Canon PowerShot A640
- Sharp pictures, great chromatic aberration performance, colourful shots
- Some image noise issues, bulky design
The PowerShot A640 is an excellent all round advanced camera. While its features aren't quite as robust as some more expensive models, for this price tag, it's a good buy.
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
Increased megapixel counts seem to be the flavour of Canon's new range of advanced cameras, highlighted by units such as the PowerShot A640. With a 10 megapixel sensor, full manual modes and a snazzy matte black colour scheme, this unit continues the trend of previous PowerShots, offering high quality images and a lot of features. It does suffer a little from image noise, and the design is anything but petite, however those looking for a powerful advanced camera will be more than satisfied.
Image quality is usually an area of strong performance for Canon, and the A640 is no exception. Its sharpness score of 1679 in Imatest's sharpness test is a great result, and while it puts this unit a little behind some other 10 megapixel models we've looked at recently (such as Canon's ) it is more than adequate for most uses. The images are crisp enough to be enlarged, and we were more than satisfied with them.
The chromatic aberration performance was better still, with the A640 scoring just .50% in this test. This is an excellent result and one of the best we've seen from a point and shoot camera. This was reflected in our test shots, which showed little in the way of colour fringing and no visible haloing, even in areas of high contrast.
The results in our colour checker test were equally impressive, where the A640 scored 6.13. Most compacts score between seven and nine in this test, so anything lower is a great result. There was no oversaturation visible in our test shots (in fact if anything the colours were a little softer than we're used to seeing), and Imatest revealed only minor inaccuracies in the blue and red spectrums.
The one area we were a little disappointed with was image noise. The A640 scored .75% in Imatest's noise test at ISO 100, which is a little higher than normal. Most cameras score about .5%, so its performance was a little below par - even if it didn't have a big impact on our shots. The noise wasn't really an issue as it was only visible at extreme magnifications. This was also the case for ISO sensitivities up to 400, but at ISO 800 the level of noise increased dramatically; so much so that we wouldn't recommend it.
Poor performance at ISO 800 combined with the lack of image stabilisation found on many of Canon's other cameras, means the A640 isn't the best choice for those who regularly shoot in high speed scenarios. The rest of the features are fairly standard. The A640 offers shutter speeds from 1/2500th to 15 seconds and aperture from f/2.8 to f/8. There are 10 preset scene modes, and the usual centre and multipoint focus modes as well as a 4x optical zoom. The continuous shot mode operates at roughly 2.3 shots per second and both preset and custom white balance modes are available.
We found the A640 to be a reasonably quick camera, posting speeds slightly faster than normal in our tests. Exhibiting a shutter speed of .06 of a second, a 1.8 second shot-to-shot time, and a relatively speedy 1.9 second power up time, this model certainly won't leave you floundering at crucial moments.
The design follows the traditional PowerShot blueprint, with a bulky chassis and a jutting right hand grip. It is quite hefty, weighing in at 150g, but the smooth, black, largely metal body looks and feels extremely good. This isn't the sort of camera you can just slip into your bag and forget about, but for those after a more advanced camera that doesn't cost the earth, the A640 fits the bill nicely.
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