Canon Powershot A640 Review
Date: November 27th 2006
Author: Gavin Stoker
The Canon Powershot A640 is a 10 megapixel compact digital camera with a 2.5 inch vari-angle LCD screen and optical viewfinder. The 4x optical zoom lens offers an effective focal length of 35-140mm, whilst under the surface the Canon A640 uses the same advanced DIGIC II processor as the company's digital SLR cameras for faster performance and image processing. The ISO range is 80-800 and there is a new high-speed ISO 800 setting which allows you to shoot correctly exposed images in low light conditions without using a flash. There are 15 different scene modes on offer for beginners and more advanced Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority and Manual shooting modes for those who desire greater control. VGA movies at 30fps, a My Colors mode that allows special in-camera colour effects, 1cm macro, and PictBridge, USB 2 and AA battery support complete the specification. Find out if the Canon Powershot A640 carries on the tradition of successful A-series Canon cameras by reading our in-depth review.
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The Canon Powershot A640 has a 10.3 megapixel, 1/1.8 inch CCD that delivers 10 effective megapixels. There are 3 image quality size settings available (Superfine, Fine and Normal) and 6 image size settings ((L) 3648 x 2736, (M1) 2816 x 2112, (M2) 2272 x 1704, (M3) 1600 x 1200, (S) 640 x 480, (W) 3648 x 2048 (Postcard Date Imprint) 1600 x 1200) which are recorded as JPEGs. There are no RAW or TIFF formats. The A640 uses the DIGIC II image processor with iSAPS technology. The camera's 4x optical zoom lens is equivalent to a 35-140mm lens on a 35mm format camera. There is also a 4x digital zoom should you feel the need to use it. The camera is supplied with a 32Mb Secure Digital (SD) Card and also supports the Secure Digital High-Capacity (SDHC) Card and MultiMediaCard (MMC) memory formats.
The Canon Powershot A640 offers Auto, Program AE, Shutter Priority AE, Aperture Priority AE and Manual exposure modes plus 15 different scene modes (Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Stitch Assist, Movie, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Underwater, Color Accent, Color Swap). The maximum aperture is f2.8 (wide) – f4.1 (tele), and the shutter speed range is 15 secs. – 1/2500 sec. There are 5 ISO speeds ranging from 80 to 800 plus an Auto option. There are 6 different White Balance presets to choose from (Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Underwater), plus Auto and Custom settings. The camera offers exposure compensation in ± 2 in 1/3 EV stops and an auto-exposure lock function which operates when the shutter button is pressed half-way. The Canon Powershot A640 offers 3 different auto-exposure metering options - Evaluative, Centre-weighted average and Spot (centre or linked to focusing frame).
The Canon Powershot A640 has a normal shooting mode, Self-timer (2 secs. 10 secs. or Custom) and a Continuous mode, which allows you take up to 1.5 frames/sec until the memory card is full. There are a number of different My Colors photo effects on offer (My Colors Off, Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Positive Film, Custom Color). The Macro setting allows you to focus on subjects that are as close as 1cm. The camera offers 3 auto-focusing systems - 9-point AiAF, 1-point AF (any position is available or fixed centre) and Manual - and you can also manually select an auto-focus point using FlexiZone AF/AE. The built-in flash offers 5 different modes (Auto, On, Auto Red-eye Reduction, Slow Synchro and Off). The flash range is 45cm-4.2m (W) / 3m (T). An AF assist beam, flash compensation of +/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments and Flash Exposure Lock are all available. The High Power Flash HF-DC1 externanl flash can also be fitted.
To compose your images, you can use the LCD monitor or the optical viewfinder. The Canon Powershot A640 has a vari-angle 2.5 inch colour TFT LCD monitor which has 115,000 pixels and which offers 100% scene coverage. The Canon Powershot A640 can record movies with sound at (L)640 x 480 at 30/15fps, (M)320 x 240 at 60/30/15fps and (S)160 x 120 at 15fps. Video is recorded in the AVI Motion JPEG format. The length of the video is limited up to 1GB or 1 hour (L and M, 30/15fps) or up to 3 minutes (S). You can also attach a 60 second or less sound clip to an image. A histogram is available in playback mode. The Canon Powershot A640 supports the DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) and PictBridge printing standards, and it connects to a computer via USB 2.0.
The Canon Powershot A640's dimensions are 109.4 (W) x 66.0 (D) x 49.1 (H) mm, and it weighs 245g without the battery and storage card fitted. The camera is powered by 4x AA Alkaline or NiMH batteries or an optional AC Adapter. Battery life is 280 shots with the supplied Alkaline batteries, measured according to CIPA standards. There is a plastic tripod mount in the left corner of the bottom of the camera.
Finally, the standard box kit contains 4x AA Alkaline batteries, AV Cable, USB Cable, Wrist Strap, 16Mb SD Memory Card and a CD-ROM containing Canon software (ZoomBrowser EX, ImageBrowser, PhotoStitch, TWAIN Driver, ArcSoft PhotoStudio). Note that you can only store 6 images at the highest quality setting on the supplied 32Mb memory card. You will therefore need to invest in some more memory cards to store your images on.
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