printer-friendly reviews are for non-commercial use only

DCRP Review: Canon PowerShot A620
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: October 24, 2005
Last Updated: December 31, 2011

The Canon PowerShot A620 is the long-awaited update to the very popular PowerShot A95 (see our review). The 7.1 Megapixel A620 ($399), along with its 5.0 Megapixel sibling (the A610, $299) have a host of improvements over the A95, including:

The PowerShot A95 (and the A80 before it) were huge sellers for Canon. Is the PowerShot A620 a worthy successor? Find out in our review!

What's in the Box?

The PowerShot A620 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

Canon puts a 32MB SD card in the box with the A620, which is the size typically included with cameras these days. Unfortunately that size is too small, so a larger card is a must. I'd recommend a 512MB card as a good starter size. While the camera supports both SD and MMC cards, SD cards are recommended. The A620 takes advantage of high speed SD cards, so it's worth paying a little more for those (60X or faster, preferably).

The PowerShot A620 uses four AA batteries, and Canon gives you alkaline cells in the box. These will quickly end up in the trash, so do yourself a favor and buy a four-pack of NiMH rechargeables (2300 mAh or better) plus a fast charger. Here's how the A620 compares to some other cameras in its class in terms of battery life:

Camera Battery life, LCD on
(CIPA standard)
Battery Used
Canon PowerShot A95 400 shots 2300 mAh NIMH
Canon PowerShot A610/620 500 shots 2300 mAh NIMH
Casio Exilim EX-P700 200 shots NP-40 li-ion
Fuji FinePix E550 200 shots 2300 mAh NIMH
HP Photosmart R817 250 shots R07 li-ion
Kodak EasyShare Z760 185 shots KLIC-5000 li-ion
Nikon Coolpix L1 230 shots unknown NiMH
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ2 390 shots unknown NiMH
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W7 380 shots 2100 mAh NIMH

There were a few other cameras I wanted to put on that list, but certain manufacturers (cough, Olympus) don't like to publish battery life info for their products! Anyhow, the A620 trounces the competition, as you can see.

There's a built-in lens cover on the A620 so there is no lens cap to worry about.

The PowerShot A620 supports more accessories than most cameras in this class. Here's the full list:

Accessory Model # Price Why you want it
Wide-angle lens WC-DC58N $145 Brings the wide end of the lens down by 0.7X to 24.5 mm; requires conversion lens adapter
Telephoto lens TC-DC58N $100 Boosts focal range by 1.75X to 245 mm; requires conversion lens adapter
Conversion lens adapter LA-DC58F $25 Required for conversion lenses; you can attach standard 58mm filters to it as well
External slave flash HF-DC1 $110 Get better flash photos and less redeye; do note that this is a slave flash, which means that it fires when the onboard flash does
Underwater case WP-DC90 $180 Take your A620 up to 40 meters underwater!
AC adapter ACK600 $50 Power the camera without wasting your batteries
Battery/charger kit CBK4-200 $43 Includes four 2300 mAh NiMH batteries and a charger
Carrying case SC-PS600 ?? Protect your camera when it's not in use

Not bad, eh? Conversion lenses, an underwater case, and more!


ImageBrowser (Mac OS X)

Canon includes version 26 of their very good Digital Camera Solutions software with the PowerShot A620. Included in this package are ZoomBrowser (for Windows)/ImageBrowser (for Mac), PhotoStitch (for making panoramic photos), plus TWAIN and WIA drivers for Windows. Zoom/ImageBrowser can be used for downloading images from your camera, basic editing of your photos, and photo printing.


RemoteCapture

The RemoteCapture feature in the Browser software lets you control the A620 right from your Mac or PC. Just plug in the USB connection and the software does the rest. You can change any setting that's available on the camera using the software, and photos are saved on your hard drive instead of the memory card. Do note that the RemoteCapture feature is not available on the "lesser" PowerShot A610.


ArcSoft PhotoStudio 4.3 for Mac OS X

Also included is ArcSoft PhotoStudio (v 4.3 for Mac, v5.5 for Windows), which is kind of like a "light" version of Adobe Photoshop. It's not bad, though I miss all the bells and whistles of the newer PhotoImpression software that's available these days (which Canon used to include).

Canon has retooled their manuals a bit on their most recent cameras. There's a basic manual which will get you up and shooting quickly. For more details you can open up the advanced manual, which should answer any question you might have. There are also separate manuals for the software and direct printing (PictBridge). While the manuals are complete, they could be a little more user friendly.

Look and Feel

The PowerShot A620 is a midsized camera made of a mix of plastic and metal. Build quality is very good, and noticeably better than the A510/520 twins. The camera fits well in your hand, with a large right hand grip. The A620 can be operated with just one hand.

Now, here's a look at how the A620 compares with other cameras in its class in terms of size and weight:

Camera Dimensions (W x H x D, excluding protrusions) Volume (bulk) Mass (empty)
Canon PowerShot A95 4.0 x 2.5 x 1.4 in. 14.0 cu in. 235 g
Canon PowerShot A520 3.6 x 2.5 x 1.5 in. 13.5 cu in. 180 g
Canon PowerShot A620 4.1 x 2.6 x 1.9 in. 20.3 cu in. 235 g
Casio Exilim EX-P700 3.8 x 2.7 x 1.8 in. 18.5 cu in. 223 g
Fuji FinePix E550 4.1 x 2.5 x 1.4 in. 14.4 cu in. 201 g
HP Photosmart R817 3.6 x 2.2 x 1.2 in. 9.5 cu in. 160 g
Kodak EasyShare Z760 4.0 x 2.7 x 1.6 in. 17.3 cu in. 219 g
Nikon Coolpix L1 3.5 x 2.4 x 1.9 in. 16.0 cu in. 180 g
Olympus SP-350 3.9 x 2.6 x 1.4 in. 14.2 cu in. 195 g
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ2 4.0 x 2.5 x 1.3 in. 13.0 cu in. 178 g
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W7 3.6 x 2.4 x 1.4 in. 12.1 cu in. 197 g

The A620 is actually larger than its predecessor, the A95. In fact, it's larger and heavier than everything in this class. I don't mind, though, it makes the camera feel more solid, more "upscale", if you will. The A620 is indeed too big to fit in a typical pocket, but it's still easy enough to carry around in a purse or bag.

Okay of that, let's start our tour of the A620 now.

As was the case with the A510 and A520, the A610/620 twins lens got a boost in this model year, from 3X on the A95 to 4X today. The focal length of this F2.8-F4.1 lens is 7.3 - 29.2 mm, which is equivalent to 35 - 140 mm. While the lens itself is not threaded, by purchasing the conversion lens adapter mentioned earlier you can attach conversion lenses and 58 mm filters. To attach any of those just press that button to the lower-right of the lens, remove the plastic ring, and then attach the lens adapter and lens/filter.

To the upper-right of the lens you'll find the A620's built-in flash. While the A510/520 have a "zoom flash" feature, the A610/620 do not. The working range of this flash is decent: 0.45 - 4.2 m at wide-angle and 0.45 - 3.0 m at telephoto (both at Auto ISO). While there's no hot shoe for flash sync port on the A620, you can attach Canon's external slave flash via the tripod mount, which provides more flash power and less redeye than the built-in flash.

To the left of the flash is the optical viewfinder, with the AF-assist lamp to the left of that. The AF-assist lamp, which helps the camera focus in low light conditions, is also used as the visual countdown for the self-timer.

Like the A80 and A95 before it, the PowerShot A620 features a flip-out, rotating LCD display. Unlike those two models, the A620's LCD is 2 inches in size. The resolution is exactly the same as on the old models: 115,000 pixels. Outdoor visibility is decent, and low light visibility is great. When light levels drop the screen "gains up" automatically so you can still see your subject. Canon has implemented this feature very well.

If you're new to digital cameras you may be wondering why anyone would want a rotating LCD. Well, here's why: it allows you to take pictures over people in front of you. It allows for ground-level shots of kids and pets. And finally, it allows for self-portraits since the screen can rotate all the way around until it's facing you. The LCD can also be in the "normal position" (see below) or closed altogether.

Here's the LCD in the traditional position. Above it is the camera's optical viewfinder, which is average-sized. As you can see, it lacks a diopter correction knob, which is used to focus what you're looking at.

To the lower-right of the viewfinder is the mode switch, which selects between playback and record mode. Below that you'll find buttons for exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV in 1/3EV increments) + delete photo as well as Print/Share.


Direct Transfer menu

Pressing the Print/Share button does two things. When connected to a PictBridge-enabled photo printer, you can make prints right from the camera. If you hook into a Mac or PC, you'll be able to transfer photos and even select your computer's desktop picture, all right from the camera.

Below those two buttons is the four-way controller, which is used for menu navigation, setting manual controls, and also:


Manual focus

The manual focus feature lets you use the four-way controller to select a focus distance. A guide showing the focus distance is displayed on the top of the LCD, and the center of the frame is enlarged so you can make sure that everything is sharp.


Function menu

Pressing the center button in the four-way controller opens up the Function menu, which has the following options:

The PowerShot A620 has a full set of manual controls, including a custom white balance function. This lets you use a white or gray card as a reference so you can get perfect color even under the most unusual lighting conditions.

The A620 has the same unlimited continuous shooting mode as Canon's other DIGIC II equipped cameras. With a high speed SD card you can keep taking photos at about 1.9 frames/second until the card is full, which is quite good. There's just a slight "pause" on the LCD between shots, but you should still be able to track a moving subject using it.

The custom self-timer feature allows you to choose the number of photos taken (1 to 10) as well as the delay between shots (0 to 30 seconds).

The photo effects are quick and dirty ways to change the color or sharpness of your photos. For more fun there's the My Colors feature which I'll describe below.


Using the My Colors "Color Swap" feature

The My Colors feature lets you do all kinds of fun stuff right on your camera. In case you go overboard the camera will save the original image for you (if you like). Here's everything you can do with this feature, using some examples from my past reviews.

The positive film option will make colors (more specifically, red, blue, and green) more vivid. You can also intensify each of those colors individually by selecting the appropriate menu options. The two skin tone options should be self-explanatory.

Normal shot Color accent using the green color on The Body Shop sign
(Examples from the SD500)

The color accent feature will turn your image to black and white, except for the color which you've selected (see above). To select the color you point the camera at the color you want to sample and then press the four-way controller. You can fine tune the selected color by pressing up/down on the four-way controller, but it didn't make a huge different in my testing. For this option as well as the next two, the camera gives you a preview of what it's about to do before you take the photo.


You can see what I did here using the Color Swap feature (example from the SD400)

The color swap feature does just as it sounds: you can exchange one color for another. Want to see how your car looks in red? Well, select your car's color first and then find something red, and the rest is history.

The custom color option lets you adjust the intensity of reds, greens, blues, and skin tones.

I've finally finished telling you about everything the four-way controller can do, so now I can mention the two final buttons on the back of the A620. They are for Display (toggles what is shown on the LCD) and for entering the Menu system.

There's more to see on the top of the PowerShot A620. The first things to see include the power button and the mode dial. The mode dial is packed full of options, and here they are:

Option Function
Auto recording mode Point-and-shoot, most menu items locked up
Program mode Still automatic, but with full menu access
Shutter priority (Tv) mode You choose the shutter speed and the camera picks the appropriate aperture; Shutter speed range is 15 - 1/2500 sec; do note that the 1/1250 sec speed is only available above F3.2 (W) and F4.1 (T), 1/1600 sec above F3.5 (W) and F5 (T), 1/2000 sec above F4.5 (W), and 1/2500 above F5 (W) and F7.1 (T).
Aperture priority (Av) mode You choose the aperture and the camera picks the shutter speed. Aperture ranges from F2.8 - F8; in auto mode the camera can go as high as F16
Full Manual (M) mode You pick both the aperture and shutter speed. Same ranges as above.
Custom mode Your favorite camera settings, easy to access
Movie mode More on this later
Stitch Assist Helps you line up photos so they can be "stitched" together into one giant panorama (on your computer)
My Colors Described earlier
Special Scene (SCN) mode You choose the situation and the camera uses the proper settings. Select from these scenes: night snapshot, indoor, snow, fireworks, kids & pets, foliage, beach, underwater
Night scene More scene modes
Landscape
Portrait

As you can see, the A620 has full manual exposure control. I should also mention that the camera has a Program Shift feature in the program, aperture priority, and shutter priority modes. To activate this you must first prefocus on your subject, then press the exposure compensation button. You can then scroll through various shutter speed/aperture combinations using the four-way controller.

The custom mode lets you save all your favorite camera settings to a spot right on the mode dial -- a pretty high end feature for a $399 camera.

To the right of the mode dial is the speaker. Above that you'll find the shutter release button, which has the zoom controller wrapped around it. The zoom controller moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in about 1.6 seconds. I counted nine steps throughout the 4X zoom range. The camera doesn't show any kind of "zoom meter" on the LCD, which can be helpful.

Nothing to see here.

Over on the other side of the A620 are the I/O ports and SD/MMC card slot.

The I/O ports, which are under a rubber cover, include DC-in (for optional AC adapter), A/V out, and USB. The A620 supports the USB 2.0 High Speed protocol for fast transfers to your Mac or PC.

The memory card slot is protected by a plastic cover of average quality.

Our tour ends with a look at the bottom of the camera. Here you'll find a plastic tripod mount and well as the battery compartment. The batteries (four AAs) are covered by a fairly sturdy plastic door with a locking mechanism.

Using the Canon PowerShot A620

Record Mode

The PowerShot A620 has a very quick startup time of just 1.2 seconds. That's great for a camera with an extending lens.


No live histogram on the A620; the S80 has one though!

The A620 has above average focusing performance, with typical focus times of around 0.2 - 0.4 seconds when the shutter release is halfway pressed. At the telephoto end of things focusing takes a bit longer, but it's still pretty snappy. Low light focusing was very good thanks to the camera's AF-assist lamp.

I did not find shutter lag to be a problem, even at the slower shutter speeds at which it can occur.

Shot-to-shot speed was excellent on the A620, with a delay of about a second before you can take another picture, assuming you've turned the post-shot review feature off.

You can delete a picture as it's being saved to the memory card by pressing the delete photo button.

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 512MB card (optional)
Large
3072 x 2304
Superfine 3.0 MB 9 156
Fine 1.9 MB 15 251
Normal 902 KB 31 520
Middle 1
2592 x 1944
Superfine 2.4 MB 11 190
Fine 1.4 MB 20 339
Normal 695 KB 40 671
Middle 2
2048 x 1536
Superfine 1.6 MB 17 295
Fine 893 KB 32 529
Normal 445 KB 63 1041
Middle 3
1600 x 1200
Superfine 1002 KB 28 471
Fine 558 KB 51 839
Normal 278 KB 97 1590
Small
640 x 480
Superfine 249 KB 109 1777
Fine 150 KB 168 2747
Normal 84 KB 265 4317

It's worth mentioning that there is a special "postcard" resolution (1600 x 1200) which is what you'll need to use if you want to print the date on your photos. You cannot do it at any other resolution.

The A620 does not support the RAW or TIFF image format.

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 A620 uses Canon's standard 2005 menu system. It's easy to use and very responsive. Do note that some of these options aren't available in some of the automatic shooting modes. With that in mind, here's the complete list of options in the record menu:

Before we continue I want to explain those AF frame options. AiAF is your typical multi-point focusing system, and the A620 can choose from nine of them. The center AF frame mode does just as it sounds -- it focuses on the center of the frame. The FlexiZone feature lets you use the four-way controller to select the area on the frame on which to focus. You can move the cursor pretty much anywhere, save for a margin around the edges of the frame. This feature comes in handy while the camera is on a tripod.

There is also a setup menu on the A620, so let's take a look at that now. Here's what you'll find in the setup menu:

In addition to those menus there's also a My Camera menu, which lets you really customize things. There are some built-in themes on the camera and there are even more included with the Canon software. There's even a chimp theme!

Well enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.

The A620 did a great job with our usual macro test subject. Colors are quite saturated and the subject is nice and sharp. There's a "smooth" look to things here, not grainy at all.

You can get very close to your subject in macro mode on the PowerShot A620. At wide-angle the minimum focus distance is just 1 cm, while that number jumps to 25 cm at the telephoto end of the lens.

The A620 did a nice job with the night shot as well. The camera took in plenty of light (perhaps a bit too much, which is my fault) with impressive sharpness. Noise levels are a bit higher than I would've liked, but then again this is a camera with a 1/1.8" sensor and lots of pixels. Purple fringing was not a major problem here.

Want to see how the A620 performed at high ISO sensitivities? Using that same night shot, here's a comparison:


ISO 50
View Full Size Image

ISO 100
View Full Size Image

ISO 200
View Full Size Image

ISO 400
View Full Size Image

The ISO 100 shot is pretty close to the one taken at ISO 50 and is still very usable. Details start getting destroyed at ISO 200, but I think you could probably squeeze a 4 6 inch print out of that photo. Things look pretty nasty at ISO 400 and I don't believe that you'll get even a small print out of that one (even with noise reduction software).

There's mild to moderate barrel distortion at the wide end of the A620's lens. While I saw no evidence of vignetting (dark corners) or blurry edges in the test chart, I did see a bit of blurriness around the edges of a few of my real world photos.

Ugh, redeye. I was disappointed to see how the A620 did in this department. While your results will vary, there's a good chance that you'll have at least some redeye problems with this camera. Picking up that external slave flash may not be a bad idea if you have a lot of redeye problems.

Overall, the PowerShot A620's photo quality is excellent. Photos were well exposed, sharp, and colorful. Noise levels were very reasonable at ISO 50 (which is what you'll want to use in most cases), and purple fringing was not a problem.

Ultimately you need to evaluate the A620's photo quality with your own eyes. Take a look at our photo gallery, print the photos if possible, and then decide if the A620's photos meet your expectations!

Movie Mode

The PowerShot A620 has a very good movie mode. You can record video at 640 x 480 (30 frames/second) with sound until either your memory card is full or the file size reaches 1GB. It takes about eight minutes to hit the 1GB file size, so at that point the recording will end (remember, the file size limit is per movie). For longer movies you can either reduce the frame rate to 15 frames/second or lower the resolution to 320 x 240 (which supports both frame rates). A "compact" movie mode is also available, recording at 160 x 120 (15 frames/second) for up to three minutes.

The A620 also offers a unique "Fast Frame Rate" mode, which lets you record up to 1 minute of 320 x 240 video at a whopping 60 frames/second. This is great for videos of fast moving subjects.

The My Colors and Photo Effects features mentioned earlier can be used in movie mode as well. A movie editing feature lets you trim unwanted footage off the beginning or end of a clip.

You cannot use the optical zoom during filming. The digital zoom is available if you desire.

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

Here's a very exciting sample movie for you:


Click to play movie (14.2 MB, 640 x 480, 30 fps, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime
.

Playback Mode

The PowerShot A620 has the standard Canon playback mode. Basic features including slideshows, image protection and rotation, DPOF print marking, thumbnail mode, and voice captions. A "jump" feature lets you move ahead or back 10 photos at a time. The camera is PictBridge-enabled for direct printing to a compatible photo printer.

Also available is the "zoom and scroll" feature, which lets you enlarge the picture up to 10X, and then scroll around in the zoomed-in area. It's nice and fast thanks to the camera's DIGIC II processor.

By default the A620 doesn't tell you much about your photos, but press the Display button and you'll get a screen full of useful information -- including a histogram.

The camera moves from one image to the next instantly.

How Does it Compare?

The Canon PowerShot A620 is a very competent midsized camera that's a good fit for both beginners and enthusiasts, and it gets my highest recommendation. With both automatic and manual shooting modes, very good movie and continuous shooting features, and expandability, the A620 is a lot of camera for under $400.

The A620 is a midsized camera made of a mixture of plastic and metal. It feels very solid considering its low price, and I found it easy to hold. The A620 is one of very few lower priced cameras to offer a flip-out, rotating LCD display, and the one here is 2 inches in size (up from 1.8" on the A95). Images on the screen are sharp, motion is fluid, and low light visibility is top-notch.

The PowerShot A620 features a 4X optical zoom lens, which is higher than what most of the competition offers. In addition, you can add conversion lenses and filters quite easily. An external slave flash is also available. As far as shooting features go, the A620 has virtually everything you can imagine. If it's automatic modes you're after, you'll find numerous scene modes as well as a panorama helper. Enthusiasts will appreciate the full manual controls on the camera, ranging from shutter speed and aperture to focus and white balance. There's also a custom spot on the mode dial to which you can store your favorite camera settings. Like Canon's other recent cameras, the A620 sports the unique My Colors feature.

The A620 performs very well for a lower priced camera. It starts up in just 1.2 seconds, it focuses quickly, and shutter lag was not a problem. Shot-to-shot and playback speeds were also very good. In low light situations the camera focused accurately thanks to its AF-assist lamp. The PowerShot A620 shines in other areas as well. Its movie and continuous shooting modes are very good, assuming that you're using a high speed SD card. With that you can record up to 1GB of continuous VGA video with sound, or keep taking photos at 1.9 frames/second until the memory card is full. If you use high power NiMH batteries the A620 beats all of the competition in terms of battery life -- too bad Canon doesn't include any with the camera!

Photo quality was excellent on the A620. Images were well-exposed with accurate colors, low noise levels, and minimal purple fringing. My only complaints in this area are with regard to the high redeye levels I observed, and the ISO 400 setting that isn't terribly useful (it's just too noisy).

I've pretty much slipped all of my complaints into the preceding paragraphs, which is great news for the A620. This is one of the best cameras in its class, offering something for just about everyone, from beginner to enthusiast. If you want a midsized camera that won't require a second mortgage, the PowerShot A620 is definitely worth a look.

What I liked:

What I didn't care for:

Some other cameras in this class worth considering include the Canon PowerShot A610 (a lower resolution, slightly stripped down version of the A620), Casio Exilim EX-P700, Fuji FinePix E550, HP Photosmart R817, Kodak EasyShare Z760, Nikon Coolpix L1, Olympus SP-350, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ2, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W7.

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the PowerShot A620 and its competitors before you buy!

Photo Gallery

See how the photos turned out in our gallery!

Feedback & Discussion

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.

To discuss this review with other DCRP readers, please visit our forums.

 

Home | News | Digital Camera Reviews & Info | Forums | Buyers Guide | Shopping | FAQ | About | Advertising

All content © 1997 - 2012 Digital Camera Resource Page LLC (R)
All trademarks are property of their respective owners.