Canon PowerShot A100 Digital Camera
|Moderate, 1.2-megapixel CCD|
|4x6, 5x7 inches|
Suggested Retail Price
Ask any photographer, be they professional or amateur, to name the first couple
of camera manufacturers that they can think of, and one of them will almost
certainly be Canon. In the digital arena, Canon's continued their history of
innovation with a broad line of products ranging from entry-level models all
the way to no-holds-barred digital SLRs for professional photographers. In the
consumer arena, their products are distinguished by superb design, sharp lenses,
and excellent color.
In the past, Canon hasn't reached too far down into the entry-level end of the market, concentrating instead on more full-featured cameras intended to sell at higher prices. With the introduction of the A100 and its higher-resolution brother the A200 though, Canon has taken aim squarely at the entry-level market, creating very affordable cameras with surprisingly strong feature sets and the trademark Canon picture quality. I'm not personally a fan of non-zoom cameras, but recognize that they have an important place in the market, and the A100 deserves a good look if you're shopping in that category, and want genuinely good image quality at a rock-bottom price. Read on for all the details.
(NOTE: This review is almost identical to that of the 2.0 megapixel A200, as the two cameras share the same user interface. If you've already read the A200's review you may want to skip down to the test results below or check out the Sample Pictures page to see how the A100 did in our tests.
Nearly identical in size and design to its higher-resolution twin, the PowerShot A200, the new Canon PowerShot A100 has the same thin, compact dimensions and straightforward user interface. The main difference between the two cameras is the A100's smaller 1.3-megapixel CCD. Trim enough to fit into a larger shirt pocket and most average purses, the A100 is lightweight and portable. By default it provides fully automatic exposure and color control, meaning you can literally just point and shoot most of the time. While it does offer a surprisingly range of exposure and image controls, most users will be able to entirely avoid the LCD menu system much of the time. The A100's 1.2-megapixel CCD produces good quality snapshots, with enough resolution to make sharp 5x7 inch prints. (If you think you'll want to make lots of 8x10 enlargements from your digicam pictures, you may want to consider Canon's A200 model instead.)
The A100 has a 5.0mm fixed focal length lens, with a maximum aperture of f/2.8. The focal length equates to a 39mm lens on a conventional 35mm camera, a slight wide angle. A large disc around the lens controls the built-in lens cover, and also turns the camera on or off in capture mode. I don't think I've seen this particular design on a digicam before, but it works quite well. A tab extends from the left side of the disc (as viewed from the front of the camera), serving as a finger grip. Pressing down on this tab rotates the disc slightly, opening the lens cover and turning the camera on in capture mode. Pressing the tab up rotates the disc in the other direction, closing the lens cover and turning the camera off. I really like built-in lens covers like this, as they eliminate the problem of lost lens caps.
The lens is a fixed focal-length design, but a maximum 4x digital zoom is available. Do keep in mind though, that digital zoom shouldn't be compared with an optical zoom lens because it always reduces image quality, simply cropping out and enlarging the center pixels of the CCD's image. Focus is automatically controlled, and ranges from 7.9 inches (20 centimeters) to infinity in normal mode, and from 2.0 to 7.9 inches (5 to 20 centimeters) in Macro mode. (The A100 has very good macro capability for an entry-level camera.) An Infinity fixed-focus mode is also available. The A100 employs the same sophisticated, three-point AiAF (Artificial Intelligence Autofocus) system used to determine focus on Canon's higher-end models, providing three focusing points spread across a broad active area in the center of the image to calculate the focal distance. You can also switch to a spot AF mode, which judges focus based on the subject appearing in the very center of the center of the frame. I've always found Canon's AiAF system to be quite accurate, especially with subjects that are a bit off center. (The sophisticated autofocus system is another surprising plus for an entry-level camera.) Also built-in to the A100 is an AF assist light, which aids the autofocus system in low lighting. The A100 has an "inverted Galilean-type" optical viewfinder, as well as a 1.5-inch color LCD monitor. I confess I'm not sure just what "inverted Galilean-type" means in the context of optical viewfinders, but I recognize the type used on the A100, and it isn't one of my favorites: The boundaries of the frame are somewhat indistinct, so there's just a bit of guesswork involved in determining what will appear in your picture and what wont. That said, the optical viewfinder on the A100 actually doesn't do too badly, showing about 93% of the final image area. For its part, the LCD monitor is very accurate, and it displays a fair amount of camera information, although not aperture or shutter speed.
Exposure control is largely automatic in the A100, although it does offer several user-controllable features. Shutter speeds range from 1/2,000 to one second, but are not reported on the LCD screen. Two main exposure modes are available, Auto and Manual (both accessed by holding down the Set button until the mode menu appears). In straight Auto mode, the camera controls essentially all of the exposure parameters apart from file size, flash, etc. Manual mode offers more hands-on control, with adjustments for White Balance, Exposure Compensation, ISO, and several creative effects. Camera operation is very simple and straightforward, with a control layout similar to other Canon PowerShot models.
The A100 uses an Evaluative metering system, which means that the camera divides the image area into a number of zones and evaluates the contrast and brightness across all of them to determine the best exposure. The metering system is linked to the focus area, meaning that the emphasis of the meter reading is placed on the same area that focus is determined from. Like the multipoint focusing system itself, this again helps with off-center subjects. In "Manual" mode, Exposure Compensation increases or decreases the overall exposure from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third step increments. To access this function, simply press the Exposure Compensation / White Balance (+/-WB) button on the camera's back panel, and then use the left and right arrow keys to adjust the exposure. The same button activates the White Balance settings menu, which offers Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent, and Fluorescent H settings. A third press of the +/-WB button displays the Photo Effect menu, which offers variations in image sharpening, color mode, and color saturation. In Auto mode, the camera automatically adjusts the ISO equivalent from 50 to 150, but in Manual mode, the available ISO range increases to include values of 50, 100, 200, and 400. The A100's built-in flash operates in Auto, Red-Eye Reduction Auto, Forced On, Suppressed, and Slow-Syncro modes, and is effective to approximately 6.6 feet (2.0 meters). (This is a somewhat limited range.)
An optional 10-second self-timer counts down by flashing a small LED on the front of the camera before firing the shutter, giving you time to duck around the camera and get into the shot. Stitch-Assist mode is the A100's panoramic shooting mode, which lets you shoot as many as 26 consecutive images using the same exposure and color settings. The series of images can then be "stitched" together into a single panoramic frame with the Canon software that ships with the camera. The A100 also has a Movie record mode, which records moving images without sound for as long as 30 seconds per clip, depending on the resolution setting and amount of memory card space remaining. (Movies are recorded at either 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 pixels.) Finally, a Continuous Shooting mode captures a series of images in rapid sequence (much like a motor drive on a traditional camera), at approximately three frames per second, for as long as the Shutter button is held down. The actual frame rate will vary with the resolution setting, and the total number of images will depend on the amount of memory card space and file size.
The A100 stores its images on CompactFlash Type I memory cards. An 8MB card accompanies the camera, but I'd recommend picking up a larger capacity card, given how inexpensive memory cards are these days. (Don't skimp, get at least a 32 MB card so you won't miss precious moments because you've run out of card space.) The camera uses two AA-type batteries or the optional AC adapter for power, and a set of single-use alkaline batteries come with the camera. Battery life is surprisingly good for a compact camera but as always, I strongly advise picking up a couple of sets of high-capacity rechargeable batteries and a good charger, and keeping the spare set freshly charged at all times. (Click here to read my "shootout" test of top NiMH batteries, or here for the review of my favorite charger.) The optional AC adapter is useful for preserving battery power when reviewing and downloading images, but isn't all that necessary if you have a good set of rechargeable batteries and a charger. A USB cable and interface software are also packaged with the camera, for downloading images to a computer and performing minor organization and corrections. Image downloads to a computer are reasonably speedy, at 431 KBytes/second. The A100 is DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatible, with detailed print settings available in the Playback menu. Canon offers a family of direct-connect printers as well, making "computer free" printing easy and affordable.
- 1.2-megapixel CCD.
- Optical viewfinder.
- 1.5-inch color TFT LCD monitor.
- Fixed, 5.0mm lens, equivalent to a 39mm lens on a 35mm camera.
- 4x digital zoom.
- Automatic exposure control.
- Shutter speeds from 1/2,000 to one second.
- Maximum aperture of f/2.8.
- Built-in flash with five modes.
- CompactFlash Type I memory card storage, 8MB card included.
- Power supplied by two AA-type batteries pack or optional AC adapter.
- Canon Digital Camera software, and USB drivers included for both Windows and Mac platforms.
- Movie mode (without sound).
- Continuous Shooting mode.
- Stitch-Assist panorama mode.
- Infinity and Macro focus modes.
- Ten-second Self-Timer for delayed shutter release.
- Evaluative exposure metering.
- Intelligent AiAF focus control and AF assist lamp.
- White balance (color) adjustment with six modes.
- Photo Effects menu for color and sharpness adjustment.
- Adjustable ISO setting.
- DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
- USB cable for connection to a computer (driver software included).
The Canon PowerShot A100 is small, compact, and easy to use, yet it offers a surprising range of exposure features at a bargain price. The 1.2 megapixel CCD provides enough resolution for prints as large as 5x7 inches, and the default fully automatic exposure system makes it easy to snap good-looking pictures. The A100 goes beyond bare-bones "entry level" features though, with optional adjustments for ISO (light sensitivity), white balance and creative effects. It's only significant shortcoming is that it doesn't have a zoom lens. For that see the larger PowerShot A30 model, or Canon's tiny Digital ELPH S200 or S330. (The ELPHs are also higher-resolution, 2 megapixel models.) The A100 is a nearly ideal camera for novices who want a little flexibility and great photos, and for whom 5x7 prints are large enough. It would make a great "family" camera, usable by the kids as well as Mom and Dad.
While not as small as Canon's diminutive Digital ELPH models, the PowerShot A100 is nonetheless quite compact and lightweight. Its flat front lets you quickly stash it into a pocket or purse, and the rotating lens cover/power switch makes it very quick on the draw. Measuring 4.3 x 2.3 x 1.4 inches (110 x 58 x 36.6 millimeters), the A100 is a bit larger than Canon's ELPH models, but smaller than most other cameras on the market. The A100 is light on the scales as well, weighing in at just 6.2 ounces (175 grams) without batteries or memory card.
The front of the A100 holds the lens, optical viewfinder window, and flash unit. The lens cover/power switch disc (a little to the right of center) has a charcoal-colored edge, and rotates to simultaneously power the camera on and open the lens cover. Once the camera is turned on, rotating the disc a second time puts the camera into Movie mode. (Pressing again takes you back to Still recording mode.) Rotating the disc in the other direction turns the camera off and closes the lens cover. The flash window also houses the super-bright LED that serves as the AF assist lamp, red-eye reduction lamp, and self-timer indicator. A small, chromed ridge running vertically along the camera's left side serves as a finger grip.
The Shutter button is the sole feature on the top panel, recessed so it won't catch on anything as you slide the camera in or out of your pocket.
On the right side of the camera (as viewed from the back) is the plastic door that covers the memory card and battery compartment. The compartment interior is divided into two sections, with a hinged plastic retainer clip covering the battery slots themselves. The hinge of the outer compartment door also serves as the eyelet for the included wrist strap.
The opposite side of the camera holds the USB and DC-In jacks, protected by a snug rubber cover. Also on this side is the slot for the date/time backup battery, a CR2016 lithium cell.
The remaining camera controls are on the back panel, along with the optical viewfinder and LCD monitor. Across the top of the back panel are the Display, Erase, Zoom, and Replay buttons. A Four Way Arrow pad in the center of the back panel controls menu navigation, as well as a variety of exposure options. I always like to see plenty of multi-function external control buttons on a camera, as this greatly reduces the need to fish through the LCD menu screens to change settings. Despite its point-and-shoot design, the A100 has an abundance of external controls, making camera operation much smoother than it might be otherwise. (I suspect some novices may be intimidated by the large number of control buttons, but take my word for it that they make using the camera much easier.) The Set and Menu buttons are on the left side of the Four Way Arrow pad, and function in any mode. Two LED lamps next to the optical viewfinder report camera status, lighting to indicate when focus is set or the flash is fully charged.
The A100 has a flat bottom panel, which holds the plastic tripod mount. Because the memory card and battery compartment are accessed from the side of the camera, you can easily change both while working with a tripod. I always appreciate this, given the amount of studio work I do with the cameras I test, but it's probably not much of an issue for the typical point & shoot user.
For the most part, I found the A100's user interface very straightforward. Some controls were slightly obscure, such as the Set button's activation of the exposure mode menu, and the lens cover's control over capture mode (selecting still or movie modes). Apart from these two quirks though, the rest of the control layout is similar to other Canon digicams, and quite easy to learn. Most of the camera's functions are controlled by the buttons on the back panel, while settings such as image size and quality are accessed through the LCD-based Record menu. The LCD menu system itself is fairly efficient, since you scroll through menu items on a single screen rather than through a series of pages. Additionally, the Setup menu is always available, regardless of the camera mode, which makes for faster settings changes. Even if the LCD monitor is switched off, pressing one of the control buttons on the back panel (such as the Exposure Compensation or Flash buttons) activates the display temporarily, making it easy to save battery power by leaving the LCD monitor turned off. With the instruction manual in-hand, it should take the average user a half an hour or so to get comfortable with the camera.
Shutter Button: Located on the top panel, this button sets focus and exposure when halfway pressed and fires the shutter when fully pressed. If the Self-Timer is activated, a full press of the Shutter button triggers a 10-second countdown.
Lens Cover Disc: Surrounding the lens, this large disc rotates to turn the camera on or off. A black lever projecting from one side of the disc lets you rotate it with a press of a finger. The lens cover retracts from the front of the lens when the camera is powered on (lever pressed down), and returns when it is powered off (lever pressed up). When the camera is turned on, pressing the lever down a second time switches from still capture to movie capture mode. Pressing it down again returns the camera to still capture mode.
Display Button: Directly to the right of the optical viewfinder eyepiece, this button controls the LCD monitor display, cycling through the image display, image and information display, and no display modes.
Erase Button: Adjacent to the Display button on the right side, this button controls the single image erase option in Playback and Quick Review modes. Pressing the button calls up the single-image erase screen, with options to either delete the current picture or cancel.
Zoom Rocker Button (Index Display and Playback Zoom Control): Positioned in the top right corner of the camera's back panel, this rocker button controls the digital telephoto when the camera is in Record mode.
In Playback mode, pushing the wide angle side of this button brings up a nine image index display, while pushing the telephoto side zooms into captured images.
Replay Button: To the right of the zoom control, this button activates Playback mode. When the camera is powered off, pressing the button turns the camera on and puts it in Playback mode.
Exposure Compensation / White Balance / Photo Effect Button (Up Arrow Key): At the top of the Four-Way Arrow pad, this button controls a range of settings. Pressed once, it displays the Exposure Compensation scale, adjustable from -2 to +2 in one-third EV steps. A second press displays the White Balance options, which include Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent, and Fluorescent H. The third press displays the Photo Effect menu, with choices of Vivid Color, Neutral Color, Low Sharpening, Sepia, and Black and White. Pressing it a fourth time dismisses the Photo Effect menu and returns the camera to normal shooting mode.
In any settings menu, this button navigates through menu options.
Macro/Infinity Button (Left Arrow Key): The left-pointing button in the arrow key pad, this control cycles between Macro, Infinity Focus, and normal focusing modes while in Record mode. In both Playback and Record menus, it acts as the left arrow key to navigate through menu items.
In Playback mode, this button scrolls backward through captured images.
Flash Button (Right Arrow Key): The right-pointing button in the arrow key pad, this cycles through the following flash modes (options may change depending on the main exposure mode you've selected):
- Automatic: The camera determines when to fire the flash based on existing light levels.
- Red-eye Reduction Auto: The camera fires a small pre-flash before the full flash to reduce the occurrence of Red-eye in pictures of people.
- Forced On: The flash always fires, regardless of lighting conditions.
- Forced Off: The flash never fires, regardless of lighting conditions.
- Slow-syncro: The flash is used with a slow shutter speed to allow more ambient light into the exposure.
In both Playback and Record menus, this button acts as the right arrow key to scroll through menu items. In Playback mode, this button scrolls forward through captured images.
Continuous/Self-Timer Button (Down Arrow Key): The final button on the key pad, this button cycles through Single, Continuous, and Self-Timer shooting modes while the camera is in Record mode. In both Playback and Record menus, this button serves as the down arrow key to navigate through menu items.
Menu Button: Adjacent to the top right corner of the LCD monitor, this button accesses the LCD menu system in Record and Playback modes.
Set Button: Directly beneath the left arrow key, this button confirms menu selections and changes. Pressed and held down, it displays the exposure mode menu, with options of Auto, Manual, and the two Stitch Assist modes (one for sequences stepping toward the left and the other for ones stepping toward the right).
Camera Modes and Menus
Movie Mode: Records short movie clips without sound. The actual amount of recording time varies with the resolution setting and amount of CompactFlash space, but the longest clip time is 30 seconds. A handful of exposure controls are available in this mode, though options like flash, Continuous Shooting, and digital zoom are disabled.
Stitch Assist Mode: Records a series of as many as 26 images to be "stitched" together as a panoramic shot, using the included Canon software on your computer. Two directions are available: Left to Right Stitch Assist and Right to Left Stitch Assist (based on which direction you'll move the camera to create the panoramic sequence). The majority of the exposure controls are available in this mode, with the exception of digital telephoto, Auto and Red-eye Reduction flash modes, and Continuous Shooting mode.
Manual Exposure Mode: Restricts the camera's control to just shutter speed and aperture, letting you adjust the digital zoom, flash mode, image quality, shooting method (Single, Continuous, or Self-Timer), Macro mode, Infinity Focus mode, Exposure Compensation, White Balance, Photo Effect, and ISO.
Automatic Exposure Mode: Puts the camera in charge of all exposure settings. You can select only the digital zoom option, certain flash modes, the self-timer, and Macro mode.
Playback Mode: This mode allows you to scroll through captured images and movies, write protect images, view a nine-image index display, zoom into to a captured image, delete unwanted images, rotate images, and set up images for printing on DPOF compatible devices.
Record Menu: Accessed by pressing the Menu button
in Automatic, Manual, Stitch Assist, and Movie modes (some options are not available
in all modes). Two menu tabs appear, one each for Record and Setup menus.
- Resolution: Sets the image resolution to Large (1,280 x 960 pixels), Medium (1,024 x 768 pixels), or Small (640 x 480 pixels) for still images. Movie resolution options are 320 x 240 and 160 x 120 pixels.
- Compression: Controls the amount of JPEG compression. Options are Superfine, Fine, and Normal. (Still images only.)
- ISO: Sets the camera's sensitivity to Auto, or to 64, 100, 200, or 400 ISO equivalents.
- AiAF: Turns on the AiAF focus system, letting the camera choose from three separate autofocus areas. If switched off, the camera bases autofocus on the center of the frame.
- Digital Zoom: Enables the digital zoom function, which is engaged by pressing the zoom rocker button.
- Review: Turns the instant review function on or off, or sets the amount of time that the captured image is displayed on the screen to three or 10 seconds. (Still images only.)
- AF Assist Beam: Turns the AF assist light on or off. If on, the light automatically activates in low lighting.
- File No. Reset: Activates or deactivates the file numbering reset.
If activated, resets the file numbers with each new CompactFlash card. If
left off, file numbering simply continues from card to card. (Most users will
want to leave this off, to avoid overwriting files when downloading to the
- Beep: Turns the camera's beep sounds on or off.
- Auto Power Down: Turns on the automatic shut down, which turns the camera off after a period of inactivity.
- Date/Time: Sets the camera's internal date and time settings.
- Format: Formats the CompactFlash card, erasing all images (even write protected ones).
- Language: Changes the menu language to one of 12 languages.
Menu: Accessed by pressing the Menu button in Playback mode, the Playback
menu also has a subject tab for the Setup menu described above.
- Protect: Write protects the currently displayed image (except from card reformatting).
- Rotate: Rotates captured images 90 or 270 degrees clockwise.
- Erase All: Deletes all images on the CompactFlash card, except for protected ones.
- Auto Play: Automatically plays back each image on the CompactFlash card, one by one. You can also mark specific images to be played back in a show.
- Print Order: Sets up individual images to print on DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatible printers. Through this setting, you can set the number of prints to be made, turn on the date and time stamp, and setup the print style.
- Transfer Order: Transfers the print order to an email program, so that small images can be sent via email.
See my test images and detailed analysis here. The thumbnails below show a subset of my test images. Click on a thumbnail to see the full-size photo.
See camera specifications here.
Cycle times, shutter lag, battery life, etc. can be found here.
- Color: Just like it's "big brother" the A200, the A100 did very well in the color department, producing accurate color and saturation on most of the test shots. (You'd normally expect some color differences between even closely related models from the same camera maker, given differences between CCDs, but the A100 comes surprisingly close to the color rendering of the A200.) Color outdoors was very good, with both the Auto and Daylight white balance settings giving good results. Indoors, the automatic white balance had a hard time, but the incandescent white balance setting did an excellent job of handling the difficult household incandescent lighting that's so common in US homes. Skin tones were very natural under all shooting conditions, and the A100 also did an excellent job with the difficult blue flowers in our outdoor and indoor portrait shots. The A100 also did very well with the large color blocks of the Davebox target, though saturation was just slightly weak. Overall, a very good job.
- Exposure: Operating under full automatic exposure control, the A100 accurately exposed most images. The Davebox studio test shot was a little bright, but the camera distinguished the subtle tonal variations of the target well. The harsh lighting of the Outdoor Portrait resulted in slightly dark midtones, though detail remained strong in these areas. Overall dynamic range (the range of light to dark tones that could be accurately distinguished) was quite good. Flash exposure was pretty accurate as well (although I had to boost the exposure manually a bit for the indoor portrait test), but the 6.6 foot range of the built-in flash is rather limited.
- Sharpness: Details were fairly sharp in most cases, with good definition. The outdoor house shot appeared soft, no doubt partly due to the distance between the camera and the house and the inability of the A100's fixed focal length lens to zoom in on the subject. Optical distortion was moderate, as I measured a 0.63 percent barrel distortion. (This is higher than I'd like, but fairly typical among the A100's competitors.) Chromatic aberration was practically nonexistent, showing only one or two pixels of very light coloration on either side of the target lines. The most visible distortion was some corner softness, strongest in the House and Macro shots.
- Closeups: The A100 did an excellent job in the macro category (oddly slightly better than the A200 even though they appear to have the same lens), capturing a minimum area of just 2.04 x 1.53 inches (51.7 x 38.8 millimeters). This was quite surprising for a camera with a fixed focal length lens. (This would be a good, inexpensive camera for shooting products for eBay.) Detail, resolution, and color were all great. As mentioned above, some corner softness was present in all four corners of the frame, but this again is fairly typical of consumer-level digicams shooting in macro mode. The A100's flash had trouble throttling down for the macro area though, and overexposed the top of the frame while shadowing the bottom. (Plan on using an external light source for shooting macro subjects.)
- Night Shots: Despite the full automatic exposure system, the A100's range of ISO settings gave it fairly good low light capability. With the camera's sensitivity set to ISO 400, the A100 captured bright images at light levels as low as 1/4 foot-candle (2.7 lux), though image noise was high. At ISO 200, images were bright as low as 1/2 foot-candle (5.5 lux), with moderate noise. Set to ISO 64 and 100, images were bright only as low as one foot-candle (11 lux). For reference, city night scenes under typical street lighting have an illumination level of about 1 foot-candle, so the A100 should do just find under typical outdoor night conditions with artificial lighting.
- Battery Life: Cameras powered with only two AA cells usually have pretty short battery life, but the A100 does very well in this regard, with over 100 minutes of run time in its worst-case power drain mode (capture mode with the LCD turned on), more than 10 hours with the LCD off, and over 3 hours in playback mode. I still strongly recommend getting a couple of sets of good-quality rechargeable batteries and a good charger, but the A100's battery life is better than average. (See my battery shootout article for the latest info on NiMH battery performance, and read my review here of my favorite AA cell charger.)
In the Box
Included in the box are the following items:
- Canon PowerShot A100 digital camera.
- Wrist strap.
- USB cable.
- 8MB CompactFlash memory card.
- Two AA alkaline batteries.
- Canon Digital Camera Solution Disk software CD-ROM.
- Operating manual and registration card.
- Higher capacity CompactFlash memory card.
- Rechargeable NiMH batteries and charger.
- AC adapter kit.
- Small camera case.
While I'm personally very partial to cameras with zoom lenses, the A100 provides excellent color, decent resolution, and a broad range of features in an "entry level" two megapixel, fixed focal length design. Compact and portable, the A100 includes many exposure features that other point-and-shoot style digicams leave off, such as ISO, color, and focus adjustments. Despite its range of exposure and creative options, its plentiful external controls and clear user interface make the A100 easy to operate. An excellent "starter" digicam, the A100 would be a good choice for anyone wanting ease of use, low cost, and good picture quality. (This looks like a good "family" camera too. - It has enough image quality and features for Mom and Dad, but its low price, easy pocketability, and ease of use make it a great choice for kids as well.) The A100's 1.2 megapixel resolution means 8x10 prints from it would be a bit fuzzy, so plan on prints 5x7 or smaller for best results. (If you think you'll commonly want larger prints, consider the only slightly more expensive A200 instead.)