Canon PowerShot A490: Video and Image Quality

by Howard Creech Reads (608)
Editor's Rating
7.50

TG Ratings Breakdown

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 7
    • Features
    • 7
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 8
    • Performance
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 7.50
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10


Video Quality
The A490’s 30 fps VGA (640×480) movie mode won’t allow shooters to compete with someone using a dedicated video camera, but it does do nicely for generating e-mail video attachments for friends and family. The video clip that accompanies this review was shot in bright afternoon light and even though it gets pretty tight on the bee and passion flower – exposure is accurate, focus is fairly sharp, movement is fluid, and the colors are as I saw them.

Image Quality
I was surprised by just how good the images are, the new A490 doesn’t disappoint at all in the image quality arena – it consistently generates images that compare favorably with pictures from more expensive Canon digital cameras. Like all of Canon’s point-and-shoot digicams, the A490’s default color interpolation produces bright, slightly over-saturated colors and somewhat flat native contrast that veteran shooters refer to as Canon Color – reds are noticeably warmer, blues are a bit brighter, and greens and yellows are a little more vibrant than real world hues – but that’s not a bad thing in a camera designed for the masses.

Purple is very hard for many compact digicams to replicate – most tend to shift toward blue – so shooting purple subjects provides a very good way to test hue accuracy. The morning glories should be bright Royal Purple – instead they are blue. This slight hue shift is the only color anomaly that I noted with the A490.

Canon A490 Test Image

Chromatic aberration (purple fringing) is a bit higher than average, particularly visible in the color transition areas between dark foreground objects and bright backgrounds. Overall, the A490’s images show bright bold colors, impressive detail capture, and better than average sharpness.

The A490 provides an adequate selection of White Balance options, including Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, and Custom. The A490’s Auto WB system does a consistently good job outdoors – although there is a slight tendency toward over-exposure and burned out highlights in very bright outdoor light. Indoors, like most point-and-shoots, the A490 (in Auto WB mode) sometimes struggles a bit to get colors just right.

Colors are noticeably warmer than real world colors under incandescent light and noticeably cooler than real world colors under fluorescent light. Using the tungsten (incandescent) or fluorescent WB settings indoors will help a bit, but perfect color accuracy with any auto exposure point-and-shoot digicam is a hit or miss proposition.

Canon A490 Test Image
Auto White Balance, 5500k fluorescent light

The A490 provides an acceptable range of sensitivity options, including Auto and user-selected settings for ISO 80 to ISO 1600. ISO 80 and ISO 100 images are essentially the same – both display bright colors, slightly flat but balanced native contrast, and low noise levels. There is very minor visible noise/graininess (at full size) even at low settings. ISO 200 images are also very good, but show just a bit less pop than ISO 80 and 100 images.

Canon A490 Test Image
ISO 80
Canon A490 Test Image
ISO 80, 100% crop
Canon A490 Test Image
ISO 100
Canon A490 Test Image
ISO 100, 100% crop
Canon A490 Test Image
ISO 200
Canon A490 Test Image
ISO 200, 100% crop
Canon A490 Test Image
ISO 400
Canon A490 Test Image
ISO 400, 100% crop
Canon A490 Test Image
ISO 800
Canon A490 Test Image
ISO 800, 100% crop
Canon A490 Test Image
ISO 1600
Canon A490 Test Image
ISO 1600, 100% crop

At the ISO 400 setting (and higher) noise is noticeable and there’s a perceptible loss of fine detail. Shutterbugs with realistic expectations should encounter few problems with the camera in auto ISO mode.

Additional Sample Images

Canon A490 Test Image Canon A490 Test Image
Canon A490 Test Image Canon A490 Test Image
Canon A490 Test Image Canon A490 Test Image


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