Spring is finally here after a long, dull, and unpleasant winter. As temperatures are going up, many consumers are contemplating the purchase of a new digicam as a graduation, Mother's Day, or Father's Day gift for those special people in their lives. The new Canon PowerShot A3100 IS seems a very good choice: it is reasonably priced, easy to use, and an eminently pocketable 12 megapixel digital camera with a 4x OIS (optical image stabilization) zoom and a 2.7-inch LCD screen.
For those who want to save a little dough, the A3100 IS has a slightly less expensive kid brother, the A3000 IS. The A3000 IS is essentially identical to the A3100 IS except it has slightly lower resolution (10 megapixels) and is only available in silver; the A3100 IS is available in silver, blue or red. Both cameras support the SDXC standard for larger memory cards.
Earlier "A" series models endeared themselves to photo enthusiasts who likened them to a stripped- down version of Canon's top of the line "G" series digicams. Canon's new style "A" series models are targeted to casual photographers rather than budget-conscious photography enthusiasts who bought old-style "A" series digicams. The A3100 IS, which replaces the popular A1100 IS, retains its predecessor's best features, but still is a somewhat radical update.
All earlier "A" series models (going back to the groundbreaking little A20) were powered by available anywhere AA batteries; the A3100 IS and the A3000 IS are the first "A" series models to draw their juice from a lithium-ion power pack. Old-style "A" series digicams also had optical viewfinders and manual exposure capabilities. The bad news is that Canon's newest "A" series models don't support those options. But the good news is that they are small, thin, light, and easily pocketable - qualities that earlier "A" series digicams lacked.
I've only been shooting with the A3100 IS for a few days, but Canon's "A" series digital cameras have earned an amazing level of loyalty from consumers because of their reasonable prices, excellent image quality, dependable performance, toughness/durability, and ease of use - and the A3100 IS maintains that worthy tradition. I'll go into more detail in the full review, but so far the A3100 IS seems like it would be an almost ideal choice as a first digital camera, an excellent choice as a primary family camera, and a very good choice for travelers who want a small, relatively tough, lightweight, fairly inexpensive "go anywhere" digicam.