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Canon Powershot A640
Canon is definitely one of the most respected names in the consumer digital camera market segment. The common belief is that you can't really go wrong with purchasing a Canon camera. Though I may not agree a hundred percent with that, I do know that the Canon Powershot A640 may be the best buy in the mid-range camera segment. Read on to know why.
One look at the A640 and you wouldn't need me to tell you that the camera is built to last. The strong metal body is built to withstand the basic amount of travel-related damage. Complimenting the body are the buttons, that feel equally sturdy and durable.
Just like in most of its compact models, Canon has included a useful tilt-'n'-swivel LCD screen in this one too. Besides the obvious pivoting ability, the screen is 2.5 inches diagonally in size. It also sports a 115,000 pixel resolution, which may be a little less compared to what you get in cameras these days, but definitely not insufficient.
The button layout at the back and top right is perfect for single handed operation. The most highly used shooting modes like portrait, landscape, manual, etc. are easily accessible on the jog dial at the top of the camera, while the not-so-urgent functions and menus can be easily accessed at the back.
There's an optical viewfinder that is extremely useful at times when it gets hard to look at the LCD screen (bright sunlight and in extremely dark conditions).
To begin with, the A640 boasts a whopping 10 megapixel camera resolution, which is more than enough by any standards. Being a compact camera the optical zoom level is limited to 4x (35mm-140mm), but that's still better than the standard 3x zoom that most other compact cameras in this range offer.
A640 also has numerous shooting modes—21 to be exact—which includes underwater (used only with the add-on underwater housing accessory, sold separately), party, snow beach and the two modes that are unique to Canon cameras—Color Swap and Color Accent.
Color Swap mode allows you to switch any color in the scene with any other color. For example, the wall in the first picture shows it's original yellow color, but using the Color Swap mode I have replaced all the yellow color in the image with red, on the fly.
Wall color changed to red using the color swap mode
Color Accent allows you to click an image in black and white, while keeping a color (selected by the user) intact. Check out the picture I clicked of the Superman action figure below where I've kept the yellow color intact.
The above two features are not necessary and can be easily done better in Photoshop, but they're definitely a hell lot entertaining.
The A640 features a macro mode that can focus up to 1cm, which can be seen in the shot I took below.
Like other Canon compact cameras the A640 boasts manual focus along with the manual exposure features. The manual focus feature really comes in handy especially in low light situations, where focusing on the subject can get a bit dicey.
Though the A640 doesn't really feature anything unique or groundbreaking, it still boasts an impressive package that makes it appealing to casual as well as serious users.
The first thing I check when reviewing the performance of any digital camera are the colors and the level of sharpness, because at the end of the day, these two things are what matter the most. And those are precisely the two points that I found the most impressive about the Canon A640.
While the above image is a great example of edge-to-edge sharpness, the macro shot taken below shows you the quality of the camera's macro focus level. As mentioned above, the A640 shoots macro shots of objects as close as a centimeter away, and the shot below proves that it definitely doesn't compromise on quality while at it.
While the camera has manual exposure and manual focus, it's shooting presets do a pretty good job of adjusting the camera for the required shot. The shot below was taken using the Landscape mode and as you can see, the focus is evenly maintained throughout the scene, which is exactly the requirement in this case.
Getting back to the colors, the Canon A640 makes the most of the available light to bring out the best and most accurate colors. The reds, pinks and oranges are easily distinguishable in the test shots and even the faint color gradients were captured quite accurately.
When shooting in the dark, the camera's night mode did a pretty good job of making the most of the available light. However when I manually raised the ISO levels for a low light shot, the image contained a lot of digital noise, which was pretty sad to see in a camera that performed pretty well otherwise.
Canon Powershot A640
|LCD Type||2.5", 115,000 px|
|Effective Pixels||10 Megapixels|
|ISO Sensitivity||Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600|
|Shutter Speed||15-1/2500 sec|
|Aperture||F2.8 - F4.1|
|Scene Modes||Auto, Snow, Beach, Indoor, Foliage, Fireworks, Landscape, Color swap, Underwater, Kids & pets, Night scene, Color accent, Portrait mode, Stitch assist, Night snapshot|
|White Balance||6 positions, plus manual|
|Flash||Auto, On, Off, Manual (Red Eye On/Off)|
|Self Timer||2-10 secs|
|Video Resolution||640x480 @ 30fps|