extra large prints.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 3
When you zoom in on your subject picture quality is maintained. This is another shot where sharpness is impressive. There is an extra touch of brightness to the shot too.
Once again the Powershot A1200 demonstrates its ability to produce shots at a level that is some way above what you can normally expect from a camera at this price point. In fact many more expensive digital cameras struggle to hit this level of clarity. There is minimal fall off in sharpness as you move out towards the edges of the shot.
There is plenty of brightness in this picture. An extra tough of brightness can give your photos a lift and add some extra vitality. Focusing is sharp too. There is a negative point about this picture. You may find the pink around the cheeks is on the heavy side.
Indoor Portrait With Flash
Most of the light from the flash seems to be centred on the face. This also makes the shot lack a little brightness as you move away from the centre. Colour balance in this shot does not quite hit the mark. The pink skin tones are strong. This is accentuated by some of the colour being washed out from other areas of the shot.
Indoor Portrait Without Flash
The level of detail showing in this shot is impressive. Noise levels, despite the indoor light, are kept very low. As with the previous two portrait shots the pink in the skin tones is quite strong. Otherwise the general colour of the photo and even spread of lighting look better than the portrait taken with flash.
You can focus from close in to your subject with the Powershot A1200. Focusing could have sharper on the front pencil, but aside from that the general effect is surprisingly good for an inexpensive digital camera. As with other test photos taken with this camera the shot is bright.
Canon digital cameras have a habit of producing vibrant colours. That is the case with the Powershot A1200 too. Apart from the skin tones in the portrait shots being overdone the colours are well balanced. The level of brightness in the photos is also up a notch when compared with most of this camera's direct competitors.
Noise is controlled very well. Even in areas of light shade you should find levels of detail help you to produce plenty of clarity.
Picture Quality Summary
Picture quality is some way above expectations. Looking at the price of the Powershot A1200 it is extremely hard to beat when it comes to picture quality.
Shutter Lag Times
Single Shot With Flash
Five Shots With Flash
Turn on Time
Ease of Use
You can select from 3 basic shooting modes. One of these is Easy Mode. When you use Easy Mode the menu system is disabled and all you need to do is point the camera and press the shutter button.
Points I Like
Picture quality - viewfinder - value for money - High Definition movies
Where it Could Improve
Over strong pink skin tones - shutter lag times
If you are looking for a simple digital camera that offers that bit of extra quality for a low price then the Canon Powershot A1200 could well be your answer. It offers greater picture quality than a lot of more expensive digital cameras. There are also one or two impressive features thrown in for the price. Recommended.
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