Over the years, photography has evolved from being an exclusive trade, to a popular hobby enjoyed by the masses. By taking this trend in their conceptualization, Canon has garnered substantial success with its PowerShot series, which caters to both entry level users and photography enthusiasts. An example is the Canon PowerShot A570 IS, an entry level compact digital camera that was priced reasonably and delivered above average imaging quality. Building upon this formula, Canon has unveiled the successor to the A570 IS, the PowerShot A590 IS.
Slight improvements have been made to the A590 from its predecessor, like increasing the resolution to 8.0 megapixels from 7.1. Besides that, the A590 is similar to the A570, with 4x optical zoom and a 2.5-inch LCD screen, though the A590 is more contoured in its design with a rounded grip on the right for firm one-handed operation.
The A590 does away with the circular navigation pad of the A570, going for a cross-shaped five-way navigation pad, with the buttons on each corner more evenly spaced out. Unfortunately, if you are adopting a one-handed shooting style, the Print and Menu button at the right edge of the camera are harder to reach, though conversely, the Exposure/Delete and Display buttons end up more easily accessible. Another grouse from the A570 that remained on the A590 - the battery cover requires a sufficiently strong finger and both hands to unlock to access the SD slot and batteries.
The real deal of the A590 is in its performance as a compact digital camera. A newly introduced Easy mode simplifies your options to just turning the flash on/off. Typically in such a mode, most cameras would increase the ISO levels to compensate for the absence of flash, leading to higher noise levels. Hence we were pleasantly surprised to find that the Easy mode on the A590 instead produced high quality images with bearable amount of noise for indoor shots.
We took the A590 out on a field test with multiple imaging subjects and had a go with the integrated Motion Detection Technology for moving subjects. Working in tandem with the Optical Image Stabilizer, shots were precise and accurately captured once a focus is locked, with minimal boosts to the ISO settings only when necessary. This, we figured, is the real secret behind the considerable low noise levels for the A590.
Battery life is obviously important to any digital camera user and we got the A590 to last for approximately 70 shots and 5 movie clips of up to a minute each on the average. Two AA batteries provide the main power source for the A590, which got a slight nod for being easy to replace in a clutch. The trade-off though, is in the A590's bulkier form factor to accommodate for them.
Though essentially an upgraded model of the A570, we had mixed feelings about this new model. For one, it definitely outperforms most other compact cameras at similarly high ISO settings, returning low amount of noise in its images and rests comfortably snug in our hands. However, as mentioned, the battery door has the same issues as its A570 predecessor, leading to the occasional bouts of frustration when changing your batteries or memory cards. Nonetheless, for the slight boost in its imaging sensor and its recommended retail price of S$369, the A590 is just about right for a digital compact camera that simplifies your photo-taking experience.