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DCRP Review: Canon PowerShot A2000 IS  
   

Front of the Canon PowerShot A2000 IS

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: December 2, 2008
Last Updated: December 30, 2011

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The Canon PowerShot A2000 ($229) is an entry-level camera with a pretty nice point-and-shoot feature set. The A2000 features a 6X optical zoom, image stabilization, a 3-inch LCD display, face detection, and plenty of scene modes. It also comes in a slimmer, more attractive body than its predecessor, the PowerShot A720.

Here's a comparison between the two:

Feature

PowerShot A720

PowerShot A2000 IS
Resolution 8.0 MP 10.0 MP
Optical zoom 6X 6X
Lens max. aperture F2.8 - F4.8 F3.2 - F5.9
Focal length (35 mm equiv.) 35 - 210 mm 36 - 216 mm
LCD size 2.5" 3.0"
LCD resolution 115,000 pixels 230,000 pixels
Optical viewfinder Yes No
Manual controls Full Slow shutter speeds, white balance
Auto redeye removal No Yes
Conversion lens support Yes No
Battery life
(CIPA standard, using two 2500 mAh NiMH cells)
400 shots 500 shots
Dimensions (W x H x D) 3.8 x 2.4 x 1.7 in. 4.0 x 2.5 x 1.3 in.
Weight 200 g 185 g

You take a few steps forward on the A2000 (larger/sharper screen, better battery life, redeye removal), but take even more back compared to the A720. The A2000's lens is slower, there are fewer manual controls, the optical viewfinder is gone, and conversion lenses are not supported.

Is the PowerShot A2000 IS a good choice for an entry-level, midzoom camera? Find out now in our review!

What's in the Box?

The PowerShot A2000 IS has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 14.7 effective Megapixel PowerShot A2000 digital camera
  • 32MB Secure Digital memory card
  • Two AA alkaline batteries
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • A/V cable
  • CD-ROM featuring Canon Digital Camera Solution
  • 147 page camera manual (printed)

Canon includes a 32MB Secure Digital card with the PowerShot A2000. That holds just six photos at the highest quality setting, so you'll want to buy a larger memory card right away. The A2000 supports a myriad of memory card formats, including SD, SDHC, MMC, MMCplus, and HC MMCplus. I'd suggest sticking with SD and SDHC, and I recommend getting a 2GB card to start with. While buying a high speed memory card doesn't hurt, you certainly don't need to go overboard.

Like all the cameras in the PowerShot A-series, the A2000 uses AA batteries for power. You'll find two alkaline batteries in the box, which will quickly find their way into your recycling bin. I suggest buying a set or two of NiMH rechargeable batteries (2500 mAh is good) plus a fast charger. You'll save money, and the environment. Here's how the A2000 compares to other cameras in its class in terms of battery life:

Camera Battery life, LCD on
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Canon PowerShot A2000 * 500 shots 2 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Fuji FinePix J150w 150 shots NP-45
GE E1050 200 shots GB-40
Kodak EasyShare Z1085 IS */** 250 shots KLIC-8000
Nikon Coolpix S560 * 160 shots EN-EL11
Olympus FE-370 * 200 shots LI-60B
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10 * 460 shots 2 x 2600 mAh NiMH
Pentax Optio V20 200 shots D-LI78
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W170 * 390 shots NP-BG1

* Has image stabilization
** Also supports lithium AA and CR-V3 batteries

Battery life numbers are provided by the camera manufacturers

As you can see, the PowerShot A2000 wins the battery life competition fairly easily. It, along with the Panasonic LZ10, are the only two cameras that use AA batteries. The Kodak Z1085 can use lithium AA and CR-V3 batteries, neither of which are rechargeable. As you know, I'm a fan of cameras that use AAs, as they're cheaper than their proprietary counterparts, and you can buy regular alkaline batteries in emergencies.

Canon PowerShot A2000 in the hand

The PowerShot A2000 IS has a built-in lens cover, so there's no clunky lens cap to deal with.

The A2000 is a bit of a departure from previous A-series models, in that it doesn't support many accessories. And that's a disappointment to this long-time A-series fan. Here's what is available:

Accessory Model # Price * Why you want it
External slave flash HF-DC1

From $95

Attaches via the tripod mount and fires when the onboard flash does
Battery/charger kit CBK4-300 From $40 Contains four NiMH batteries and a charger
AC adapter ACK800 From $38 Power the camera without wasting your batteries
Soft camera case PSC-500 $13 Protect your camera from the elements
* Prices were accurate when review was published

If you go back and look at my PowerShot A720 review, you'll see just how much things have changed in the accessories department -- and not for the better.


CameraWindow in Mac OS X

Canon includes version 35 of their Digital Camera Solution Disk with the PowerShot A2000 IS. The first part of the Browser software that you'll probably encounter is Camera Window (pictured above), which is used to download photos from your camera.


ImageBrowser in Mac OS X

Once that's done you'll find yourself in either ImageBrowser or ZoomBrowser, which are for Mac and Windows, respectively. The Browser software lets you view, organize, e-mail, and print your photos. If you categorized any photos on the camera (more on this later), then this information is transferred into the Browser software.


ImageBrowser edit window in Mac OS X

Double-click on a thumbnail and you'll bring up the edit window. Editing functions include trimming, redeye removal, and the ability to adjust levels, color, brightness, sharpness, and the tone curve. There's also an auto adjustment option for those who want a quick fix.


PhotoStitch in Mac OS X

A separate program called PhotoStitch can combine photos you've taken side-by-side into a single panorama. While the A2000 lacks Canon's Stitch Assist function, if you line up your photos carefully, you should still be able to get some nice panoramas.

Canon includes a good-sized, printed manual with the PowerShot A2000 IS. It seems a bit more user friendly than previous manuals, with a handy "What Do You Want to Do?" section at the beginning, to quickly guide you to the camera's most important functions. There's still some fine print here and there, but it does seem better than it used to be. Manuals covering software installation and direct printing (via PictBridge) are also included.

Look and Feel

The PowerShot A2000 IS has a much sleeker look than its predecessor, the A720. It no longer has the protruding grip of that camera, though it results in a camera that's more difficult to hold. Despite being made entirely of plastic, the A2000 is well put together, with sturdy doors and a metal tripod mount. Ergonomics are pretty good overall, though I found that my thumb often ended up resting on the LCD display, thus leaving fingerprints. The button layout is a bit cluttered, as well.

Unlike its little brother -- the PowerShot A1000 -- the A2000 IS comes in just one color scheme. I rather like the two-toned gray look, don't you?

Okay, here's how the A2000 compares to similar cameras in terms of size and weight:

Camera Dimensions (W x H x D, excluding protrusions) Volume (bulk) Mass (empty)
Canon PowerShot A2000 IS 4.0 x 2.5 x 1.3 in. 13 cu in. 185 g
Fujifilm FinePix J150w 3.6 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 7.5 cu in. 146 g
GE E1050 3.6 x 2.2 x 0.9 in. 7.1 cu in. 145 g
Kodak EasyShare Z1085 IS 3.5 x 2.5 x 1.5 in. 13.1 cu in. 164 g
Nikon Coolpix S560 3.7 x 2.1 x 0.9 in. 7 cu in. 130 g
Olympus FE-370 3.7 x 2.2 x 0.9 in. 7.3 cu in. 128 g
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10 3.8 x 2.4 x 1.3 in. 11.9 cu in. 141 g
Pentax Optio V20 3.8 x 2.2 x 0.9 in. 7.5 cu in. 130 g
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W170 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 7.7 cu in. 142 g

I already showed you in the introduction that the A2000 is both smaller and lighter than its predecessor. In this group of entry-level midrange zoom cameras, however, the A2000 is one of the larger cameras out there.

Ready to tour the PowerShot A2000 now? Let's begin:

Front of the Canon PowerShot A2000

The PowerShot A2000 IS uses a different lens than the A720 that came before it. While both are 6X lenses, the one on the A2000 is slower and offers slightly more telephoto power. The biggest change is the maximum aperture: the A720's lens had a range of F2.8 - F4.8, while the A2000's is F3.2 - F5.9. What that means in real life is that the A2000's lens brings in a lot less light, which means slower shutter speeds, and and you'll have to raise the ISO or use the flash to compensate for that. The focal range of the lens is 6.4 - 38.4 mm, which is equivalent to 36 - 216 mm, up slightly from 35 - 210 mm on the A720. Another change from the A720 is that the A2000 does not support conversion lenses.

One thing that hasn't changed is the A2000's lens-based optical image stabilization system. Sensors inside the camera detect the tiny movements of your hands which can blur your photos, especially at the telephoto end of the lens, or in low light situations. The camera then shifts one of the lens elements to compensate for this motion, allowing for a sharp photo (or at least, a higher likelihood of one). It won't let you take handheld 1 second exposures, nor will it freeze a moving subject, but it's a lot better than having nothing at all. Here's an example of the image stabilization system in action:


Image stabilization off


Image stabilization on

I took both of the photos you see above at a shutter speed of 1/6 second. As you can see, the image stabilization system was able to produce a sharper photo. You can also use IS in movie mode, as illustrated by this brief video clip.

To the upper-right of the lens is the A2000's built-in flash. The working range of the flash is 0.3 - 3.5 m at wide-angle and 0.5 - 2.0 m at telephoto (at Auto ISO), which is average. If you want more flash power and a smaller chance of redeye, you might want to consider the slave flash that I mentioned in the accessories section.

Moving to the opposite side of the lens now, we find the camera's microphone and AF-assist lamp. The AF-assist lamp is used as a focus aid in low light situations. The lamp is also used for redeye reduction, and it serves as a visual countdown for the self-timer.

Back of the Canon PowerShot A2000 IS

Canon has upsized the LCD on the PowerShot A2000 IS, giving it a 3-inch screen (up from 2.5" on the A720). Not only is the screen larger than on the A720 -- it's sharper, too. The screen has 230,000 pixels, so everything's pretty sharp. Outdoor visibility was decent, and low light viewing was very good, with the screen brightening in those situations (though things may be a bit grainy). One thing that I didn't care for about this LCD was the limited viewing angle -- you really need to be looking at it straight on.

When Canon put the larger screen on the A2000, they took away the optical viewfinder that's been a standard feature on all previous A-series models. If you want this feature (and I know some of you do), then you may want to see out an A590 or A720, both of which are still available at the time this review was written.

Now let's talk about all those buttons that are located to the right of the LCD. Starting at the top, we find the button for entering playback mode, with the camera's speaker to its left.


You'll see this menu when you're connected to a Mac or PC

Under that we have the Face Select and Print/Share buttons. The former lets you select a face in the frame, and have the camera track that person as they move around the frame (more on face detection in a bit). The Print/Share button is customizable when you're taking pictures, and it has dedicated functions when you're connected to a computer or printer. For computers, it lets you select which photos are transferred over (and you can even choose a picture to be your desktop background). If you're hooked up to a printer, this button let's you print the selected photo.

To the left of the viewfinder is the Print/Share button, which is customizable (I'll tell you what functions can be assigned to it later in the review). Also, when you're plugged into a computer or printer, the button allows you to transfer photos to your PC or select photos for printing.

Under those is the camera's four-way controller, which is used for navigating menus, replaying photos, and also:

  • Up - ISO (Auto, Hi Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600)
  • Down - Drive (Single-shot, continuous, 2 or 10 sec self-timer, custom self-timer) - see below
  • Left - Focus (Normal, macro, infinity)
  • Right - Flash (Off, auto, on)
  • Center - Function menu + Set

As you can see, there are two Auto ISO options on the PowerShot A2000. The difference is simple: the "Hi Auto" option will use higher sensitivities than the regular Auto mode.

Now it's time to talk about the continuous shooting and self-timer options on the PowerShot A2000. In continuous shooting mode, the A2000 can keep shooting away at 1.3 frames/second, until your memory card is full (high speed card recommended). The LCD blacks out briefly between each shot. The camera has two "standard" self-timer modes, plus a custom option which lets you manually select the delay and the number of shots taken.


Function menu

Pressing the center button on the four-way controller options up the Function menu, which has these options:

  • Exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV, in 1/3EV increments) + long shutter speed (1 - 15 sec)
  • White balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, fluorescent H, custom) - see below
  • My Colors (Off, vivid, neutral, sepia, black & white, custom color) - see below
  • Metering (Evaluative, center-weighted, spot)
  • Compression (see chart later in review)
  • Resolution (see chart later in review)

You'll find both of the A2000's manual controls in the Function menu. First is the long shutter speed option, which lets you select a shutter speed between 1 and 15 seconds -- perfect for night shots. To get to this option, select exposure compensation and then press the Display button.

The PowerShot A2000's custom white balance option lets you use a white or gray card, for accurate color in any lighting. This will come in handy when you're shooting in unusual lighting conditions, like I do in many of the test shots later in the review.


Sharpness is one of the settings you can adjust with the Custom Color option

The My Colors feature should be self-explanatory, save for the custom option. This one lets you manually adjust contrast, sharpness, and color saturation. For those keeping track at home, that's fewer options than on Canon's more expensive cameras, not that the A2000's target audience will mind.

The last two items on the back of the PowerShot A2000 IS are the DIsplay and Menu buttons. The former toggles what's shown on the LCD, while the latter does exactly as it sounds.

Top of the Canon PowerShot A2000

Right in the middle of the photo you see above is the PowerShot A2000's power button. Right next to it is the mode dial, which has these options:

Option Function
Movie mode More on this later
Special Scene mode Pick the situation and the camera uses the appropriate settings. Choose from night scene, sunset, foliage, snow, beach, fireworks, aquarium, ISO 3200
Indoor More scene modes
Kids & Pets
Night snapshot
Landscape
Portrait
Easy mode VERY basic, with the only option being flash on or off!
Auto mode Fully automatic, most camera settings locked up
Program mode Still automatic, but with full menu access

Not to sound like a broken record, but I must point out that the A2000 has been stripped down to a mostly point-and-shoot camera. Gone are the manual exposure modes from the A720 and the cameras that came before it. If you like scene modes, there are plenty to choose from (though where's the sports mode?). One scene mode I'd skip is the ISO 3200 mode, which boosts the sensitivity to 3200 while cutting the resolution to 1600 x 1200 -- the quality is going to be pretty lousy.

To the right mode the mode dial is the shutter release button, which has the zoom controller wrapped around it. The controller moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in about 1.4 seconds. I counted fourteen steps in the camera's 6X zoom range.

Side of the Canon PowerShot A2000

The only thing to see on this side of the A2000 is its speaker. The lens is at the full wide-angle position here.

Side of the Canon PowerShot A2000

On the other side of the A2000 are its I/O ports, which are under a plastic cover of average quality. The ports here include USB + A/V out (one port for both) and DC-in (for the optional AC adapter). As with all Canon cameras, the A2000 supports the USB 2.0 High Speed standard.

The lens is at the full telephoto position here.

Bottom of the Canon PowerShot A2000

Our tour ends with a look at the bottom of the camera. Here you'll find a metal tripod mount (yay) and the battery/memory card compartment. The door over this compartment is fairly sturdy, and includes a locking mechanism. It doesn't take a Ph.D. to figure out that you won't be able to get at the memory card slot while the camera is on a tripod.

Using the Canon PowerShot A2000 IS

Record Mode

It takes the camera about 1.2 seconds to extend its lens and prepare for shooting. That's not too shabby for an entry-level camera with a fairly large lens to extend.


No live histograms here

Focusing performance was good in most respects. At the wide end of the lens, you can expect to wait for between 0.2 and 0.4 seconds for the camera to lock focus. At the telephoto end, focus times are more like 0.6 to 1.0 seconds. Low light focusing was pretty good most of the time, with focus times typically hovering around a full second in those situations.

Shutter lag wasn't a problem at fast shutter speeds, though at slower shutter speeds (where you should really be using the flash anyway), I noticed a very brief delay before the photo was taken.

If you're not using the flash, you'll wait about 1.5 seconds before you can take another photo. If you are using it, be prepared for a 4 or even 5 second wait before you can take the next shot -- that's quite slow.

You can delete the photo you just took by pressing "down" on the four-way controller. If you've got the "focus check" option selected in the record menu, the camera will enlarge the focus point or faces it detected when it replays the photo.

Now, here's a look at the image size and quality choices available on the camera:

Resolution Quality Approx. file size # images on 32MB card (included) # images on 2GB card (optional)
Large
3648 x 2736
Super fine 4.2 MB 6 448
Fine 2.5 MB 11 749
Normal 1.2 MB 23 1536
Wide (16:9)
3648 x 2048
Super fine 3.2 MB 8 596
Fine 1.9 MB 15 1007
Normal 918 KB 31 2048
Medium 1
2816 x 2112
Super fine 2.7 MB 10 714
Fine 1.6 MB 17 111
Normal 780 KB 37 2363
Medium 2
2272 x 1704
Super fine 2.0 MB 14 960
Fine 1.1 MB 26 1707
Normal 556 KB 52 3235
Medium 3
1600 x 1200
Super fine 1002 KB 29 1862
Fine 558 KB 52 3235
Normal 278 KB 99 6146
Small
640 x 480
Super fine 249 KB 111 6830
Fine 150 KB 171 10245
Normal 84 KB 270 15368

The chart above illustrates why I recommended buying a larger memory card back at the beginning of the review! There's one more image size that I didn't list in that table, and it's called date stamp. As its name implies, this mode lets you print the date on your photo. In fact, this is the only setting at which you can do so. Date stamp is equivalent to Medium 3 / Normal quality. Why Canon won't let you put the date on photos of any resolution is beyond me.

Not surprisingly, the RAW and TIFF image formats are not supported on the PowerShot A2000 IS.

Images are named IMG_xxxx.JPG, where x = 0001 - 9999. The file numbering is maintained even if you replace and/or format memory cards.

Now, onto the menus!

The PowerShot A2000 IS has the standard Canon menu system. In record mode you'll find two tabs: one for recording options, the other for setup. If you're in Auto mode you may not see all of these options, and if you're in Easy mode, you can't even get into the menu. With that said, here's the full list of items in the record menu:

  • AF frame (Face Detect, AiAF, Center) - see below
  • AF frame size (Normal, small) - see below
  • AF-point zoom (on/off) - enlarges the focus point or the selected faces
  • Digital zoom (Off, 1.4X, 2.3X, Standard) - see below
  • Flash settings
    • Slow synchro (on/off)
    • Redeye correction (on/off) - digital redeye removal, as the photo is taken
    • Redeye reduction lamp (on/off) - uses the AF-assist lamp to reduce redeye
  • Custom self-timer
    • Delay (0-10, 15, 20, 30 secs)
    • Shots (1-10)
  • AF-assist beam (on/off)
  • Review (Off, 2-10 seconds, hold) - post-shot review
  • Review info (Off, detailed, focus check) - detailed shows you shooting data and a histogram; focus check enlarges the focus point or faces
  • Auto category (on/off) - photos are automatically categorized based on the scene mode they were taken in; more on this later
  • Display overlay (Off, grid lines, 3:2 guide, both)
  • IS mode (Continuous, shoot only, panning, off) - see below
  • Set Print/Share button (Off, exposure compensation, white balance, custom white balance, redeye correction, digital teleconverter, grid lines, display off) - define what this button does
The camera locked onto five of the six faces The two focus point sizes available

Let's start our discussion of some of the menu items with the A2000's three focus mode options. The first is Face Detection, a feature every camera must have these days. The A2000 can find up to six faces in the frame, and it will make sure that they are properly focused and exposed. You can use the Face Select & Track feature to follow a specific face as they move around the frame. Canon's face detection system has always performed well, and the A2000 had very little trouble locking onto five of the six faces in our test scene. The next focus mode is AiAF, which is a 9-point autofocus system. If the camera can't find any faces with face detection, it uses AiAF. The final focus mode is center focus, and you can select from a normal or small focus point.

A quick note about the A2000's digital zoom features now. Canon calls the 1.4X and 2.3X options a "digital teleconverter" -- it's basically just fixed digital zoom. The Standard option is what you'll find on every camera - you can select whatever amount of digital zoom that you want. The Safety Zoom feature warns you when you pass the point where image quality is degraded. When you're shooting at the highest resolution that starts as soon as digital zoom kicks in, but if you're using a lower resolution you can more of it. At the M3 (1600 x 1200) picture size you can get a total of 14X zoom without any loss in image quality.

The Auto Category feature assigns one of the standard photo categories (people, scenery, events) to a photo based on what scene mode you used to take the picture. You can edit these -- or manually assign a category -- in playback mode.

What are those three IS modes all about? Continuous mode activates the OIS system as soon as you halfway press the shutter release, which helps you compose the photo without camera shake. The "shoot only" option doesn't turn it on until the photo is actually taken, which improves the performance of the OIS system. The panning mode only stabilizes up and down motion, and you'll want to use this while tracking a moving subject horizontally. You can also turn the whole thing off, which is advisable if you're using a tripod.

Here's what you'll find in the setup tab of the menu:

  • Mute (on/off) - quickly turn off the camera's beeps and blips
  • Volume
    • Startup volume (Off, 1-5)
    • Operation volume (Off, 1-5)
    • Self-timer volume (Off, 1-5)
    • Shutter volume (Off, 1-5)
    • Playback volume (Off, 1-5)
  • Startup image (on/off)
  • LCD brightness (1-5)
  • Power saving
    • Auto power down (on/off)
    • Display off (10, 20, 30 sec, 1-3 min
  • Date/time
  • Card format
  • File numbering (Continuous, auto reset)
  • Create folder
    • Create new folder - on the memory card
    • Auto create (Off, daily, weekly, monthly) - this new features will automatically create new folders on the memory card at set intervals
  • Auto rotate (on/off) - camera will automatically rotate portrait photos on the LCD
  • Lens retract (1 min, 0 secs) - how quickly the lens retracts when you switch to playback mode
  • Language
  • Video system (NTSC, PAL)
  • Print Method (Auto, PictBridge)
  • Reset all - back to defaults

That just about does it for menus -- let's talk about photo quality now!

Our macro test shot turned out very well. The colors are spot on, and are nicely saturated, too. The subject has Canon's trademark "smooth" appearance, but I wouldn't go as far as to call it soft. I don't see anything resembling noise or noise reduction artifacting in this photo, nor would I expect to.

While the PowerShot A2000 lets you be just 1 cm away from your subject in macro mode, you can only do so at the wide end of the lens. In order to use macro mode, the lens must be positioned between the 1X and (roughly) 2.5X position.

The night shot looks pretty good, though I now see that it could've used an extra second or two of exposure. The best way to take photos like this is to use the long shutter speed option, which is accessible via the Function menu. That feature lets you select a shutter speed between one and fifteen seconds. Aside from being a little dark, you can see some detail loss due to noise reduction, though this shouldn't keep you from making a large print at this sensitivity (ISO 80). The A2000 does a good job at keeping purple fringing under control.

Now, let's use that same scene and see how the A2000 does at higher ISOs in low light. Do note that I can only take the ISO up to 400, due to the lack of full shutter speed control. Here we go:


ISO 80

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

There's a slight increase in detail loss when you go from ISO 80 to 100, but it's still a fairly clean image for a 10 Megapixel camera. Things start to go south at ISO 200, with noise and noise reduction artifacting becoming quite evident. Ideally, this is as high as you want to take the PowerShot A2000 in very low light conditions. The ISO 400 shot has lost a lot of detail, so I'd save this one for desperation only (and don't bother with anything above that).

We'll see if the A2000 does any better in normal lighting in a moment.

There's mild-to-moderate barrel distortion at the wide end of the PowerShot A2000's 6X zoom lens. To see this in real life, look no further than this photo (check out the building on the right). There's no sign of corner blurriness, and I spotted a tiny amount of vignetting (darkened corners) here and there.

Canon has taken a two-pronged approach to redeye removal on the A2000. You can have it use the AF-assist lamp to shrink the size of your subject's pupils (which isn't new), and you can also have the camera digitally remove any redeye that it finds (this is new). I had both systems turned on and, as you can see, no redeye!

Now it's time for our second ISO test, which is taken in the studio. Thus, it's comparable between cameras I've reviewed over the years. While the crops below give you a quick idea as to the noise performance at each sensitivity, I highly recommend viewing the full size images as well. Ready?


ISO 80

ISO 100

ISO 200


ISO 400


ISO 800

ISO 1600

There's really very little difference between the ISO 80, 100, and 200 photos -- and that's good news. We start to see the effects of noise and noise reduction at ISO 400, with details starting to get eaten away. This will reduce your maximum print size to small or midsize. ISO 800 is fairly noisy, so this one's for emergencies only. There's far too much detail loss at ISO 1600 for me to recommend using that setting.

Overall, the PowerShot A2000 IS produced very good photos for an entry-level camera. Photos were well-exposed, with minimal clipping of highlights (well, except for here). Colors were both accurate and saturated, and sharpness was just how I like it -- not too sharp, not too soft. In good lighting and at lower ISOs, you shouldn't have much of a problem with noise. If you "pixel peep" you can spot a little noise reduction on solid areas of color (like the sky), but that will blend away when you downsize or print the photos. In low light, you will face noise reduction artifacting once you get to ISO 200, so don't expect miracles in those situations. The A2000 controls purple fringing exceptionally well -- it's not a problem.

Don't just take my word for all this, though. Have a look at our photo gallery, maybe printing a few of the photos if you can. Then you should be able to decide if the PowerShot A2000's photo quality meets your expectations.

Movie Mode

The PowerShot A2000 IS has the standard Canon movie mode (and not the more modern one used on late 2008 cameras). This allows you to record VGA quality video (640 x 480, 30 fps) until the file size reaches 4GB. That takes about 32 minutes at the highest quality setting. There's also a "long play" option (which just compressed the video a bit more), which lets you record up to an hour of continuous video.

For smaller file sizes and longer movies, you can reduce the image size to 320 x 240 (still at 30 fps). You can record up to an hour of continuous video at that setting. An even smaller movie size is also available -- 160 x 120 at 15 fps -- though you can record just 3 minutes at that setting.

You cannot use the zoom lens during filming (it will be locked when you start filming). You can, however, use the digital zoom. As you'd expect, the image stabilizer is active during movie recording.

Movies are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec.

Here's a sample movie for you:


Click to play movie (25 MB, 640 x 480, 30 fps, QuickTime format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.

Playback Mode

The PowerShot A2000 has a pretty nice playback mode. Basic features include slideshows, image protection, DPOF print marking, voice captions, thumbnail view, and zoom & scroll. This last feature will enlarge the image by as much as ten times, and let you move around. You can press the Func/Set button on the back of the camera to lock the current zoom & scroll setting, and then use the left/right buttons to move from image to image. You can also use the Focus Check feature here, which enlarges the focus point or the faces that were detected in the photo.

Photos can be rotated, resized, and cropped right on the camera. If there's any redeye in your photos, you'll find a tool to remove it here. Unfortunately, there are no movie editing features available on the A2000.


Selecting a category

Photos that were taken in certain scene modes are automatically categorized, but if you want to do it manually, just use the My Category option. Your selection is transferred to your computer along with the photo.

The camera's "jump" feature lets you quickly move through photos in increments of 10 or 100, by what category they're in, or by date. You can also use the jump feature to quickly find movies you've recorded.

By default you won't get much information about your photo while in playback mode. But press the Display button and you'll get more info, including a histogram.

The A2000 moves through images at a decent clip, with a delay of under a second between each one. Like most of Canon's cameras, when you rotate the camera 90 degrees, the photo on the LCD rotates too.

How Does it Compare?

There are two ways in which you can look at the Canon PowerShot A2000 IS. As an inexpensive camera with a decent amount of features, it's pretty good. However, compared to its predecessors (A710, A720), it's a disappointment. Canon has stripped out nearly all of the features that made that camera so great -- manual controls, expandability, and an optical viewfinder. Despite that, the A2000 is a very good choice for those who want an inexpensive (~$200) camera with a midrange zoom lens and optical image stabilization. Let's just hope that Canon offers a true replacement for the A720 in the near future.

The PowerShot A2000 IS has a much slimmer, sleeker look than its predecessor. While it undoubtedly looks better than the PowerShot A720, the A2000 isn't as easy to hold. And, unless you have "micro thumbs", odds are that you'll be smudging the LCD when you hold the camera. Despite being made entirely of plastic, the A2000 is well put together, with sturdy doors and a metal tripod mount. While the A2000's lens remains at 6X -- as it was on the A720 -- it's a much "slower" lens, with a maximum aperture range of F3.2-5.9. In layman's terms, that means that the lens lets in a lot less light than the F2.8-4.8 lens on the PowerShot A720. One thing that hasn't changed is that the A2000 has an optical image stabilization system, which reduces the risk of blurry photos. It can also be used to "smooth out" your video recordings. On the back of the camera is a 3-inch LCD display, which is both larger and higher resolution than the 2.5" screen on the A720. The screen has decent outdoor visibility (though the viewing angle stinks) and very good low light viewing. Unfortunately, when the larger LCD got added, the optical viewfinder got taken away. Something else you won't find on the A2000 is support for conversion lenses, which were offered on the cameras that came before it.

While the PowerShot A710 and A720 had full manual controls, the new A2000 IS has been turned into a point-and-shoot camera (with two exceptions). The A2000 offers an automatic mode, plus several scene modes (though how about a sports mode?). There's also the requisite face detection feature, which works very well. One feature I do like is automatic redeye removal, which digital removes this annoyance as a photo is taken. The only manual controls on the camera are for white balance and long shutter speeds, though that's better than none at all. The A2000 has a pretty standard movie mode, allowing for up to one hour of continuous video recording at 640 x 480 (30 fps).

Camera performance was very good, except when you're using the flash. The A2000 starts up in 1.2 seconds, which is decent for a camera in its class. Focusing speeds were good in most situations, with low light being the only time where the camera slowed down a bit. Even then, focus times typically hung around one second. Shutter lag wasn't a problem in most situations, though I noticed a tiny bit of it at slow shutter speeds. Shot-to-shot speeds are fine if you're not using the flash, but if you are, be prepared to wait 4 or 5 seconds before you can take the next shot. The A2000's continuous shooting mode won't break any speed records, but it does allow you to keep firing away at 1.3 fps until you memory card is full. When using NiMH rechargeable batteries (which I highly recommend), the A2000's battery life is the best in its class.

The A2000's photo quality was very good for an entry-level camera. Photos were well-exposed, with accurate, vibrant (but not over-the-top) color. In terms of sharpness, things were just right: not too sharp, not too soft. In good lighting, noise doesn't really become an issue until you pass ISO 400. You'll see a little noise reduction artifacting before then, but it's details are left intact. The camera doesn't perform quite as well in low light. The combination of a slow lens and noise reduction lead to photos that noticeably drop in quality by the time you reach ISO 200. The A2000 does a good job at keeping purple fringing at bay, and the auto redeye removal means that this annoyance shouldn't plague your photos.

In conclusion, I like the PowerShot A2000 IS -- it's a good choice in the entry-level, midzoom category, and I can recommend it, as long as you're not a big low light shooter. As I've said throughout this review, the PowerShot A2000 is definitely a step down from the A720 that came before it. I can only hope that Canon gets the message and releases something in the near future with manual controls, conversion lens support, and an optical viewfinder that made the A720 so great.

What I liked:

  • Very good photo quality (in good light)
  • Good value for the money
  • 6X optical zoom lens in a relatively compact body
  • Optical image stabilization
  • 3-inch LCD with good low light visibility (but see issues below)
  • Redeye not a problem thanks to automatic removal tool
  • Well implemented face detection feature
  • Can record up to an hour of VGA quality video
  • Uses AA batteries; excellent battery life with optional NiMH batteries

What I didn't care for:

  • A real step down from the PowerShot A720 (for reasons described above)
  • Lots of noise reduction in low light; images get noisy in good light after ISO 400
  • Flash is slow to charge
  • Slow lens (in terms of max aperture)
  • LCD has poor viewing angle
  • No optical viewfinder
  • Fewer manual controls than its predecessor
  • Can't swap memory cards while using a tripod

Some other cameras worth considering include the Fuji FinePix J150w, GE E1050, Kodak EasyShare Z1085 IS, Nikon Coolpix S560, Olympus FE-370, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10, Pentax Optio V20, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W170.

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the PowerShot A2000 IS and its competitors before you buy!

Photo Gallery

See how the photos turned out in our gallery!

Feedback & Discussion

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If you have a question about this review, please send them to Jeff. Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for a personal recommendation.