Canon PowerShot E1
An ideal first camera.
- Good feature set for the asking price, pleasingly old school design, decent image quality
- Low-grade LCD screen, might be too chunky for funky ‘yoof’ types
The Canon PowerShot E1 is an impressive entry-level compact camera aimed primarily at kids and skint teens. It offers a nice array of features for the asking price and takes adequate photos to boot. All in all, a solid offering.
Price$ 249.00 (AUD)
It’s not easy being a 'tween'. In addition to having rubbish taste in music and getting bossed around by your parents, you also have to put up with the crummiest cameras on the market. For some reason, Generation Y has become the ‘go-to’ demographic when it comes to cheap 'n’ cheerful cameras: from the vacuously colourful FujiFilm FinePix Z20fd to the simplistically shiny Nikon CoolPix L18. While they may look suitably funky, the majority of these ‘youth-centric’ cameras share the same terminal flaw — an abundance of style over functionality.
We subsequently weren’t expecting much from Canon’s PowerShot E1, particularly after reading the hysterical marketing blurb (the words ‘colourful’, ‘trendy’ and ‘fun’ all featured prominently.) However, it turns out our fears were mostly unfounded. As far as youth-orientated cameras go, this is a surprisingly accomplished offering that doesn’t skimp on the bells and whistles. Sporting an impressive 10-megapixel CCD sensor, adjustable ISO settings, in-camera red eye correction software, an optical image stabiliser and face detection technology, it’s one of the better sub-$250 compacts on the market. Despite some minor imaging issues, it will make an ideal first camera for young wannabe photographers.
In terms of design, the E1 is a retro throwback to compact cameras of old, albeit with an ergonomic twist. Eschewing the metallic sleekness of its trendier rivals, the unit is characterised by its chunky body, centred lens and cute optical viewfinder. We’re not sure how well this will go down with the iPod generation, but it remains quite portable nonetheless.
One caveat is the battery compartment: instead of using a rechargeable li-ion cell, the E1 sticks to good ol’ fashioned AA batteries (we told you it was retro). This makes the device slightly heavier than its size would suggest. We also weren’t fans of the camera’s 2.5in LCD display. It had one of the worst viewing angles we’ve seen and its poor resolution made it difficult to assess the quality of our photos. (Kudos to Canon for including an optical viewfinder though — this is something that most modern compacts are beginning to avoid.)
The PowerShot E1 comes in a choice of three pastel colours: white, sky-blue or the pink iteration reviewed here. (Incidentally, this is the fifth consecutive time that a vendor has sent us the pink version of its product: Coincidence, or a thinly veiled attack on our masculinity?)
When it came to image quality, the E1 gave a satisfactory performance in most shooting conditions. While image quirks abound, they are no more prevalent than any of the other cameras we’ve tested in this price range. Colour balance was up to the usual Canon standards, though we did find reds and yellows to be a little on the vibrant side. This shouldn’t affect the quality of your photos, though (if anything, it will lend them a pleasingly vivid look).
On the downside, we did notice some purple fringing in outdoors shots, and whites had a tendency to look blown out and oversaturated. Nevertheless, these issues will not be enough to mar the E1’s output, particularly when it comes to its target audience. Naturally, the camera performed best in bright, outdoor environments, with noise coming to the fore in darker conditions. The E1 offers an ISO sensitivity of up to 1600, though anything above ISO 400 is pretty much unusable.
For the asking price, the PowerShot E1 comes with a solid array of shooting modes and features. They include both manual and preset white balance, a selection of scene modes on the scroll wheel, face detection technology and red-eye correction. Jittery individuals will be pleased by the inclusion of an optical image stabiliser, which should help to eliminate unsightly burring from your photos. The E1 also comes equipped with a handy Easy button for especially young users, and teens who would prefer to let the camera do the work for them. (Typical student layabouts.)
Note: Apparently, the E1 can only be purchased from Sydney Airport Tax and Duty Free, Downtown Duty Free, First Tax & Duty Free, which makes its super-low price tag less impressive. Nevertheless, it remains a good all-rounder that will be perfect for teens.
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