When it comes to entry-level point-and-shoots, Canon's A-series PowerShots consistently excel in picture quality. That certainly holds true for the 16-megapixel A2400 IS and A2300.
The two simple sub-$150 ultracompact cameras are good choices for anyone whose needs don't extend far beyond the occasional fully automatic snapshot of patient subjects taken in daylight. I say that because the cameras perform fairly slowly and their photos get noticeably softer above ISO 200.
I reviewed the A2400 IS, but the only difference between the two models is optical image stabilization; the A2400 IS has it, the A2300 does not. For the $10 price difference between them, spend the extra money for the A2400 IS -- especially if you'll be doing any indoor shooting with the camera.
If low-light photos without the need for a flash or tripod are important to you, consider saving up a bit more money and getting the PowerShot Elph 110 HS, which is actually a better camera all the way around.
As with most compact cameras, the A2400 IS' photo quality noticeably drops off at higher ISOs, so getting the best pictures really depends on how much light you have -- the more, the better. Fine detail and sharpness are very good up to ISO 200 (though a little sharpening with photo-editing software improves things). Photos get noticeably softer at ISO 400 due to heavier noise reduction.
Pixel peepers will see the image noise and artifacts at all ISO sensitivities, but it's really not visible at reduced sizes until you get to ISO 800. As long as you don't mind increased softness and noise -- including faint yellow blotching -- ISO 800 is usable for small prints and Web sharing. The camera's highest full-resolution sensitivity is ISO 1600 and I'd stay clear of it unless you really need to take a low-light photo.
On the other hand, because of consistent color at higher ISOs, the photos are better than those of other cameras at this price; they just get slightly washed out at and above ISO 400. In fact, color performance overall is excellent from the A2400 IS -- bright, vivid, and accurate.
Something to keep in mind, too, is that although the camera's lens starts at a bright f2.8 aperture, it shrinks to f6.9 with the lens zoomed in. That means when you go to use the full zoom, you're going to need a lot of light or a high ISO sensitivity to keep the shutter speed fast enough to prevent blur from motion or hand shake. (Another good reason to skip the A2300.)
Video quality is good enough for Web use, but nothing spectacular. Panning the camera will create judder that's typical of the video from many compact cameras, and you'll notice motion trailing on fast-moving subjects. The zoom lens does not function while recording, but you do have a digital zoom; I suggest not using it, as the results are not pleasant.
Shooting performance is OK; not fast enough for regularly photographing kids and pets, but not so slow that you'll get frustrated. From off to first shot takes about 2.4 seconds. The wait between subsequent shots averaged 2.8 seconds for us; using the flash bumped it up to nearly 4 seconds. Shutter lag -- the time from pressing the shutter release to capturing a photo without prefocusing -- is 0.4 second in bright lighting and 0.7 second in low-light conditions.
The continuous shooting speed is pretty slow, too, at 0.9 frames per second with focus and exposure set with the first shot. Again, if you're just walking around taking snapshots, these times are fine, but if you need something that's always ready when you are, this isn't the camera.
Design and features
The A2400 IS is a small, lightweight, and attractive camera. It easily slips into a small pocket without weighing you down and its metal casing makes it look and feel nicer than all plastic.
Part of the reason it is so small, though, is that Canon went with a 2.7-inch LCD; 3-inch displays are not uncommon at this price. It's not a bad size, though, and the screen gets bright enough that you can use it in the sun and still see well enough to frame shots.
|Key specs||Canon PowerShot A2400 IS, A2300|
|Price (MSRP)||A2400 IS: $149.99; A2300: $139.99|
|Dimensions (WHD)||A2400 IS: 3.7 inches x 2.2 inches x 0.8 inch; A2300: 3.7 inches by 2.1 inches by 0.8 inch|
|Weight (with battery and media)||A2400 IS: 5 ounces; A2300: 4.4 ounces|
|Megapixels, image sensor size, type||16 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD|
|LCD size, resolution/viewfinder||2.7-inch LCD, 230K dots/None|
|Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length)||5x, f2.8-6.9, 28-140mm (35mm equivalent)|
|File format (still/video)||JPEG/H.264 (.MOV)|
|Highest resolution size (still/video)||4,608x3,456 pixels/1,280x720 pixels at 30fps|
|Image stabilization type||A2400 IS: Optical and digital; A2300: Digital only|
|Battery type, CIPA rated life||A2400 IS: Li-ion rechargeable, 180 shots; A2300: Li-ion rechargeable, 230 shots|
|Battery charged in camera||No; external charger included|
|Bundled software||CameraWindow DC 8.7 transfer utility, ImageBrowser EX 1, PhotoStitch 3.1/3.2 (Widows, Mac)|
Also helping keep the A2400 IS slim are its flat buttons, which can be difficult for those with larger fingers to press accurately. I found the Func. Set button at the center of the control pad was particularly tricky to press. Also, past Canon models either used a knob or switch to change between Auto and other shooting modes. With the A2400 IS it's done with the top of the control pad, which is too easy to accidentally hit.
One thing that is nice to see is the new Help button that brings up a menu of topics including explanations of shooting options as well as shooting advice.
On the right side of the camera is a Mini-USB port for connecting to a computer or TV. The battery and SD memory card compartment is in the bottom of the camera behind a sliding door. It doesn't lock and slides open a bit too easily if you're going to be keeping this in a bag unprotected. Battery life is below average; you get about 180 shots per charge, less depending on your settings and use of the zoom lens and movie capture.
|General shooting options||Canon PowerShot A2400 IS, A2300|
|ISO sensitivity (full resolution)||Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600|
|White balance||Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom|
|Recording modes||Auto, Program, Live View Control, Portrait, Face Self-timer, Low Light, Fisheye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Snow, Fireworks, Long Shutter, Discreet, iFrame Movie|
|Focus modes||Normal AF (Face, Tracking, Center), Macro, Infinity|
|Macro||1.2 inches (Wide); 3.9 feet (Tele)|
|Metering modes||Evaluative, Center-weighted average, Spot|
|Burst mode shot limit (full resolution)||Unlimited continuous|
The A-series models are pretty much meant to be left in Canon's Smart Auto, which recognizes up to 32 scene types and adjusts settings accordingly. For more control, the Program mode lets you select things like white balance, ISO, and autofocus mode. Sadly, Canon dropped the My Color options from previous models that let you, among other things, adjust contrast, sharpness, and saturation. However, you do get the Live View Control mode, which enables you to adjust brightness, color, and tone with onscreen sliders and see what the photo will look like as you make the changes.
All of the shooting modes are laid out in one long row, requiring you to hunt through them all to find what you want: Program, Live View Control, Portrait, Face Self-timer (sets off a timed shot when a new face enters the frame), Low Light, Fisheye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Snow, Fireworks, Long Shutter (exposure settings from 1 to 15 seconds), Discreet, and iFrame Movie (a format made for easy editing and viewing on mobile devices). There's plenty here to experiment with, but if you just want to leave it in auto, it does very well.
If you're looking for an easy-to-use camera to slip in your pocket before you go out to an event or a walk around town, the Canon PowerShot A2400 IS is a safe choice. It might not be the fastest camera or the best deal, but you'll get reliably good results leaving it in auto. However, I can't recommend getting the A2300; the cost savings isn't worth giving up optical image stabilization.