There's always a market for decent and cheap compact cameras, a niche which Canon seems to fill admirably with its A series of PowerShot cameras. Traditionally, the range ran on AA batteries, though the new 2011 range shifts to use rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries.
Design and features
Apart from the battery change, which means the camera is lighter and slimmer than previous versions, the A2200 also comes with a big drawcard — HD video at 720p. While it's not likely to replace a dedicated video camera or SLR with video functionality, we applaud Canon for including this feature on its cheapest range. The A2200 uses a 14.1-megapixel CCD sensor and the lens is a respectable 4x optical zoom at f/2.8-5.9 at the wide (28mm) to telephoto end respectively.
Elsewhere, photographers get ample controls from the mode dial located at the top of the camera, including a program mode, full automatic and movie modes. Other interesting inclusions are Live View control, which allows you to change variables on a sliding scale (ranging from dark to light, neutral to vivid, cool to warm) and view the effects directly on the screen. There is also an easy mode, scene modes which include fisheye, miniature, toy camera, monochrome, super vivid and poster effects to be applied to images. Finally, a discreet mode turns off all sound effects and the flash for quiet operation. Even the AF assist light gets turned off for those situations where you're not allowed to use a camera (but everyone does anyway).
The buttons and controls at the rear of the A2200 are all within easy reach. (Credit: Canon)
The 2.7-inch LCD screen (at 230,000 dots) is adequate for a camera of this size, plus all the physical buttons are well placed and have pleasing feedback. Connectivity options are limited to an AV-out port to connect the camera to a computer via USB and an AV cable (both provided in the box) that connects the camera to a television.
General shooting metrics (in seconds)
- Time to first shot
- Shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
- Canon A22002.940.7
Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)
- Canon A22000.5
Canon rates the battery for the A2200 at 280 shots.
Pictures from the A2200 are very good, considering it's an entry-level camera. They have the usual Canon punchy colour rendition particularly in the green and red channels, and sharpness at the centre of the frame is decent (though as with any cheap lens it drops off towards the edge of the frame). The lens also produces some barrel distortions at the wide end and a fair amount of fringing on high contrast areas — particularly noticeable at 100 per cent magnification.
Fringing evident on a photo from the A2200, full magnification crop inset. (Credit: CBSi)
Fortunately, the A2200 is limited to ISO 1600, which means that images taken at high ISO levels aren't covered in noise — perhaps just a heavy sprinkle. In emergency situations you would be able to get away with using them at low resolutions, particularly for web display.
Video quality is acceptable for a camera of this class, and while HD it doesn't necessarily reflect the level of detail we are used to seeing from other Canon cameras that are HD-ready, like the excellent PowerShot S95. Still, it's usable for quick clips. Bear in mind there is no optical zoom while filming and audio recording is in mono. There are a few options for tinkering with the visual side of videos, such as white balance adjustments, miniature effect and colour changes.
The big issue with the HD video files is their size — at a whopping 144MB for almost a minute of footage, Canon is using MPEG-4 as a MOV file to encode the video. While fine for semi-professionals and hobbyists to have files this size, it's a rather cumbersome size for home users.
Click each image for full-sized samples from the A2200. No post-processing has been done to alter these photos.
Exposure: 1/1000, f/3.5, ISO 160
Exposure: 1/320, f/5.9, ISO 80, toy camera filter
Exposure: 1/100, f/2.8, ISO 320
Exposure: 1/60, f/2.8, ISO 400
The A2200 will suit casual photographers to a tee, while the inclusion of HD video and plenty of shooting modes make great additions to this entry-level camera.