The Bottom Line
My PowerShot A495 review reveals a camera that Canon is aiming at beginning photographers, as shown by the A495's feature set and MSRP ($129.99). For the most part, Canon has succeeded, as it has created a camera that's pretty easy for beginners to use with good entry-level photography features. It works especially well for shooting photos in outdoor lighting.
A below-average LCD screen is the biggest disappointment, and the A495's shutter lag will cost you a few spontaneous photos. However, the camera's other features are good enough for a model in its price range.
- PowerShot A495 has nice, clean look
- Startup is fast
- Macro mode results are very good ... as long as flash is off
- Results in outdoor lighting are outstanding
- Low price is good for beginners
- LCD is small and not as sharp as I'd like to see
- LCD can be tough to see in bright sunlight
- Movie mode could be better
- A built-in "help" mode would be good for beginners
- Shutter lag can be a problem in low light
- Resolution: 10.0 megapixels
- Optical zoom: 3.3X
- LCD: 2.5-inch, 115,000 pixels
- Maximum image size: 3648 x 2736 pixels
- Battery: 2 AA batteries
- Dimensions: 2.43 x 3.68 x 1.20 inches
- Weight: 6.17 ounces (with batteries and memory card)
- Image sensor: 1/2.3-inch CCD
- Movie mode: VGA, 640x480
Guide Review - Canon PowerShot A495 Review
The PowerShot A495 has very good overall image quality with outdoor photos, especially for a 10.0 megapixel camera. The biggest image quality problems for the A495 occur with high contrast lighting, deep shadowed areas, and photos with strong backlights ... all of which are areas where inexpensive cameras tend to struggle.
When its automatic flash setting is in use, the A495 doesn't fire the flash very often; it really attempts to shoot most photos using the available light. With the tiny, below average flash units used on most point and shoot cameras, such a philosophy usually is a good idea. However, this does lead to some shutter lag problems with low-light photos for the A495. Indoor image quality is pretty good most of the time.
I was especially pleased with the A495's macro mode, which had excellent focus for close-up photos. However, if the flash fires in macro mode, you'll end up with a ruined, washed-out photo.
The A495 starts up fast, and its shot to shot delays are less than what you'd expect from a sub-$150 camera. However, shutter lag is a problem, and it will cause you to miss some spontaneous photos, especially in low-light situations.
You can shoot in fully automatic, program (manual) mode, or scene mode. For a beginner camera, I'd like to see more than the dozen scene modes included in the A495, however.
The LCD is a disappointment with the A495, especially when it serves as the only viewfinder. It's small, measuring only 2.5 inches diagonally, but, because the camera is so small, the LCD's size fits the camera well. The bigger problems with the LCD include a lack of sharpness and a glare in bright sunlight that makes the LCD tough to see. The LCD does automatically become brighter in low light, which is nice, but the LCD does a poor job of tracking movement in low light.
I liked the A495's clean, sharp look. It's available in red, blue, or silver camera bodies, trimmed in a curved black stripe along the side and top of the camera. The lens retracts completely inside the camera. It's a little thicker than some new models, measuring 1.2 inches, but I thought it was easy to hold and operate, either one-handed or two-handed.
Canon included a few special effect modes, including black and white, sepia, and "poster effect," where the camera changes the contrast of the image. The poster effect was an interesting mode, but it doesn't work on every type of photo.
I would've liked to have seen a few more help features built into the camera, especially with a model aimed at beginners. Canon did not include a printed user manual with the A495, either, which would've been helpful in deciphering some of the features. (The user guide is on a CD.)
Finally, the A495 works on two AA batteries, which is handy for replacing a dead battery when you're traveling. I really like having AA batteries power a beginner-level, inexpensive camera, like the A495.