Canon PowerShot A3300 IS £120

1st Jun 2011 | 15:10

Canon PowerShot A3300 IS

The pocket-sized powerhouse that's packed with features

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

Like:

Great value-for-money; Simple-to-use design; Good image quality; Fun creative filters

Dislike:

No HDMI output; LCD could be higher resolution; Battery life a little disappointing

Canon PowerShot A3300 IS: Overview

The latest user-friendly PowerShot replaces the older A3100 IS, offering a number of exciting upgraded features designed to tempt budding photographers looking for their first compact.

Although aimed at beginners, the A3300 IS has quite a bit more functionality on offer than the very basic compacts on the market, including some limited manual controls which we'll come to momentarily.

Headline features of the new A3300 IS - which is available in silver, red, blue and pink - include a 16mp sensor, HD movie recording (720p) and a 5x optical zoom lens with Image Stabilisation: quite an upgrade when you compare these to the earlier A3100 IS' 12.1mp sensor, 640 x 480 movie mode and 4x optical zoom lens.

Being pitched at the beginner, the exposure modes on offer are all geared towards effortless image-making, with an Easy Auto mode and an array of scene modes, as well as some interesting new additions which we'll look at in more detail later.

Canon PowerShot A3300 IS: Build and handling

POWERSHOT a3300is

The design of the new PowerShot sees quite a radical departure from that of its predecessor, with Canon abandoning the A3100 IS' boxier shape in favour of a more modern-looking silhouette.

The combination of coloured metal front and back panels with a black plastic inlay that runs around the top, bottom and sides of the camera creates a stylish two-tone look and lends a robust feel to it, with the A3300 IS feeling reassuringly weighty and well-balanced in the hand.

The top panel of the new camera remains largely the same as that of its predecessor, with a similarly-positioned, but now lozenge-shaped power button, responsive silver shutter release and a well-proportioned mode dial that nestles in a neatly-carved groove to the right hand side.

One slight change to be noted is that the old rocker switch that controlled the zoom (appearing on the back panel) on the previous model has been replaced by a more intuitive spring-loaded lever that now surrounds the shutter release.

Around the back, the latter change to the interface has made slightly more room for you to rest your thumb, with dedicated Face Detection and Playback buttons falling directly below this point.

Above further Disp. (Display) and Menu buttons sits the new circular four-way d-pad, which offers the same softkey access to the camera's exposure compensation, flash, self-timer and AF mode options.

Powershot a3300 is

LCD Screen

The central Func/Set button lets you make selections from menus and pressing it while in shooting mode calls up a bank of icons that appear down the left hand side of the LCD, offering fast access to further options – the scope of which expands and contracts according to the particular exposure mode you're using at the time.

The previously mentioned LCD on the A3300 IS is marginally larger than the previous model's - increasing from 2.7-inches to 3-inches, in-line with the competition.

The 230,000-dot resolution has sadly not increased, but the bright screen does offer a fairly decent wide viewing angle and enough detail for everyday shooting.

Exposure modes

The mode dial offers a good selection of exposure modes, with a point-and-shoot Easy Auto mode for the complete beginner, plus a more advanced 'intelligent' Auto mode that determines the subject you're photographing and selects the right scene mode for the task.

Once you're ready to take a bit more control over your shots, there's an innovative Live shooting mode, which presents you with three sliders to control how light/dark, neutral/vivid and cool/warm your images appear - a useful way of getting to grips with the basics of photography.

There are ten scene modes for you to choose from, as well as a selection of fun creative filters to customise the look of your images. The latter menu comprises Fish-eye, Miniature, Toy Camera, Monochrome, Super Vivid and Poster effects, with each filter producing its own unique look.

There's a handy Discreet mode - which turns off the sound, flash etc when you need to be a bit more covert about your photography - this sits alongside the camera's HD movie mode on the dial.

The final option on the dial is the most advanced setting on hand: Program mode. This allows you the most control over the A3300 IS' settings, with options including white balance, ISO, drive mode, metering and image size - among others - available for tweaking.

Canon PowerShot A3300 IS: Performance

PowerShot a3300 is

Results from the A3300 IS are very pleasing overall, with colours looking vibrant, yet remaining true-to-life rather than looking over-saturated.

The Auto white balance mode produces pretty accurate and consistent results under most forms of lighting, although we found a tendency towards warming images up a little too much under tungsten. Manually selecting the correct white balance setting from the menu rectifies things quickly however.

Creative filters

The creative filters we mentioned in the last section allow you to add some flair to your shots without having to go near a computer. We didn't care much for the Poster effect, but the Miniature and Toy Camera settings both produce excellent results.

Noise control

Noise is non-existent at the low-end of the A3300 IS' sensitivity range, but it starts to appear at ISO 400, causing some colour shifts and loss of detail above this point. That said, results are still usable at ISO 800 - which isn't bad for a camera of this class.

The 5x optical zoom lens performs well, with little in the way of distortion to comment on, but we did notice some softening of detail around the edges of the frame, particularly at the far end of the zoom range.

Canon PowerShot A3300 IS: Image quality

Full iso 100 image

Cropped resolution image iso 80

ISO 80 (View full size)

Cropped resolution image iso 100

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Cropped resolution image iso 200

ISO 200 (View full size)

Cropped resolution image iso 400

ISO 400 (View full size)

Cropped resolution image iso 800

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Cropped resolution image iso 1600

ISO 1600 (View full size)

Canon PowerShot A3300 IS: Sensitivity

Full iso 80 image

ISO 80

ISO 80 (View full size)

ISO 100

ISO 100 (View full size)

ISO 200

ISO 200 (View full size)

ISO 400

ISO 400 (View full size)

ISO 800

ISO 800 (View full size)

ISO 1600

ISO 1600 (View full size)

Canon PowerShot A3300 IS: Sample images

Iris

The Super Vivid filter adds some extra punch to the colours in your shots: great for creating funky images with a bit of added zest

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wideangle

The wide end of the A3300 IS' 5x optical zoom range is equivalent to 28mm on a 35mm camera

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Telephoto

At the telephoto end of its optical zoom, the lens offers an equivalent focal length of 140mm: a decent range for shooting in most everyday situations

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Wisteria

The A3300 IS' 3cm Macro mode allows you to fill the frame with small subjects, for some interesting close-ups

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ToyCamera

Inject a moody feel into your images using the atmospheric Toy Camera filter

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Telephoto 2

By default, colours are faithfully reproduced and the sensor is capable of resolving a good level of detail

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Canon PowerShot A3300 IS: Specification

Effective pixels
16MP

Sensor
1/2.3 type CCD

Lens
5x optical zoom, 28 – 140mm (35mm equivalent), f/2.8 – f/5.9 with IS

Memory
SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, MMCplus, HCMMCplus

Viewfinder
No viewfinder

LCD Screen
3-inch TFT, Approx. 230,400 dots

Video resolution
HD, 1280 x 720, 30 fps,

ISO range
Auto, ISO 80-1600

Focus modes
Single, Continuous (Auto mode only), Servo AF/AE, Tracking AF

Max burst rate
0.8 fps

Shutter speeds
15 – 1/1600 sec. (total range – varies by shooting mode)

Weight
149g (inc. battery and memory card)

Dimensions
95.1 x 56.7 x 23.9 mm

Power supply
Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-8L, Optional AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC60

Canon PowerShot A3300 IS: Verdict

The PowerShot A3300 IS is the type of camera that will appeal to people looking for a general purpose camera to photograph days out with their family and social event etc. It's easy to use and can be trusted to survive being passed to the younger members of the family.

We liked

If you're looking for a reasonably-priced, no-fuss digital compact that offers a few unexpected frills for your hard-earned cash, then look no further.

We disliked

The LCD is the only feature that reveals any form of cost-cutting on Canon's part (and it's still not at all bad). Otherwise we'd like a higher capacity battery (currently around 230 shots per charge), but that's about all there is to complain about.

Verdict

Considering the number of high-spec features this camera has - namely its 16mp sensor, 5x optical zoom and HD video mode - the A3300 IS is very reasonably priced. As such, it's likely to be of great appeal to anyone looking for a user-friendly compact that offers just that little bit extra. With an intuitive user interface, good selection of exposure modes, decent build quality and the ability to produce very pleasing stills and movies, there's a lot going for this low-priced PowerShot.

Canon PowerShot
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