First Looks: Canon PowerShot A480

Power Budget

Power Budget

The new Canon PowerShot A480 brings with it a simple design befitting a camera that won't burn a hole in your wallet. A slightly thicker form factor is but one sign that we are looking at one of the more basic models in Canon's lineup, which do not get the slimming treatment like the higher-end models.

Back to Basics

The controls on the PowerShot A480 are as basic as one gets, with a simple power switch and an easy to press shutter button. Its thick frame actually works to its benefit, since it gives us a solid grip when shooting with just one hand. The main navigation panel consists of the standard zoom buttons, a playback button and a five-way navigation pad. What irked us was the stiffness of the buttons, though they were just about acceptable for daily handling.

The PowerShot A480 is powered by two AA-sized batteries, but should you wish to reserve your battery charge for photography purposes, there's a DC power port located side-by-side with the microUSB slot. Accessing the battery slot will require you to exert an average amount of force to get the slot open.

The A480 is, first and foremost, an entry level device. However, it does have features such as multiple scene selections. Accessing the 15 different scenes though is a little tricky since they are only accessible via the menu. In fact, we would have preferred to have a scroll dial on the A480. Nonetheless, make no mistake about the A480's delivery. Even though it is positioned as a basic compact camera, it comes with advanced features such as Face Detection to keep your portrait shots in focus.

The PowerShot A480 comes with a 1/2.3-inch sensor capable of 10-megapixel resolutions. Its ISO range is achievable up to the 1600 range. But as usual, we advise against ISO values beyond 400 to avoid the excessive noise that comes with it. On the PowerShot A480, it's a similar story: ISO400 is the limit before we spotted prominent noise in our test images.

The Performance Test

We pitted the camera against a strong incandescent lighting to test both its white balance and color management. To ensure a level playing field, we also left the A480 on Auto mode to determine how well its Digic III imaging processor handle the various situations and correct the colors. We noticed that its white balance had some trouble correcting the warm colors.

Fur details weren't exactly very pronounced upon close examination, but we weren't exactly expecting strong performance on this entry level model. We did like how the PowerShot A480 managed to provide clean images with minimal aberrations along its edges.

As mentioned, the PowerShot A480 utilizes two AA batteries to power it up. We managed to get up to 250 shots out of the A480, and this would probably take a dip in quantity should there be extensive usage of the integrated flash.

Final Thoughts

The Canon PowerShot A480 performs as expected for a camera of its class. You won't get extra fine quality images and it tends to have some warmer colors for your shots. But for all that, you get a camera with decent imaging quality and a well-fitting body. What could get you hooked even further, is the reasonable price of S$219.