Canon PowerShot A2000 IS Overview
by Stephanie Boozer
Review Date: 12/19/08
Replacing Canon's popular A720 IS, the PowerShot A2000 IS updates the model with a 10-megapixel CCD while keeping the same 6x optical zoom lens with optical Image Stabilization a key feature at longer telephoto lengths. Compact and very portable, the PowerShot A2000 IS features the ease of a point-and-shoot camera design coupled with a few advanced features for more savvy users. Canon's PowerShots are known for their user-friendliness and good quality, and the PowerShot A2000 IS upholds that reputation well.
The 6x optical zoom lens offers double the zoom that most standard digital cameras have, and can be combined with the additional 4x digital zoom for a total of 24x possible zoom, though it does trade some quality and resolution for digital enlargement. Like many Canon digital cameras on the market these days, the PowerShot A2000 IS features Face and Motion Detection technologies, which automatically seek out faces or moving subjects and adjust camera settings accordingly.
Also built in is a nice selection of preset scene modes, for better handling of trickier conditions, and a handful of creative controls for more flexibility. Though aperture and shutter speed are automatically controlled, you do have access to a Long Shutter mode where you can manually set the shutter time from one to 15 seconds. Contrast, sharpness, saturation, and color adjustments are also available, or you can leave everything up to the Canon A2000 IS.
Retailing online for $249.99 or less, the PowerShot A2000 IS is an attractive option. You get 10 megapixels, a 6x optical zoom, and an excellent array of Canon features, all of which fit nicely in your pocket. Well-designed and a breeze to operate, the Canon A2000 IS should please a wide range of users with different experience levels.
Canon A2000 IS User Report
by Stephanie Boozer
Compact, pocketable, and easy to use, the Canon PowerShot A2000 IS offers standard Canon user-friendliness and reliable features. Housed in the PowerShot A2000 IS's light-weight all-plastic body is a 10-megapixel CCD, 6x optical zoom lens and a nice selection of exposure options.
Measuring 4.01 x 2.50 x 1.26 inches (102 x 64 x 32 millimeters) and weighing in at only 8.3 ounces (234g) with battery and card, the Canon PowerShot A2000 IS will just fit into smaller jeans pockets, and its low-protrusion profile makes it quick on the draw. With its minimal user interface and varied array of automatic exposure tools, not to mention a ready supply of cheap AA batteries at every street corner, the PowerShot A2000 IS should make a good travel companion.
Look and feel. The Canon A2000 IS's wedge-shaped body style was comfortable to hold and fit my medium-size hand well. I found I could easily operate the camera one-handed, and could even make menu selections without needing a two-handed grip. Though there is no true finger grip on the front panel, the slight texture of the Canon logo provided some grip (though I'd still strongly recommend keeping the wrist strap securely around your wrist when shooting).
The Canon A2000 IS's primarily automatic design means minimal controls and a very quick learning curve. Controls are well-marked and protrude just enough to prevent accidental activation. A large, bright, 3.0-inch TFT color LCD monitor dominates most of the camera's rear panel. Though its surface is highly reflective (and easily smudged), the Canon A2000 IS' LCD fares pretty well in bright sunlight, and has a brightness adjustment in the Setup menu. The camera does offer two display overlays to help with framing, a Gridline and 3:2 Guide. The Gridline option divides the image area into thirds horizontally and vertically, while the 3:2 Guide displays a grayed-out crop area showing you what part of the frame will fit into a 3:2 aspect ratio image.
The Canon PowerShot A2000 IS offers a 6x optical zoom lens, equivalent to a 36-216mm zoom on a 35mm camera, about double the zoom of a standard point-and-shoot digital camera. In addition to the 6x optical zoom, the Canon A2000 IS offers a maximum of 4x digital zoom, for a combined total of 24x. We always like to remind readers that digital zoom often results in lower resolution and detail, because the camera is simply cropping the center of the frame and enlarging it, but the Canon A2000 IS's digital zoom will produce good enough results if you keep print sizes small. In the series above, the full digital zoom image holds onto a lot of fine detail in the traffic and buildings, so long as the print remains fairly small.
4x Digital Zoom
Necessary with long zooms is optical image stabilization, which Canon included on the PowerShot A2000 IS. You can choose between Continuous, Shoot Only, and Panning modes, which dictate when and how the camera applies its stabilization efforts. Optical Image Stabilization is a must when shooting at full 6x zoom, as any little camera movement becomes that much more amplified at full telephoto.
The Canon A2000 IS also features Motion Detection Technology, which automatically reduces blur by calculating subject movement and selecting the best exposure and ISO option, a good idea when photographing kids. Also included is Canon's Face Detection Technology, which works with the autofocus, exposure, flash, and white balance systems to base those functions on the faces in the image area. According to Canon, the Face Detection and Motion Detection systems work together in the background to produce optimum results.
Interface. The Canon A2000 IS's user interface is quite straightforward, with well-marked buttons and logically laid out menu screens. A tabbed menu system provides access to the main operating mode menu and the camera setup menu. Anyone already familiar with Canon digital cameras will recognize the standard layout, and newcomers should find it easy to navigate. Settings such as Scene mode, Exposure Compensation, White Balance, My Colors, Metering and image quality and resolution are set through the Function menu, accessed via the Function/Set button on the rear panel. Items like Flash and the Macro modes are accessible by pressing the right and left arrow keys on the Multi-controller, while the up and down arrows control ISO and Drive mode. I did find that a couple of more advanced camera settings, such as contrast and Long Shutter mode, were a little hidden in the Function menu. However, once I became accustomed to the camera, finding these options was second nature.
The Canon PowerShot A2000 IS's exposure is automatically controlled at all times. Through the Record menu, you can enable a display mode that reports the selected aperture and shutter speed settings whenever the Shutter button is halfway pressed so you at least have an idea of what the exposure will be. The Mode dial at the top of the rear panel controls the main camera mode, and the four-way Multi-controller serves both navigational and functional purposes, actuating up, down, left, and right. There's also a Print/Transfer button on the rear panel for quick, one-touch image downloading and printing. Also on the rear panel is a Face Select button, which activates a Face Selection and Tracking mode. The few remaining control buttons include the Power and Shutter buttons and a Zoom lever on the top panel, and the Playback and Display buttons on the rear panelall easily identified and straightforward in their operation.
Modes. The Mode dial controls the Canon PowerShot A2000 IS's main shooting and operating mode, with available choices of Program AE, Auto, Easy, Portrait, Landscape, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Scene (additional scene selections), and Movie. The Easy mode is designed for novices, with the camera in charge of everything except zoom and the ability to enter Playback mode. The Auto option keeps most exposure variables under automatic control, though opens up a few settings like limited ISO choices, the ability to turn the flash on or off, enable the self-timer, focus mode, Face Select and change the resolution and quality settings. Program AE, on the other hand, enables all of the shooting options with the exception of shutter speed and aperture settings, though you can enable the Long Shutter mode if you need longer exposures. Accessed through the Function menu, Long Shutter mode allows exposure times as long as 15 seconds. Noise reduction is automatically enabled for exposures longer than 1.3 seconds.
In addition to the preset modes labeled on the Mode dial, the Canon A2000's Scene position offers eight more presets to help in a variety of situations, accessed through the first setting of the Function menu. Available scenes are Night Scene, Sunset, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Aquarium, and ISO 3,200. Most of these are fairly self-explanatory, optimizing the camera for common, yet tricky conditions encountered in everyday life. As mentioned earlier, the camera's Function menu provides access to the A2000 IS's more advanced shooting tools, such as Exposure Compensation, White Balance, My Colors, Metering, Quality and Resolution settings. The My Colors menu offers Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, and Custom options for altering color, saturation, etc. Under the Custom setting, you can manually adjust Contrast, Sharpness, and Saturation. They're a little hidden, but very useful. The camera's White Balance option offers Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H (daylight) and Custom settings. Through the Record menu, you can also adjust the ISO to Auto, or from 80 to 1,600 equivalents, with a High setting that automatically sets the optimal speed based on conditions.
The Canon PowerShot A2000 IS offers a Continuous Shooting mode, accessed through the Drive button on the rear panel, which also accesses the two- and 10-second Self-timer modes. Canon rates this mode as fast as 1.3 frames per second for large/fine JPEGs. In our most stringent tests, however, we actually get 1.27 frames per second, just a little shy of Canon's estimation. The PowerShot A2000 IS is also equipped for capturing movies with sound. Available resolutions are 640 x 480 (30fps/30fps LP), 320 x 240 (30fps) and 160 x 120 (15fps).
Special Features. Aimed at making digital photography as simple as possible, the Canon PowerShot A2000 IS offers a lot of built-in automatic functions. With its Face Detection and Motion Detection technologies, the PowerShot A2000 IS has gained many of the premium features of its higher-priced cousins. For example, the Face Selection and Tracking mode accessed via the Face Select button on the rear panel can isolate from one to 35 individual faces in a frame. If you select only one face, the camera will track that face as it moves through the frame and continuously adjust exposure and focus. Alternatively, if you have several faces selected, the A2000 IS will adjust the focus for all faces highlighted.
Other helpful features include a Red-Eye Correction mode to automatically seek out and correct any red-eye, and a post-capture Focus Check display for verifying focus and expression in portrait shots.
Storage and battery. The Canon Powershot A2000 IS accepts SD/SDHC/MMC memory cards, and comes with a 32MB card. Of course, we always recommend picking up a large capacity SDHC/SD memory card (at least a 2GB card, preferably a 4GB one) to give yourself extra space for extended outings. The 32MB card should hold about 7 large/superfine JPEGS, while a 2GB card will hold about 448. For movies, a 32MB card will hold about 15 seconds of the largest resolution and quality, while a 2 GB card will hold about 16 minutes and 47 seconds.
For power, the PowerShot A2000 IS uses two AA type batteries, and comes with a set of ordinary alkaline cells. Performance is much better with NiMH rechargeables (approximately 500 shots compared to 240 shots with alkalines), so I heartily recommend picking up a spare set of rechargeable batteries and a good charger. (Read our Eneloop battery review, and check out our review of the Maha C-204W NiMH battery charger, our current favorite.)
Shooting. Overall, shooting with the Canon PowerShot A2000 IS was simple and hassle-free, given its point-and-shoot automatic nature. Most camera settings were quick and easy, though I did find some of the more advanced functions a little hidden. For example, Long Shutter mode is buried in the Function menu, as are the manual contrast and saturation settings. However, once you get familiar with the camera, finding these settings is second nature.
Overall though, shooting with the Canon PowerShot A2000 IS was straightforward and uncomplicated. Just about any user level should be able to snap good pictures right away under normal conditions.
Composing on the LCD in daylight was also about as good/bad as it is with any other current point and shoot with a reflective surface. It's definitely bright enough for you to gauge the exposure and get your framing right, though the Canon A2000 IS does offer an LCD brightness adjustment if you need it.
- Sharpness - Excellent sharpness, only slight softness in the corners at both wide and telephoto focal lengths, much better than average.
- Distortion - A bit higher than average. Significant barrel distortion at wide angle (1.0%), slight pincushion at telephoto (0.2%). Barrel distortion is higher than average.
- Chromatic Aberration - Very good. Slight CA at both wide angle and telephoto, but better than average in both circumstances.
- Macro - Excellent macro capability, super-close focus in Super Macro mode. (So close, though, that you'll have trouble getting light in around the edges of the lens barrel.) Minimum coverage area is 0.79 x 0.59 inches (20 x 15 mm).
- Color - Very Good. Good, bright color, without being too saturated. Some color shifts in the range from orange through yellow, plus cyans, but very nice-looking color overall.
- Noise & Subject Detail - Very Good. Excellent subject detail at low ISO, almost no noise-suppression artifacts, but slight chroma noise even at ISO 80. Higher ISO shots are good, ISO 800 usable to 8x10 inches. Good detail at the expense of some chroma noise.
- Indoor Shooting - Excellent. Auto White Balance does an excellent job handling difficult household incandescent lighting. ISO 800 shots under incandescent lighting usable to 8x10 inches. See next category for a significant negative item though: Flash recycling time.
- Flash Coverage & Range - Average to slightly below average range: 11 feet at wide angle, with auto ISO and camera choosing ISO 320; only 6.6 feet at tele, again with auto ISO and camera choosing ISO 250. Flash recycling is very slow, upwards of 11 seconds after a full-power discharge. (Could stretch even longer with partially discharged AA batteries.)
- Print Sizes - Excellent at low ISO, Very Good at high ISO. Plenty of detail, 13x19 inch prints at low ISO are very sharp, images are usable to 16x20 for wall display. ISO 400 prints are good at 8x10 inches, albeit with a little noise in the shadows. ISO 800 usable for wall or tabletop display at 8x10, good at 5x7. ISO 1,600 shots look OK at 4x6, albeit with noisy shadows. ISO 3,200 is pretty marginal, even at 4x6. (To our minds, you might as well ignore the fact that the camera has an ISO 3,200 setting.)
Canon A2000 IS ISO Samples
- Shutter Lag - Good, 0.58 second at wide angle, 0.73 second at telephoto. Prefocused is just 0.076 second.
- Cycle Time - Good. On the fast side of average for single shots (2.1 seconds), average in continuous mode (1.27 frames/second).
- Flash Cycle Time - VERY SLOW (11.2 seconds, and not an especially powerful flash, either)
Appraisal. Overall, the Canon A2000 IS is a very good performer. It captures good exposures with sharp details and accurate color under most average shooting conditions. Given its selection of preset shooting modes and built-in features like Face Detection and Motion Detection, the PowerShot A2000 IS is equipped for quick handling of common, yet tricky situations. The Canon A2000 IS's automatic features will keep novices comfortable, while available options such as Long Shutter mode, an adjustable metering mode, and a manual white balance setting cater to more savvy users. The Canon A2000 IS is a very capable camera that's a snap to use.
Canon A2000 IS Basic Features
- 10-megapixel CCD (effective) delivers image resolutions as high as 3,648 x 2,736 pixels
- 6x optical zoom lens, equivalent to 36-216mm
- As much as 4x digital zoom
- 3.0-inch TFT LCD monitor
- Auto, Easy and Program AE exposure modes
- Shutter speeds from 1/1,600 to 15 seconds, depending on mode
- Maximum aperture of f/3.2 - f/5.9, depending on zoom position
- DIGIC III image processor
- Built-in flash with three modes
- SDHC/SD/MMC memory slot
- Power from two AA-type batteries (two alkaline cells included)
- USB 2.0 connection and cable
- A/V cable for connection to television set
- PictBridge compatible
Canon A2000 IS Special Features
- Optical Image Stabilization
- 13 preset Scene modes
- Movie mode with sound
- Face Detection technology
- Motion Detection technology for reducing blur
- Macro focus mode
- Three metering modes
- Adjustable ISO from 80 to 1,600 equivalents, plus Auto and ISO 3,200 settings
- Adjustable white balance with seven settings, including a manual option
- My Colors menu for creative color options
- Two- and 10-second self-timer modes
In the box
- PowerShot A2000 IS digital camera
- Wrist Strap WS-DCS
- 2 AA alkaline batteries
- AV cable AVC-DC400
- Interface Cable IFC-400PCU
- 32MB MMC card
- Software CD
- Soft carrying case
- Rechargeable batteries and charger. (Read our Eneloop battery review, and check out our review of the Maha C-204W NiMH battery charger, our current favorite.)
- Large capacity SDHC/SD memory card (at least a 2GB card, preferably a 4GB one)
Canon A2000 IS Conclusion
The Canon A2000 IS does a good job upholding the strong tradition of Canon's A-series cameras. Its 6x zoom lens shows very good optical quality, and its 10-megapixel sensor delivers plenty of detail at low ISOs. It does pretty well at high ISOs as well, as you can make 8x10 inch prints from its output up to about ISO 800, and ISO 1,600 images are usable at 4x6 inches. (Forget about the ISO 3,200 setting though, it's very rough and low-resolution, even at 4x6 inches.)
Important for family photography, the Canon A2000 IS also handles household incandescent lighting unusually well, producing very nice-looking images (rather than the terribly yellow photos many digicams produce under such circumstances). The A2000 uses AA batteries, something many users look for in a camera, figuring they'll never be far from finding replacements when needed.
Really, the Canon A2000 IS has only a single defect, but it's a substantial one if you plan much flash photography: You and your subjects will grow old waiting for the A2000's flash to recycle, particularly after a full-power discharge, or if your batteries are running low. We measured full-power flash recycling at 11 seconds, something of a record in our recent digicam testing.