DCRP Review: Canon PowerShot A75
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: April 3, 2004
Last Updated: April 28, 2004

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The Canon PowerShot A75 is an updated version of the immensely popular PowerShot A70 from last year (see our review). The differences between the A70 and A75 aren't earthshaking, but they're still nice. The A75 adds the following new features:

  • Larger, higher resolution LCD display
  • More scene modes
  • More focus points
  • Data imprinting on photos
  • Print/Share button

Like its predecessor, the A75 is a 3.2 Megapixel camera with a 3X optical zoom, full manual controls, support for conversion lenses, and more. It's now available for $299.

Now, learn more about the A75 in our review! Do note that since the cameras are so similar, I will be reusing parts of the A70 review here.

What's in the Box?

The PowerShot A75 has an above average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 3.2 effective Megapixel Canon PowerShot A75 camera
  • 32MB CompactFlash card
  • Four AA alkaline batteries
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • A/V cable
  • CD-ROM featuring Canon Digital Camera Solutions, ArcSoft Camera Suite, and drivers
  • 153 page camera manual + software manual (both printed)

Whereas the A70 included a 16MB memory card, the A75 includes a 32MB card. And a high speed one at that. Not that it really matters, as the camera doesn't really take advantage of it. Based on my tests of other Canon high speed cards, it would probably be rated as an "8X" speed card. Anyhow, the 32MB is a good size to start with, but you'll want to get a larger card right away. I'd say that 128MB is the minimum size you should consider. The A75 uses Type I CompactFlash cards, which come in sizes of up to 2GB.

When it comes to batteries, Canon leaves it up to you. The A75 includes four AA non-rechargeable alkaline batteries in the box, which won't last long and end up in the trash (or better yet, the recycling bin). My recommendation is to buy two or more sets of NiMH rechargeables (2100 mAh or better), plus a charger, which will last longer and will be more economical too. Canon estimates that you can take about 850 photos (with 50% LCD use), or spend 6 hours in playback mode, per charge (using Canon's 2300 mAh batteries). That's pretty darn good.

The A75 has a built-in lens cover. It's a fairly small camera -- it's not Digital ELPH-sized, though.

The PowerShot A75 has a lot of accessories considering its price. If the 35 - 105 mm lens just doesn't cover enough range for you, Canon offers three conversion lenses. The WC-DC52 ($90) brings the wide end of the lens down to 26.6 mm. If you need more telephoto power, the TC-DC52 ($99) bumps the tele end up to 252 mm. For macro shots, consider the 250D close-up lens, which lets you get even closer to your subject (especially at the tele end). All three of these lenses require you to buy the LA-DC52C conversion lens adapter ($19). This adapter also lets you attach any 52 mm filter.

If you're into scuba diving, the WP-DC30 underwater case ($180) is pretty neat. With it, you can take the A75 up to 40 meters underwater.

Other accessories include an AC adapter ($55), NiMH battery kit with four 2300 mAh cells and a charger ($50 -- buy elsewhere to save $$), and a soft case ($9).

The A75 supports direct printing to most Canon printers, or to any PictBridge-enabled photo printer.


ImageBrowser (Mac OS X)


ZoomBrowser (Windows XP)

Canon is now up to version 16.1 of their excellent Digital Camera Solutions software. Included in this package are ZoomBrowser (for Windows) or 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 (Mac OS X)

Also built-in to the "Browser" software is RemoteCapture, which you can use to control your camera over the USB connection. Images are saved directly to your computer.


PhotoImpression 5 (Mac OS X)

Also included is version 5 of ArcSoft's PhotoImpression software, which is getting better with each version. Here you can do more photo retouching and printing. The user interface is quite good, as well. VideoImpression is also included, for editing those short movie clips the camera can record.

While still better than average, I've found Canon's recent manuals to be a little more cluttered than they used to be. The information is all there -- just be prepared for lots of small print and "notes" in each section.

Look and Feel

If you've seen the PowerShot A70, then you've seen the A75 -- they look identical (at least from most angles). The A75 is a compact camera that may not fit in your pocket like the Digital ELPH cameras, but it's still small and comfortable to carry around. The controls are well-placed, and it's easy to hold.

The dimensions of the A75 are 4.0 x 2.5 x 1.2 inches (W x H x D), and it weighs 200 grams empty (slightly lighter than the A70). The camera is made of both metal and plastic, and it feels quite solid for a $300 camera.

With that out of the way, we can begin our tour of the A75 now.

The A75 has the same lens as its predecessor. That lens is an F2.8-4.8, 3X optical zoom model, with a focal range of 5.4 - 16.2 mm. That's equivalent to 35 - 105 mm.

As I mentioned, the A75 supports add-on lenses. To use them, you press the button to the lower-left of the lens, and remove the plastic ring around it. You then screw in the lens adapter, and attach the conversion lens to it.

To the upper-right of the lens is the built-in flash. The flash has a working range of 0.46 - 4.2 m at wide-angle, and 0.46 - 2.5 m at telephoto. You cannot attach an external flash to the A75.

Below the flash is the autofocus illuminator, which is always a welcome sight. This bright orange lamp helps the camera focus when lighting is low. All cameras should have this (and they still don't).

The other item of interest in the front of the camera is the microphone, which is located just above-left from the lens.

One of the big upgrades on the A75 is in the LCD department. The A70 had a 1.5" LCD with a measly 78,000 pixels. Forget that! The A75 has a much nicer 1.8" screen with 118,000 pixels. It's bright, fluid, and sharp. The brightness is not adjustable, though.

Above the LCD is the optical viewfinder, which is decent-sized. There is no diopter adjustment for those of us with less than perfect vision though.

Below the LCD are two buttons (versus four on the A70). The button on the left is the Print/Share button, which is new to the A75, while the display button toggles the LCD and what's shown on it on and off.

So what's the deal with the Print/Share button? When connected to a Direct Print or PictBridge-enabled printer, pressing this button will let you print your photos. When connected to a Windows PC, the following screen will be shown on the LCD:


Direct Transfer menu

As you can see, you can transfer all images, new images, images that you've DPOF marked, or you can manually select some. The wallpaper option sets the chosen image as the background picture on your PC!


Function Menu

To the right of the LCD are two more buttons, for menu and function/delete photo. Pressing the function button brings up the function menu, which has the following options:

  • Exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV, 1/3EV increments)
  • Flash output (1/3, 2/3, full) - only shown while in "M" mode
  • White Balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, fluorescent H, custom) - see below
  • Drive (Single shot, continuous shooting, self-timer [2 or 10 secs]) - see below
  • ISO (Auto, 50, 100, 200, 400)
  • Photo effect (Off, vivid color, neutral color, low sharpening, sepia, black & white)
  • Metering (Evaluative, center-weighted, spot)
  • Image Size/Quality - see chart later in review

The custom white balance feature (which is finally becoming more common) lets you shoot a white or gray card, to get perfect color in any lighting.

While some higher end Canon models have two continuous shooting modes, the A75 has one. In this mode, you can take pictures at a rate of up to 2.2 frames/sec I took 8 pictures in a row at the highest quality setting before the camera started to slow down.

The photo effect feature lets you quickly change the color or sharpness of your photos. You can use photo effects in any mode, including movie mode.

To the right of those two buttons is the newly redesigned four-way controller, which is much easier to use than the one on the A70. In addition to navigating the menus, it can also be used to adjust:

  • Up - Flash setting (Auto, flash on, flash off) - you turn redeye reduction on in the record menu
  • Down - Macro + manual focus


Manual focus

The manual focus feature lets you use the left and right buttons on the four-way controller to focus the lens yourself. A guide showing the current focus distance is shown on the LCD. The camera lacks the useful "focus check" feature, which enlarges the center of the frame, which you can use to ensure that your subject is in-focus.

The final items on the back of the camera is the mode switch, located at the top in the above photo, and the DC-in port, at the lower-left. The mode switch moves the camera between record and playback mode. The DC-in port, which is kept under a rubber cover, is where you'll plug in the optional AC adapter.

Up on top of the A75 are the power button, mode dial, shutter release button, zoom controller, and speaker.

The options on the mode wheel include:

Option Function
Movie Mode More on this later
Stitch Assist For help making panoramic shots
Scene mode

NEW on the A75. Choose from foliage, snow, beach, fireworks, underwater, indoor

Slow Shutter Self explanatory
Fast Shutter
Night Scene
Landscape
Portrait
Fully Auto Point-and-shoot mode, many options are locked
Programmed Auto Camera chooses shutter speed and aperture. All menu options are unlocked.
Shutter Priority (Tv) You choose the shutter speed and the camera picks the correct aperture. You can choose from a number of speeds ranging from 15 sec - 1/2000 sec. The 1/16000 sec shutter speed is only available above F3.2 at wide-angle and F5.6 at telephoto. The 1/2000 shutter speed is only available above F4.5 at wide-angle and F8.0 at telephoto.
Aperture Priority (Av) You pick the aperture, the camera picks the appropriate shutter speed. The choices range from F2.8 - F8.0 and will vary depending on the focal range used.
Full Manual You pick the aperture and shutter speed. See above for values.

One thing I loved about the A70 were all the manual controls. You may not need them right away, but when you get more familiar with photography, you'll grow to love them. The A75 is the same way.

The zoom controller moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in about 1.6 seconds. The zoom moves at one speed only, so it can be hard to be precise.

Here is one side of the PowerShot A75. Under a rubber cover, you'll find the USB (1.1) and A/V out ports.

Behind a somewhat flimsy plastic cover on this side of the camera is the CompactFlash slot. This is a Type I slot, which means that you can't use the Microdrive (not that I'd recommend that).

The included high speed 32MB card is shown.

Finally, here is the bottom of the camera. You can see the plastic tripod mount, which is located at the center of the camera. The battery compartment is down here as well, and it holds four AA batteries.

Using the Canon PowerShot A75

Record Mode

The A75 takes just 2.5 seconds to extend the lens and "warm up" before you can start taking pictures -- pretty snappy. If you desire, you can change the startup screen and sounds in the menu system. Or better yet, turn them off.

Press the shutter release button halfway and the camera generally focuses in less than a second. It will take a little longer if the AF-assist lamp is used, or if the AF system needs to "hunt". The AF illuminator helped the A75 focus well in low light.

The camera uses Canon's 9-point AiAF autofocus system (versus 5-point on the A70). The camera picks one of nine areas of the frame to focus on (you can't manually select the focus point like on some cameras). If you want to use the center of the frame to focus on, you can do that too via the menu system.

The A75 had very little shutter lag, even at slower shutter speeds.

Shot-to-shot speed is excellent. You will wait for just 1.5 seconds before you can take another shot.

Press the Function button as the picture is being written to the memory card, and you can delete it.

Now, here's a look at the image size and quality choices available on the A75:

Resolution Quality Approx. File Size # images on included 32MB card
Large
(2048 x 1536)
Superfine 1602 KB 18
Fine 893 KB 33
Normal 445 KB 67
Medium 1
(1600 x 1200)
Superfine 1002 KB 30
Fine 558 KB 54
Normal 278 KB 108
Medium 2
(1024 x 768)
Superfine 570 KB 53
Fine 320 KB 94
Normal 170 KB 174
Small
(640 x 480)
Superfine 249 KB 120
Fine 150 KB 196
Normal 84 KB 337

The A75 does not support TIFF or RAW file formats.

Images are named IMG_####.JPG, where # = 0001 - 9900. The file numbering is maintained even if you replace or erase the memory card.

Now, onto the menus!

I already mentioned the Function menu earlier in the review. There's a regular menu system as well, which is small and easy-to-navigate. Here's what you'll find in the record menu:

  • AiAF (on/off) - turns on the 9-point autofocus system; if off, camera focuses on whatever's in the center of the frame
  • Redeye reduction (on/off)
  • AF-assist beam (on/off)
  • Digital zoom (on/off) - using the 3.2X digital zoom will reduce photo quality
  • Review (Off, 2-10 sec)
  • Date stamp (Off, date, date & time) - print the date on your photos. This feature is new to the A75

Do note that some of those options are not available in "auto" mode.

There is also a setup menu on the A75, so let's take a look at that:

  • Mute (on/off) - turn off those annoying beep sounds!
  • 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)
  • Power saving
    • Auto power down (on/off)
    • Display off (10, 20, 30 sec, 1-3 min)
  • Date/time (set)
  • Card format
  • File number reset (on/off) - maintain file numbering
  • Auto rotate (on/off) - camera will automatically rotate portrait photos for you
  • Distance units (m/cm, ft/in)
  • Language (English, Deutsch, Français, Nederlands, Dansk, Suomi, Italiano, Norsk, Svenska, Español, Chinese, Japanese)
  • Video system (NTSC, PAL)

In addition, there is a "My Camera" menu, where you can customize the startup screen, beeps, and phony shutter sounds that your A75 makes, providing your own sounds and pictures if you want. You can also shut all of that off.

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

The A75 did a fine job with our macro test subject. Colors are accurate, and the figurine has a really "smooth" look to it. The camera has a focal range of 5 - 46 cm at wide-angle, and 26 - 46 cm at telephoto in macro mode. The recordable area is 55 x 41 mm at wide-angle and 92 x 69 mm at telephoto.

Purchasing the close-up adapter lens will reduce the minimum distance to 4 cm at wide-angle and 13 cm at telephoto.

What are all those crazy lines in this image? The one in the sky is an airplane, and the big thing at the bottom is a container ship. Adds a little variety to this photo that I'm constantly taking!

Anyhow, this 15 second exposure is pretty nice, though slightly noisy. There's also a fair amount of purple fringing, which you can reduce by using a smaller aperture (higher F-number).

With full manual controls, night shots like this are easy to take. Just remember your tripod!

The PowerShot A70 didn't do well in our redeye test. Strangely enough, the A75 did great. Why? I'm thinking it's due to a change in location. I took the A70 shot in my old apartment, and the A75 shot in my new house. For whatever reason, that affected the outcome of the test. This should also remind you that this redeye test is definitelynot scientific!

The distortion test shows mild barrel distortion at the wide end of the lens. There's a bit of fuzziness in the corners, but I didn't see this in my real world photos.

Photo quality is very good on the A75. Color and exposure are accurate, and images are fairly sharp. Purple fringing will occasionally show up, but it's usually not an issue. With 3.2 Megapixels, you can get very nice prints, including at 8 x 10 inches. Don't just take my word for it though -- have a look at the photo gallery and let your own eyes be the judge!

Movie Mode

The A75 has a good movie mode, but it's not as nice as those on other 2004 models. You can record at three resolutions: 640 x 480, 320 x 240, and 160 x 120. You can record for up to 30 seconds at the highest resolution, and 3 minutes at the two smaller sizes. It doesn't matter how big a memory card you put in the camera, those times are fixed!

Movies are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec. Sound is recorded along with the video.

You cannot use the zoom lens during filming.

Here's a sample movie for you, recorded at the 640 x 480 resolution. Be warned, it's a big download.


Click to play movie (11.5MB, 640 x 480, AVI format)

Can't view it? Download QuickTime.

Playback Mode

Canon always has done a great job with their playback modes, and the A75 is no exception. Image protection, slide shows, DPOF print marking, and thumbnail view mode are all here.

So is the "zoom and scroll" feature. You can zoom into your images up to 10X, with many steps in between. Scrolling around in the enlarged area is very snappy.

Moving between images is pretty quick as well -- a little over a second between high res thumbnails. You can find out almost everything about your photo (now including a histogram) by pressing the display button.

How Does it Compare?

The Canon PowerShot A75 has some nice improvements over the already excellent A70. This includes a larger, high resolution LCD, PictBridge support, data imprinting, and more. Photo quality is very good, and so is the camera's performance. I continue to appreciate the full manual controls on the A75 -- something rarely seen on an entry-level camera. You may not need them now, but as you gain experience, you'll become a fan. The camera has even more scene modes than the A70, which helps you get the best shot possible without having to tweak any manual settings. For those folks who want additional lens power, Canon offers wide-angle, telephoto, and close-up conversion lenses. If you're a fan of the water, there's also an underwater case. While the A75 won't win any awards for its movie mode, it's good enough for those making short clips. All-in-all, the A75 is a great entry-level camera for both beginners and amateurs, and I highly recommend it.

What I liked:

  • Very good photo quality
  • Robust performance
  • AF-assist lamp
  • Lots of manual controls for a cheap camera
  • Support for conversion lenses, underwater case
  • Lots of scene modes
  • Impressive software package

What I didn't care for:

  • No diopter correction knob
  • No rechargeable batteries included
  • Movie mode not so hot in 2004

My "short list" of other 3 and 4 Megapixel cameras to consider includes the Canon PowerShot A80 and S410, Casio Exilim EX-Z40, Fuji FinePix F700, Kodak Easyshare DX6440, Minolta DiMAGE Xg, Nikon Coolpix 3200, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LC50, Pentax Optio S40, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P73. For additional cameras, please visit our Reviews & Info section!

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the PowerShot A75 and its competitors before you buy!

Photo Gallery

Want to see how the photo quality turned out? Check out our PowerShot A75 gallery!

Want a second opinion?

Check out a review of the A75 over at Steve's Digicams.

Buy it now

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.

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