Canon A430 Review

 
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Basic Specifications
Full model name: Canon PowerShot A430
Resolution: 4.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/3"
Lens: 4.00x zoom
(39-156mm eq.)
Viewfinder: Optical / LCD
ISO: 64-400
Shutter: 1-1/2000
Max Aperture: 2.8
Dimensions: 4.1 x 2.0 x 1.6 in.
(103 x 52 x 40 mm)
Weight: 5.6 oz (160 g)
MSRP: $170
Availability:  
Manufacturer: Canon
4.00
Megapixels
4.00x zoom
1/3"
size sensor
image of Canon PowerShot A430
Front side of Canon PowerShot A430 digital camera Back side of Canon PowerShot A430 digital camera Top side of Canon PowerShot A430 digital camera Left side of Canon PowerShot A430 digital camera Right side of Canon PowerShot A430 digital camera

Canon A430 Overview

by Mike Pasini
Review posted: 06/28/06

The Canon PowerShot A430 is another in the company's long line of well-built digital cameras in both the film and digital camera markets. Canon is well-known for its high-quality optics, technical innovations, and aggressive product development. The 4.0-megapixel Canon A430 redefines the entry level model in Canon's A Series (for AA battery models).

It replaces the A410, bumping the resolution from 3.2 megapixels to 4.0 megapixels, enlarging the LCD from 1.5 to 1.8 inches, increasing the optical zoom from 3x to 4x, adding sound to Movie mode, returning the body style options to four different color panels and retaining the DIGIC II processor. There are smaller digicams but the A430 is ruggedly built, and at just $180 list (and $125 retail), it makes Canon quality available at a very affordable price. Keep reading to find out more!

There was a time when the low end of the PowerShot A-series really defined the word "low-end." That's no longer true with the latest low-cost Canon PowerShots. We were fairly blown away by the quality and utility of the PowerShot A410, and the A430 looks like an incremental upgrade following in those footsteps.

With a 4x optical zoom, a 4-megapixel sensor, and the lightest weight of the A-series lineup, the Canon PowerShot A430 is ready to go wherever you like. Though it doesn't have the manual control that some of the other A-series cameras boast, there are 14 exposure modes to get creative with, as well as Stitch-Assist mode for capturing panoramas, a Movie mode, and a Continuous mode for capturing up to 2.3 frames per second.

Its ISO ranges from 64 to 400, great for fine shots in bright light, or for handling the significantly lower light found indoors. Its movie mode can capture 640x480 pixel movies at 10 frames per second, or a far smoother 320x240 at 30 frames per second, impressive for a camera at this price point. With its included USB cable, you can copy your images from your SD/MMC memory card to a Mac or PC, or print directly to a PictBridge printer.

The Canon PowerShot A430 is chock-full of more advanced features, including a spot metering mode, custom white balance, audio recording, and special color modes, like black and white, sepia, and positive film (to emulate the vibrant colors of slide film). Yet it uses the most versatile of power sources: two AA batteries, alkaline or NiMH rechargeable. If you're looking to travel light on a budget and still bring home great pictures, the A430 looks promising.

 

Canon A430 User Report

by Mike Pasini

a4-front.JPG
From the Front
Blocky style equals a nice grip
a4-back.JPG
From the Back
Controls within thumb-reach
This might be my favorite A-Series model. Surprised? So was I!

Design. No, it wasn't love at first sight. It's about as sleek as a power brick, yes, but it knows how to dress. The big chassis does makes it hard to pocket, sure, but you'll want it swinging from your wrist ready for action.

Its design bucks the trend toward cameras as jewelry. It's more like sculpture. I liked the big shutter button. All business. And I liked just as much the recessed Power button. It was out of the way when I wanted to shoot but I always knew where to find it when I was done. Seems like faint praise, maybe, but it isn't. A lot of companies can't get those two buttons right. Canon does.

Performance. It powered up quickly and shut down quickly, too -- a big help when you're biking around the city to take a few shots. That nimbleness is what first attracted me to the A430, no question. And the gorgeous images it captured sealed the deal.

Surprisingly, I don't have to do any apologizing for the A430's specs. It doesn't really concede anything. In fact, its specs would have made it a pretty hot camera just a little while ago. A 4x zoom with 4-Mp sensor, Photo Effects, and a 30-fps Movie mode with sound would have stood out. And the Wide screen mode would have been icing on the cake.

The DIGIC II image processor and iSAPS technology are responsible for the A430's unusually satisfying image quality, not to mention the nimbleness of the machine and its low power consumption. That's worth paying for.

a4-aa.JPG
The AA-Advantage
Even on deserted islands
a4-av.JPG
New A/V Out
For movies with sound
Canon's iSAPS technology uses an internal database of thousands of photos to tune the DIGIC processor's focus speed and accuracy as well as exposure and white balance. It's as if the A430 recognizes the scene and knows just what to do to get a vibrant, natural image.

Consequently, the blown highlights and oversaturated colors I'm used to seeing on other low-end digicams seemed less a problem on the A430.

Display. The 1.8-inch LCD is the least impressive feature, but it's also the big money saver. And I really didn't mind it. Even in Wide screen mode. Canon at least gives it plenty of resolution with 77,000 pixels.

Finally, those AA batteries are a feature in themselves. A set of four NiMH rechargeables, using two for backup, will last for years. And if you ever find yourself stranded on a desert island with weak batteries, you only have to go down to the Seven-Eleven to get a fresh set.

Target User. That AA convenience certainly makes this an intriguing option for travelers. But at its modest price, it won't ruin your vacation if it gets lost, damaged, or stolen either.

The modest price also makes the A430 an interesting candidate for the young photographer. It takes nice pictures with an Auto mode that's nearly infallible, so you can concentrate on composing your image, zooming in or out, and waiting for the right moment.

a4-top.JPG
From the Top. Viewfinder slightly off lens axis.
a4-vf.JPG
LCD Plus VF. The small LCD leaves room for an optical viewfinder.
Anyone will enjoy the almost microscope-like intimacy of Super Macro mode, which lets you sneak up a bit closer than half an inch from your subject. For someone new to photography, it can be a real thrill to see things up that close.

And if that doesn't convert them to photography, maybe the Color Swap and Color Accent options will. Color Swap lets you pick one color in the image (a dominant one is a good choice) and replace it with any color you want. You can have green skies or red oceans, for example. Color Accent desaturates every color but one in an image, so you have a black and white picture with just one color. Fun stuff.

Printing. I've never seen a camera manual that recommended a particular printing method, but cameras seem to have their preferences. A dSLR might be too shy to spit out a bunch of 4x6 prints without the files getting a serious massage in some image editing program. A high-end digicam might find a computer display more flattering for its detailed images. And plenty of low-end digicams would like to hide behind their LCD and never come out!

But I made nice enlargements from the A430's images as well as quick 4x6s just by plugging into the nearest PictBridge printer. All you need is a USB cable and the A430 turns into a photo kiosk. Very nice (particularly if you're using someone else's printer <g>).

Quibble. I did miss a real Manual mode where I could control the aperture and shutter myself. But perched on a bike seat, I was happy to be relieved of the option, frankly.

Nothing else really bothered me as I used the camera for a couple of weeks. I never caught myself excusing some annoyance with a "Well, what do you expect at that price?"

Final thoughts. While the A430 doesn't wow you with features, it doesn't skimp either. It's a reliable box that's pleasant to use. And it takes remarkable pictures, which makes it a gratifying experience too. Just the right thing for someone new to photography, no matter their age.

 

Basic Features

  • 4.0-megapixel CCD delivering image resolutions as large as 2,272 x 1,704 pixels
  • 1.8-inch color LCD monitor
  • Real-image optical viewfinder
  • Glass, 4x 5.4-21.6mm lens (equivalent to 39-156mm zoom on a 35mm camera)
  • 3.6x digital zoom
  • AiAF through-the-lens autofocus
  • AF Assist light for low-light focusing
  • Full Automatic, Camera M, eight Scene modes, Super Macro, Color Accent, Color Swap, My Colors, Stitch Assist, and Movie modes
  • Shutter speed range from 1/2,000 to one second
  • Built-in flash with six operating modes
  • SD/MMC memory storage
  • Power supplied by two AA batteries or optional AC adapter

 

Special Features

  • Movie mode (with sound)
  • Wide screen (16:9 aspect ratio) still capture mode
  • Stitch-Assist mode for panoramic shots
  • Continuous Shooting and a variable delay Self-Timer mode
  • White balance (color) adjustment with seven modes
  • ISO adjustment with four ISO equivalents and an Auto setting
  • Photo Effects (Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, B&W, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, and Custom Color settings)
  • Evaluative, Center-Weighted, and Spot metering options
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility
  • Exif Print compatibility
  • PictBridge compatibility

 

In the Box

The PowerShot A430 arrives with the following items:

  • PowerShot A430
  • Two AA-type alkaline batteries
  • 16MB MMC card
  • Wrist strap WS-800
  • USB cable IFC-400PCU
  • AV cable AVC-DC300
  • Software CD
  • Printed Basic and Advanced Camera User Guides, Direct Print Users Guide, Software Starter Guide, and registration kit

 

Recommended Accessories

Canon A430 Pros and Cons

Pro: Con:
  • Vibrant, appealing color; bright without looking overdone
  • Good skin tones
  • Auto white balance handles a wide range of lighting well
  • Manual white balance option, very unusual in an entry-level camera
  • Better than average exposure accuracy
  • Good lens, generally low distortion (some chromatic aberration at wide settings, but less than average)
  • Very good shutter response at wide angle settings
  • Excellent super-macro mode
  • Good camera styling, very compact
  • Very simple user interface
  • Accurate LCD viewfinder
  • Adequate low light capability
  • AF assist light for better low light focusing
  • Continuous shooting mode isn't terribly fast, but the sequence length is limited only by card capacity
  • Excellent battery life
  • Quick start-up and shutdown
  • Case design fits both large and small hands well
  • Only white balance and EV compensation options in Manual mode
  • Only average speed from shot to shot
  • A little slow to clear the buffer memory, and very slow shot to shot after buffer fills (five large/fine shots)
  • Only average shutter response at telephoto focal lengths
  • Contrast is a little high, tends to lose highlight and shadow detail under harsh lighting
  • Small, not terribly bright LCD
  • Some users may find the highly saturated color unnatural
  • Maximum shutter time is only one second
  • Wide angle end of lens's range isn't very wide
  • No auto rotate function
  • USB 2.0 interface is only "Full Speed," not "High Speed"
  • Basic and Advanced User Guides refer to each other, making it cumbersome to track down some information

 

Conclusion

Featuring a 4.0-megapixel CCD, 4x optical zoom, automatic exposure control with a wide range of preset shooting modes, and a real bargain price, the PowerShot A430 does a great job of holding up Canon's sterling reputation at the low end of their line. Built on the same long-tested design as many A-series predecessors, the Canon A430 delivers a lot of features, great image quality, and tremendous value in a compact package designed for novices (no matter the age). I'd like to see it equipped with a (much) more accurate optical viewfinder, but other than that, what this camera does, it does very well. With an initial suggested retail price of just $179 (and widely available online for much less), the A430 is an especially good bargain for an all-around consumer model. Overall, a solid replacement for the previous A410 model, and one of the best cameras on the market in its price range: An absolute shoo-in for a Dave's Pick.

 

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