The A3300 IS doesn't look awfully fast when compared to its closest competitors, but words and numbers don't always tell the whole story. Everyone knows the old saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" - check out the photo below. The A3300 IS is quick enough for anything its target audience is likely to try.
Performance (of which timing is a part) and Image Quality should be the major considerations when assessing digital camera performance. The A3300 IS comes in near the bottom when compared to its competition in terms of timing. Exposure is automatically managed by the camera's 1/2.3-inch 16 megapixel CCD sensor driven by Canon's touted DIGIC IV processor.
Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX75||0.01|
|Casio Exilim EX-S200||0.01|
|Canon PowerShot A3300 IS||0.01|
|Nikon Coolpix S8000||0.05|
AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)
|Casio Exilim EX-S200||0.17|
|Nikon Coolpix S8000||0.26|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX75||0.28|
|Canon PowerShot A3300 IS||0.39|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX75||3||2.6 fps
|Nikon Coolpix S8000||10||1.2 fps
|Canon PowerShot A3300 IS||∞||0.7 fps
*Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera's fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). "Frames" notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.
The A3300's default evaluative light measurement system is dependably accurate in most lighting. More experienced photographers can opt for either spot metering or center-weighted averaging metering for more demanding/creative compositions. Like all point-and-shoots, the A3300 has some dynamic range (the spread from deep shadows to bright highlights) shortcomings because the diminutive1/2.3-inch CCD sensor can't capture the full tonal range - so the A3300 IS's default evaluative metering system is calibrated to preserve shadow detail at the expense of highlight detail. That built-in exposure bias results in occasional clipping (burnt out highlights).
The A3300 IS features the same TTL Contrast Detection 9-point AiAF (Advanced Intelligent Auto Focus) system as its predecessor. Users can opt for 1 AF point (center) for classic portraits or traditional landscapes or Face AF or Tracking AF. In low light, a focus assist beam helps illuminate the subject for more accurate focusing.
The A3300's tiny built-in flash provides a minimal, but adequate selection of artificial lighting options - on/off, Auto, Red-eye Reduction, Slow Synchro and Smart Flash. Maximum flash range (according to Canon) is about 13 feet. Flash recycle time is between 4.0 and 5.0 seconds with a freshly charged battery.
The A3300 IS's Optical Image Stabilization feature reduces blur by quickly and precisely shifting a lens element in the 5x zoom to compensate for minor camera movement. IS allows users to shoot at shutter speeds up to three EVs (exposure values) slower than would have been possible without IS. Image stabilization can also be very useful when shooting dimly lit indoor venues where flash is inappropriate. Canon A3300 users have four image stabilization options - continuous IS, shoot only IS, Panning IS and IS off.
The A3300 is powered by a proprietary Canon NB-8L lithium-ion rechargeable battery. Canon says a fully charged NB-8L is good for approximately 230 exposures, which seems fairly accurate based on my use of the camera. The included plug-in style charger needs about two hours to charge the battery.
The A3300's f/2.8-5.9 5-25mm zoom starts at the equivalent of 28mm and goes to the equivalent of 140mm - a very useful range for a pocket sized camera. The f/2.8 maximum aperture at the wide end of the zoom is fast enough for almost anything this camera's target audience is likely to shoot, but the f/5.9 maximum aperture at the telephoto end of the zoom range is pretty slow - almost useless for anything other than shooting outdoors in decent light. Although corners are a tiny bit soft at the wide angle end of the zoom they are noticeably sharper at the telephoto end.
Zoom operation is fast, smooth, and fairly quiet. This zoom exhibits essentially no barrel distortion (straight lines bow out from the center) at the wide-angle end of the zoom and no visible pin cushioning (straight lines bow in toward the center) at full telephoto. Check out the photo below - shot at the wide angle end of the zoom - notice that this image of a late-deco factory building displays no visible distortion.
Chromatic aberration is remarkably well controlled, but some very minor color fringing is present, especially in the color transition areas between dark foreground objects and bright backgrounds.
Colors are bold, bright, slightly over-saturated and hue accurate, but native (default) contrast is a bit on the flat side. Here's a piece of advice for both casual shooters and photo enthusiasts alike who purchase the A3300 IS - enable i-Contrast when you set your initial preferences - and leave it on full time. I don't understand why Canon chose to have i-Contrast off as the default, but a major image quality problem with auto exposure only digicams is blown highlights and blocked-up shadow areas, both of which i-Contrast helps to ameliorate.
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