Canon PowerShot A490 – Excellent budget camera

CameraOn March 26, 2010 at 4:38 am



We saw the PowerShot A480 in 2009 and Canon has updated it here by giving us 2 versions – A495 and A490. The later is cheaper by $20 but there are no options for colors. You get only silver model. Apart from that A490 has 5 point Face AiAF autofocus system as compared to the A495′s 9 point and it doesn’t have a Face Self Timer. Finally, A490 doesn’t have two new shooting modes – Poster Effect and Super Vivid and the camera uses settings of 13 scenes for the Smart Auto mode. A495, has 18. The two cameras have their own set of differences but when it comes to photo quality, both are really great considering their budget category. (A495 though, was better in the Auto mode). The biggest drawback is that they aren’t as fast as other cameras in the competition; shot to shot times are really long. We will recommend you this camera if you are on a stiff budget and want a good pocket camera. A495 has extra shooting modes but if you don’t need them, then get the A490 which is $20 cheaper.

Design:

Canon PowerShot A490 is available in silver color only and it has black accents. We liked its compact shape, the camera isn’t tall or wide and it is more than an inch in thickness. The device will fit pants pocket easily. On the front, the camera looks stylish due to the rounded corners. The buttons don’t give a cheap feel, like A480 and they are marked clearly in white against the black background. The build quality is improved a bit.

Layout:

On the top, you get shutter release and power buttons and all the remaining controls are located on the right side of the screen. On the top, you get a zoom rocker and below that, there is a button for playback, Menu and shooting mode buttons and four way navigation pad with select button in the center. The menu buttons relates to two general settings tabs and the select button gives you shooting mode specific buttons. Controlling the camera is easy and even newbies will get along well.

Shooting modes:

Canon PowerShot A490 doesn’t give you plenty of shooting options and they are trimmed down further in A490. It gets murky in Program where there are options for color effects, ISO, metering, focus and white balance. If you don’t want to bother yourself with those settings then you can use the Smart Auto mode which automatically picks among the 13 scene modes, according to the environment. There are 11 special modes which include Kids & Pets, Foliage, Long Shutter and Fireworks. The High ISO mode is renamed to “Low Light” by Canon and this adds to the confusion. But it is the same as other cameras and captures 2 MP shots from ISO 500 to ISO 3200. If you like to take a lot of close up macro shots, you will find that A490 is a great option. The autofocus too seems to be improved as compared to its predecessors.

Movie Mode:

You only get VGA movie mode on the Canon PowerShot A490 and you cannot use optical zoom while recording videos. The quality of video is decent as long as you are shooting just to put it on Website. The videos are on par with a SD pocket video camera.

Battery:

The Canon PowerShot A490 is works on AA size batteries, which will go well with lots of people but don’t expect more than 150 shots on a single charge. We would recommend NiMH AA sized batteries.

Performance:

Canon PowerShot A490’s performance is really slow and this might be a deal breaker for budget photo enthusiasts. It takes two seconds for the camera to wake up and start shooting. Shutter lag is big in conditions of bright light: 0.6 second. In low light conditions, it goes down to one second. Shot to shot times are average at 2.9 seconds with out the flash and with it, the times are 7.1 seconds. Continuous shooting time is just 0.6 fps. We won’t recommend this camera if you want to capture a fast moving pet, sports action, or a toddler’s activities.

Photo quality:

Canon PowerShot A490’s photo quality is really good considering it is just a budget eccentric camera. The best results lie below ISO 200 levels; the stills look sharp with lots of fine detail. The noise suppression was well balanced even at ISO 800 and this makes 4×6 prints good. You will see a bit of noise when the stills are seen at 100 percent in darker areas. But this won’t keep us from recommending the camera. The colors of the A490 are great but the blues were a bit lighter in our lab tests. Exposure too is good. You can get Canon’s PowerShot A3000 IS with $20 more, it has image stabilization, rechargeable battery, and better lens but we will recommend you to save the money and get A490 or A495 instead. Performance in shooting is the same and photo quality is better than the duo.

Pros:

Great photo quality for its price, Auto mode is reliable.

Cons:

LCD has a low resolution, shooting performance is slow, feature set is basic.

Outcome:

Canon targets this camera at budget photo enthusiasts and it is an excellent device.

Specifications:
  • Canon PowerShot A490
  • 10 megapixels resolution
  • Light sensitivity – ISO auto, ISO 1600, ISO 800, ISO 400, ISO 200, ISO 100, ISO 80
  • Digital zoom – 4x
  • Shooting programs – Night snapshot, Portrait mode, Slow shutter, Kids & pets, Low light, Landscape, Fireworks, Foliage, Indoor, Beach, Snow.
  • Special effects – Custom effect, Black and white, Neutral, Vivid and Sepia
  • Max Shutter Speed – 1/2000 sec, Min Shutter Speed – 15 seconds
  • White balance presets – Fluorescent light (cool white), Fluorescent light (daylight), Tungsten light, Daylight, Cloudy.
  • Digital Video Format – MJPEG, AVI
  • Video Capture – AVI – 320 x 240, AVI – 640 x 480
  • Image storage JPEG 3648 x 2048, JPEG 640 x 480, JPEG 1600 x 1200, JPEG 2272 x 1704, JPEG 2816 x 2112, Fine JPEG 3648 x 2736, Large 367.
  • Flash modes – Red-eye reduction, Flash OFF mode, Slow synchro, Fill-in mode, Auto mode.
  • Zoom lens – 6.6 mm – 21.6 mm – F/3.0-5.8, focal length is 6.6 mm – 21.6 mm.
  • Additional features include I-Contrast (Intelligent Contrast Correction) system, Camera orientation detection, Motion Detection Technology, Scene Detection Technology, Face Detection AF/AE/FE/WB, RGB primary color filter, Digital tele-converter, Digital image rotation, USB 2.0 compatibility, In-camera red-eye fix, PictBridge support, Exif Print support, Resizing an image, Histogram display, Cropping an image, Audio recording, Direct print, DPOF support, FE lock, AF lock, AE lock.
  • Supported Battery – 2 x AA Alkaline battery
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