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Canon PowerShot A50
Canon's "Digital ELPHs" goes megapixel plus - great picture quality, superb portability!

(First Look review posted 6/15/99, full review 7/10/99)


1280x960 resolution

Compact, rugged case

2.5x Optical Zoom Lens

Great low-light ability (up to ISO400)

Panorama support, including 2x2 matrix!

Canon PowerShot A50 Review Index:

Image Storage & Computer Interface

The PowerShot A50 uses CompactFlash (CF) memory cards for image storage, and comes equipped with an 8 MB unit. Canon officially claims that the A50 supports memory cards from 4 to 48 MB in size, but that's probably because that's the range of sizes they sell under their own brand. CF cards are very upward-compatible, so it's likely that any CF cards up to the current maximum size of 96 MB (July, 1999) will work just fine.
The CompactFlash card on the PowerShot A50 is hidden behind a hatch on the right-hand side of the camera, as viewed from the back. (See photo at right.) A latch on the back panel releases the hatch, and the card can then be popped out by pressing an eject button. A caution though: If you press firmly, the card will literally "pop" out, ejecting onto the floor if you're unprepared. A gentle press on the other hand leaves the card in the camera, requiring fingernails to get it out. We suggest holding the camera in a position to facilitate catching the card as it ejects, and pressing firmly...

The A50 stores images in one of two sizes (1280 x 960, and 640 x 480), with two JPEG compression levels available at each size, plus a proprietary uncompressed "CCD Raw" format for the large image size. The camera also apparently supports a "CIFF" format, which we frankly hadn't heard of previously. (If anyone knows what this is, EMAIL us!) The table below shows the approximate file sizes, compression ratios, and storage capacities on the furnished 8 MB memory card for each of the file formats. (All figures except for the CCD Raw format are approximate, as the JPEG file size will vary based on the amount of detail in the original image.)



Avg. Size


# per 8MB


1.56 MB




320 KB




170 KB




120 KB




65 KB



For computer interface, the A50 sports a conventional RS-232 serial port on its side (see photo at right), and can thereby connect to systems running the Mac OS or Windows '95, '98, and NT. (This last is a fairly rare feature amongst digicams: Although Microsoft tells us it's going to be the "next big thing", so far few digicam manufacturers have chosen to provide support for Windows NT.) When connected to our fairly standard Windows '98 machine (350 MHz Pentium II), we found that a 298 KByte high-resolution file transferred to the host in 63 seconds, for a transfer rate of 4.7 KBytes/second, about typical of serial-connected digicams.

Video Out
Like many digicams these days, the PowerShot A50 provides a video output signal, so you can view captured images on a TV (provided it has a raw-video input jack). The US/Canadian model we tested produced an NTSC signal: Presumably European units support the PAL standard. One nice feature of the A50 when running a "slide show" via the video port is that you can rotate pictures in memory. Thus, images shot in "portrait" mode can be displayed with the proper orientation on the TV monitor. - This is a very useful feature that we'd like to see on more digicams.
On the down side, the video signal isn't active when the camera is in either capture mode (Auto or Program). This means you can't use an external monitor as a viewfinder, although this may not be an issue for anyone but studio photographers. (Funny, isn't it, how we view a feature like this as lacking, when nothing like the function ever existed in the film world!)

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Reader Comments!
See what other Imaging Resource readers have had to say about the PowerShot A50, or add comments of your own. (Do you have an A50? Share your experience!) (Post questions in the general forum though, so others can easily see and answer them.) Check what's here - add your own!
Reader Sample Images!
Do you have a PowerShot A50 camera? If you'll post an album of your samples (it's easy to do, and free) on our photo-sharing service and email us at [email protected], we'll list the album here for others to see!

More Info:
View the data sheet for the PowerShot A50

View the test images from the PowerShot A50

Visit the Canon web page for the PowerShot A50


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of reading and reference. Other than this explicit usage, it may not be published, reproduced, or distributed in print or electronic and/or digital media without the express written consent of The Imaging Resource.