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Canon PowerShot A800 review

Ben Pitt
14 May 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
66
inc VAT

Features and performance are in line with the rock-bottom price, but it punches above its weight for image quality.

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Specifications

1/2.3in 10.0-megapixel sensor, 3.3x zoom (37-122mm equivalent), 186g

Canon isn't one to cut corners with its cameras, but it has trimmed the A800 down to its absolute bare essentials. The plastic, bulbous body is designed to accommodate two AA batteries (with rechargeables sold separately), the lens is a simple 3.3x zoom affair with no optical stabilisation, the screen measures just 2.5in across and has a lowly 115,000-pixel resolution, and videos are recorded at a basic VGA resolution.

Canon PowerShot A800

The 10-megapixel resolution may seem basic too, but it's actually a positive move. It's more than enough to capture plenty of detail, and its relatively modest resolution helps to keep noise at bay. Unlike other 10-megapixel sensors used by rival budget cameras, this one has the same 1/2.3in diagonal as pricier compact cameras, which makes a big difference for noise levels.

Canon hasn't skimped with the controls and photographic options, which follow the same tried-and-tested design we've seen many times before. There's a choice of metering modes and the ability to define a custom white balance – features many pricier cameras omit. The screen wasn't much fun to use, though. We could live with its small size and low resolution but its weak colours and poor viewing angles made it hard to see in sunlight.

Performance is scaled back further than we'd like. Photos took over two seconds to appear on screen after capture, and this was the main culprit in the 4.8-second shot-to-shot time. Flash photography was really slow at up to 14 seconds between shots – a common side-effect of using AA batteries.