The Canon Powershot A800 is a fairly typical entry level digital camera. It has 10 megapixels and a 3.3x optical zoom lens. You should find this camera easy enough to use. There are four different coloured versions available. These are black, silver, red and blue.
The Powershot A800 is the cheapest digital camera in the Canon range and was introduced in early 2011.
This camera can handle most snapshot photo opportunities without a problem. It is also easy to use. It is also one of the cheapest digital cameras from a leading brand.
The Powershot A800 has a fairly basic set of features - as you might expect. Canon have set up the camera to operate in fully automatic mode. All you need to do is point the camera and press the shutter button to take a photo. No advanced set up is required.
The key features are 10 megapixels and a 3.3x optical zoom lens. The LCD screen is on the small side at 2.5 inches.
Power comes from a couple of AA batteries rather than the more typical lithium ion rechargeable type. You may wish to consider buying a set of rechargeable batteries to complement this camera and minimise your running costs.
You can record standard definition movies. These should give you enough quality for playback on a television set, but the quality falls below that offered by High Definition.
There are some more advanced features available to use. These include being able to fine tune white balance, set exposure compensation if you find your pictures are coming out under or over exposed and being able to choose an ISO rating. Different types of light metering are also available to you to help you get the perfect exposure.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 1
The Powershot A800 handles this tricky scene well. It produces a sharp picture. The amount of sharpness that is retained towards the edges of the shot is very good indeed. Any glare from the sun is handled well and detail levels showing on the lighter areas of the boats are good. There is some noise showing in the shady areas of the shot. An example of this can be seen around the names of the boats.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 2
On the whole this is a good effort. Focusing is surprisingly sharp from edge to edge. Some purple fringing creeps in around the treetops. One downside is that the sky does take on a pixilated look in places.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 3
This is an impressive effort. The picture retains most of its sharpness out towards the edges of the photo. There are one or two areas that lack contrast, such as some of the roofs were detail is lost. This could also be said of the sky where pixilation is in evidence again.
In this test the Powershot A800 manages to pack plenty of colour into the picture. You will often see the brickwork on this building look a little washed out with some cheaper cameras. In this instance the camera outperforms some of its more expensive rivals. There is a slight haziness to the photo towards the edges, when blown up in size. You should not see any noticeable problems with snapshot sized prints.
All three portrait shots work well. If I was being picky I would like to have seen a little extra colour in my outdoor portrait shot. Aside from that point the shot is in sharp focus and detail levels are good. You should be able to take plenty of pleasing portrait snapshots with the Powershot A800.
Indoor Portrait With Flash
Canon digital cameras offer some of the best photos using flash. This is because they are very good when it comes to distributing light evenly. This helps them to light all areas of the photograph and avoid an overpowering beam of light in the centre of a shot. The Powershot A800 maintains that tradition.
Indoor Portrait Without Flash
Although the light I use for this test is quite bright it is surprising how many digital cameras struggle in these conditions. The Powershot A800 copes very well. It manages to keep noise levels under control. This in turn helps to produce that bit of extra detail in your shots. Be aware though that with this type of camera you are likely to need to revert to using flash in most indoor situations.
A simple point and shoot camera like the Powershot A800 is not going to give you fantastic macro shots. This camera does well enough, but it was a struggle to get an image that was sharp away from the centre of the shot. According to the specification this camera can focus from 1cm away from your subject. I needed to be much further away to get a sharp focus.
You are likely to find this camera is o.k. for a close up snapshot, but if you are looking for top quality macro shots you will need to spend a bit more.
The colours look well balanced with no single colour dominating. To my eye the colours retain a natural look and are a fair reflection of the scenes on the days when the test shots were taken.
Noise can be an issue in a few instances. It does show up in shady areas to a larger degree than I was expecting to see. Noise is a phrase that covers a multitude of sins. So you may also consider some of the pixilation in the skies to be very similar to seeing noise in your photos.
Picture Quality Summary
On the whole picture quality is very good for a camera at this price point. There are one or two issues, but none of these are likely to cause you a real headache as long as you keep print sizes reasonable.
Canon Powershot A4000 IS Rating 84/100
You get quite a lot for your money with the Canon Powershot A4000 IS. If you only plan to make small sized prints or share your photos on the Internet you may not see a great deal of difference between the photos taken with this camera and those taken with other models available at around the same price. What you might notice is that the pictures have a touch more clarity. This is likely to become more evident if you make larger prints. To sum up, if you are looking for a handy compact camera, at a reasonable price, that can cope very well with most photo opportunities this camera is hard to beat.
Read Review: Canon Powershot A4000 IS Review
Panasonic DMC S5 Rating 84/100
If you are looking for a cheap pocket sized digital camera it is difficult to find one offering better picture quality than the Panasonic Lumix DMC S5. It is such a small camera and very easy to use. It is almost the ideal snapshot camera if you do not want to spend a great deal of money.
Read Review: Panasonic DMC S5 Review
Panasonic DMC S3 Rating 84/100
The Panasonic Lumix DMC S3 is an excellent value for money pocket camera. It is very hard to beat when compared alongside its direct rivals. Picture quality and features have an edge over many of its competitors while the rapid response times are also a big plus point. If you are looking for a cheaper compact digital camera then you can’t go far wrong with the Lumix DMC S3.
Read Review: Panasonic DMC S3 Review
Review Date: April 2011
There is a lot to like about the Canon Powershot A800, but there are some clear weaknesses too. Whether or not this camera is right for you will depend partly on how troublesome shutter lag is to you and whether or not you would like a larger, clearer LCD screen. On the plus side there is no doubt this camera takes a decent picture when compared to other digital cameras in this price bracket.
Ease of Use:
Value for Money:
94.3 x 61.6 x 31.2 mm
SD, SDHC, SDXC
Single Shot With Flash:
Five Shots With Flash:
Turn on Time:
You may come across one or two handling issues with the Powershot A800. To start with the LCD screen is small and not of great quality. I found it inferior to nearly all the other digital cameras I was testing at the same time. Many of those digital cameras were a similar price or only marginally more expensive.
Next up I found the zoom to not be as smooth as other zoom lenses. What this meant was that I found it difficult to zoom in precisely on a subject. Most of the time you will be able to compensate for this by moving either closer or further away to your subject, but this is not always possible.
Shutter delay was more noticeable than I would like to have seen as well. This was especially true when flash was used. With flash I would describe this camera as very slow. That is both when taking a single shot and also when trying to fire off a coupe of photos in quick succession.
Running through the layout of the camera you will find there are two buttons on the top. One turns the camera on and off. The other is the shutter button.
Most of the controls are situated on the back of the camera. These include dedicated buttons to zoom in and out and buttons to review images, access the menu system and switch the camera into movie mode. There is also a multi control rocker. This contains controls for exposure compensation, macro mode, setting flash mode, the self timer, rotating images and deleting images. There is also a central button to access functions and confirm settings.
The main menu runs to two pages with a total of 11 options. The setup menu also covers two pages with a total of 12 options. There is also a separate menu containing more advanced functions. These are held on a single page of seven items.