Canon's PowerShot A-series digital cameras have been very popular with consumers since the introduction of the groundbreaking little A20 in 2000. Purchasers liked them because they were affordable, relatively compact, user-friendly, feature rich, and sturdily built – plus they were capable of producing dependably first-rate images. One of the newest members of the PowerShot A family is the Canon PowerShot A1000 IS, which replaces the A580.
While the A1000 IS looks like a chunky slightly shrunken version of earlier A models, it is (like its big brother, the A2000 IS) a major departure from the basic design philosophy that defined its predecessors. Photo enthusiasts on a budget and those trying to learn the mechanics of photography from the ground up liked A-series digicams because they provided optical viewfinders and a useful range of manual exposure options. Unlike the A20000 IS, the A1000 IS retains its optical viewfinder, but neither camera has any manual exposure capability.
The A1000 IS is an auto exposure only digicam featuring Auto mode, Program mode, Easy mode (the camera makes all exposure decisions with no user input – except for being able to manually turn the built-in flash on or off), and an adequate range of scene mode options. The A1000 IS provides 10 megapixels resolution, a very good 4x optical zoom, image stabilization, a 2.5 inch LCD, and face detection AF that's linked directly to the Auto Exposure and Auto WB systems. The Canon Powershot A1000 IS's DIGIC III processor does a very good job of balancing the input from the camera's metering, auto focus, and auto exposure systems to generate images that are metered correctly, properly exposed, hue accurate, and sharply focused.
The A1000 IS sports a rather chunky, geek-chic look. It is about 25 percent smaller than its predecessors and available in muted tones of either gray, blue, brown, or purple. The A1000 IS features a rudimentary grip, but it is only a pale shadow of the very useful handgrip that was a prominent feature on earlier A-series digicams. The user interface is uncomplicated and the menu system is logical and simply navigated, with the four-way controller and FUNC button providing convenient access to commonly ajusted settings. All buttons are reasonably large and clearly marked and the A1000 IS's controls are sensibly placed and easily accessed.
The A1000 IS draws its power from a pair of AA batteries. With Energizer Lithiums power depth is genuinely impressive – while testing the almost identical A2000 IS, I did lots and lots of shoot/review/delete/re-shoot and completely filled a 1GB SD card before I got a low battery warning. I've had the A1000 IS for about a week and I've used it heavily. It is still running off the original alkaline AAs included in the box.
I've been using Powershot A cameras since the first models hit store shelves in 2000. I suspect that lots of devoted A-series fans are going to be very upset with the radical usability and capability changes inherent in the A1000 IS and the A2000 IS.
Canon's newest A models are obviously targeted toward casual photographers rather than photo enthusiasts. After using both cameras I'm impressed with their efficacy as image-makers, but I already miss the better responsiveness, enhanced control, and creative potential of earlier A-series models.