The PowerShot A410 ($149) is Canon's entry-level digital camera and a replacement for the A400 that was introduced earlier this year. New features on the A410 include:
- 3.2X optical zoom lens (versus 2.2X)
- Refined body; only comes in one color (versus four on the A400)
- DIGIC II image processor
- Improved battery life
- Improved continuous shooting and movie modes
Other features include a 3.2 Megapixel CCD, 1.5" LCD display, SD/MMC card slot, and point-and-shoot operation. Is this low-cost camera worth your money? Find out in our review of the A410!
What's in the Box?
The PowerShot A410 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
- The 3.2 effective Megapixel Canon PowerShot A410 camera
- 16MB MultiMediaCard
- Two alkaline AA batteries
- Wrist strap
- USB cable
- CD-ROM featuring Canon Digital Camera Solutions, ArcSoft PhotoStudio, and drivers
- 21 page basic manual + 113 page advanced manual + software and direct print manuals (all printed)
Canon includes a 16MB MultiMediaCard with the camera, which isn't too bad for a 3.2 Megapixel camera. Even so, you'll want to buy a larger card right away, and I'd suggest 256MB as a good starter size. The A410 can use Secure Digital and MultiMediaCards, and you'll probably want to stick with SD cards for the best performance and capacity. A high speed memory card is recommended if you plan on using the unlimited continuous shooting feature.
The PowerShot A410 uses two AA batteries, and Canon gives you two 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). With two 2300 mAh NiMH batteries the A410 will last for 400 photos (per the CIPA standard) which is excellent. Buying higher capacity batteries will increase that number even more. Don't forget to buy a charger as well, as Canon doesn't give you one!
There's a built-in lens cover on the A410 so there is no lens cap to worry about.
There are just a few accessories available for the A410. The most interesting is the HF-DC1 external slave flash, which attaches to the camera via the tripod mount. When this flash is attached you'll get much better flash photos with less redeye. Other options include an AC adapter and a battery/charger kit.
ImageBrowser (Mac OS X)
Canon includes version 25 of their very good Digital Camera Solutions software with the PowerShot A410. 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.
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 A410 is a midsized plastic camera that looks a bit like its predecessor, the A400. While the A400 came in four colors, the A410 comes in just one: silver. Build quality is quite good for an entry-level camera. The controls are generally well-placed, though I'm not a huge fan of having the zoom controls on the four-way controller.
Now, here's a look at how the A410 compares with other entry-level cameras in terms of size and weight:
||Dimensions (W x H x D, excluding protrusions)
|Canon PowerShot A410
||4.1 x 2.0 x 1.6 in.
||13.1 cu in.
|Canon PowerShot A510
||3.6 x 2.5 x 1.5 in.
||13.5 cu in.
|Casio Exilim EX-Z110
||3.5 x 2.4 x 1.1 in.
||9.2 cu in.
|Fuji FinePix A345
||3.5 x 2.4 x 1.2 in.
||10.1 cu in.
|HP Photosmart M307
||4.3 x 1.4 x 2.1 in.
||12.6 cu in.
|Kodak EasyShare C330
||3.6 x 2.6 x 1.4 in.
||13.1 cu in.
|Nikon Coolpix 4600
||3.3 x 2.4 x 1.4 in.
||11.1 cu in.
||3.5 x 2.5 x 1.5 in.
||13.1 cu in.
|Pentax Optio S45
||3.5 x 2.3 x 1.1 in.
||8.9 cu in.
|Samsung Digimax A400
||4.3 x 2.2 x 1.3 in.
||12.3 cu in.
|Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S40
||3.8 x 2.0 x 1.3 in.
||9.9 cu in.
The PowerShot A410 is one of the largest entry-level cameras out there. It's a little too big for your smaller pockets, but it's still easy enough to carry around with you.
I've had it with numbers, let's start our tour of the camera!
The PowerShot A410 features a more powerful lens than its predecessor. This F2.8-5.1 lens now has a total zoom of 3.2X, versus 2.2X on the A400. The focal range of the lens is 5.4 - 17.3 mm, which is equivalent to 41 - 131 mm. This is NOT a camera for wide-angle lovers! The lens is not threaded.
To the upper-left of the lens is the A410's AF-assist lamp, which doubles as the self-timer countdown lamp. The AF-assist lamp is used for focusing in low light situations.
Above that is the camera's built-in flash, which has average strength. At Auto ISO the working range of the flash is 0.47 - 3.0 m at wide-angle and 0.47 - 2.0 m at telephoto. If you want more flash power you can attach the external slave flash that I mentioned earlier.
The first thing to see on the back of the camera is a 1.5" LCD display. The quality of the LCD is just okay -- I found it to be on the dark side. Despite being an entry-level camera, Canon didn't skimp on the screen resolution: there are 120,000 pixels here. Outdoor visibility wasn't the best, but low light viewing was great, as the screen brightens automatically in those situations.
To the upper-left of the LCD you'll find a good-sized optical viewfinder. One thing you won't find here is a diopter correction knob, which is used to focus what you're looking at.
To the right of the LCD is the camera's mode dial, which has the following options:
- Auto record
- Manual record - same as above but with full menu access
- Scene mode - you choose the scene and the camera uses the proper settings; available scenes include portrait, kids & pets, foliage, beach, night snapshot, indoor, snow, and fireworks
- Movie mode - more on this later
Below the mode dial you'll find the Display and Menu buttons plus the four-way controller. The four-way controller is used for operating the zoom lens (I'd prefer a dedicated controller myself), menu navigation, and also:
- Up - Zoom in + Playback zoom
- Down - Zoom out + Delete photo
- Left - Focus mode (Auto, macro, landscape)
- Right - Flash setting (Auto, auto w/redeye reduction, flash on w/redeye reduction, flash on, flash off, slow synchro)
The next button to see is the Function button, also used as the "set" button for menu navigation. Pressing this button opens up the function menu, which has the following options:
- Shooting mode (Manual, super macro, My Colors, Stitch Assist)
- Special Scene mode (Portrait, kids & pets, foliage, beach, night snapshot, indoor, snow, fireworks)
- Exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV in 1/3EV increments)
- ISO (Auto, 50, 100, 200)
- White balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, fluorescent H, custom) - see below
- Drive (Single-shot, continuous, self-timer) - see below
- Photo effect (Off, vivid, neutral, low sharpening, sepia, black & white)
- My Colors (Positive film, lighter skin tone, darker skin tone, vivid blue, vivid green, vivid red, color accent, color swap) - see below
- Resolution/Compression (see chart later in review)
The Stitch Assist shooting mode helps you line up photos side-by-side so they can later be stitched into one panoramic image.
The only manual control on the A410 is for white balance. The custom WB feature lets you use a white or gray card for accurate color even under unusual lighting conditions.
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 A410 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 2.3 frames/second until the card is full, which is quite good. The LCD is able to keep up so following a moving subject is pretty easy.
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 (screen from the SD500)
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.
||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.
Direct Transfer menu
The last thing to see on the back of the A410 is the Print/Share button. 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.
The only things to see on the top of the camera are the shutter release and power buttons.
The only thing to see here is the slot where a small watch battery is stored. This allows the camera to store the time and date and favorite settings even when there are no AA batteries in the camera.
Over on the other side of the A410 are the I/O ports, SD/MMC card slot, and the battery compartment.
The I/O ports, which are under a rubber cover, include DC-in (for optional AC adapter) and USB. There is no video out port on the camera. The camera doesn't support USB 2.0 High Speed, either.
The battery and memory card compartment is protected by a plastic door of average quality. As you can see, the camera uses two AA batteries.
Our tour ends with a look at the bottom of the PowerShot A410. The only thing to see here is a plastic tripod mount.
Using the Canon PowerShot A410
The PowerShot A410 starts up very quickly for a budget camera, taking just 1.2 seconds to extend its lens and "warm up" before picture-taking can begin.
Sorry these screenshots are so lousy, they're photos and not video captures like normal
Autofocus speeds on the A410 were good. Typical focus times are 0.3 - 0.5 seconds in good conditions, with more difficult situations taking a bit longer. The camera focused well in low light, thanks to its 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 A410, 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 (the "down" key on the four-way controller).
Now, here's a look at the image size and quality choices available on the camera:
||Approx. file size
||# images on 16MB card
|# images on 256MB card (optional)
2048 x 1536
1600 x 1200
1024 x 768
640 x 480
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.
Not surprisingly, there's no RAW or TIFF support on this camera.
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 A410 has a scaled down version of the 2005 Canon menu system. There aren't too many options here, so it's pretty easy to figure out. Some menu options are available only if you use the manual recording menu. Here's the complete list:
- AiAF (on/off) - turns the 5-point autofocus system on and off; if turned off, camera focuses on whatever is in the center of the frame (which is faster)
- Metering mode (Evaluative, center-weighted, spot)
- AF-assist beam (on/off)
- Digital zoom (on/off) - it's best to keep this turned off
- Review (Off, 2-10 sec holds) - post-shot review; the hold feature will keep the image on the LCD until you press a button
- Save original (on/off) - whether an unaltered image is also saved while using the My Colors feature
- Grid lines (on/off) - puts a 3 x 3 grid on the LCD to help you compose your photos
- Date stamp (Off, date, date & time) - print the date and/or time on your photos; only works with the image size set to postcard (1600 x 1200)
There is also a setup menu on the A410, so let's take a look at that now. Here's what you'll find in the setup menu:
- Mute (on/off) - turn off those annoying beep sounds!
- LCD brightness (-7 to +7 in 1 step increments)
- 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
- Language (way too many to list)
- All reset
Well enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.
The PowerShot A410 did a fine job with our 3-inch tall macro subject. The subject is sharp, with accurate colors and no sign of noise.
There are two macro modes on the camera: regular and super. In regular macro mode you can get as close to your subject as 5 cm at wide-angle and 25 cm at telephoto, which is pretty good. In super macro mode that distance drops to just 1.5 cm. The lens will be locked at the wide-angle position in super macro mode, though the digital zoom is available.
If you like taking long exposures then the A410 is NOT your camera. The slowest shutter speed available on the camera is just one second, which isn't nearly enough for my usual night test photo. The only way to get that 1 second exposure is to use the night portrait scene mode (be sure to turn the flash off). Noise levels were a bit above average here, but purple fringing was not a major problem.
There's virtually no barrel distortion at the wide end of the A410's lens. Then again, there isn't much of a wide-angle component to this lens at all! Vignetting (dark corners) and blurry edges were not a problem.
The A410 had fairly mild, but noticeable redeye in our flash test photo. While your results may vary, there
The PowerShot A410 has excellent photo quality for a $150 camera: Canon made no compromises here. Photos are well exposed with accurate color, low noise, and good sharpness. Purple fringing was not a major problem.
Don't just take my word for it -- have a look at our photo gallery and see if the A410's photo quality meets your expectations.
The PowerShot A410, being the entry-level Canon digital camera, has a very basic movie mode. You can record up to three minutes of video at 640 x 480 without sound, at a choppy 10 frames/second. A lower resolution 160 x 120 (15 frame/second) mode is also available. Sound is NOT recorded.
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 choppy, silent movie for you:
Click to play movie (5.6 MB, 640 x 480, 10 fps, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
The A410 has the "older" Canon playback system and not the fancy one like the new SD30 and SD550. Basic features include image protection, DPOF print marking, slide shows, thumbnail view, and zoom and scroll.
The zoom and scroll feature 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.
The screen above is all the exposure information you'll get out of the A410. It's not much, but comparable to other entry-level cameras.
The camera moves from one image to the next instantly.
How Does it Compare?
While it's not terribly exciting from the spec sheet, the Canon PowerShot A410 is a pretty good entry-level digital camera. Even so, I'd probably recommend that most folks pay a bit more for a more full-featured camera (like Canon's A510).
The A410 is a boxy, midsized 3.2 Megapixel camera made of high grade plastic. It's well put together, though I'm not a fan of having the zoom controls relegated to the four-way controller. The camera features a 3.2X zoom lens which starts at 41 mm, which makes it unsuitable for wide-angle photography. Other features on the camera include a small and somewhat dark 1.5" LCD display, point-and-shoot operation, Canon's unique My Colors feature, and a super macro mode that lets you get 1.5 cm from your subject. One feature missing from the A410 is USB 2.0 High Speed support, which most of Canon's other 2005 cameras have. There's no video out port, either.
Camera performance is very good for a $150 camera. The A410 is ready to shoot in a little over a second, with good focusing speeds (even in low light), minimal shutter lag, and short shot-to-shot and playback delays. The A410 has a very impressive continuous shooting mode as well -- you can keep taking pictures at 2.3 frames/second until the memory card is full, assuming that you're using a high speed SD card. Battery life is excellent as well, especially with high power NiMH rechargeables installed.
Photo quality on the A410 was very good. Images were well exposed with low noise and purple fringing and accurate color. Redeye was a bit of a problem, but not as bad as I was expecting. More less redeye the camera supports an external slave flash that attaches via the tripod mount. If you take a lot of long exposures the A410 isn't for you, as the slow shutter speed available is just one second. Same thing goes for movie mode lovers: movies are limited to 3 minutes of silent, choppy video.
I've slipped all of my negatives into the previous paragraphs, so I'll conclude here. The PowerShot A410 is as good entry-level camera and if you don't mind some of the missing or crippled features, it's a nice camera for the money. If you like what've you seen but you want a more capable camera then I'd point you to the next step up in Canon's lineup: the PowerShot A510 (see our review). For $50 more you get a 4X zoom lens, larger/brighter LCD, full manual controls (which you may not need now, but you might want them in the future), support for conversion lenses, and more. There are some other (non-Canon) options available as well, and I've listed them below.
What I liked:
- Very good photo quality and shooting performance for an entry-level camera
- Fast, unlimited continuous shooting mode
- LCD visible in low light
- AF-assist lamp
- Excellent battery life
- Manual white balance control, which most "cheap" cameras lack
- 1.5 cm super macro mode
- Unique My Colors feature
What I didn't care for:
- Lens has no wide-angle component
- Small, dark LCD
- Some redeye
- Slowest shutter speed available: 1 second
- Poor movie mode
- No video out port; USB 2.0 High Speed support would be nice as well
- Not a fan of having the zoom controls on the four-way controller
Some other cameras in this class worth considering include the Canon PowerShot A510, Casio Exilim EX-Z110, Fuji FinePix A345, HP Photosmart M307, Kodak EasyShare C330, Nikon Coolpix 4600, Olympus FE-100, Pentax Optio S45, Samsung Digimax A400, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S40.
As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the PowerShot A410 and its competitors before you buy!
See how the photos turned out in our gallery!
Feedback & Discussion
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