The Bottom Line
The Canon PowerShot A800 definitely has some drawbacks, primarily that its autofocus and response times are very slow. Shot to shot delays are especially bothersome, as you'll see the "busy" message appear on the LCD screen between shots for far too long.
Even though the autofocus is slow, it is pretty sharp. And, as with most Canon cameras, image quality is pretty good.
However, the overall camera's performance is poor enough that you'll probably want to spend a bit more for a better camera, such as the PowerShot A2200.
- Inexpensive camera
- Completely automatic, very easy to use
- Uses AA batteries, which is handy when traveling
- Autofocus is sharp most of the time
- A800 has slow response times, even for a budget-priced camera
- Colors seem to be dull, especially with indoor photos
- Camera body seems a bit chunky
- Zoom lens creates some noise and moves in a jerky motion
- Autofocus is slow, especially in low light, so you'll want to pre-focus by pressing shutter halfway
- Resolution: 10.0 megapixels
- Optical zoom: 3.3X
- LCD: 2.5-inch, 115,000 pixels
- Maximum image size: 3648x2736
- Battery: Two AA batteries
- Dimensions: 3.71 x 2.43 x 1.23 inches
- Weight: 6.56 oz. (with battery and memory card)
- Image sensor: 1/2.3-inch CCD
- Movie mode: Motion JPEG
Guide Review - Canon PowerShot A800 Review
Canon cameras typically create very nice images, and this is the A800's strength, too. Outdoor photos are nearly always well-exposed, bright, and sharp.
With indoor photos, though, the A800's colors seemed a bit dull to me, although most photos were again well-exposed and sharp. Even though the flash is small, it works pretty well, although you may inadvertently find yourself blocking the flash with your left hand as you hold the camera.
The autofocus mechanism with this camera tends to work a bit slowly, but it is accurate. To help the A800 focus in a more timely manner, I'd suggest pressing the shutter button halfway to allow the camera to pre-focus on a subject.
It would be nice if the PowerShot A800 had more resolution available. This camera offers a maximum 10.0 megapixels of resolution, which is low for a new camera. You only have one resolution option for widescreen photos -- 7 megapixels.
The performance levels for the PowerShot A800 are very poor, and they make it very difficult to recommend this camera.
The autofocus works slowly and the shutter lag is long enough to be noticeable, meaning you will miss some spontaneous shots. Even more annoying is the camera's shot-to-shot delays, as you'll frequently have to wait a few seconds between photos with the A800. The shot-to-shot delays increase even more when you use the flash. You'll quickly become tired of seeing "busy" appear on the LCD screen between shots.
The A800 is a fully automatic camera, meaning you cannot manually change any of the settings. This feature makes the A800 very easy to use. Canon did include about a dozen scene modes, allowing you to slightly control the camera's settings, but this is an extremely basic feature. This camera fills the true definition of "point and shoot."
Finally, this camera offers only a 3.3X optical zoom lens with no wide-angle capabilities, which is pretty disappointing. In the test model I used, the zoom lens made noticeable noise -- even with the camera in "silent" mode. The optical zoom lens also did not move smoothly, as it moved in a series of "jerky" motions, and the A800 did not pause long enough when you reached the optical zoom limit, moving automatically into digital zoom, which many people don't want to use.
You can run the PowerShot A800 from two AA batteries, which are easy to change while traveling. However, the use of AA batteries makes the A800 a "chunky" camera, as it is much thicker than most of the new cameras appearing in 2011. I thought this camera was easy to operate one-handed, which was nice.
The LCD screen is a disappointment. It measures only 2.5 inches diagonally, which is pretty small compared to the 3.0- and 3.5-inch screens that are appearing regularly in this year's new cameras. The LCD's resolution isn't very good, either, and it's very difficult to see in sunlight because of glare. You cannot adjust the brightness level of the A800's LCD, which is disappointing.