Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Canon PowerShot A3300IS Review

Point and shoot cameras prove to be good options for those wanting a camera for casual photography. Even beginners wanting to get a hang of the basics and nuances of cameras and photography find them an easy device to start off with. Canon’s had a steady flow of PowerShot cameras in the recent past and their latest entrant is the A3300 IS. But with a flurry of point and shoot cameras in the market right now, is this one worth it? Read on to find out.

On video: Canon PowerShot A3300IS

Design and Build Quality
The PowerShot A3300IS that we reviewed was all dressed up in reddish maroon, but there are four other colour schemes to choose from -  black, blue, pink and gray - so in all certainty there’ll be a colour that suits your taste. There’s a matte coating on the exterior and the camera does well to keep fingerprints out. It’s got a rectangular, slightly boxy feel to it. The front consists of the lens, focus assist and the LED flash. It’s a small camera but none of the buttons feel cramped. The power, zoom rocker and shutter buttons are located on the top, next to the jog dial to switch between the available modes.

The top
The top

The back consists of the three inch LCD screen, the display and menu buttons, the function dial, a face detect and the customary playback button. The digital AV out is located on the right underneath a rubber flap whilst the battery and SD card slot are located at the bottom underneath a slightly fragile and plasticky flap. The buttons though, have a good feedback and are sturdy enough.

The build is predominantly plastic but that definitely doesn’t translate to cheap. The camera looks quite classy and has enough oomph to hold its own amongst its competitors. It weighs 149 grams including the battery and memory card, so it’s both lightweight and compact.

Some standard fare on the top
The various buttons

The PowerShot A3300IS features a 16 megapixel CCD sensor with 5x optical zoom and a 28mm lens. Powered by a DIGIC 4 processor, the camera is capable of quick snaps and the processor found on a range of cameras from Canon. Even though DIGIC 5 is being used in some of their newer cameras, DIGIC 4 is still quite predominant amongst their range of point and shoots. For the first time, Canon has got 720p recording to an A series camera, which is noteworthy.

Well placed buttons
Rectangular and boxy

As part of the features, the camera comes with a few creative filters that let you create different kinds of effects with your pictures. Also, Canon has included the customary optical image stabilizer that comes in handy to click clear and steady shots. Besides the normal modes, the A3300 has a discreet mode that clicks pictures without sound or flash. The smart AUTO mode allows image tweaking based on 32 preset shooting situations that have been embedded into the camera. Images are stored in the traditional JPEG format while movies are stored in an MOV format.The interface of the A3300IS is extremely easy to use and if you’re a newbie, all you will require is a ten minute learning curve before you get a hang of manoeuvring through the various modes and sub menus. The LCD brightness levels are quite high, so that’s another plus for the A3300IS.

The LCD is bright enough
The LCD is bright enough

Power on and shoot times are quick and two seconds is all it takes before you can get snapping. The time interval between two consecutive shots is quite low and there’s very little lag. Also, due to the compact form factor, it’s fairly easy to hold and click snaps with. We put the camera through our customary indoor, outdoor and controlled environment tests so head over to the next section to gauge its performance.

ISO Sensitivity test
In this test, we tested the camera for noise between the available ISO levels at a constant aperture.  The available modes were between ISO 80 and ISO 1600 and we cycled through them keeping all other parameters constant. Here’s how the images turned out to be.

ISO sensitivity test
ISO sensitivity test

As can be seen in the images, there is extremely little to no noise present at the ISO 80 but noise levels are quite high at 1600 ISO. Also, there’s quite a bit of difference in the levels of noise observed between 800 and 1600 levels. It would be best if you’d simply use the camera up to 400 ISO level because then image quality takes a turn for the worse.Zoom test
This camera comes with image stabilization but in our zoom test, we just couldn’t get the image to be stable. At 5x optical zoom, the image would focus on the object pretty clearly, but even a slight movement of the hand would result in blurry images. For zoomed in shots, this one doesn’t really perform too well.

Poor image stabilization
Poor image stabilization

Performance Continued
While video shooting at 720p resolution, we noticed that a lot of colour fringing was observed during transitions between light and dark surroundings, which might be a problem for some. However, it captures detail fairly well so that’s a good thing. Macro shots are quite impressive as well. There are also a few miscellaneous functions that allow users to adjust the darkness of a picture, make it more neutral or vivid or give it a warmer tone. So, if you’re unsatisfied with a picture, you can immediately make the necessary fixes to it.

Macro shots are quite nice
Macro shots are quite nice

Low light snaps do appear a little washed out but they illuminate the subject quite well, so that’s the trade-off you get for a camera at this price. So, in a nutshell, the camera is good for casual photography like portrait snaps, outdoor pictures and while low light shooting isn’t the best option, it’s doable as well.

Comes with 5x optical zoom
A worthy buy?

The Canon PowerShot A3300 IS is priced (M.O.P) at Rs. 7,950. The ideal target audience for this camera is people who require a camera for casual snaps because it will be ideal to use at family functions, parties, because of its compact form factor. The A3300 does what it has to do, doesn’t impress too much, neither does it disappoint.. But the PowerShot A3300IS has a similar performance at a cheaper price tag which makes it a better buy 

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