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Canon PowerShot A800 review:

Canon PowerShot A800

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The Good Great value; easy to use; surprisingly good photos; takes 2 AA batteries.

The Bad Basic; heavier than many other compacts; no image stabiliser.

The Bottom Line If you're on a budget, the Canon PowerShot A800 should be among the first compact cameras you consider. It's very straightforward, takes a decent photo and represents extremely good value for money.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.3 Overall

The Canon PowerShot A800 compact camera proves that you don't necessarily need to remortgage your home, sell your grandparents into slavery, and put both your kidneys on eBay if all you want to do is take a decent photo. It may not bear all the latest whistles and bells but, at around £70, it's one of the most affordable big-brand cameras available.

Spending cuts

You might, understandably, assume any camera that costs so little probably isn't much cop. A glance at the A800's features list would seem to confirm those suspicions. Take the camera's resolution, for example -- a relatively conservative 10 megapixels. In reality, however, more megapixels can often mean more picture noise, so this figure alone isn't a good reason to rule out the A800.

Natural colours and good contrast are typical of the A800 in strong, even light. Fringing and noise are evident, but less so than with some cameras that cost much more (click image to enlarge).

Equally, the camera's 3.3x optical magnification may not seem like much in this day and age, but, for £70, it's a bonus to have any kind of optical zoom at all -- many budget cameras offer only poorer-quality digital magnification.

Also, while some may consider the lack of a rechargeable battery a negative point, there's a fairly large silver lining -- standard AA batteries last a long time and are easy to pick up from practically anywhere.

Body talk

The A800 looks rather chubby but it's clearly more than just a toy. Despite the budget price tag, Canon has managed to inject style and personality into the camera's design, with the main body having a wedge shape, the thick end of which forms a kind of grip.

The camera is available in several metallic colours -- black, silver, greyish blue and red -- and, in all cases, the lens housing is finished in shiny silver. Overall, the camera doesn't look cheap in any way.

On the rear of the unit is a decently sized, 2.5-inch LCD display. It's not touch-sensitive and it has a pretty low resolution of 115,000 pixels, but it's otherwise perfectly adequate for lining up shots, accessing menus and so on.

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