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...
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.