Canon PowerShot A95 review: Canon PowerShot A95

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MSRP: $399.00
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Full feature set for its class; impressive photo quality; quick access to important settings via Function button; accepts accessory lenses; underwater housing available.

The Bad Stiff CompactFlash slot cover with flimsy hinge; grip may be uncomfortable for larger hands.

The Bottom Line When it comes to features and image quality, this camera is at the top of its class.

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7.2 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 6.0
  • Image quality 8.0

Canon PowerShot A95

Canon's 5-megapixel PowerShot A95 steps up as the capable successor to the highly popular A80. As the A series' momentary flagship model, the A95 offers simplicity for entry-level photographers, a versatile feature set for more-experienced shooters, and excellent image quality for both.

The camera's design essentially remains the same, with only a few changes. It's a slightly smaller and lighter--12.4 ounces with CompactFlash card and four AA batteries--package than its predecessor. Canon tweaked a few items, such as putting the Set and Menu buttons below the 1.8-inch LCD. It's not the most convenient placement, but given the three additional dedicated buttons (Function; display and print/share; and a four-way controller and a record/playback slider), there's no room elsewhere. And though this model's flip-and-twist, 1.8-inch LCD is a hair larger (by 0.3 inch) than the A80's, it's still on the small size relative to other cameras' 2-inch LCDs. But we gladly trade off size for swivel.

We have a few small design gripes. The power button is slightly recessed from the top of the camera and set a little toward the center, so it takes a little of a stretch and a search to turn on the camera. We'd also like the grip to be just a little bigger for a firmer handhold. And finally, the plastic CompactFlash slot cover is a bit flimsy and clumsy to open.

Yet those complaints pale in the face of the Canon PowerShot A95's other attributes, such as its well-rounded feature set and excellent image quality. Snapshooters will feel comfortable with the Auto, Program AE, and scene modes, as well as the one-touch print/share function, while more-experienced users will gravitate toward the aperture-priority, shutter-priority, and manual exposure options. Drilling deeper, you'll find selectable ISO, custom white balance, sharpening adjustments, and other features for more in-depth tweaking. Though it provides a mere 3X, 38mm-to-114mm (35mm equivalent) optical zoom, the A95 accepts the same lens adapter and add-on lenses as the A80.

Canon improves the nine-point autofocus system with FlexiZone, the company's market-speak for user-selectable focus points. This is particularly helpful when your subject is off-center; just move the focus point, and you're set. On the other hand, sometimes it's faster to focus off-center, recompose, and shoot. Also new to the A95 is ID photo printing, which eliminates the need to have passport pictures taken elsewhere. But its limited movie capabilities--it can handle only 30 seconds of VGA-quality video--fall short of many competitors'.

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