Dick Smith - Canon A490 $98

2 September 2010

Pretty decent entry level camera for under $100. Can get this online for less, but then you a) also have to pay for postage and b) it may be a "grey import" with associated warranty restrictions and c) if there is an issue returns may cost you extra versus just taking it back to a physical shop.

I'm a big fan of the A series cameras - lenses tend to be excellent, and using AA batteries means that you can easily get cheap rechargeable batteries for it plus - if you're on holiday etc - if the batteries die it's easy to just get some cheap disposable batteries to tide you over. The A series also tend to be fairly well built and resistant to the odd knock that would cause other cameras to fall apart...

On the flip side, I've always found the ones I've had tend to overexpose on flash and colours are always a touch on the "vibrant" side - basically it's tuned for standard point & shoot photos. This model is not supported by the hacker community (http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CameraFeatures) so no raw shooting. There are also some features missing on this camera that other (generally more expensive) cameras may have, like image stablisation, HD video, smile detection (not just face), or even (in the case of the new Ixus line) wink detection allowing you to trigger the camera with a wink!

Anyhow, it's way better than pretty much any mobile around and cheap enough to be almost disposable whilst providing photos that - if not DSLR - are pretty decent. Limited stock so (if interested) check the store availability online (they only have stock in stores, none online, but you can check availability there) to see if there's one in a store nearest to you.

Camera itself specs:
* Effective Number of Pixels: Approx 10.0 MP CCD
* Size ⁄ Filter Array: 1⁄2.3 inch ⁄ Primary colour filter (Bayer)
* Processor: DiG!C III
* Focal Length (optical): 6.6 (W) 21.6 (T) mm
* 35mm film equivalent: 37 (W) 122 (T) mm
* f⁄number: f⁄3.0 - f⁄4.5 (w) - f⁄5.8 - f⁄9.0 (T)
* Shutter Speed: 1 - 1⁄2000 sec.
* Zoom: Approx. 3.3x Optical, 4x Digital
* Focus System: TTL Autofocus
* Face Detection: Face Detect, AiAF1 (5-points), Center
* Other Shooting Features: Normal: 5cminfinity (W), 25cm-infinity (T) , Macro: 1cm-50cm (W), 25-50cm (T)
* Shooting Functions: Face Detection Auto Focus and AiAF, Auto Exposure, White Balance, Flash Exposure, Auto Red-Eye Correction, Face Self Timer
* Other Shooting Features: Image Inspection Tool, Night Display
* Continuous Shooting: (Large⁄Fine) Approx 0.9 shots⁄sec (2.5 shots⁄sec in Low Light)
* Self-timer: Approx. 10sec or 2sec delay, or custom.
* Light Metering Method: Evaluative2, Center-weighted average, Spot3
* Exposure Control: Method Program AE
* Exposure Compensation: ± 2 stops in 1⁄3-stop increments
* Sensitivity (Equivalent Film Speed): Auto, ISO 100⁄200⁄400⁄800⁄1600
* White Balance Modes: Auto4, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom
* LCD Monitor: 2.5 inch TFT LCD monitor (approx 115,000 dots) with wide viewing angle
* Flash Modes: Auto4, on, off, Slow Synchro, Auto Red Eye Correction, Red Eye Reduction
* Flash Range: Normal: 30cm 3.0m (W) 30cm - 2.0m (T)
* Shooting Modes: Auto (13 scenes detected), P, SCN (Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Low Light, Sunset, Beach, Foliage, Snow, Fireworks, Long Shutter, Movie, Super Vivid, Poster)
* My Colours: Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Custom Colour
* Still image: JPEG Compression (EXIF 2.2 Compliant)
* Colour Space ⁄ Compression Levels: sRGB: Fine, Normal
* Movies: AVI (Image Data: Motion JPEG; Audio Data: WAVE monaural)
* Microphone⁄Speaker: Available
* Still Images and Capacity on a 4GB card at Fine Image Setting:Large: 3648 x 2736 (1471); Medium 1: 2816 x 2112 (2320), Medium 2: 2272 x 1704 (3352), Medium 3: 1600 x 1200 (6352); Small: 640 x 480 (20116); Widescreen: 3648 x 2048 (1978); Low Light: 1600 x 1200
* Movie Frame Rate and Capacity on a 4GB card: Standard: 640 x 480 (30 fps (32min.26sec.)⁄ 30 fps LP (1hr.2min.51sec.)), 320 x 240 (30fps (1hr.31min.25sec.))
* Playback Operations: Red-Eye Correction, Slideshow, Resize, Image Inspection Tool, Advancing and Reversing through magnified images, Jump, Rotate, Histogram, Overexposure Warning, Transition Effect
* PictBridge: Yes
* Supported Operating Systems PC: Windows 7, Windows Vista (incl SP1⁄SP2), XP SP2⁄SP3; Mac: OS X v10.4 - v10.6
* Video Output: PAL or NTSC selectable
* Audio Output: Monaural
* Memory Storage: SD⁄SDHC⁄SDXC Memory Card, MultiMediaCard, MMCplus card, HC MMCplus card
* Menu Languages: English, German, French, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Greek, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Traditional Chinese, Korean, Thai, Arabic, Romanian, Ukrainian, Farsi and Japanese
* Battery: AA Alkaline battery (x2) or rechargeable NiMH battery (x2) NB-3AH
* Shooting Capacity (full charge): LCD Monitor On 400 shots; Playback 10 hours (with NB-3AH)
* Dimensions: 93.5 x 61.7 x 30.6mm (ex. protruding parts)
* Weight (Ex battery): Approx. 130g


  • ninkasi
    Note - it comes with a couple of alkaline batteries, but *no* memory card so you'd need to buy one of those if you don't have a spare SD card lying around.
  • sparrow
    Was trying to see what it's original price was. Do you know?
  • ninkasi
    RRP was/is ]$149 apparently. So again, it's an entry level camera. The nearest competitor would probably be something like the Panasonic DMC-F3.
  • sparrow
    Ahh, ok. Canon do make pretty good cameras, I might be looking for a couple of models up from this one though. Cheers
  • ninkasi
    The ]S90 might be a good one to keep an eye open for bargains over the next few months - the ]S95 has been announced/released. I'm currently tempted by the S95 but if you don't care about the usability tweaks and HD video or HDR (automatic bracketing), or want something a lot smaller, then the S90 is a brilliant little camera..... shoots raw, fast (f2.0) lens, decent wide angle (28mm equivalent), large (for a compact) sensor that's tuned for sensitivity rather than megapixels so less noise in low light, can operate in "point and shoot" mode or fully manual.....
  • admin EDITOR
    I personally hate electronics that use disposable batteries for power, but having said that I've had quite a few of the manufacturers rechargable ones completely die after a fairly short life.
  • ninkasi
    I personally hate electronics that use disposable batteries for power, but having said that I've had quite a few of the manufacturers rechargable ones completely die after a fairly short life.
    Definitely agree, and I use rechargable where possible/feasible (some things, like remote controls, are better off with alkalines), but the ability to use rechargable AA batteries but leave in the camera bag a backup couple of "emergency" alkalines that will hold their charge for a couple of years is a nice feature. Wouldn't stop me from getting something else if the combination of features were better for me (like the S90/S95), but it's a nice option to have. I will say that the purpose built batteries tend to be better than rechargable AAs as far as being lighter and compact... but then again they tend to be way more expensive. A "genuine" replacement battery for the Panasonic DMC-F3 costs almost as much as the camera itself - of course you can get a cheapie off eBay but still... :cool: I'll also say that the writing is pretty much on the wall for low end point and shoot cameras like this, with the quality of images from mobiles like the new iPhone improving. Most people will end up with their mobile being their point and shoot for general "impulse" photos and, if they want something better for special events, maybe they'll get a DSLR
  • betaman
    Officeworks is clearing it for $98 too.
  • ninkasi
    Officeworks is clearing it for $98 too.
    Heh. They have their 5% guarantee - someone must have gone in and got the camera for $93.10 ($98 less 5%). Once that happens the alert goes out and the prices are matched....
  • betaman
    I just found out my local Harvey Norman (Taren Point NSW) is selling for $78. Should apply to every store. http://www.harveynorman.com.au/page/search?q=canon+a490
  • ninkasi
    Cool. Take it to Officeworks and they should take a further 5% off... ;-)

What do you think?

Your comment