There's always a market for decent and cheap compact cameras, a niche which Canon seems to fill admirably with its A series of PowerShot cameras. Traditionally, the range ran on AA batteries, though the new 2011 range shifts to use rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries.
Design and features
Apart from the battery change, which means the camera is lighter and slimmer than previous versions, the A2200 also comes with a big drawcard -- HD video at 720p. While it's not likely to replace a dedicated video camera or SLR with video functionality, we applaud Canon for including this feature on its cheapest range. The A2200 uses a 14.1-megapixel CCD sensor and the lens is a respectable 4x optical zoom at f/2.8-5.9 at the wide (28mm) to telephoto end respectively.
Elsewhere, photographers get ample controls from the mode dial located at the top of the camera, including a program mode, full automatic and movie modes. Other interesting inclusions are Live View control, which allows you to change variables on a sliding scale (ranging from dark to light, neutral to vivid, cool to warm) and view the effects directly on the screen. There is also an easy mode, scene modes which include fisheye, miniature, toy camera, monochrome, super vivid and poster effects to be applied to images. Finally, a discreet mode turns off all sound effects and the flash for quiet operation. Even the AF assist light gets turned off for those situations where you're not allowed to use a camera (but everyone does anyway).
The buttons and controls at the rear of the A2200 are all within easy reach. (Credit: Canon)
The 2.7-inch LCD screen (at 230,000 dots) is adequate for a camera of this size, plus all the physical buttons are well placed and have pleasing feedback. Connectivity options are limited to an AV-out port to connect the camera to a computer via USB and an AV cable (both provided in the box) that connects the camera to a television.
Canon rates the battery for the A2200 at 280 shots.
Pictures from the A2200 are very good, considering it's an entry-level camera. They have the usual Canon punchy colour rendition particularly in the green and red channels, and sharpness at the centre of the frame is decent (though as with any cheap lens it drops off towards the edge of the frame). The lens also produces some barrel distortions at the wide end and a fair amount of fringing on high contrast areas -- particularly noticeable at 100 per cent magnification.
Fringing evident on a photo from the A2200, full magnification crop inset. (Credit: CBSi)