Canon A640 Review
Canon A640 Operation
While the Canon A640's user interface may seem a little strange at first approach, it's easy to master. Things you set once (like sounds or instant review) are accessed by pressing the Menu button in the lower right corner. Settings that might change for a particular outing (like image size, ISO settings, etc.) are accessed by pressing the Function button in the center of the navigator. Options you might change from shot to shot have their own buttons, like EV, Flash mode, Macro mode. The left and right arrow buttons are reserved for changing the value of a setting. There's a Mode switch to toggle Record and Playback and a Mode dial to select among Record modes. It's very efficient, once you learn your way around. Give yourself an hour to do that and you'll be fine without the manual.
Record Mode LCD Display: In Record mode, the Canon A640's LCD reports various exposure settings, including camera modes, the resolution and quality settings, number of available images, etc. Half-pressing the Shutter button reports the aperture and shutter speed settings, in all modes except Manual. (Aperture and shutter speed are displayed continuously in Manual mode, whether the Shutter button is pressed or not.) Pressing the Display button cycles through the available display modes, including the image with no information, the image with information, and no display at all. Through the settings menu, you can enable a gridline or 3:2 aspect ratio display guide.
Playback Mode LCD Display: In Playback mode, the LCD reports the image sequence number on the card, resolution and quality setting, file name, and the date and time of image capture. Pressing the Display button once calls up an enhanced information display, with a histogram for checking the exposure. A third press cancels the information overlay entirely. The Canon A640 remembers your preference, too. The telephoto side of the zoom toggle lets you zoom in on a portion of the image, while the wide-angle side backs you out again, and lets you step out to an index view of captured images, displayed as nine thumbnails at a time. Zooming out one step past the point at which the index display appears adds a jump bar to the bottom of the screen, letting you jump forward or back nine images at a time, rather than scrolling from each image to the next individually. (You can control the behavior of Jump mode by pressing the Jump button, or up arrow, and adjusting the settings.)
Canon A640 Modes and Menus
Record Mode: Pressing the Canon A640's Menu button in Record mode pulls up the following options (not all options are available in all modes):
- AF Frame: Selects three different auto focus modes. AiAF selects the focal point from one of nine focus areas arrayed in the display. Center focuses on a small area in the center of the image. FlexiZone lets you manually select to one of nine points of focus within the viewing frame.
- Digital Zoom: Controls the digital zoom, options are Standard (4x), 1.4x, 2.3x, or Off.
- Flash Sync: Selects whether the flash fires when the shutter opens (1st-curtain) or just before the shutter closes (2nd-curtain).
- Slow Synchro: When switched on, lets you use a slow shutter speed with the flash.
- Flash Adjust: Puts the flash under Automatic or Manual control, meaning that the Auto setting will automatically control flash power based on the exposure conditions.
- Red-Eye Reduction: Turns the Red-Eye Reduction pre-flash on or off, which works with all flash modes.
- Spot AE Point: Sets whether the exposure is measured either at the center of the image, or at the same point as the auto-focus focal point (AF Frame menu item above must be set to Center or Flexi-zone to access this option).
- Safety Shift: If enabled, the camera will automatically
correct the exposure in Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority exposure modes,
if the value you've selected will result in a poor exposure.
- MF-Point Zoom: Turns the MF Point zoom option on or off. If on, the center of the frame is enlarged on the LCD display for better viewing while adjusting the manual focus.
- AF Assist Beam: Turns the AF Assist light on or off. If on, the light automatically illuminates in dark shooting conditions.
- Review: Turns the instant image review function on or off, with available image display times from two to 10 seconds in one second steps. The Hold option displays the image until you press the shutter release halfway down.
- Save Original: In Color Swap and Color Accent modes, this
option lets you save a copy of the original image without any alterations,
in addition to the altered image.
- Reverse Display: Turns on or off the function that automatically flips the image in the LCD when the LCD is pointed toward the front of the camera.
- Disp. Overlay: Turns on a framing grid, 3:2 Guide, or Both.
- Date Stamp: Specifies whether the date and time are overlaid on the image. (Only available in Postcard mode.)
- Save Settings: Saves the current setting to the Custom mode.
Playback Mode: This mode lets you review captured images and movies on the memory card, as well as erase them, protect them, or tag them for printing and transfer. The traditional green Playback symbol denotes this mode on the Mode switch. Pressing the Menu button displays the following options:
- Auto Play: Automatically plays all captured images in a slide show.
- My Colors: Adds the available My Colors effects to a captured image (Vivid Color, Neutral Color, Sepia, Black-and-White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, or Vivid Red)
- Sound Memo: Records a short sound clip to accompany a captured image.
- Protect: Marks the current image for write-protection, or removes write-protection. Protected images cannot be deleted or manipulated, except through card formatting, which erases all files.
- Rotate: Rotates the current image 90 or 270 degrees clockwise.
- Erase All: Erases all files on the memory card, except protected
- Transfer Order: Marks images to be transferred to a computer later.
Print Menu: This menu is available in Playback mode, simply by pressing the Menu button and selecting the Print tab. The bottom line of the display shows how many images are selected for printing and the print method that is active.
- Print: Sends images tagged for printing to the printer.
- Select Images & Quantity: Allows you select images for printing, and set the number of prints for each image selected.
- Select All Images: Selects all images on the memory card for printing.
- Clear All Selections: Clears all print selections.
- Print Settings: Brings up a menu of these options:
- Print Type: You can specify whether to print one image per page, an index of the images, or both.
- Date: Set printing of the date, and time on, or off.
- File No.: Set printing of the file number on, or off.
- Clear DPOF data: Set the option to clear the DPOF tag on, or off.
Setup Menu: This menu is available in all exposure modes, simply by pressing the Menu button and selecting the Setup tab.
- Mute: Turns the camera's start-up, operation, self-timer, shutter and playback sounds on and off.
- Volume: Adjusts the volume settings for the camera's start-up, operation, self-timer, shutter, and playback sounds.
- Power Saving: Sets the camera's Auto Power Down and Display Off settings. Power Down can be enabled or disabled, and Display Off can be set to 10/20/30 seconds, or 1/2/3 minutes.
- Date/Time: Sets the camera's internal calendar and clock.
- Format: Formats the SD/MMC card, erasing all files (even those marked for write-protection). A low-level format option is available for memory cards whose writing speed has slowed.
- File Numbering: Auto Reset resets file numbering with each new SD/MMC card. Continuous continues numbering in sequence, regardless of memory card.
- Create Folder: Creates a new folder on the memory card. You can also select Auto mode, which automatically creates new folders based on time and date.
- Auto Rotate: Specifies whether images appear vertically in the LCD monitor when the camera is held vertically.
- Distance Units: Sets the manual focus indicator to meters/centimeters or feet/inches.
- Lens Retract: Controls the lens retraction time when switching from Record to Playback modes to zero second or one minute.
- Language: Sets the camera's menu language to one of 25 choices. English is the default setting.
- Video System: Designates the camera's video-out signal as NTSC or PAL.
- Print Method: Specify either Auto or PictBridge-enabled as the print method.
- Reset All: Resets the camera to its default settings.
My Camera Menu: This is the third menu tab on the menu screen, and appears in every mode.
- Theme: Selects a common theme for each My Camera menu settings item. Four options are available, the first one being Off. When a theme is selected, all of the following settings automatically adjust to that theme.
- Startup Image: Sets the startup image when you turn on the camera to: Black screen, Canon logo, Canon logo with sunset, nature scene. The latter two startup images can be overwritten with an image of your own. You can apply your personal image in playback mode by pressing the Display button and choosing an image from the SD card. The image is copied to the camera's internal memory, and is still displayed when the SD card is removed.
- Startup Sound: Sets the startup sound when you turn on the camera to: No sound, musical tone (1), musical tone (2), or birds chirping. You can apply your own sounds in playback mode by using the cameras audio recording function. The sound is copied to the camera's internal memory, and is retained even when the SD card is removed.
- Operation Sound: Sets the sound when any control or switch is used (except the Shutter button). Options include beep, zing, or chirp. You can also record your own custom sound by the same method as the startup sound.
- Self-Timer Sound: Sets the sound that signals you when the shutter release is two seconds away. Options include fast beeps (1), telephone ring, or a Coyote howl. Like the startup and operation sound, you can record a custom tone.
- Shutter Sound: Sets the shutter sound that you hear when you depress the shutter button (there is no shutter sound in Movie mode). Options include beep, zing, bark and custom user sound.
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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.