Canon's PowerShot A-series lineup epitomizes inexpensive point-and-shoot simplicity without sacrificing photo quality. They're not the most feature filled, they aren't the most stylish (they're not unattractive either), and speedy performance isn't their forte. The PowerShot A2000 IS, for example, is compact if a little thick, heavy, and somewhat drab looking and its most distinguishing feature is a 6x zoom lens. However, you can turn it on and take a good photo with little effort and, at less than $200, little financial investment.
The A2000 IS isn't much to look at, but it is functional. Its gray-and-silver wedge-shaped body is comfortably thick for a steady grip, though still reasonably slim. Sticking it in a bigger pants pocket or jacket won't be a problem, though its weight won't let you forget it's there. And considering the A2000 IS has a 6x zoom lens and is powered by two AA batteries, the weight is forgivable.
At first glance, it seems as if there's a lot going on with the controls for the A2000 IS. On top are a power button, a shutter release with zoom ring, and a Mode dial with no fewer than 10 shooting options. Why so many for such a basic camera? Well, along with its P (for Program), Auto, Easy (auto without options), and Movie modes, Canon puts five popular scene selections (including Portrait, Landscape, Indoor) and a SCN choice for accessing lesser used scene settings like Sunset, Snow, and Aquarium. So while the Mode dial looks quite busy, it is actually simple.
Likewise, the back of the camera is loaded with a directional pad and six buttons labeled in white (for shooting functions) and blue (for playback functions), but even novice users should have things down pat fairly quickly.
Regardless of the controls, there's little reason to spend much time hanging out in the menu system. But for those times when it's necessary--say to change the autofocus priority, adjust the LCD brightness, or switch when the image stabilization is engaged--navigation is straightforward.
If you're expecting to find the manual controls of earlier Canon A-series models, you'll be disappointed with the A2000 IS. The A590 IS is the only model in the current lineup that has aperture-priority, shutter-priority, and manual options. However, the A2000 IS' Program mode does give you control over ISO, white balance, autofocus type, light metering, and color effects. Plain and simple, the A2000 IS is designed for point-and-shoot use and it does that extremely well. If only it were a bit faster at doing it.
From powered off to first shot, the camera takes an acceptable 1.9 seconds. The camera's 2.7-second shot-to-shot time is also comparatively normal for its class. However, turn on the flash and you'll be waiting an average of 7.1 seconds between shots. Shutter lag felt long during use. CNET Labs' tests found that shutter lag was 0.6 second in bright conditions and 0.8 second in dim light. There is no proper burst shooting mode, but the A2000 IS has unlimited continuous shooting capable of a decent 0.8 frames per second.
As mentioned earlier, for a low-cost compact camera, the A2000 IS has first-rate photo quality. Color, contrast, and white balance are particularly good. As is the norm for this class of cameras, the A2000 IS shines at ISO sensitivities below ISO 200. Grain becomes readily noticeable at ISO 400, but for the most part details remain unexpectedly good. You can increase up to ISO 800 and still have a usable photo at smaller sizes. This is great since it means shooting in low light isn't completely out of the question, as long as you're not expecting very sharp, detailed photos.
For a pure point-and-shoot camera, the A2000 IS is a good deal. It provides excellent photo quality with the benefits of some extra zoom range and optical image stabilization. You'll just have to overlook its somewhat slow performance and bland design.