Budget cameras are everywhere these days. Plenty of snapshot cameras cost less than $200, and you can even find some for around $150. The Canon PowerShot A460 is in that second category of inexpensive shooters. This basic, 5-megapixel camera comes in at the very low end of Canon's PowerShot A-series of digital cameras. On paper, it looks like your average budget camera. Unfortunately, a lackluster design in addition to image-quality issues make it feel like Canon phoned this one in.
The chunky, brick-shaped A460 weighs 7.4 ounces with batteries and memory card, and at 1.6 inches thick, it's a bit too fat to fit in your jeans. The minimalist control layout consists of four buttons and a zoom rocker integrated into a menu-navigating joy pad. This is an irritating design, and large thumbs will be prone to accidentally bumping the zoom in or out, or changing settings such as flash when using the zoom.
As a budget shooter, the A460 fails to really stand out of the crowd. Its most notable aspect is its 38mm-to-152mm-equivalent 4x lens, slightly more powerful than the 3x lenses found on most snapshot cameras. Its 2-inch LCD, however, is just a bit smaller than the norm. Fortunately, the small screen leaves enough room for an optical viewfinder, offering greater flexibility when framing shots. Besides those features, the A460 has the standard compliment of scene modes and presets, though its movie mode is limited to either VGA resolution at 10 frames per second or QVGA (320x240) at 30fps. Most cameras have a 30fps VGA movie mode, making this a disappointing omission for users who want to shoot videos with their camera.
The Canon PowerShot A460's performance was acceptable, but not great. After the camera took 1.7-seconds to start up and capture its first image, we could take an additional photo every 1.5 seconds. With the flash enabled, however, that time quadrupled to a full 6 seconds between shots. Shutter lag was a decent 0.5 second in bright light, though it increased to 1.2 seconds in dim light. We shot 47 full-resolution images in 31 seconds for a rate of 1.5fps. This would be a decent score for a 6- or 7-megapixel camera, but we expected a bit faster rate for a mere 5-megapixel shooter.