Awww, isn't the Canon PowerShot A580 cute? It's a chunky 8-megapixel camera, and it feels rather plasticky -- well, it is made of plastic. Still, it's so friendly: the curves are cheerful, the buttons large and round, and the mode dial clicks like Fisher Price made it -- although it does go round 360 degrees in both directions. If it wasn't silver it would feel like a toy, an impression added to by the use of AA batteries. But this is sturdy Canon we're talking about, and despite the plastic frame there's no flex or creaking in the body, and it's also surprisingly light, even with the batteries in.
Inside, a 1/2.5-inch CCD sensor and Digic III processor handle the photographic chores. The lens has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 35mm-140mm, which is a 4x optical zoom, and an aperture of f2.6-f5.5. Image stabilisation is included in the lens.
Nine-point TTL (through the lens) auto focus also uses face detection. The option to select a face and track it keeps focus locked to a particular subject as they move around the frame. Red-eye correction can be set to remove red-eye automatically as you snap or later in playback mode. There are 16 shooting modes, including automatic mode, with the big names, such as portrait and landscape, right there on the mode dial and other options, such as beach and foliage, in the menus.
Canon continues the policy of leaving out internal memory, which we're actually. What we're not so keen on is bundling a frankly laughable 32MB SD or MMC card -- 14 photos, anyone? Anyway, the Canon PowerShot A580 is available now for £100. Click the Next Photo link for another picture and some memory madness. -Rich Trenholm
Update: Read our full.
The 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD screen is complemented by a dinky round optical viewfinder, which lets you switch off the screen to preserve battery life. We'll be looking at the viewfinder's coverage in our forthcoming in-depth review.