The Canon Powershot A3200 IS is a value for money digital camera. It has 14 megapixels and a 5x wide angle lens. Although I would class the Powershot A3200 IS as an entry level digital camera it has a small number of extra features that make it a clear step up form the most basic digital cameras.
Although this is not a camera that can be described as ultra compact, it is still compact enough to slip into a large pocket. Canon have produced four different colour versions, pink, silver, turquoise and orange.
Why Buy The Canon Powershot A3200 IS
The Powershot A3200 IS does not cost a great deal more than the most basic starter cameras, but in terms of quality it is a clear step up. Compared to basic starter cameras I have reviewed recently it offers better value for money.
95.1 x 56.7 x 24.3mm
14 megapixels is about standard for this type of camera in Spring 2011. That is overkill for snapshot sized prints, but you should be able to print up to A4 in size if you wish to without any loss of quality.
The 5x zoom lens is also in line with other cameras with a similar overall specification. The lens has wide angle capabilities.
You may be able to find a larger LCD screen than the 2.7 inches on offer here. Canon used to squeeze a viewfinder into most cameras within this part of their range, but there is no viewfinder with this model.
For close up work there is a macro mode that can focus from 3cm away from your subject. This is one of the areas where paying that bit extra gets you a clear upgrade. Image stabilisation has been built into the Powershot A3200 IS to help reduce any blur caused by tiny movements of the camera when you are taking a shot. Image stabilisation doesn't make a great deal of difference with this smaller type of digital camera with a relatively short zoom lens, but you may notice a difference especially when lighting levels start to fall.
Another plus point is the inclusion of a High Definition movie mode. This is another feature that is harder to find on the cheapest digital cameras.
Among the more advanced features Canon have added you get access to three types of metering (multi point, centre weighted and spot), custom white balance and tracking AF. These give you that bit of extra control if required.
Being larger than a truly ultra compact model can make it easier to get a really good grip of a camera. I did find the back of this camera busy and there is not a great deal of room to place your thumb. Perhaps with this in mind, Canon have slightly recessed some of the buttons on the back of the camera to make it harder to press them accidentally.
The quality of the LCD screen was perfectly adequate. It doesn't give you the extra clarity you see on more expensive digital cameras, but I had no real problem seeing what was displayed on the screen.
Shutter lag times were a shade above average when flash was not being used, but are very slow once flash is turned on. I found the Powershot A3200 IS was quick to turn on and take the first photo.
Working through the controls the on / off button sits on top of the Powershot A3200 IS. Next to this is a shutter button with a zoom ring running round the outside of it. Next to this is a control dial. This gives you access to various shooting modes.
On the back of the camera are a number of buttons. Near the top is a button to control face detection focusing. Next to this is a button to review your photos and movies clips. Towards the bottom are controls for accessing the menu system and changing the information displayed on the LCD screen. More centrally is a control rocker. This gives you access to exposure compensation, setting the flash mode, the self timer and macro mode. When the Powershot A3200 IS is in review mode this gives you access to rotating photos and deleting photos. In the centre of the rocker is a button to access functions and confirm a setting.
When you want to change the camera settings you can access more advanced controls through the functions area. There are seven functions available to you including white balance, ISO and metering. More basic items reside in the main menu. There are 14 menu options and a further 16 options in a separate setup area.
If you find menus confusing there is an automatic setting you can use to decrease the number of menu options available. Alternatively you can switch to Easy Mode and disable the menu altogether.
Image Quality - See Sample Images Below
Outdoor Scenic Shot 1
The Powershot A3200 IS makes a good start to my tests. On the whole the sharpness of the shot is impressive. Any glare from the sun is handled well and this allows the camera to show plenty of detail, especially in the brighter areas. One concern is that noise takes the edge off the definition in shady areas.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 2
This is easily the weakest shot out of all my tests. Definition falls away surprisingly quickly as you move away from the centre of the shot. This is always a tough test for a digital camera, especially when it has a wide angle lens, but even so I was expecting to see a little extra quality.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 3
Zooming in fully produces a better effort than when the lens was zoomed all the way out. There is still a degree of haziness about the shot though. This could restrict the size of the prints you are able to make.
With the building to lock onto and less contrast in the scene the Powershot A3200 IS is able to improve quality considerably. The level of definition showing in this shot is much higher than in my previous two test photos. There is a slight slippage of focusing as you move out towards the edges of the shot, but it is not prominent enough to be overly concerned by. It should not show in reasonable sized prints. Noise starts to show quite quickly in more shaded areas,
. If you like taking pictures of people then you should be able to fire off plenty of pleasing portrait shots with the Powershot A3200 IS. Sharpness in this shot is very good and there is enough colour in the shot to create a vivid portrait.
Indoor Portrait With Flash
The lighting produced by the flash unit is just about spot on. There is enough flash power to light more or less the entire photograph. Light reaches all areas of the hair and this enables a higher level of detail than a lot of less expensive digital cameras manage. With lighting evenly distributed any concentration of light in the centre of the portrait is avoided.
Indoor Portrait Without Flash
The level of detail showing in this shot is very impressive. Lighting levels are low enough to cause a problem to many digital cameras, but the Powershot A3200 IS has been able to cope well with the reduced lighting levels. The only downside is that the pink showing in the skin tones is very strong.
If you are looking to take a lot of close up shots then this camera might be an option for you. Taking into account the price of this camera the sharpness of the shot is very good. You may also notice that the Powershot A3200 IS manages to achieve a greater degree of brightness than many cameras manage.
Canon digital cameras tend to produce natural looking colours. That is the case here. This is an area where there is less and less to choose between the different brands.
Noise does creep in quite quickly in shady areas of a photo. The Powershot A3200 IS is likely to find the going tough in low light situations.
Picture Quality Summary
There are one or two test shots in this batch that are weaker than I would like to see. Not surprisingly these occur when the lens is pushed too its extremes. On the whole picture quality is good for a camera in this price range.
Shutter Lag Times
Single Shot With Flash
Five Shots With Flash
Turn on Time
Ease of Use
In terms of ease of use this is a fairly standard digital camera. There is not a great deal to trip you up. If you do find anything difficult to understand then you can always switch over to Easy Mode and let the camera take care of absolutely everything for you.
Points I Like
Macro shot - colours - sharpness at mid zoom - HD movies - Features for price
Where it Could Improve
Loss of definition when lens zoomed right out - noise creeps in quickly in shady areas - shutter delay with flash
The Canon Powershot A3200 IS offers fair value for money. It takes a good quality snapshot in most situations although there were a couple of instances where I found the camera struggled. It offers you a good set of features for the price.
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