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Canon PowerShot A3100 IS review: Canon PowerShot A3100 IS

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Though the A3100 IS might not have much in the way of features, it does have excellent photo quality for the money. Like many compacts in its class, there's a noticeable shift in quality at ISO 400, so the A3100 IS performs its best below this sensitivity. In other words, the more light you have the better off you'll be. Compared to the A3000, this camera has less visible noise when photos are viewed at 100 percent, especially in darker areas of photos. Combined with its higher resolution, you get a little more flexibility when it comes to larger prints and cropping. Photo taken at higher ISOs, despite being noisier and softer from noise suppression, are good enough for small prints and Web use.

The lens has good sharpness edge to edge, but there is some barrel distortion at its widest position. There's no discernible pincushioning with the lens fully extended, however. Purple fringing is at normal amounts with high-contrast subjects. It's visible when photos are viewed at 100 percent, but not at the picture-destroying levels seen from competitive models. Colors are not always accurate, but they sure look great. With rare exception, subjects turned out bright and vibrant. Exposure is good, too, though highlights have a tendency to blow out--typical of its class.

Video quality is decent, suitable for Web use and on par with a standard-definition pocket camcorder. And like those devices, you cannot use the optical zoom on the A3100 IS while recording.

The Canon PowerShot A3100 IS is a solid compact camera for the money and in my opinion is worth the $30 premium over the A3000 IS. There's not a lot here to get excited about beyond its ability to take an excellent snapshot and optical image stabilization. But if all you're looking to do is point and shoot, it will likely be enough camera for you.

Shooting speed
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time (flash)  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W330
1.8 
3.4 
2.6 
0.7 
0.4 
Canon PowerShot A3100 IS
1.8 
3.9 
2.3 
0.7 
0.5 
Canon PowerShot A3000 IS
1.7 
6.4 
4 
0.7 
0.6 
Nikon Coolpix S570
2 
3.8 
2.2 
0.8 
0.6 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS15
2 
3.3 
3.1 
1 
0.7 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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