Check out an examination of the photo quality from the Canon PowerShot A2200, a basic wide-angle budget-friendly compact point-and-shoot.
These are 100 percent crops from our test scene. Fine detail and sharpness are very good up to ISO 200 (though a little sharpening with photo-editing software improves things). Photos get noticeably softer at ISO 400 because of heavier noise reduction. Pixel peepers will see there's image noise at all ISO sensitivities, but it's not visible at reduced sizes until you get to ISO 800. As long as you don't mind increased softness and noise--including faint yellow blotching--ISO 800 is usable for small prints and Web sharing. The camera's highest full-resolution sensitivity is ISO 1600, and I'd stay clear of it unless you really need to take a low-light photo. On the other hand, because of consistent color at higher ISOs, the photos are better than from other cameras at this price; they just get slightly washed out at and above ISO 400. Take a closer look, and you'll see what I mean.
If you like to shoot close-ups, the A2200 can focus as close as 1.2 inches from a subject. The 14-megapixel resolution allows you to inspect fine details, but they're still a little soft and could use some sharpening with photo-editing software. Without optical image stabilization you'll need to use a support (or have really steady hands) to get the best results.
For its price, the A2200 is a nice portrait camera. As long as you have plenty of light, you'll get very good results. The f2.8 lens can give you a shallow depth-of-field in macro, but not for portraits. It will soften backgrounds, but not to the point of entirely blurring them out.
The A2200's lens goes from a wide 28mm to 112mm (35mm equivalent), a 4x zoom. Mostly, it allows for better framing opportunities without adding bulk or cost or degrading photo quality. Keep in mind, this camera doesn't have optical image stabilization, so if you're using the zoom, you'll definitely want to steady yourself.
There is slight barrel distortion at the wide end of the A2200's lens (top) and maybe a hint of it with the lens in telephoto, too. Center sharpness is very good, and though it softens a touch as you move out, it was still remarkably consistent edge to edge and in the corners compared with other budget cameras I've tested.
There was little fringing in high-contrast areas of photos. You can barely make it out around the edge of this flower in the center of the photo. However, it's a bit more visible on out-of-focus subjects, such as the flowers at the top of this photo. Keep in mind this is a 100 percent crop from the inset photo; when viewed at smaller sizes, it's more difficult to see.
Color performance is excellent from the A2200: bright, vivid, and accurate. Exposure is also very good. Highlights will blow out, but that's typical of compact cameras. The auto white balance indoors is a little warm, but otherwise it's good and you can always take advantage of the presets or manual white balance if you're not happy with the results.
Canon's i-Contrast feature does a good job of rescuing shadow detail. The left photo is with it off, the right with it on Auto. However, you can also use it in playback and you actually get more control over the amount applied.
The new Live View Control mode allows you to adjust brightness, color, and tone with onscreen sliders and see what the photo will look like as you make the changes. The top photo was taken with all settings set to the middle. For the bottom photo I decreased brightness and tone slightly and increased the color to make it more vivid. All other settings are handled automatically, which is kind of a shame, but understandable given that it's an A-series camera. (Note: These photos were taken with the Canon PowerShot A3300 IS and are only for demonstration of the shooting mode.)
If you want to experiment even more with your photos, Canon has dedicated a full spot on the mode dial to housing its Creative Effects options. These include a Toy Camera Effect (left from top to bottom: standard, warm, and cool), Monochrome, Super Vivid, and Poster Effect (right from top to bottom). (Note: These photos were taken with the Canon PowerShot A3300 IS and are only for demonstration of the shooting mode.)