PowerShot A95 ($399) is the updated version of
the very popular A80 from 2003. The A95 adds the
following new features over the A80:
- 5.0 Megapixel CCD
- Larger, higher resolution LCD display
(it still rotates)
- Improved movie mode
- More scene modes
- Data imprinting on photos
- Print/Share button
It's hard to improve on a camera that
was already excellent, but Canon has managed to add
a few nice features (most notably the LCD). Is the
A95 even better than its predecessor? Find out in our
What's in the Box?
The PowerShot A95 has an average bundle.
Inside the box, you'll find:
- The 5.0 effective Megapixel Canon
PowerShot A95 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
- 161 page camera manual + software
manual (both printed)
The PowerShot A95 kit includes a 32MB
CompactFlash card -- the same size as the one that
came with the 4 Megapixel A80. The card is labeled
as "high speed", and based on my tests it's
probably about an 8X card. You can't hold very many
5 Megapixel photos on a 32MB card, so consider a larger
card a mandatory purchase. I recommend 256MB as a good
starting point. The A95 can only use Type I cards,
meaning that you cannot use the Microdrive.
When it comes to batteries, Canon
leaves it up to you. The A95 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) and a fast
charger, which will last longer and will be more economical
too. Using the new CIPA standard, Canon says that you
can take about 400 photos using a set of 2300 mAh NiMH
batteries -- that's pretty good. Compare that with
290 shots on the Fuji FinePix E510 and 340 shots on
the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W1.
I always prefer cameras that use AAs
over those using proprietary lithium-ion batteries.
If you're in a jam, you can just buy a pack of alkalines
to get you through the day. Plus, NiMH batteries are
A95 has a built-in lens cover. It's not the smallest
camera out there but is certainly still compact.
The PowerShot A95 has an impressive
number of accessories available. Like taking pictures
underwater? Check out the WP-DC50 waterproof case,
which lets you take the A95 up to 40 meters into the
If you don't plan on swimming with
your camera, then a conversion lens may be more interesting.
Canon offers three: wide-angle, telephoto, and closeup.
The WC-DC52 wide converter ($90) reduces the wide end
the lens by 0.7X, allowing you to take pictures at
26.6 mm. If you want more telephoto power, consider
the TC-DC52A teleconverter ($100), which boosts the
top end of the lens by 1.75X, which is 200 mm. The
250D closeup lens ($70) reduces the distance to your
subject while in macro mode -- especially at the telephoto
end of the lens. All of these lenses require the LA-DC52D
conversion lens adapter ($20), which also allows you
to use 52mm filters.
Other accessories include an AC adapter
($55), battery/charger kit (overpriced at $50), and
a soft case.
(Mac OS X)
Canon includes version 19 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.
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.
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.
Recent Canon camera manuals have become
more complex than earlier ones, but they're still above
average. The A95's manual is complete, but expect a
fair amount of "notes" and fine print.
Look and Feel
With a few expectations (noted below),
the A95 looks exactly like its predecessor, the A80.
The camera is made of a mixture of metal and plastic,
and it feels quite solid (more so than the A75/85).
It fits well in your hand and the important controls
are easy to reach.
While not exactly tiny or light, the
A95 is easy to carry around for the day. Just don't
expect to fit it into your smaller pockets. The dimensions
of the camera are 4.0 x 2.5 x 1.4 inches (W x H x D,
excluding protrusions) and it weighs 235 grams empty.
That makes it slightly smaller and lighter than the
A80. For the sake of comparison, the numbers for the
Fuji FinePix E510 are 4.0 x 2.4 x 1.3 inches and 175
grams, while they 're 3.6 x 2.4 x 1.3 inches and 190
grams for the Sony DSC-W1.
Enough numbers, let's start our tour
of the camera now, beginning with the front.
The A95 has the same lens as its predecessor.
That makes it an F2.8-4.9, 3X optical zoom model, with
a focal range of 7.8 - 23.4 mm. That's equivalent to
38 - 114 mm in 35mm terms. The lens itself is not threaded,
but by removing the plastic ring around the lens, like
... you can add the conversion lenses
I mentioned in the previous section. Just don't forget
to buy the adapter! To unlock the ring, just press
the button to the lower-left of the lens. Okay, back
to our tour now.
To the upper-right of the lens is
the built-in flash. The flash has a working range of
0.45 - 4.4 m at wide-angle, and 0.45 - 2.5 m at telephoto
(same as on the A80). You cannot attach an external
flash to the A95.
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.
Probably the most important change
on the A95 is the larger 1.8" LCD (versus 1.5" on
the A80). Not only is it bigger, but the resolution
has gone up from 67k to 118k pixels, too. Just like
on the A80, the screen can flip out and rotate 270
degrees. It goes from pointing at the ground to pointing
at your subject. Rotating LCDs are great for shooting
over the heads of people, or taking ground level shots.
The screen can also be closed entirely, or put in the
more traditional position that you see below.
A few more notes about the LCD. It's
bright, sharp, and motion is fluid. The screen automatically "gains
up" in dim lighting so you can see what you're
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 screen you'll find the DC-in port (for optional
AC adapter) which is kept beneath a rubber cover, as
well as the set and menu buttons. In record mode the
set button is also used to activate the FlexiZone AF
feature. This feature, rarely seen on a camera at this
price, lets you select a focus almost anywhere in the
frame, save for a border around the edges.
To the right of the LCD are the mode
switch, four-way controller, and three buttons. The
switch moves the camera between record and playback
mode. The four-way controller is used for menu navigation,
choosing manual settings, and also adjusting the flash
and focus settings. The available flash options are
automatic, forced on, and forced off -- you turn redeye
reduction on in the record menu.
Manual focus (center-frame
enlargement not shown)
The focus options are macro (discussed
later in the review) and manual. In manual focus mode,
you use the left/right buttons on the four-way controller
to set the focus. A guide showing the current distance
is shown on the LCD, and the center of the frame is
enlarged so you can ensure that your subject is sharp.
The next thing to see here is the
Function / Delete photo button. Pressing the function
button brings up the function menu, which has the following
- 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,
high speed continuous, 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,
- Resolution (see chart later in
- Compression (see chart)
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.
This feature still isn't terribly common on lower-end
The A95 has two continuous shooting
modes: regular and high speed. In regular mode, I was
able to take 18 shots in a row at about 1.4 frames/second.
The image is shown on the LCD, though the screen pauses
slightly between each shot, making tracking a moving
subject somewhat difficult. In high speed mode I took
nine shots in a row at 2 frames/second. The LCD is
off entirely in high speed continuous mode.
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
Back to our tour now. The display
button turns the LCD on and off, and also toggles what
is displayed on it.
To the right of the display button
is the Print/Share button, new to the A95. 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:
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
Up on top of the A95 are the power
button, mode dial, shutter release button, zoom controller,
The options on the mode dial include:
||Point-and-shoot mode, many options are
||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. Shutter speed
range is 15 - 1/2000 sec. The 1/1250 sec
speed is only available above F3.2 at wide-angle
and F5.6 at telephoto, while 1/2000 sec is
only available above F4.5 at wide-angle and
F8 at telephoto.
|Aperture Priority (Av)
||You pick the aperture, the camera picks
the appropriate shutter speed. The choices
range from F2.8 - F8 and will vary depending
on the focal range used.
||You pick the aperture and shutter speed.
See above for values.
||Your favorite settings, easy to access.
||More on this later
||Helps you make panoramic shots
||You pick the situations and the camera
uses the appropriate settings. Choose from
foliage, snow, beach, fireworks, underwater,
indoor, kids & pets, night snapshot.
||Slows the shutter speed down
||For stopping action
||For people pictures with a night backdrop
One thing I loved about the A70 and
A80 were all the manual controls, something you still
can't find on cameras in this class. You may not need
them right away, but when you get more familiar with
photography, you'll grow to love them.
The zoom controller moves the lens
from wide-angle to telephoto in about 1.5 seconds.
With only 6 stops throughout the zoom range, you can't
be terribly precise.
On this side of the A95 you'll find
the last two I/O ports. They are for A/V out and USB
On the other side you'll find the
CompactFlash slot, which is kept behind a flimsy plastic
door. The door didn't seem to have very good "fit" either
when closed. The A95 takes standard Type I CompactFlash
The included 32MB card is shown at
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. The door that covers it is also plastic
and is marginally better than the one covering the
Using the Canon PowerShot
It takes about two seconds for the
A95 to extend its lens and "warm up" before
you can start taking pictures. Not bad.
like histograms in record mode
Autofocus speeds are about average,
with a delay of 0.6 - 0.8 seconds in most cases. If
the camera has to hunt a bit, it can take a little
over a second to lock focus. The camera focuses well
in low light conditions thanks to its AF-assist lamp.
The LCD remains usable in those conditions, which is
Shutter lag was low, even at slower
shutter speeds where it sometimes crops up.
Shot-to-shot speed is excellent. You
will wait for just over a second before you can take
Press the Function/Delete photo button
as the picture is being written to the memory card
and you can toss it.
Now, here's a look at the image size
and quality choices available on the A95:
||Approx. file size
||# Images on 32MB card
(2592 x 1944)
(2048 x 1536)
(1600 x 1200)
(640 x 480)
The A95 does not support the 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. Do note
that some of those options are not available in "auto" mode.
Here's a list of all the options in the record menu:
- AF Frame (AiAF, FlexiZone, center)
- AiAF is 9-point autofocus; I discussed FlexiZone
earlier; center just focuses on tech center of the
frame and can speed up focusing times
- Redeye reduction (on/off)
- Spot AE point (Center, AF point)
- whether camera meters on center of frame or AF
point while in spot metering mode
- MF-point zoom (on/off) - center-frame
enlargement in manual focus
- AF-assist beam (on/off)
- Digital zoom (on/off) - it's best
to keep this turned off
- Review (Off, 2-10 sec)
- Reverse display (on/off) - whether
camera "flips" the image on the LCD when
you rotate the screen all the way around
- Date stamp (Off, date, date & time)
- see below
- Save settings - to the "C" position
on the mode dial. Handy feature!
I wanted to mention the date stamp
feature since there's been some confusion about it.
To use this feature you must use the function menu's
resolution option to select "postcard size",
which is 1600 x 1200. Then and only then can you print
the date and/or time on your photos. It should be an
option at all the resolutions in my opinion!
There is also a setup menu on the
A95, so let's take a look at that now:
- Mute (on/off) - turn off those
annoying beep sounds!
- 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,
- Date/time (set)
- Card format
- File number reset (on/off) - maintain
- Auto rotate (on/off) - camera will
automatically rotate portrait photos for you
- Distance units (m/cm, ft/in)
- Language (English, German, French,
Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish,
Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, 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 A95 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 PowerShot A95 did a great job
with our usual macro test subject. Color looks good
and there's plenty of detail to be found. Manual white
balance helped keep the color accurate under my 600W
quartz studio lamps and aperture priority mode was
used for depth-of-field (no blurry nose here!).
In macro mode you can get as close
to your subject as 5 cm at wide-angle (56 x 42 mm recordable
area) and 25 cm at telephoto (87 x 65 mm recordable
area). If you buy the closeup lens attachment, those
distances drop to 4 and 8 cm, respectively.
I want to apologize a little for this
image. Yeah, it's slightly crooked, and yes, it's foggy
(hey, it's summer, give me a break). I think the fog
makes things look a little noisier than they actually
Anyhow, the A95 took a pretty nice
shot of downtown San Francisco, though it's slightly
noisy and there's a decent amount of purple fringing
to be found. I was a little surprised to see all those
purple halos at F4.9 -- I recommend using a higher
F-number than I used if you want to get rid of the
With shutter speeds as long as 15
seconds, night shots like this are easy. Just use a
Using that same scene, let's see how
the A95 performed at higher ISO sensitivities:
Things start off well enough but by
ISO 200 things are pretty noisy. At ISO 400 things
are pretty bad.
I took a lot of redeye test shots
for this review. The first time I took it, I got something
much like what you see above. After testing the PowerShot
A75 a few months back and seeing opposite results,
I tried again. And again. And kept getting the same
results. I grabbed the A85 which is also here for testing
and it did better. So for whatever reason the A95 seems
to have more redeye than the A75 and A85 (they seem
to have the same flash).
One thing to remember about redeye:
your mileage may vary.
The distortion test shows mild barrel
distortion at the wide end of the lens. I also see
some vignetting (dark corners) in the test shot, but
it wasn't a problem in my real world photos.
Overall I was very pleased with the
photo quality on the PowerShot A95. Images are sharp,
noise is low, and color and exposure are both accurate.
I saw some purple fringing here and there but it's
nothing to be concerned about. With 5 million pixels
at your disposal, you can make some beautiful prints
at 8 x 10 inches -- and larger.
By all means, have a look at our gallery before
choosing to buy this camera. Print the photos just
like you would if they were your own. Then decide if
the A95 is right for you!
The A95's movie mode is better than
the one on the A80, but that isn't saying much -- it's
still pretty outdated. You can record up to 30 seconds
of VGA (640 x 480) video at 10 frames/second, with
sound. At the lower resolutions (320 x 240 and 160
x 120) you can record for 3 minutes at 15 frame/second.
Those time limits are fixed -- it doesn't matter how
big your memory card is.
You cannot use the zoom lens during
Movies are saved in AVI format, using
the M-JPEG codec.
Here's a sample movie for you, recorded
at the 640 x 480 resolution. A framerate this slow
makes for choppy video!
to play movie (6.3MB, 640 x 480, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
Canon always has done a great job
with their playback modes, and the A95 is no exception.
Image protection, slide shows, DPOF print marking,
thumbnail view, and zoom and scroll mode are all here.
The camera is PictBridge-enabled for direct printing
to compatible photo printers.
The "zoom and scroll" feature
(my term) lets you zoom into your photos by as much
as 10 times, which is helpful for determining whether
your image is in-focus or not.
You can also rotate images (which
was probably done automatically when you took the picture)
or add a 60 second sound clip to them, if you wish.
A movie editing feature lets you chop footage off the
beginning or end of your "film".
The A95 is capable of showing you
plenty of information about your photo -- just press
the display button until you get what you see above.
A histogram is shown as well (now if only we could
get one in record mode!).
The camera moves through photos at
an average clip, with a one second delay between each
image. No low resolution placeholder is shown -- it's
from one high res image to the next.
How Does it Compare?
The PowerShot A95 is a worthy follow-up
to the extremely popular A80. There wasn't much that
needed improvement on the A80, and admittedly some
of the changes are pretty unexciting. The most important
changes are the higher resolution CCD and larger/sharper
LCD display. So what I'm saying is that the A95 is
even better than an already great camera.
The A95 takes great picture, with
accurate color and exposure, and low noise and purple
fringing levels. Redeye did seem to be a problem, though
I'm not sure why since the A75 and A85 did much better,
and they're basically the same camera. The A95 isn't
going to win any awards for shooting performance --
it's average in all respects, but it gets the job done
every time. In low light the camera focuses accurately,
and the LCD is visible thanks to an auto-gain function.
The A80 had a rotating 1.5" LCD that was nice,
but just too small. Now, on the A95, the LCD is up
to 1.8" and the resolution has nearly doubled.
The real area in which this camera
shines is in terms of manual controls. You may not
need them yet, but trust me, you will. The camera can
be used in automatic mode just fine (there are plenty
of scene modes to help you out), but when you're ready,
you'll appreciate the A95's full manual controls. This
includes control over aperture, shutter speed, white
balance, and focus. The A95 is expandable too, with
support for wide-angle, telephoto, and macro conversion
lenses. For those who like the water, an underwater
case is also available.
The A95 isn't perfect, though. I already
mentioned the redeye issues that I had, so here are
some other complaints. For one, the date imprinting
feature is only available at the 1600 x 1200 resolution.
Now I don't care about that since I never use that
feature, but you might. Second, the movie mode, while
an improvement over the A80, is still pretty bad. Maybe
next year Canon will leave the world of choppy, time-limited
movie clips behind. Third, the plastic door over the
CompactFlash slot was pretty flimsy, and it didn't
seem to close very securely (at least on my camera).
Finally, the 6 stops throughout the zoom range don't
allow for a lot of flexibility when you're trying to
get the focal range where you want it.
I highly recommend the A95 and expect
it to sell at least as well as the A80 did in the last
year. For those stuck between the A75, A85, and A95,
it really comes down to one thing: the rotating LCD.
You most likely don't need the extra resolution
of the A95, but that rotating LCD sure is nice. If
you like it too, then I'd go for the A95 -- otherwise
the other two cameras perform just as well, but for
What I liked:
- Very good photo quality
- Flip-out, rotating LCD display
(now larger and sharper!)
- Tons of manual controls
- AF-assist lamp
- LCD usable in dim lighting
- Support for conversion lenses,
- Tons of new scene modes
- Can save favorite settings to spot
on mode dial
- FlexiZone AF system lets you focus
nearly anywhere in the frame
- Impressive software package
What I didn't care for:
- No diopter correction knob
- No rechargeable batteries included
- Flimsy plastic door over CF slot
- Can only print the date on photos
at 1600 x 1200 resolution
- Movie mode not so hot in 2004
Other cameras in this class worth
looking at include the Fuji
FinePix E510, HP
Photosmart R707, Kodak EasyShare DX7440 (4MP)
and DX7630 (6MP), Nikon
Coolpix 5200, Pentax
Optio 555, and the Sony
Cyber-shot DSC-W1. For those who can live without
the 5MP resolution and rotating LCD, check out the
Canon PowerShot A75 and A85 as
As always, I recommend a trip down
to your local reseller to try out the PowerShot A95
and its competitors before you buy!
Want to see how the photo quality
turned out? Check out our PowerShot
Want a second opinion?
Check out a review of the A95 over
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.
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