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Canon Powershot A620 Digital Camera Review
by Ben Stafford -  12/18/2005
Introduction

The Canon Powershot A620 is one of the successors to the Canon A95. The A620, at 7.1 megapixels, and the A610 (the 5 megapixel little brother), make excellent upgrades to the very popular A95. Besides the megapixel upgrade, the A620 brings a better 4x optical zoom, the new DIGIC II processor, and a larger 2 inch LCD. After the success of the A95, it will be interesting to see if this camera becomes as popular.

canon powershot A620
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In the Box

Included in the box, along with the camera, are 4 AA batteries, a 32 MB SD card, wrist strap, software CD, USB cable, and A/V cable.

Camera Design

If you've seen any of the previous generation of this camera (like the Canon A95), then you pretty much know what the camera looks like. The A620 is a nice gray color and has a nice metal mode dial as an upgrade to the plastic dial of cameras past. The top edges of the body are more rounded and the lens is just a tad larger on the front of the camera. The camera still has the distinctive hand grip/battery compartment and a flip out LCD.

The camera is very well built. The metal buttons and mode dial are nice touches when compared to the plastic ones of the A95. The flip out LCD hinge is nothing to worry about either. The larger lens and 4 batteries don't make this a lightweight camera, but it's not too heavy to be uncomfortable. The slider button to switch between capture and playback mode is the only button that is hard to operate. It's a little more recessed on the back of the camera and it doesn't have a very positive grip, so you have to push a little harder than necessary to get the slider to move.

The front of the camera features the lens, flash, optical viewfinder port, microphone, and focus assist / red eye reduction / timer lamp.

canon powershot A620
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The top of the camera has the power button, shooting mode dial, shutter release, and zoom control (ring around the shutter).

canon powershot A620
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The right side of the camera (when looking at the back) has two doors. One, with a snapping-in plastic cover is to connect the USB cable, AV cable or an optional DC power source. Below that is a door that you slide towards the rear of the camera to access the SD card slot.

canon powershot A620
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The bottom of the camera provides access to the battery compartment and has a tripod mount.

canon powershot A620
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The back of the camera has the flip out LCD, optical viewfinder with status LEDs next to it. A slider switch to toggle between capture and playback modes, the Delete/Exposure button, DPOF button, directional page with a enter key in the middle, the Display button and the Menu button.

canon powershot A620
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Camera Features

Let's start with the big things first. The A620 captures images at 7.1 megapixels with a 4x optical zoom. Review your images on the 2 inch flip out LCD. The biggest improvement over the A95, in my opinion, is the addition of the DIGIC II processor (the A95 had the previous-generation DIGIC processor). The DIGIC II provides faster operation across the board and improves power consumption making for a much better camera experience.

If you've never used a flip out LCD, I highly recommend it. If you need to shoot over a crowd, or go for the dramatic low-angle shot (works really well with kids), the flip out, rotating LCD makes it much easier.

Images can be captured at resolutions of: 3,072 x 2,304, 2,592 x 1,944, 2,048 x 1,536, 1,600 x 1,200, and 640 x 480. There are three settings for quality, SuperFine, Fine, and Normal. Movies can be capture at 640x480 and 320x240 at 30 fps and 15 fps.

For storage media, the A620 accepts SD and MMC memory cards.

For power, the camera takes 4 AA sized batteries. I used high-capacity rechargeable NiMH batteries and experienced excellent battery life. After taking around 100 shots for the review - some with flash, doing some reviewing, taking some movies - I set the camera to continuous to see if I could run the batteries down. Now, continuous mode, with flash and without, doesn't really simulate average usage, but I got to about 500 shots and decided to give up (I know, very scientific of me...).

The A620 provides many shooting modes, from fully automatic, to full manual control. On the mode dial you have the following options:

 
"P" mode settings                              Detailed playback display

Camera Performance and Image Quality

The image quality, as I expected, was excellent. The Canon quality hasn't been left out of this camera. Colors were accurate (unless you play around with the My Colors shooting mode) and exposure was excellent, even on a snowy day when I was shooting.

Noise was very well controlled. In my opinion, it's acceptable up to ISO 200 but a little too much at ISO 400. See the image below for comparison.

Macro performance was good, showing excellent detail in this picture of a poinsettia.


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The 4x optical zoom is a nice break from the "standard" 3x that have been on the majority of point and shoots lately. The zoom may be slightly too slow for some, but the benefit is that you have very fine-grained control of the degree of zoom that you want.


Wide Angle [larger]


Full 4x optical zoom [larger] [fullsize]

Focus and exposure lock was achieved quickly. The focus-assist light comes on, when needed, to give the camera a chance in the dark. At the telephoto end of the lens, the camera takes just a bit longer to focus, but this is nothing new and is not a problem. Many cameras exhibit the same behavior.


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Specification Highlights

Conclusion

The Canon Powershot A620 is another excellent entry into the market from Canon. Along with its 5 megapixel brother, it makes an excellent upgrade to the model that it replaces, the A95. The DIGIC II processor makes for a much better shooting experience with quicker operation and better battery life. A larger LCD and a longer optical zoom also make this replacement attractive. The shooting modes of the camera are impressive as well, with multiple degrees of manual control and the fun My Colors mode (you can take a picture of your car in a different color).

Image quality is excellent with good sharpness, accurate color, and well-controlled noise. The camera achieves focus quickly, starts up quickly, cycles between shots quickly. The high-quality movie mode (640x480 at 30 fps) is impressive as well.

Pros

Cons

Bottom Line
I highly recommend this camera. Its quick operation and image quality provide a camera that will not disappoint. This camera is a great choice for someone who wants top-notch quality, wants some manual/creative controls and someone that doesn't mind a camera larger than an ultra-compact.