Canon PowerShot A1300 Review
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The Canon PowerShot A1300 is a slim point and shoot entry-level digital compact camera sporting a 16 megapixel sensor, 5x optical zoom lens, LIVE control, 720p movies, 32 scene modes, AA batteries, 2.7’’ LCD display and an optical viewfinder. Priced at £109.00 / €119.00 / $119.99 the Canon PowerShot A1300 is available in black or silver.
Ease of Use
Despite it's unassuming exterior, the Canon PowerShot A1300 is one of the most interesting happy snapper compacts we've seen of late. It has all the usual features that you'd expect on a sub-£100 camera, easy to use layout, large buttons, a Help guide and AA battery compatibility. However, you can take pictures on the A1300 using an optical viewfinder. You can physically hold the camera up to your eye like on an old fashioned camera. Like you're some kind of caveman. Maybe you think we're over-reacting. After all, cameras such as the PowerShot G15 still have an optical viewfinder. The point is that these died out on budget cameras years ago but here's one now. For photographers, this is an interesting hark back to the glory days of yore.
However, our enthusiasm was short lived. Using the viewfinder reminds us why they died out. The hole is so small due to the diminutive size of the camera that there's not a great deal you can see through it. Also, we found our hands started to cover the viewfinder while we were taking pictures. But before it's cast asunder and written off as another retro throwback, it does allow for possible sharper pictures. The reason being that when you use an optical viewfinder, the camera and arms are tucked into the body. This creates a solid trunk which means a steadier camera. Holding a camera out arm's length makes it more unsteady and prone to camera shake if you zoom out to full telephoto or if the light is low and the camera needs to use a slower shutter speed.
The 5x optical lens is a standard Canon zoom type. It's a black lens that remains black even if you get the Canon PowerShot A1300 in silver. On the top there are two buttons: a power button and a shutter release button. All pretty standard stuff with the exception that the buttons on the A1300 are larger than normal. Handy if you have big hands or if you're an older person and you can't mess around with fiddly buttons and switches. On the back, the theme has been retained with the navigation pad and surrounding buttons occupying at least three quarters of of the available space. At the top, the video record button sits next to the Help guide. This handy instruction area gives you a helping hand with what the modes and programs mean and where you can access them on the camera.
Pressing the function button in the centre of the pad (marked FUNC.) brings up a small, quick access menu with modes such as ISO, white-balance, continuous shooting, self-timer and resolution among others. These are the most used modes that you'll want to change temporarily or frequently. Core modes are found in the main menu which is accessed by pressing the Menu button at the bottom of the camera. In this menu, there are only two tabs. The colouring is a dark grey background with white lettering and a pale orange highlight. This makes it very easy to see as the lettering is comfortably large without being too obvious. It's a casual large. The first tab is for shooting options and as we said, they're more core subjects such as switching the digital zoom on or off, setting the AF frame, setting the red-eye on or off and switching i-Contrast on or off.
For a cheerful little camera like the Canon PowerShot A1300, there's certainly some weight to it, especially when the batteries are in. It gives the camera a presence in your pocket, which is good if you're in a crowded market or on a night out. The larger buttons are much easier to navigate round. Picture taking can begin without having to look at the camera because you're more likely to press the right button. The buttons are responsive but don't click down, they have a rounded softness to them. The screen is slightly smaller than is normally seen these days. At 2.7inch it's still a decent size and is certainly bright enough. It does suffer from a little purple banding on bright spots but they're not recorded on the pictures. Motion blur is at a minimum as well.
Starting up from cold, the camera will power up, focus and take a picture in just over three seconds. That's a little bit slow when compared to other digital compact cameras. The A1300 has only one continuous shooting mode. The Canon website states that the performance is 0.8 fps (frames per second) although these results can sometimes be a little off due to the clinical conditions they're tested in. Real life shooting can yield different results although in this case we're confident that Canon aren't embellishing. The first shot recorded at 1.3sec which - after taking reflexes into consideration - works out at around 0.8 or 0.9fps. After this, the camera takes just over a second for each shot. Bear in mind that 0.8fps is 0.8 of a picture every second. That means it takes just over a second to take each picture.
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The playback button at the bottom of the Canon PowerShot A1300 shows all the pictures that you've already taken. You can press this button whether the camera is switched on or not. Pressing the DISP button will scroll through the various ways of looking at the pictures. There's two full screen options; with information or without information and despite the camera's beginner audience target, it also offers a thumbnail view. This also has more in-depth shooting information such as the shooting mode, ISO setting, shutter speed and aperture, resolution, file size and a histogram. The latter is a graph that measures the exposure of the picture. The aim is to get the peak as near to the middle as possible.
In the box, the Canon PowerShot A1300 comes with a USB cable, wrist strap and 2x AA batteries. That's pretty much it for hardware accessories. The software CD provides the full manual, a basic imaging viewer called Image Browser EX and a panorama stitch program.