Review: Canon PowerShot A10/A20
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Monday, May 21, 2001
Friday, October 26, 2001
PowerShot A10 and A20 are essentially the same cameras, so I'm reviewing
them together. The major difference is that the A10 is 1.3 Megapixel,
and the A20 is 2.1 Megapixel. I will note other minor differences
along the way.
the PowerShot A10/A20
twins (list price $499/$599) were introduced, there was no doubt
in my mind what cameras they were going after: the Olympus D-400/500
series, as well as the Fuji FinePix 1400/2400. Those point-and-shoot
cameras have sold very well due to their familiar look which consumers
latch right onto. So how well do these PowerShots do against the
market leaders? Read on...
in the Box?
PowerShot A10 & A20 have good bundles. Inside the box, you'll
1.3 / 2.1 Mpixel PowerShot A10 / A20 camera
AA alkaline batteries (non-rechargeable)
featuring Canon Digital Solutions software
page camera manual + 105 page software manual
really only one thing to comment on here, and that's the lack of
rechargeable batteries. Digital cameras drink alkaline batteries
like crazy and they end up polluting our landfills. Do yourself
and the environment a favor and pick up a set or two of NiMH rechargeables
and a fast charger.
other camera manufacturers should take a lesson from Canon. They
include an 8MB CompactFlash card with the A10, which is only 1.3
Megapixels. I just reviewed a 3.3 Megapixel camera which also included
an 8MB card, when it should really have a 32MB card.
the A10/A20 have built in lens protection, a lens cap is not needed.
of the things that really sets the A10/A20 apart from the competition
is optional features.
you can see the WC-DC52 wide-angle adapter. You'll need the LA-DC52
conversion lens adapter to use the wide-angle or the close-up lens.
to go swimming? Pick up the WP-DC200 waterproof case and you can
take your PowerShot as deep as 30 meters (100 ft).
Olympus or Fuji's similar cameras support either of these options.
Canon's PowerShot Solutions software in the past, and have found
it to be the best software bundled with any consumer digital camera.
The panorama software is top notch as well. Also of interest is
the RemoteCapture software, which lets you control the camera via
your Mac or PC.
also a big fan of the manual included with the camera. Unlike most
manufacturers, Canon provides a well organized, easy to read manual
with their cameras.
the product shots below are of the PowerShot A20.
PowerShot A10 & A20 are attractive, mostly plastic cameras that
people will feel right at home with. While the body is almost completely
plastic, I'd call it "high grade" and "solid"
-- this thing won't bust in half if you're not careful with it.
It fits well in your hands, and is small enough to fit in your pants
chart below shows the dimensions and weight of the A10/A20 versus
(W x H x D, inches)
x 2.8 x 1.5
x 2.6 x 1.5
x 2.6 x 2.1
x 2.6 x 1.9
begin our tour of the A10/A20, shall we?
A10 and A20 share the same 3X optical zoom lens. The focal range
of this F2.8 lens is 5.4 - 16.2 mm, which is equivalent to 35 -
105mm. While the lens itself isn't threaded, you remove a plastic
ring around it to expose the threads to which you can attach the
conversion adapter and other lenses.
of the differences between the models is digital zoom: the A10 has
2X, the A20 2.5X.
flash on the cameras has a range of 2.5 - 13.8 ft in wide-angle,
and 2.5 - 8.2 ft at full telephoto.
the "business end" of the cameras. The 1.5" LCD is
a little smaller than most LCDs, but it's just as bright and fluid
as the best ones.
the LCD is the optical viewfinder. While larger enough, it lacks
diopter correction for those of us with glasses.
controls seen here should be familiar to those who have used Canon's
PowerShot cameras before. The buttons around the LCD include:
compensation & white balance
& Landscape [rec] / Right [menu]
[rec] / left [menu]
[rec] / set [menu]
drive button moves between single shot, continuous shooting, and
self-timer modes. The cameras can shoot 2.5 frames/second in continuous
white balance choices include auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten,
fluorescent, and black & white. There is no manual white balance
mode on either camera.
the right of all those buttons is the mode wheel, which has the
term "manual record" is misleading, considering that it
only opens up continuous shooting, white balance, and exposure compensation.
Those looking for control of the shutter speed, aperture, or focus
will need to look elsewhere.
panorama mode is a nice little tool to help you stitch together
a few shots into one continuous shot. Your panoramas can go left-to-right,
or vice versa. I could've sworn some other Canon cameras can go
up-down but not this one. Anyhow, a tripod is almost a requirement
to get seamless panoramas. I've had some luck hand holding, but
they're never perfect.
final item of note on the back of the camera is the zoom control
(which also works in playback mode). The controls are well-placed
for easy thumb access, and the lens is responsive.
not much on top of the camera, with the exception of the shutter
release button (which works just fine). There is no LCD info display
on this camera, so you'll have to check the LCD to see how many
shots you have remaining on the memory card. For comparison's sake,
the similar Olympus include one, while the Fuji's do not.
the side of the A10/A20, which features the I/O ports under that
rubber cover. Let's take a look...
that cover you'll find USB (called Digital), Video Out, and DC in.
And here's another difference between the A10 and A20: the A10 does
not include video out. I should also mention that you use that Digital
port to hook into Canon's CP-10 card printer, which I have also
support is not available on the A10 or A20.
other side of the camera is where you'll find the Type I CompactFlash
slot (no Microdrive here). This is one of those spring loaded slots
and the card is easy to remove. The door over the slot is plastic
and seems sturdy enough.
to the CF slot is a compartment for a CR2016 battery which helps
store the date in the camera's memory.
the bottom of the camera, you'll find the battery compartment (which
holds 4 AA's) as well as a plastic tripod mount.
the Canon PowerShot A10 & A20
camera takes just over two seconds to extend the lens and prepare
for shooting -- that's fast! Locking focus takes less than a second,
and the shot is taken quickly when the shutter release button is
fully pressed. When a shot is taken (Large size, Fine Quality) there's
about a three second delay before you can take another. Speaking
of size and quality, the chart below describes your choices on these
shots on 8MB card
(included with camera)
shots on 32MB card
1280 x 960
1024 x 768
640 x 480
shots on 8MB card
(included with camera)
shots on 32MB card
1600 x 1200
1024 x 768
640 x 480
menus on these two cameras are simple and don't have a lot of options
(this is a point-and-shoot, after all). Here's a look at what you'll
(see chart above)
(Off, 2 sec, 10 sec) - how long the shot is shown on LCD after
it's taken. You can hold it as long as you want by keeping the
shutter release button held down when you take the shot.
number reset (on/off)
(sleep timer, date, video out format [A20 only])
that was easy enough. Let's take a look at some sample photos now.
cameras fared well in our macro test, with the A20's output being
a little brighter than the A10 (both were shot at the same time).
You can get as close as 16 cm (6.3") in wide-angle, and 26
cm (10.2") in telephoto modes on these two.
taken on both cameras weren't that great. Since there's no "night
scene" mode, or control over aperture/shutter speed, there
isn't much you can do about it. In both cases, the camera just didn't
let in enough light. Of course I've found this to be the case with
most point-and-shoot digicams as well.
from that, photo quality was impressive for both cameras. Colors
were accurate and photos were usually very sharp. But don't take
my word for it: judge for yourself by taking a look at photo galleries
for the PowerShot A10
and PowerShot A20.
PowerShot models lack a movie mode of any kind. By comparison, the
Olympus D-490Z and upcoming D-510Z have it, while the Fuji FinePix
2400 does not.
playback mode on the two PowerShots is quite good, with most of
the features you'd expect. Slideshows, protection, thumbnail mode,
and zoom & scroll are all there. So is DPOF print marking --
and you can use the Direct Print function to print directly to the
CP-10 card printer.
addition, you can rotate photos inside the camera, saving a trip
to the photo editing software.
zoom and scroll mode isn't as good as on other Canon cameras. You
can only zoom in 2X (with no steps in between), and while it's fast,
scrolling around with only left/right buttons is frustrating. I
wish they could fit a four-way switch on these cameras.
A10/A20 can move between high-res photos almost instantly on the
LCD -- it's impressive. While some extra information is shown on
the LCD, you won't know the shutter speed and aperture used to take
the shot, though I'm not sure if the intended audience of these
cameras will notice.
Does it Compare?
Canon PowerShot A10 and A20 cameras are very competitive with similar
offerings from Fuji and Olympus. At $349 and $399 (average street
prices), they also represent excellent values. While I miss manual
controls and movie mode, the design, easy of use, and overall photo
quality make these two cameras great choices for someone looking
for a point-and-shoot digital camera.
design, easy to use
optical zoom on a < $400 camera
external lenses, underwater case unlike competition
I didn't care for:
rechargeable batteries included
could be better
are tons of cameras to compare these two against. Here's a brief
list: Fuji FinePix
1400 [1.3MP] and FinePix
2400 [2.1MP], Kodak
DX3600 [2.2MP], Nikon
Coolpix 775 [2.1MP], Olympus Brio
D-100 [1.3MP], D-490Z
[2.1MP], and D-510Z
[2.1MP], Sony DSC-P30
[1.3MP] and DSC-P50
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out
the PowerShot A10/A20 and its competitors before you buy!
how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos
in our A10 and A20
a second opinion? How about a third?