Since the introduction of the pioneering little A20 almost ten years ago, Canon's "A" series digital cameras have earned a high degree of popularity and loyalty from consumers - based on their excellent image quality, dependable performance, durability, and amazing ease of use. Last year's A2000 IS was something of a departure - Canon's new "A" series flagship was clearly targeted at casual photographers rather than the budget constrained photo enthusiasts who bought earlier "A" series digicams.
The new PowerShot A2100 IS, which replaces the A2000 IS, is an evolutionary/cosmetic update - so it basically retains all the best features of its predecessor while adding a couple of useful refinements/improvements.
The A2100 IS features Canon's fourth generation DIGIC IV processor coupled to a 1/2.3-inch 12.1 megapixel (the A2000 IS was a 10 megapixel digicam) CCD image sensor. There's also a 30 fps VGA (640x480) movie mode, image stabilization, and a new Smart Auto (exposure) mode.
Earlier "A" series models were very popular with photo enthusiasts and more serious shooters because they provided a useful range of manual exposure options (Aperture Priority mode, Shutter Priority mode, and a full Manual exposure mode), but the A2100 IS utilizes the same very basic auto exposure only system as the A2000 IS. The A2100 IS also features a 3.0 inch LCD, but like many current point-and-shoots, eschews the optical viewfinder - earlier "A" series digicams featured optical viewfinders.
Earlier "A" series flagship models endeared themselves to photo enthusiasts, and a friend who sells digital cameras used to tout them as the Junior Gee - a stripped down version of Canon's preeminent point-and-shoots. He can't say that anymore, but he can (and does) point out that the newer "A" series flagship models are substantially smaller, thinner, and lighter than earlier "A" series digicams - easily pocketable, which the earlier "A" models definitely were not.
Ergonomics and design
The PowerShot A2100 IS is small enough to drop in a shirt pocket and tough enough to go just about anywhere, plus it features a very good 6x optical zoom (equivalent to 36mm to 216mm) - most ultra-compact digicams provide only a 3x or 4x zoom - giving A2100 IS users a nice bonus.
The A2100 IS makes an almost ideal first digital camera and it is an excellent choice for a family camera. It is also a very good option for travelers who want a tough, lightweight, "go anywhere" digicam that runs on universally available AA batteries. I carried the A2100 IS with me (pretty much everywhere I went) for two weeks and I was consistently impressed - just like I was with the A2000 IS and every other "A" series Canon digicam I've used to date.
To be continued...
We've got more on the way in our full review of the Canon PowerShot A2100.