PowerShot A720 IS
Sticking with the age old saying 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' (and the even older trend of opening products reviews with that phrase), Canon has made relatively few changes to its new advanced camera, the PowerShot A720 IS. An upgrade from the A710 IS, this model basically does it all, combining great images with manual features and speedy operation.
- Sharp pictures, great colour, fast operation, manual features
- Some haloing and chromatic aberration, shots noisy at higher ISO levels
Another home run for Canon, while the PowerShot A720 IS isn't perfect it is pretty close and it's combination of sharp, vibrant pictures, speedy operation and manual shooting modes is sure to please a variety of consumers.
Price$ 379.00 (AUD)
In terms of image quality, PowerShot models are a little like bottles of Grange; you can tell they're going to be fantastic before you even pull the cork. There is little to dislike about the A720's pictures which should suit both enthusiasts and point and shoot amateurs.
The 8-megapixel sensor does a fine job with detail. Our pictures were crisp and sharp with clean edges and minimal fringing. Everything from outdoor foliage shots to our motherboard test scenario was well rendered. Imatest gave the A720 IS a score that is comparable with other 8-megapixel models.
There was little in the way of detail loss towards the edges of the frame, although some relatively strong haloing was evident. This wasn't too problematic in our real world shots, but it was definitely visible in areas of high contrast like our black and white test chart.
Colour response was nothing short of brilliant, with Imatest giving one of the lowest scores we've seen from an advanced camera. Everything was perfectly balanced with rich colours that were strongly saturated but kept largely under control.
The only area we have a real complaint is image noise. It was fine at lower sensitivities, but anything much past ISO 400 is basically unusable. Even ISO 400 is questionable if you're making decent sized enlargements. This isn't necessarily going to be a problem for most, but if you take a lot of night shots or high speed photography you may need to look elsewhere.
Speed is usually one of Canon's fortes and the A720 reinforces that. It exhibited 0.05 seconds of shutter lag, 1.5 seconds shot-to-shot time and 1.6 seconds between power up and first shot. Furthermore everything about the camera's operation is lightning quick; from menu navigation through to changing settings, which has a subtle but rather large impact on the user experience.
All of the standard features you've come to expect are present, including manual shooting modes and 12 scene modes. ISO sensitivities extend up to ISO 1600 and there are both custom and preset white balance options. Face detect makes a welcome return as does Canon's optical image stabilisation, which does an excellent job of eliminating the effect of hand shake, particularly when operating at the maximum 6x optical zoom extension. Not quite continuing the trend from our speed tests, the burst mode operates at a decent but not noteworthy 2.2 frames per second.
Design wise Canon isn't going out of its way to reinvent the wheel. From the second you remove it from the box there is no question this is a member of the PowerShot series. The rather chunky, plastic chassis won't win any design awards, but its small right-hand grip makes it relatively easy to hold. Some of the controls feel a little sticky at times but the layout will be familiar to any camera aficionado.
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