Canon PowerShot A480 review: Canon PowerShot A480

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The Good Simple; cheap; relatively small; AA battery powered.

The Bad Chunky, plastic design; leisurely performance.

The Bottom Line The Canon PowerShot A480 may be a basic low-priced compact camera, but at least it takes good photos.

6.8 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6
  • Image quality 7

The key to appreciating the Canon PowerShot A480 is not to expect much. The camera has basic low-end camera specifications and features at an inexpensive price barely more than $100. Generally, you have to spend about twice that to start getting newer technologies and features, and the A480 adheres to that. But the camera takes a good photo as long as, again, you're not expecting too much and your needs are modest.

Key specifications Canon PowerShot A480
Price (MSRP) $129.99
Dimensions (WHD) 3.6x2.4x1.2 inches
Weight (with battery and media) 6.7 ounces
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 10 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD
LCD size, resolution/viewfinder 2.5-inch LCD, 115K dots/None
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 3.3x, f3-5.8, 37-122mm (35mm equivalent)
File format (still/video) JPEG/Motion JPEG
Highest resolution size (still/video) 3,648x2,736 pixels/ 640x480 at 30fps
Image stabilization type Digital
Battery type, rated life AA alkaline (2), 200 shots

The A480 is a stubby little camera. Available in four colors--red, blue, silver, and black--it's not very wide or tall, but is more than an inch thick, so while it'll fit in a pants pocket, it might be a tight squeeze. From the front the camera looks reasonably stylish. The lens is narrow at a 35mm-equivalent of 37mm and it has an optical zoom of 3.3x; standard for inexpensive compact cameras. Regrettably, the control buttons on back look and feel like second-rate plastic, and the LCD, while a decent size, is fairly low resolution. To its credit, though, Canon kept the controls straightforward and simple, and the menu systems are likewise uncomplicated.

This model is powered by AA batteries, something most people find convenient. However, you'll only get about 200 shots out of the A480 before they'll need replacing. Getting two NiMH AA rechargeable batteries should more than double your shot count, though.

General shooting options Canon PowerShot A480
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600
White balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom
Recording modes Auto, Program, Special Scene, Movie
Focus Face AiAF, Center AF
Metering Evaluative, Center-weighted, Spot
Color effects Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Custom
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) Unlimited continuous

Being the no muss, no fuss camera that it is, the A480 predictably doesn't have a lot of shooting options. The most complicated it gets is in Program Auto that gives you options for white balance, focus, metering, ISO, and color effects. Don't want to touch any of those things? Leave it in Auto or choose from one of 12 special scene modes like Fireworks, Slow Shutter, Night Snapshot, or Kids & Pets. If you like taking a lot of close-up macro shots, the A480 might not be the best choice for you. You can get reasonably close--down to 1.2 inches away from a subject; however, the autofocus system wasn't terribly accurate that close, even though subjects looked in focus onscreen.

Performance, though not dreadfully slow, is still pokey. It takes nearly 2 seconds for the camera to go from off to first shot captured. Shutter lag is below average in bright lighting conditions at 0.6 second from pressing the release to capture. A positive: it performs identically in dim conditions. Shot-to-shot times are mediocre at 2.7 seconds without flash and jumping to 5.6 seconds with it on. Lastly, its continuous shooting time is only 0.6 frames per second.