Canon PowerShot A3200 IS Review

May 6, 2011 | Matt Grayson |


The Canon Powershot A3200 IS is an easy to use entry-level compact aimed at the point-and-shooter for holidays and nights out. Sporting a decent 14.1 megapixel resolution and 5x optical zoom, the A3200 also houses some nifty technology to help take the best pictures possible. Priced with an SRP of £129, the Canon A3200 IS sits well in the marketplace as a viable option but how does it perform in real life?

Ease of Use

Looking at the svelte exterior, the small A3200 IS has little to offer but it's all in the design because there's more under the hood that isn't accessed using buttons and switches. Despite the moderate zoom, the Canon Powershot A3200 IS has an image stabiliser to steady your shots in low light where the shutter speed may have dropped.

The command dial mentioned previously is the retitled Best Shot Dial that Canon developed years ago. It enables fast selection of often used features such as the different shooting modes (Program, Auto, Easy) as well as a couple of quirky modes such as fish eye effect, miniature and posterize. There's also a discreet mode and access to the scene modes.

The fish eye effect bowls out the centre of the image to give a rounded look to the picture. It's great fun taking self portraits in this mode with the distortion it creates. The miniature mode will display a box on the screen which is the area of the photograph in focus. It can be manipulated up and down  the screen so you can adjust the focal plane. The final picture looks good and it's nice to see modes like this on an entry level camera.

Canon PowerShot A3200 IS Canon PowerShot A3200 IS
Front Rear

Face detection built in to the Canon Powershot A3200 IS can identify up to a whopping 35 faces and will select a correct exposure setting to ensure they're all in focus. Within the scene selection mode on the top dial, you can also choose the smart shutter mode which will take a picture automatically when it sees a face in the frame.

As with most compacts these days, the auto mode is now intelligent so it will analyse the scene you're taking a picture of and select the correct shooting mode to get the best exposure and colour balance. It will also explain what each feature does with the hints and tips mode. If you don't want or like the hints and tips, they can be switched off in the settings tab of the main menu.

One of the cooler features of the Canon Powershot A3200 IS is the Live View Control which allows you to make exposure and colour adjustments on screen. In this mode, which is selected on the command dial on top of the camera, three options for light, saturation and colour temperature will be displayed when you press the Function button in the middle of the navigation pad on the back.

Canon PowerShot A3200 IS Canon PowerShot A3200 IS
Side Front

They're not titled as such but the three slider scales have options at each end pertaining to the task they perform. For example, the first slider is for exposure and has the word Dark at one end and Light at the other. The saturation option in the middle has Neutral on the left and Vivid on the right, while the colour temperature option simply asks if you want the picture cool or warm. The great thing is it does it real time for you so you don't have to take a picture to find out if it's what you want.

Pressing the function/set button in the centre of the navigation pad on the back will bring up the function menu. This small sub-menu gives access to often used modes such as ISO, white balance, drive modes, metering and file sizes. There's also a colour change mode for either adjusting, removing or prioritising colours. For more advanced options and features, the main menu offers modes such as adjusting the AF frame size, adjusting the digital zoom values and flash settings.

Interestingly, Canon have a tendency to integrate sub menus into their cameras and one such menu on the Powershot A3200 IS is the flash settings. There are only two more settings in this sub menu for red-eye reduction and enabling/disabling the red-eye lamp. It seems unusual that these two options would be put into an out of the way menu when it would only extend the main menu by one extra line. Canon must have their reasons though.

Canon PowerShot A3200 IS Canon PowerShot A3200 IS
Top Memory Card Slot

The Canon Powershot A3200 IS is an easy to use camera with a relatively decent build quality. It has a metal shell on a plastic chassis. It's a good size with all the controls falling to our fingertips. The plastic tripod bush will probably wear out earlier than a metal one but users of this camera will be less likely to use one on a regular basis if at all. The built-in flash and high ISO1600 performance means that the photographer using this camera will opt for those modes before investing in legs.

The Canon Powershot A3200 IS takes SD and SDHC memory cards as well as being fully compatible with the new SDXC format. SDXC is the Extreme Capacity which starts at 32Gb and goes up to a theoretical maximum capacity of 2Tb (2048Gb).

Because it takes its own lithium ion battery, the A3200 IS will last longer between charges than a camera takes standard AA batteries. In fact, throughout the test taking over 150 pictures and constantly reviewing on the screen and taking video, the battery wasn't even half drained. It's a good performance like this that bolsters the benefits of using lithium ion in a camera. There are pros and cons to both such as a lithium ion battery running out on a day trip means the camera is useless, whereas you can buy AA batteries from any newsagents. AA batteries don't last as long which means outlay is more expensive for replacements.