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Canon does variations on a theme with PowerShot A-series cams

Six new entry-level point-and-shoots with very few differences between them.


As entry-level compacts go, Canon makes some of the best, at least for photo quality. But with the low end of the point-and-shoot market tanking, is it wise to have six models with little separating one from the others?

All of Canon's new A-series cameras have a few things in common: 16-megapixel CCD sensors, 720p movie capture, and 28mm wide-angle lenses. And, with the exception of the top-of-the-series A4000 IS, they have 5x optical zooms. From there you'll find slight changes among the models that might make you pick one over the other or simply confuse you to the point where you buy another brand.

The $199.99 A4000 IS has an 8x zoom with optical image stabilization and a 3-inch LCD. The $179.99 A3400 IS also has optical image stabilization, but it, like the rest of the models, has a 5x f2.8-6.9 28-140mm lens. It has a 3-inch LCD as well, but this time it's a touch screen.

Dropping down to the $159.99 A2400 IS and $149.99 A2300, the screen size shrinks to 2.7 inches for both, but the A2400 gets optical image stabilization--that's the $10 difference.

With the $119.99 A1300 and $109.99 A810, the $10 difference is an optical viewfinder; the A1300 has one, the A810 doesn't. They both get 2.7-inch LCDs and are powered by AA-size batteries.

The A4000 IS will be out in February; the A3400 IS, A2400 IS, and A2300 in March; and the A1300 and A810 will follow in April.