Thursday, September 25, 2008

A1000IS : part of the new Canon powershot lineup

Canon has 3 fairly compelling cameras out right now in the compact/ultracompact form factor.  First up: the A1000IS ($200 at amazon). 

The A1000IS is the most compact AA-using camera
 Canon has ever made, at 3.8 x 2.5 x 1.2. For comparison, the proprietary battery using SD850 of last year is 3.6 x 2.2 x 1 in.  The extra thickness is due to the bulge on the side of the camera where the batteries go. It's quite pocket friendly, and the bulge makes it much nicer to hold while taking pictures than the SD850 was. The specs of the A1000IS are also quite nice: 4x
 optical zoom, optical image stabilization, 2.5in LCD (115k pixels), optical viewfinder, and more megapixels than you'll ever need (10!). With disposable AA batteries, Cannon claims you can take 220 pictures per charge, with the LCD on (no specs published with the LCD off, unfortunately). You can also get rechargeable NIMH batteries, which will net you 450 shots per charge. It's really nice to have the choice. I'd go for the NIMH batteries, with the piece of mind that if I ever need backup batteries I can always buy some standard AAs.

My hands-on experience with the camera is quite limited. As I said before, it's quite comfortable to hold, and rests in your hands easily without having to grip tightly. All the buttons are easy to push, and are reasonably tactile (though not as much as the supremely satisfying buttons on the SD1100) . The zoom is also easy to operate. Disappointingly, however, the mode dial is very, very tight. There's no way you could turn it with one finger, and even using two fingers it's some work.  While I appreciate the fact that it won't get turned by mistake, I think they went overboard. 

I haven't played with it enough to judge the optics quality, but I expect it's up to the high Canon standard. 

At $200, it's quite a camera. There are, however, several other cameras from Canon at that price range worth considering. The SD1100IS is significantly smaller, but has a smaller zoom, and goes for $171.  The older SD850IS is a bit smaller, but has the same zoom, for $220. And, if you are on a really tight budget, the A590IS is a bit larger, has the same zoom, and is only $125