The Canon PowerShot A2100 IS - with 6x optical zoom and Image Stabilisation, is Canon's new compact snapper the ideal pocketable point and shoot? The What Digital Camera Canon A2100 IS review investigates...
Canon PowerShot A2100 IS Review
The Canon PowerShot A2100 IS is a 6x optical zoom (36-216mm as 35mm equivalent), 12.1 megapixel, image-stabilised compact camera – part of the Canon PowerShot A-series of cameras, ideal for your point and shoot photos. If you’re looking for a point and shoot compact camera that’s easy to pick straight up and shoot with then the Canon PowerShot A2100 IS is one of many compacts that may make its way onto your shortlist. But what, if anything, does the A2100 IS have to offer that’s above and beyond the generally high standard of other compact cameras out there? The What Digital Camera Canon A2100 IS review investigates…
Canon PowerShot A2100 IS – Features
The PowerShot A2100 IS comes equipped with a 6x optical zoom that, while not particularly wide angle, has an equivalent zoom range of 36-216mm (as a 35mm equivalent). From portraits to mid-level zoom the A2100 IS offers a good range; at least the kind of ‘normal’ range that will be of use for many a situation. While not pushing to superzoom standards, the A2100 IS does offer a more extensive range than many of the 3x or 4x optical zoom compacts on the market – perhaps a notable sale point if you’re looking for that extra bit of zoom without going overboard.
Image Stabilisation – as the ‘IS’ in the PowerShot A2100 IS title stands for – is the order of the day, offering lens shift in order to help correct for camera shake and keep images sharp. Playback on the A2100 IS’s 3in 230K dot LCD screen provides an ample size for viewing your shots, too.
Exposure modes don’t come in huge abundance, but all the basics are there – from options to shoot portraits through to landscapes and even a movie mode, the Canon AS2100 only lacks a fully manual mode. In its defence, however, the Program mode (P) does allow for manual ISO, white balance, metering and colour mode controls – a fairly extensive list that permits ample creative control for an entry level compact.
Canon PowerShot A2100 IS – Design
The Canon PowerShot A2100 IS is a simple fare of boxy body dressed in a black finish. It feels weighty in the hand – further added to by the inclusion of AA batteries. While some may prefer a heavy feel, as it does feel sturdy, it does feel bulkier than many other compacts on the market.
The back of the A2100 IS is dominated by its 3in screen, with a standard d-pad to the right for controls. Additional buttons for display, face detection, playback, main menu and quick print also feature. Scene modes are quickly accessed from the thumbwheel on top of the camera, which, judging from the A2100 IS’s other poor main menu system, is an effective relief to select the desired shooting modes.
The Program mode (P) is a great feature that provides a number of additional controls – ISO, white balance, colour modes, metering, continuous shooting – via on screen menu control. Here the control is much more intuitive and easy to use. Flash, macro, exposure compensation and self-timer are still accessible from this point too, meaning that a wide range of creative controls can take place to get the shot you want – be that in black and white, sepia toned, or one of many other tinted colours.
Performance, Image Quality & Value For Money
Canon PowerShot A2100 IS – Performance
The Canon A2100 IS has a little gem tucked up its sleeve, and one that isn’t harked on about in any of its press – the macro mode, at the wide end, works incredibly close to subject and you can shoot some really quirky close-ups. This is where the wide aperture becomes notably useful too (not that you can control this manually), providing shallow depth of field to fullest effect. It’s possible to shoot so closely that the lens barrel itself will literally cast a shadow on the subject you’re taking – and yet from around 1cm from lens the subject remains in focus. It’s a feature that most compacts fail to run with, except for perhaps much higher end (and expensive!) models such as the Ricoh GRDII.
With so many megapixels packed onto the sensor it can take a while to save photos on what is an apparently small buffer – shooting such large images in relatively quick succession can cause a back-log that causes a brief couple of seconds where it’s not possible to continue shooting. Though, for the most part, this wont affect the majority of users.
The PowerShot A2100 IS also comes with Face Detection technology. With the click of a button this can be turned on or off, ideal for focusing and exposing the faces of those in frame. On occasion this feature did go a little haywire – as many Face Detection technologies do – by locating faces in their absence, or failing to successfully track them through the frame (which should happen). For point-and-shoot portraits however, the A2100 IS has the technology for the job and delivers the results.
Lastly colour balance can be an issue, with the auto white balance rendering many images a little magenta and, furthermore, often underexposing. Consistency from shot to shot can drift from a warm magenta to a cooler green – even when shooting the same scene under consistent light. It can also be quite tricky to assess shots on screen, either in bright light or from less than acute angles. Unless viewing the A2100 IS screen straight-on images will lose brightness and gamma to such an excess that images will not appear correctly to the eye; unlike many LCD screens where there is much greater give in the viewing angle.
Canon PowerShot A2100 IS – Image Quality
The A2100 IS, sadly, doesn’t have a lens particularly worth shouting about;couple this with the sensor that’s packed with perhaps more megapixels than necessary and the quality lacks. Not that its bad by any means and, in fact, many wont require images as large as 12.1MP provides – so the loss of quality through overpacking the sensor may not show in small prints or image uploads. However, concerning larger images, it is likely that the unsharp and ‘smear
ed’ look and lack of image detail – even under good light – will be a hindrance.
Canon is well known for low-noise, high image quality. The PowerShot A2100 IS is consistent in keeping with this reputation at the lower ISO ratings, though noise is abundant at the higher sensitivities, notable from as low as ISO 400.
Exposures tend to lean on the underexposed side, though the dynamic range between dark shadows and bright highlights is well managed in-camera.
Canon PowerShot A2100 IS – Value For Money
For the money, the Canon PowerShot A2100 IS sounds like less of an entry level compact than it actually should. For the £259 (SRP) asking price it’s undeniable that you should expect a lot for your money. The A2100 IS falls just a bit short for such a wallet-busting ask, especially considering the quality of compacts out there. However, and here’s the big but, shop around and it’s available for a much happier asking price of £190-200 which, considering its stabilisation and broad 6x zoom range may bring it into the picture for worthy consideration.
Given Canon’s IXUS range of cameras now run into the £300+ price range, pound for pound the PowerShot A2100 IS holds its own for the entry level AA-battery powered compact end. It even comes boxed with (an admittedly small) 128MB memory card and batteries to get you going.
The Canon PowerShot A2100 IS is a good all-rounder. With a broad zoom range, Image Stabilisation and basic feature set, it’s an ideal contender for the point and shoot entry level market. Though it does come at a little bit of a raised asking price and ? as much as this is consistent with Canon’s recession-based price hikes ? it’s worth shopping around for a better price. The A2100’s macro mode is the shiniest gem of them all meaning that, realistically, you’ll be able to shoot all manner of photos quite happily. Be that quirky close-ups, posed portraits or zoomed-in 200mm shots to pick out your subject. Perhaps the image quality drags its heels a little, but for everyday use the PowerShot A2100 IS, in general, ticks the boxes.
The Canon PowerShot A2100 IS is a good all-rounder. With a broad zoom range, Image Stabilisation and basic feature set, it's an ideal contender for the point and shoot entry level market. Though it does come at a little bit of a raised asking price and ? as much as this is consistent with Canon's recession-based price hikes ? it's worth shopping around for a better price. The A2100's macro mode is the shiniest gem of them all meaning that, realistically, you'll be able to shoot all manner of photos quite happily. Be that quirky close-ups, posed portraits or zoomed-in 200mm shots to pick out your subject. Perhaps the image quality drags its heels a little, but for everyday use the PowerShot A2100 IS, in general, ticks the boxes.