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canon powershot A620 review

A friend asked my about the Canon Powershot A620. I like getting questions about digital cameras. They are fun.

Here’s my response:

DIGITAL CAMERAS
I have a lot to say here. You asked. I love digital cameras. You can scroll down to my conclusion if you get bored by my ramble.

WHERE TO BUY
I have never bought a digital camera in a brick-and-mortar store. I have always bought online. There
s a ton of deals to be had online. Stores rarely have discounts and when they do, they are minor discounts. I have purchased 8 digital cameras (4 for work, 4 for home, hey I
m a camera junkie) and I think I bought them all from either buydig.com or buy.com.

With that said, the canon A620 came out 11/2005. I
ve found the best time to buy cameras is within a month after they come out or 8+ months after they come out. One month because they sometimes have specials going on to introduce the camera. 8+ months because there
s usually a replacement on the horizon and the manufacturer and retailers wants to get rid of the current stock. So you
re not going to find a ton of deals on the internet when a camera has been out for a couple months like this one. Your best buy 12% coupon would actually be a good deal right now for that camera.

OTHER OPTIONS (good way to determine value of the A620)
I just bought Andrea the Canon SD500 for her birthday. 7 megapixels. 3x optical zoom. $330 (at the time at buydig.com). Ultracompact (3.5 x 2.2 x 1.0 in). My standards for ultracompact, pocket camera is 1
thin or less. Anything over 1
thick becomes a hassle to carry around on a regular basis. I was torn between the Canon SD500 and the SD400. The SD400 is 5 megapixels, 3x optical, 3.4 x 2.1 x 0.8 in, $285. Believe it or not, there is a big difference between 0.8
and 1
thickness. But I was seduced by the bigger megapixels. So I went with the SD500.

Now, the reason why the SD500 and SD400 is so cheap is because the SD550 and SD450 were just released in October. So there
s mega deals on the older models. And there
s really nothing worth noting that the new cameras have versus the old cameras except LCD screen size and price tags.

LCD
And I don
t like the newer models (SD450 and SD550). The LCD screen is 2
vs. 1.5
on the old models. I hate big LCD screens. All they do is consume more battery life making you charge your battery more often. Big LCDs make me charge more often and I don
t like that. 1.5
works just fine. It
s more than enough to frame a shot. And it
s just right for sharing with others after you take the shot. 2
is overkill. The A620 has a 2
LCD. All manufacturers are putting bigger LCD screens in their cameras and I hate it. It
s hard to avoid now.

The third camera that I was considering was the Sony DSC-P200: 7megapixels, 4.1 x 2.1 x 1.1, $300. But it goes over my 1
thickness rule (just barely). So I avoided it for that reason alone. But the camera is built solid. I like that in cameras. It goes a long way. Karen and Mark have this camera. It looks really nice. That
s another thing is the build of the camera. Does the A620 have a nice, solid build and feel to it? The P200 has a more solid feel than the SD500.

Swivel LCD
The great thing about this camera is the fold-out LCD screen. Me, personally, I now only buy digital cameras that have swivel LCD. I love taking angle shots. I feel restricted by static LCD screens. Now, I just bought the SD500 for Andrea that has a static LCD screen. Well, that
s her camera, not mine. She
s not going to take angled shots. All her shots are standard photos, so she doesn
t need a swivel LCD. I
m not sure how much you guys might need the swivel LCD. I
m guessing that you won
t go gung-ho with the angled shots if all you
re doing is family photos. The other plus to the swivel LCD is that you can flip it around when not in use. (The LCD isn
t exposed, thus protecting it from scratches).

BATTERY
The A620 takes 4 AA batteries. That
s great! The plus side of ultra compact cameras
custom lithium ion batteries is that they allow for a smaller camera. The down side of custom lithium ion batteries is that they lose their life after time. It
s not unusual for a lithium ion to lose its lifecharge after 3 years. (That
s why I hate recharging my battery. I know that I
m slowly killing the life of battery.) Then it usually costs 60+ bucks to replace. (That happened with my Sony DSC P5, but then I had a reason to buy the Nikon Coolpix SQ. I got a crazy-awesome deal on that one. Actually, I bought it at Wolf Camera. So I guess I lied when I said I don
t buy at brick-and-mortar stores. I got that camera for like 75% off. But then that camera has problems focusing… major problem… Which gave me an excuse to get the incredibly awesome Nikon 8800)

AA batteries are so much more effiencient to replace. You can buy rechargeable AAs and replace them when they lose their lifecharge without paying an arm and a leg. Actually, I don
t know how much it costs for rechargeable AAs. It may cost more than I think. Their lifespan may be shorter than the custom lithium ion batteries too. Hmmm. Interesting.

Size
The A620 is 4.1 by 2.6 by 1.9 inches. Calling it
compact
nowadays is a stretch. It
s probably not a camera you will carry around frequently. Amy could keep it in her purse, but the size will take up a large amount of real estate. With the baby coming, you guys probably will want to have a camera available at all times to capture any spur of the moment shots. So I think size is a really, really big factor. I just know from experience that anything thicker than 1
becomes a very big lifestyle commitment to have handy.

Zoom
4x vs. 3x.
Have you looked at the camera? I would go to best buy and compare the A620
s 4x to a camera that has 3x. I don
t know realistically how much of a difference there is. I
m betting the difference is slight.

Image quality
All the cameras mentioned have 7 megapixels (A620, SD500, and DSC P200) so image SIZE comparisons is mute. However, image quality is another issue.
Generally, there
s no difference in image quality for sunny/partly cloudy outdoor shots when comparing compact and ultra compact.
Since The A620 camera is in the
compact
class, you will get slightly better indoor flash shots than cameras in the ultra compact class such as the Canon SD500 and Sony DSC-P200. But if you
re using the camera for family shots and momentos, then the difference between compact and ultra compact is not important, unless you have plans of printing interior photographs at 16×20
. Then you
ll notice a difference between the compact and ultracompact cameras.

Then there
s the ultra-ultra compact cameras like the Sony Cyber-shot DSC T7. That puppy is only 0.6
thick! That
s madness! That
s too extreme. Sure it
s thinner than a wallet and is super easy to carry around all the time, but image quality is sacrificed big time. The optics on those ultra ultra compact cameras is pretty bad. You get decent shots, don
t get me wrong. But when you shoot indoors where it
s kinda dark, you
re forced to go to a higher ISO (more noise) and using the flash which produces dicey results. When I
m buying a camera, I
m always tempted by these ultra-ultra compact cameras, but I always keep the poor optics in mind. Optics include the mechanics in the camera and the make of the lens: glass and size. The glass on those ultra ultra compacts are soooo small. It
s pathetic.

FLASH
The flash on compact cameras is generally better than the flashes on ultra compact cameras. This is 100% a generalization. The flash on the SD500 or DSC-P200 may be equal or even better than the flash on the A620. I
m always shocked to see that camera review sites don
t devote more attention to comparing flashes. Unfortunately, the only real way to compare flashes to look at the sample photos that these sites offer.

MANUAL CONTROLS
This camera has options where you can manually control the aperature. Personally, I like that. It
s a standard for any camera junkie. I want to control whether I
m shooting with f/2.8 or f/8.0. F/2.8 will only have your focused subject matter in focus. Everything else in the shot will be blurred depending on the distance from your subject matter. F/8.0 will get more of the area around your subject matter in focus depending on the distance. Things outside your subject matter will be less blurry (still blurry, but less so). Are you asleep yet? If you are, then you won
t be using the manual controls and you
re paying extra for them.

SPEED
Write-time.
You can have the fastest digital camera in the world, but you are always limited to the speed of your memory card. I have never found the need to have a camera that has fast write speeds. That
s not entirely true. It would be nice to take really fast continous, fully hi-res shots at cubs games. The thing to keep in mind with the continous functions on cameras is that image quality is sacrificed greatly. So I never use continous functions. I
d rather have one high-quality photo than 6 crappy-quality photos. I have the Nikon D100 at work. It
s a solid SLR camera. And the continous function on that sucks. So the continous function on any point-and-shoot is going to be lousy. Beyond the use of continous functions, I have never found the need to have a camera that has blazing fast write speeds to the memory card. I always buy the cheapest memory cards. I don
t spend the extra money for the faster memory cards. It
s silly in my opinion and I take a lot of photos.

Startup time.
The only time that I find speed to be a factor is in start-up time of the camera. Nowadays, just about all cameras come with less than one second startup time. That
s perfect. So startup time is no longer a factor in digital cameras. 4 years ago it was a factor. I bought the Sony DSC P5 in October 2001. It had a startup time of 4.3 seconds. I hated that. I lost a lot of cool shots waiting for the camera to start up.

With all that said, Imaging-resource.com says that the A620 is ok on speed, so it sounds like this DIGIC II chip is just fancy marketing:

The A620 is fairly fast on its feet for a consumer digital camera, though some of its performance is just about average. Start-up is quick, and shutter response is good at both wide angle and telephoto lens settings. (At 0.51 second, very fast at wide angle, and at 0.72 second, still somewhat better than average at telephoto.) Prefocused (half-way holding down the Shutter button), the A620 is very quick, at 0.073 second. Normal large/fine JPEG cycle times are about average, and its Continuous speed is just a little slow, but not bad for its price range.

I love imaging-resource.com. It is my favorite camera review site. Here
s some others
Steves-digicams.com
Megapixel.net
Dpreview.com

CONCLUSION

ADVANTAGES OF A620
–Swivel LCD: get angled shots and protects LCD
–AA batteries essentially extend life of camera (or does it extend the life? I
m just guessing)
–Slightly better zoom (4x instead of 3x, what
s the real difference though? Go and compare!)
–Slightly better indoor flash shots when printing large photos (when compared to ultra compact cameras. This is a general statement. The A620
s indoor flash photos may be equal to ultra compact cameras)
–Manual control over aperature

ADVANTAGES OF SUBCOMPACT CAMERAS (Canon SD500 and Sony DSC P200)
–SIZE, SIZE, SIZE (much, much smaller camera… Have it with you at all times… Very difficult to have A620 with you at all times, even in a purse. The difference between 1
thick and 1.9
thick is really big when it comes to carrying the camera around)
–Price (about $300 vs. the $400 tag of the A620… $350 with Best Buy coupon… Actually $372 when you factor in TAX! No tax at buydig.com or buy.com. Buy.com usually has free shipping. Buydig.com has shipping usually for about 10 bucks.)

So, I guess it comes down to this… Would you be willing to pay an extra $70 for a much bigger camera that has a swivel LCD, AA batteries, slightly better zoom, slightly better indoor flash shots (maybe, that
s a guess), and manual control over aperature?

You can probably guess that I
m recommending either the Sony DSC-P200 or the Canon Cybershot SD500. However, if size is not really a factor for you and if you like those extra features, then go for the A620.

,

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Laura K.
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Laura K.

i just bought the Canon G6. it was hard to find, because i believe that Canon is gearing up for the next model. almost everyone was out of stock. but it got great reviews on dpreview.com. it’s a nice mid-range model.

Tom Saaristo
Guest

I’ve always preferred Fuji film over Kodak. The Fuji film develops with more green whereas the Kodak develops with more red.

Kodak says STOP!

Fuji says GO!

Matt Maldre
Admin

Wow. the C6.

Matt Maldre
Admin

err, i mean G6.

Laura K.
Guest
Laura K.

yup. the G6. it’s got a mix of manual and automatic controls, great picture quality, one of those fancy rotatable LCD screens, and a remote control. it comes with a battery and battery charger. i ended up buying it from some online store based in New Jersey – everyone else was out of it. i did look at buy.com and buydig.com early on, but was not impressed by their prices.

Tom Saaristo
Guest

I found a picture of the G6 online. Sweet!