Imaging Resource Home
What's New
Digital Cameras
Tips & FAQs
Discussion Forum
Other Resources

Shopping? Try:

Digital Cameras


Digital Camera Feature MatrixDigital Camera Product InformationDigital Camera Image ComparisonsDigital Camera Manufacturers Index

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:


The power supply of the PowerShot A50 is a bit different than most digicams. It ships with a 2CR5 lithium battery (non-rechargeable), which they claim should be good for about 70 shots with the LCD display on, 500 shots with it off, or 100 minutes of image playback. Given the high cost of the 2CR5 batteries, we wouldn't recommend them as a normal power source, but they make an excellent backup, given their exceptional shelf-life.
Alternatively, Canon sells a NiMH battery pack/recharger/power adapter kit separately for the camera, as their model number NP-100. The battery in this kit has a capacity of only 650 mAh, a rather low rating when compared with a set of 4 AA NiMH cells (which typically provide about 1300 mAh). We were surprised then, by how well the Canon battery pack seemed to last in actual use. (Canon claims it has a capacity of 70 shots with the LCD on, 280 with it off, and 70 minutes of image playback.) We suspect that the discrepancy between its capacity in mAh and it's apparent longevity in the camera may have to do with the total energy it provides: AA NiMH batteries produce a voltage of 1.2v each, or 4.8v for a set of four. The Canon battery pack though, puts out 6 volts, a 25% increase in voltage. Since power is the product of voltage and current, the 650 mAh of the Canon battery should be more equivalent to AA cells with a capacity of 813 mAh: While still not up to a set of AAs, it isn't as far behind as you'd initially think. The A50 also appears to be a fairly low-power camera, relative to other units we've tested (see below.)
An interesting component of the optional battery pack/charger setup is the power adapter ("DC Coupler") it includes. This gadget looks like a battery pack with a tail - it fits inside the battery compartment, with the "tail" feeding out through a small sliding hatch on the side of the camera. We saw a similar system in the earlier A5 model, and generally like it: There's no way the power cord could accidentally pop out of the camera jack. On the other hand, you'll want to be careful not to trip over the power cord, as it'll yank the tripod over before it pulls loose from the camera!
We've just recently begun measuring actual power consumption of digicams, to try to introduce some objectivity to the topic. Now, rather than vague impressions of how long a camera can run on a set of batteries, we'll be able to see just how much power the cameras use in each operating mode. Overall, the A50 had lower power consumption in non-LCD and image-playback modes than other cameras we've checked recently. Other operating modes appear fairly typical. (We've tested several of the recent 2-megapixel digicams, but haven't reported on them as yet, wanting to develop a consistent approach first. From this point on though, we should be featuring power consumption figures pretty regularly.) Here's a table showing power consumption in various modes ("mA" means "milliamps", or 1/1000 of an ampere of current):

Operating Mode

Power Drain
Capture Mode, w/LCD

720 mA
Capture Mode, w/o LCD

110 mA
Half-pressed shutter, no LCD

350 mA
Memory Write (Transient)

1000 mA
Flash Recharge (Transient)

1200 mA
Image Playback

380 mA
"Sleep" Mode (Auto power-down)

10 mA (!)


In looking at these figures, it seems that Canon's claim of 70 minutes of continuous playback is fairly conservative, given the battery's rating of 650 mAh (that's milliamp-hours, or 650 milliamps for an hour). The raw capacity of the battery would suggest that it should be able to power the camera in playback mode for a full 100 minutes or so (650mAh divided by 380 mA, times 60 minutes/hour). This shortfall is typical of digicams, due to their very high current drains: Most battery life-tests are performed at the so-called "0.1C" rate, with a drain of 1/10th of their capacity. In the case of the Canon battery, this would correspond to a test load of 65 mA, less than 20% of the load the camera itself draws in playback mode. Overall, Canon's battery-lifetime claims seem pretty reasonable, given the measurements we made.
IMPORTANT NOTE: We're embarassed to report that the same power-interlock switch that momentarily stymied us with the PowerShot A5 did the same to us on the A50! The battery-compartment cover has a "lock" slider next to it (see photo at right) that keeps it from accidentally opening. It turns out this lock is also a power switch: The camera won't turn on unless it's in the "locked" position! Don't be fooled (as we were for at least a few moments) into thinking that the camera is dead after you've first installed the battery: Check the lock to make sure it's not preventing battery power from reaching the camera!

<- Previous Page

Next Page,>




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


Up to Imaging Resource Digital Cameras Page

Or, Return to the Imaging Resource home page.

This document copyright (c) 1999, The Imaging Resource, all rights reserved. Visitors to this site may download this document for local, private, non-commercial use. Individuals who have themselves downloaded this page may print a copy on their personal printers for convenience 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.
ce 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.