In recent weeks we've reviewed an awful lot of cameras from the Canon PowerShot series. They consistently perform at a high standard and the latest model we've looked at, the PowerShot A560, continues the trend. Taking good picture quality and throwing in their face detect technology and a 4x optical zoom, they have created an attractive all around package that should appeal to a wide variety of consumers.
- Brilliantly low noise, Great colour, Speedy, Face Detect
- Pictures a little on the soft side, Some haloing, Burst mode not quite on par with other models
Another strong entry into the compact camera market by Canon, the A560 produces similarly high quality pictures to its sister model, the A550, and this time around they have packed in Face Detect, which will be a big selling point for some users.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
They key selling point of this model over units like the PowerShot A550 is the inclusion of face detect. Many companies are packing a face detection focus mode into their cameras these days, but Canon was one of the pioneers. It is easy to see why the option is so popular. With face detect active, a small focus crosshair can actually be seen tracking human faces around the camera's display. It follows them almost in real time as you move and is a brilliant inclusion for those who regularly take snaps of family and friends.
This isn't an advanced camera, like some of the other PowerShot models, so it doesn't have a full bevy of manual features. However, all the basics you'd expect from a compact are here. White balance can be set manually or using a preset mode and ISO sensitivities extend up to a hefty ISO 1600. The burst mode operates at around 2.6 frames per second, which is alright but not noteworthy. Meanwhile the 11 scene modes are useful for novice photographers, although several recent Canon models have included upwards of 20, which would have been nice to see here.
Image quality was at the usual Canon standard, although wasn't as mind blowing as we've seen on some of their other models. As usual we ran our combination of Imatest testing software and subjective analysis to determine the quality of the images.
The weakest area was with image sharpness. The A560 achieved a score of 1431 here, which is good but not outstanding for a 7.1 megapixel sensor. Our shots were a little soft in parts, but still more than adequate for small and medium sized prints. This result is comparable to that achieved by the PowerShot A550 which is another of Canon's 7.1 megapixel models.
Meanwhile, its chromatic aberration result of 0.86% was strong - falling slightly below the typical scores achieved by competing models. However, there was some noticeable haloing around areas of high contrast and some blurring towards the edges of our shots. As with the sharpness results, unless you're making sizeable enlargements these issues won't be noticeable.
Image noise was the area where the A560 performed most admirably, achieving an extremely low score of 0.55%. This is considerably lower than the average and, looking at our test shots, it was obvious that this model produces barely any noise. They were clean and smooth with no visible fuzz whatsoever. At higher sensitivities the noise ramped up a little, but the pictures are still perfectly usable up to ISO 400. We'd even go so far as to say ISO 800 might be tolerable if you're only producing 4in x 6in prints.
Our final test was for colour reproduction. Canon almost always impresses in this test, and the A560's score of 6.13 doesn't let the team down. We've had a couple of units scrape in at under the 6.0 mark now, but those are few and far between, and this is still a brilliant result. Usually with consumer oriented cameras we find most of the colour error comes in the different shades of red, but on this model is was quite spread out, with red, blue and yellow all showing minor degrees of inaccuracy. However none of this will be visible to the naked eye and won't be a concern.
This model also performed well in our speed tests. Its 0.05 second shutter lag was impressive, as was the extremely speedy 1.3 second shot-to-shot time. The 1.8 second power-up time was slightly less impressive, but still a good result in relation to the competition.
As expected, Canon hasn't changed anything with the PowerShot design on this model. It sports the same right hand grip and chunky silver body as the rest of the models, with a function wheel and five-way directional pad taking care of most of the navigation. Everything is laid out intuitively, and Canon's two-menu setup is again in place which makes it quick and easy for novices to pick up the intricacies of the camera. We've never been huge fans of the PowerShot design, but it certainly is effective if not particularly noteworthy.
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