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Canon PowerShot A590 IS Point-and-Shoot Camera

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Canon PowerShot A590 IS Compact Camera

My digital camera expertise begins and ends with this fact: I cannot resist the urge to photograph a couple of fuzzballs named Chuckie and Violet. I'm a classic novice point-and-shooter, and the crème de la crème of my snapshots find their way onto Flickr or Facebook.

Recently, I spent some time with the 8-megapixel Canon PowerShot A590IS digital camera to see how fully it would meet my list of very basic snapshooting requirements and how well it would compensate fro my lack of technical proficiency. For a bargain-bin price of $150, it has a lot of features: 8-megapixel resolution, 4X optical zoom, optical image stabilization, face detection (which recognizes faces in the frame and optimizes the autofocus accordingly) and a smaller-but-serviceable 2.5-inch LCD screen. And conveniently it runs on two AA batteries.

To orient myself to the camera and gain insight into its features and functions, I ripped the A590IS out of the box and started taking pictures. I had no trouble working my way through various settings, quickly finding and using many of the 19 shooting modes, including portrait, landscape, and auto. Not surprisingly, the A590IS doesn't support a full range of manual settings (what do you expect for $150?), but it does let you program the shutter speed and aperture settings manually if you want to.

The big news with this point-and-shoot camera is image quality. Despite its rock-bottom price, the A590IS scored significantly higher in our image-quality assessments than point-and-shoots that cost more than twice as much and have higher megapixel counts. In particular, our judges noted superior colors and flash exposures in our subjective tests.

Image quality gets an assist from my favorite A590IS feature: the optical image stabilizer. I tried desperately to take a blurry picture--and I failed. No matter how hard I shook that camera or how much my subjects shimmied, I couldn't induce a blurry image. (Unfortunately for me, the A590IS does permit photo subject guillotinage if the picture taker frames the shot badly enough.)

Like many other Canon cameras, the PowerShot A590IS has a classic, easy-to-hold ergonomic shape with a fat thumb/hand grip on the right side. Though it's comfortable to hold, the camera body lacks rubber or textured trim on the plastic surface of its hand grip, which makes the grip a bit slick. I also wished that the camera were smaller: It's a compact camera, but not exactly pocketable. You'll need to secure it in a small camera bag before stowing it in your purse or backpack, or you'll risk scratching it up.

Though the AA batteries are great for convenience, the A590IS produced only 248 shots running on a fresh pair. Many point-and-shoots can take more than 300 shots on a single charge.

Photos from the PowerShot A590IS will never be mistaken for digital SLR output, but this camera is a great choice for anyone seeking an inexpensive, easy-to-use point-and-shoot that produces high-quality images. And don't be afraid to put its optical image stabilization to the test.

This story, "Canon PowerShot A590 IS Point-and-Shoot Camera" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • For a beginners' camera, the PowerShot A590IS has nice image quality and superb stabilization.

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