Canon PowerShot A3200 IS Review

May 6, 2011 | Matt Grayson | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


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.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 14 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4Mb.

As you'd expect from a digital compact at this price point, image quality is good, but not phenomenal. All images were taken at the highest 14.1 megapixel fine setting. File sizes vary between 2Mb up to over 9Mb for the high ISO images. Interestingly, pictures taken with the special effects (fish eye, miniature etc) use a low file size.

The Canon Powershot A3200 IS handles natural colours well, such as sky blue or grass green and saturated colours are also rendered nicely. It copes nicely with skin tones and we were pleased with all the portrait shots we took.

Looking at the pictures with an everyday sensitivity of around ISO200, they look highly detailed and noise free at normal size on a computer screen. However cropping in to full size you can see the loss of detail, probably from compression and noise reduction.


The ISO range on the Canon Powershot A3200 IS starts at ISO80 and stops at ISO1600. At the lower end, there's no noise evident, and images look good. In fact, image quality doesn't really start to degrade until around ISO400 where noise reduction really starts to kick in. Colour noise is still low and that doesn't become really visible until around ISO800 where discolouration starts to appear. At the highest setting, colour noise is invasive with purple blobs appearing in the mid-range. For a camera at this level, noise control is good and I'm especially impressed with how the noise reduction works and to what level.

Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)


ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)


ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


All the pictures taken with the Canon Powershot A3200 IS benefit from a little sharpening in an editing suite such as Photoshop. As the camera isn't for a user that will take a lot of time to edit pictures, using the standard sharpening setting in Photoshop will give a decent result meaning that anyone can do it. The sample images here were edited using Adobe Photoshop CS4.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

Focal Range

The Canon Powershot A3200 IS has a standard 5x optical zoom which starts at 28mm and caps at 140mm in 35mm terms. It's a good enough zoom range for everyday use but when subjects are quite a way away, you might find that it just can't get there. There's evidence of blurred edges at the 28mm wide setting although it's only really noticeable on macro shots (see macro section below). At 140mm the edge blurriness has disappeared.



File Quality

As well as being able to alter the amount of pixels used in the picture, you can also change the compression. There are two settings called high and normal and the normal setting compresses the images so much it doubles the amount of pictures available on the memory card.

14M Fine (100% Crop) 14M Normal (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberration (chroma, colour fringing, chromatic distortion, purple fringing) is most evident on high contrast areas and is seen as a purple line down the side of the darker area. On our test shots, we couldn't detect any fringing at all which is a great result. However, it can be difficult to determine between fringing and lens flare which the camera sometimes suffered from. Saying that, in the scenarios that it did suffer, any other camera would've done too.

Example 1 (100% Crop)


Despite a close focusing of 3cm, it appears a lot closer in real life but we did get occasions when the camera said it was focused, but it wasn't. In our test of a compact flash card, the image is dead sharp in the centre but starts to go blurred towards the edges.

Macro Shot

100% Crop


Because the Canon Powershot A3200 IS is only a small digital compact camera, the flash doesn't need to be huge but it more than compensates for any pictures that need flash. There are four settings when you press the flash button on the back of the camera which are auto, on, slow synchro and off. For those of you who are unsure about the slow synchro option, it's designed for taking pictures of people in dark situations. It uses a burst of flash to light up the person and a slow shutter speed to light up a dark background. With that in mind, it's always best to rest the camera on a tripod or some kind of support.

Auto Flash - Wide Angle (28mm)

Auto Flash - Telephoto (140mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Light fall off at wide angle is pretty severe with harsh vignetting all around the frame. This disappears nicely at telephoto. Portraits are recorded well with flash although looking really closely, we discovered a slight amount of red-eye that remained when red-eye reduction was turned on. It appears that very slight amounts are too much for the camera to handle.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Red-eye Correction

Red-eye Correction (100% Crop)

Night Shot

We had to set the sensitivity to ISO80 to get a long exposure because on the A3200, there's no shutter or aperture priority. Long exposures from the A3200 are super smooth with good noise reduction applied to the picture.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Anti Shake

There are 3 types of image stabilisation on the Canon Powershot A3200 IS. They're located in the main menu at the bottom of the shooting tab. Scrolling through the options, you can choose from continuous which will show you the stabilisation on the screen as you compose the image, but this drains more of the battery. Shoot only mode will stabilise the picture as you take it but not show you on the preview monitor. There's also a panning mode for if you're taking pictures of cars or moving subjects and need to move with them. The camera only uses the stabilisation on the horizontal axis.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Anti Shake Off (100% Crop)

Anti Shake On (100% Crop)

1 sec / 28mm
1/8 sec / 28mm

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Canon PowerShot A3200 IS camera, which were all taken using the 14 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1280x720 at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 21 second movie is 81.3Mb in size.

Product Images

Canon Powershot A3200 IS

Front of the Camera

Canon Powershot A3200 IS

Isometric View

Canon Powershot A3200 IS

Isometric View

Canon Powershot A3200 IS

Rear of the Camera / Main Menu

Canon Powershot A3200 IS

Rear of the Camera / Function Menu

Canon Powershot A3200 IS

Rear of the Camera / Function Menu

Canon Powershot A3200 IS

Rear of the Camera / Effects Menu

Canon Powershot A3200 IS

Front of the Camera

Canon Powershot A3200 IS

Top of the Camera


Canon Powershot A3200 IS

Rear of the Camera

Canon Powershot A3200 IS

Side of the Camera

Canon Powershot A3200 IS

Memory Card Slot / Battery Compartment



The Canon Powershot A3200 IS ticks all the boxes that someone looking to spend this amount of money on a camera will need. It has a decent resolution, a focal range that copes with every day shooting, an abundance of “do it for you” features and it looks nice. If you own a DSLR and are used to the quality of it, you'll find this camera lacking but then it's not supposed to compete that high and at the level it's placed at, it does very well.

Noise control is good until you get to the high settings and I've seen a lot worse on more expensive cameras. We like how the camera controls colour, focusing is fast enough for most scenarios and the only disappointment was in some cases the camera over exposed. In those instances all we had to do was under-expose by a stop on the exposure compensation but it shouldn't have needed doing.

It's not a bad little camera, though. It looks nice enough and all the features that you need are at hand on the buttons or the command dial on top of the camera. The command dial could maybe have been put on the back of the camera or removed completely but it's not a bad thing.

If you're in the market for a decent compact with some fun features, take a look at the Canon Powershot A3200 IS.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 3.5
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 4
Value for money 4

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Canon PowerShot A3200 IS from around the web. »

Announced at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, The Canon PowerShot A3300 IS replaces the A3100 IS at the top of Canon's A-series compact range. With a redesigned body shape, 16 Megapixel sensor, stabilised 5x optical zoom and 3 inch screen the PowerShot A3300 IS delivers easy to use point-and-shoot modes with basic control, but no manual exposure modes. A new LIVE View Control mode provides results-based control over exposure compensation, saturation and white balance. The A3300 IS also offers 720p HD video shooting which is an advance on its predecessor, though, disappointingly, you can't use the optical zoom while shooting.
Read the full review »


Type 1/2.3 type CCD
Effective Pixels Approx. 14.1M
Colour Filter Type Primary Colour
Type DIGIC 4 with iSAPS technology
Focal Length 5.0 – 25.0 mm (35 mm equivalent: 28 – 140 mm)
Zoom Optical 5x. Digital Approx. 4x¹ (with Digital Tele-Converter Approx. 1.7x or 2.1x and Safety Zoom²)¹. Combined Approx. 20x
Maximum f/number f/2.8 – f/5.9
Construction 7 elements in 6 groups (2 double-sided aspherical lenses (including 1 UA lens), and 1 single-sided aspherical UA lens)
Image Stabilisation Yes (lens shift-type), approx. 3-stop
Type TTL
AF System/ Points AiAF (Face Detection / 9-point), 1-point AF (fixed to centre or Face Select and Track)
AF Modes Single, Continuous (Auto mode only), Servo AF/AE¹, Tracking AF¹
AF Point Selection Size (Normal, Small)
AF Lock On/Off Selectable
AF Assist Beam Yes
Closest Focusing Distance 3 cm (W) from front of lens in macro
Metering modes Evaluative (linked to Face Detection AF frame), Centre-weighted average, Spot (centre)
AE Lock On/Off Selectable
Exposure Compensation +/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments.
Enhanced i-Contrast for automatic dynamic range correction
ISO sensitivity* AUTO, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
Speed 1 – 1/1600 sec. (factory default)
15 – 1/1600 sec. (total range – varies by shooting mode)
Type TTL
Settings Auto (including Face Detection WB), Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom
Monitor 6.7 cm (2.7") TFT, Approx. 230,400 dots
Coverage Approx. 100%
Brightness Adjustable to one of five levels. Quick-bright LCD
Modes Auto, Manual Flash On / Off, Slow Synchro
Slow Sync Speed Yes. Fastest speed 1/1600 sec.
Red-Eye Reduction Yes
Flash Exposure Compensation Face Detection FE, Smart Flash Exposure
Flash Exposure Lock Yes
Built-in Flash Range 30 cm – 4.0 m (W) / 50 cm – 2.0 m (T)
External Flash Canon High Power Flash HF-DC1
Modes Auto*, Easy*, P, Live View Control, SCN (Portrait, Landscape, Kids & Pets, Smart Shutter (Smile, Wink Self-Timer, FaceSelf-Timer), Low Light (3.5MP), Beach, Foliage, Snow, Fireworks, Long Shutter), Creative Filters (Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect), Discreet, Movie
*with Scene Detection Technology and Motion Detection Technology
Photo Effects My Colors (My Colors Off, Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Custom Color (limited))
Drive modes Single, Continuous, Self-Timer
Continuous Shooting Approx. 0.9 shots/sec.¹ (until memory card becomes full)²
Image Size (L) 4320 x 3240, (M1) 3072 x 2304, (M2) 1600 x 1200, (S) 640 x 480, (W) 4320 x 2432. Resize in playback (M2, S, 320 x 240)
Compression Fine, Normal
Movies (HD) 1280 x 720, 30 fps, (L) 640 x 480, 30 fps, (M) 320 x 240, 30 fps
Miniature Effect (HD, L) 6fps, 3fps, 1.5 fps
Movie Length (HD) Up to 4 GB or 10 min. 00 sec.¹
(L and M) Up to 4 GB or 1 hour²
Still Image Type JPEG compression, (Exif 2.3 [Exif Print] compliant) / Design rule for Camera File system, Digital Print Order Format [DPOF] Version 1.1 compliant
Movies MOV [H.264 + Linear PCM (monaural) ]
Canon Printers Canon SELPHY Compact Photo Printers and Canon Inkjet Printers supporting PictBridge (ID Photo Print, Fixed Size Print and Movie Print supported on SELPHY CP & ES printers only)
PictBridge Yes
Red-Eye Correction Yes, during shooting and playback
My Camera / My Menu Start-up image and camera sounds customisation
My Category Image tagging feature
Intelligent Orientation Sensor Yes
Histogram Yes
Playback Zoom Approx. 2x – 10x
Self Timer Approx. 2 or 10 sec. or Custom
Menu Languages English, German, French, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Chinese (traditional), Japanese, Russian, Portuguese, Korean, Greek, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Thai, Arabic, Ukrainian, Romanian, Farsi
Computer Hi-Speed USB (MTP, PTP) dedicated connector (Mini-B compatible)
Other A/V output, dedicated connector (PAL/NTSC)
Type SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, MMCplus, HCMMCplus
PC & Macintosh Windows 7/ Vista SP1-2/ XP SP3
Mac OS X v10.5 – 10.6
Browsing & Printing ZoomBrowser EX / ImageBrowser
Other PhotoStitch
Batteries Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-8L (battery and charger supplied)
Battery life Approx. 250 shots¹
Approx. 360 min. playback
A/C Power Supply Optional, AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC60
Cases / Straps Soft Case DCC-510
Flash High Power Flash HF-DC1
Power Supply & Battery Chargers AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC60
Operating Environment 0 – 40 °C, 10 – 90% humidity
Dimensions (WxHxD) 95.1 x 56.7 x 24.3 mm
Weight Approx. 149 g (including battery/batteries and memory card)

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