Canon A1000 IS Review
|Viewfinder:||Optical / LCD|
|Dimensions:||3.8 x 2.5 x 1.2 in.
(95 x 62 x 31 mm)
|Weight:||7.1 oz (201 g)
Canon A1000 IS
by Shawn Barnett
and Mike Tomkins
Review Date: 02/26/09
The Canon A1000IS has a very similar design and body shape to that of the Canon E1 we cover elsewhere, but the A1000IS has a bit more elegant, two-toned look, evidently designed to appeal to a more mainstream demographic. (The Canon E1 is really aimed at people (particularly females) in their teens and under, the A1000IS will appeal to young males and adults of both genders.) With 10 megapixels and a 4x zoom lens, plus Canon's excellent image stabilization (IS), the Canon PowerShot A1000IS is a great little camera with lots of capability in a svelte, compact package.
A melding of the compact Canon ELPH design and the preceding larger, AA-battery powered A-series models, the new Canon A1000IS has a sleeker, more curvy look than previous A-series models, yet retains the features that have made the A-series one of the strongest product lines in the industry for many years now. Available in colors of metallic brown, grey, purple, and blue, the Canon A1000IS looks like another winner for Canon in the entry-level market.
With a 10-megapixel sensor and a 4x optical zoom lens covering a focal length range from 35 to 140mm equivalents (a moderate wide angle to moderate telephoto) and a 2.5-inch LCD screen on the back, the A1000IS is solidly in the mainstream of consumer camera capabilities. We appreciate that the Canon A1000IS includes an optical viewfinder in addition to its LCD: This is an increasingly rare feature on consumer digicams, yet one that's very handy when shooting in dim lighting or outdoors in full sun, where the LCD can be hard to see. With this current batch of camera introductions in late August, 2008, all Canon digital cameras (all-in-one digicams, that is) now sport Canon's excellent Image Stabilization (IS) technology. Image stabilization is one of the most useful digital camera features, as it can help you capture sharp, blur-free shots even under dim lighting: The IS system on the A1000IS lets you capture sharp photos at shutter speeds as much as 8 times slower than you could otherwise hand-hold successfully.
Exposure on the Canon A1000IS is fully automatic, but the user can tweak it with up to 2.0EV of exposure compensation and four metering modes to handle difficult lighting, including a mode which ties metering to the camera's face detection system. Eleven scene modes and a new "Easy" mode keep the Canon A1000IS approachable, even for complete for beginners. An optional long-exposure mode lets you set exposure times as long as 15 seconds manually, and a 2.5-inch LCD screen plus an real-image optical zoom viewfinder - rather rare on digicams these days - helps you frame your images. The Canon A1000IS derives its power from a pair of AA batteries (so common that you need never worry about running out of power while traveling).
Light, compact, and pocket-friendly, the Canon A1000IS weighs in at just 5.5 ounces (155g) without batteries and measures just 3.8 x 2.5 x 1.2 inches (95 x 62 x 31mm). The Canon A1000IS began shipping September 2008, at a suggested retail price of US$199.99.
The following is included in the box:
- PowerShot A1000 IS
- Wrist strap
- AV Cable
- USB Interface cable
- Memory card (32MB)
- Software CD
- 2 AA Alkaline batteries
Canon A1000 IS
by Shawn Barnett
The Canon A1000 IS continues a long line of quality, inexpensive, mid-size point-and-shoot digital cameras that use AA batteries. Among the hundreds of cameras we review, they're always surprisingly good, with great image quality and easy interfaces that deliver an excellent value.
Look and feel. Though I call it a mid-size digital camera, the Canon A1000 is quite a bit slimmer than most past A-series cameras, and its smooth contours allow easy and comfortable carry in a pocket. I recommend a case for any camera you care about, of course, but you can indeed pocket the A1000, and its light weight is easy to handle, coming in at just 7 ounces (201g) with batteries and card.
The grip offers a reasonable bulge, but you should still be careful not to drop it, as the finish is very smooth. I recommend attaching and using the wrist strap for security.
Controls. Powering on the Canon A1000 is done with a small silver button on the top deck. It's not exactly easy to reach, since the Mode dial resides where the power button usually lives on other Canon point-and-shoots. The Mode dial is well-placed, though, easy to activate with your thumb. The detents are surprisingly firm, making it difficult to turn by accident, which is nice. The Zoom ring surrounds the shutter button, making for quick and easy framing with your right index finger.
You use the same zoom ring to zoom in and out in Playback mode. To get into Playback mode, you press the Playback button on the back of the camera.
Your thumb rests comfortably in a recessed area on the back, just left of the Playback button, one which houses the speaker as well. A small but usable optical viewfinder allows me to frame images even with my glasses on, though its view is quite limited, only showing 80 to 75 percent accuracy from wide to telephoto, respectively. The LCD gives you a much better sample of what you'll get when you press the shutter, though, at 100 percent.
The 2.5-inch LCD screen is big enough for any camera that also has an optical viewfinder, leaving enough room for a decent button array on the right. Buttons for Face Detection, Print/Share, Display, and Menu surround the four-way navigator. Three of the four "ways" work well, but on my sample, the left button is difficult to press. Other than that, though, the controls are straightforward and easy to use.
Lens. Ranging from 35 to 140mm equivalents, the Canon A1000's lens covers a 4x range and serves up good quality. The lens protrudes about an inch from the body.
The lens shows some chromatic aberration in the corners, but it's so mild that it won't show up dramatically in normal sized prints at all. The lens is also surprisingly sharp overall, quite good for an inexpensive digital camera.
Optical Image Stabilization is also a welcome perk on the Canon A1000 IS, helping reduce motion blur in low light shots.
Modes. When you start up the Canon A1000 IS, it opens in Record mode, ready to take a picture. Entering Playback mode requires a press of the Playback button. What's great about this is that to return to Record mode, all you have to do is press the shutter button again. That's a welcome change, as recent Canon models at this price point used a physical switch to change between modes.
The Mode dial on the top deck selects the rest of the major shooting modes, from Program through all the Scene modes, and on to Movie mode. Under the SCN selection are Night Scene, Sunset, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Aquarium, and ISO 3,200 (the latter mode being one we don't recommend using at all, as the results are too soft).
The Canon A1000 IS also features an Easy mode, marked by a camera silhouette with a heart at the center. Easy mode differs from Full Auto mode in that the user has fewer options, and all settings are controlled by the camera. The only buttons that work on the back of the A1000 IS are the flash mode button, which switches between Auto and Off, and the Playback mode button. Even the Display, Menu, and Function buttons do nothing when pressed. This is probably a very good option for a great many of the Canon A1000 IS's customers.
Movie mode includes settings for 640x480 at 30 frames per second, the same with greater compression (LP), and a 320x240 at 30 fps mode for capturing more in a smaller space. Zoom in this mode is digital, and only zooms in from zoom's position when you first pressed the Record button.
Menu. The Canon A1000 IS's functions are controlled with two menus, as is the case with all PowerShot cameras. The Function menu sets exposure compensation, Long shutter, White Balance, My Colors, Metering mode, Compression, and Resolution. All other functions are set via the Menu, activated with the Menu button.
Storage and battery. The Canon A1000 IS stores images on SD and SDHC cards, and comes with a very small 32MB SD card. Be sure to purchase a larger card when you buy the Canon A1000 IS, at least a 2GB or 4GB card, as they're very inexpensive.
The Canon A1000 has another advantage over most other digital cameras on the market, in that it uses just two of the commonly available AA batteries. You can use Alkaline batteries and shoot around 220 shots, or up to 450 shots with NiMH rechargeable batteries. For both their capacity and rechargeability, we recommend purchasing a good set of NiMH batteries, especially the newest "pre-charged" cells which offer the advantage of a longer shelf life. Look for Eneloop, Kodak Pre-Charged, or Rayovac Hybrid, among others.
Shooting. As with nearly every Canon camera we've tested, the PowerShot A1000 is easy and fun to shoot with.
Indoor shooting with the Canon A1000 IS was quite good, with six out of ten shots coming out sharp with Image Stabilization on. I handheld the camera while shooting our indoor test target, and the A1000 IS did held most of the shots steady even at f/3.5 and 1/10 second, which is pretty impressive. Since it stayed stable at those settings and maintained ISO 200, the detail looks pretty darn good, especially handheld.
Zooming is quick and relatively quiet, though the camera does have to refocus quickly after changing zoom settings, which can be frustrating when trying to carefully frame an image.
While some Mode dials don't go all the way around, I particularly like how this one does, allowing me to get from Program mode to Movie mode with a long turn to the left, which is far preferable to clicking through all those Scene modes I'm less likely to use anyway.
Overall, the Canon A1000 is a pleasure to use, and serves up good quality images. As companies seem to be cutting back on digital camera quality, Canon is the one that stands out as producing very good quality digital cameras regardless of the price bracket. The Canon A1000 IS is a bargain in a quality camera.
Canon A1000 IS Lens Quality
Wide: Sharp at center
Wide: Softest lower right
Tele: Sharp in center
Tele: Softest lower right
Sharpness: Both wide and telephoto settings on the A1000 IS lens are sharp and crisp, delivering good detail. The corners suffer from some chromatic aberration and even flare, which reduces contrast somewhat, but it's really pretty impressive for an inexpensive digital camera.
Wide: Average barrel distortion
Tele: No distortion
Geometric Distortion: The Canon A1000's 0.8% barrel distortion is average at wide angle; you'll see it in some shots, especially vertical shots of buildings, but it won't be as bad as it can be. At telephoto there is surprisingly no noticeable pincushion distortion at all. A very good performance.
Chromatic Aberration: Chromatic aberration on the Canon A1000 isn't too bad. You can detect green and purple around the edges of the wide-angle shot, taken from the upper left corner, but it's not expansive nor bright enough to be a real problem for most shots. At telephoto, its effect is spread out over a large area and combines with lens flare to lighten the black areas; but again, it's not terribly noticeable.
Canon A1000 IS Image Quality
Color: Color is somewhat muted in some respects, especially yellows, some of which have a slight green tint. Reds are pumped as usual, and cyans are moving dramatically toward blue, usually for more dramatic skies, but color looks mostly accurate, rather than the usual tendency toward oversaturation that most companies employ to appeal to consumers. Dark skintones are a little more saturated, but lighter tones are pretty spot on.
ISO: Noise and Detail: Detail is quite good at ISO 80, 100, and 200, with some softening beginning at ISO 400. Chroma (color) noise is pretty well controlled at all ISOs, but detail is lost as you go higher and higher. ISO 1,600 is not very useful, and 3,200, entered via a special Scene mode, is not worth trying, as it reduces resolution to preserve detail, but does not succeed.
Incandescent WB: Good
Incandescent: Incandescent lighting in Incandescent White Balance mode looks just about right with the Canon A1000 IS.
Printed: ISO 80 and 100 printed results look good at 13x19 with good color and detail. ISO 200 and 400 look good at 11x14. ISO 800 shots are usable at 8x10, but better at 5x7. ISO 1,600 shots are really better at 4x6. ISO 3,200 shots are too soft to recommend at any size. Overall, though, this is a very good performance for an inexpensive digital camera.
Canon A1000 IS Performance
Shutter lag: Full autofocus shutter lag is good, at 0.55 second at wide angle and 0.59 second at full telephoto. Prefocus shutter lag is 0.079 second, quite blazingly fast.
Cycle time: Cycle time is also relatively fast, capturing a frame every 1.97 seconds in single-shot mode, and every 0.76 second for a burst rate of 1.33 frames per second.
Flash Recycle: The Canon A1000's flash recycles very slowly, taking 11.2 seconds after a full-power discharge. Be sure to plan for some extra time between flash shots with the A1000 IS.
Canon A1000 IS Conclusion
Everyone's trying to cut costs these days, and that includes digital camera manufacturers. The low end of the digital camera market is where most of the units move, and the race is on to get to the lowest price point with the most impressive sounding specs. What we're most concerned about is getting you a good camera for your money, and the Canon PowerShot A1000 IS stands out as one camera that does just that. From optical quality to sensor performance, the Canon A1000 has the goods where it's most important. Its optics are of good quality, delivering sharp images across the frame. There is some chromatic aberration, but it doesn't show up in prints until you enlarge quite a bit, so that's little worry. ISO performance is quite good for the Canon A1000's size, delivering usable 8x10-inch prints even at ISO 800, and image stabilization works well enough indoors that even for non-flash shots you'll seldom need to go above ISO 400 so long as you and your subjects hold still. I also like that this is a shooting priority design, thanks to the Playback button that replaces the usual switch: Just a press of the shutter button takes you right back into Record mode so you don't miss any shots. The LCD is pretty big, the controls work well, and the overall feel of the Canon A1000 is excellent, making the camera an easy Dave's Pick.
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