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Main shooting mode selection is done via the dial on the top panel, with options including full auto, program exposure, shutter and aperture priority and full manual exposure, as well as panorama stitching, movie mode and anti-shake mode.
Acer’s anti-shake system isn’t quite as sophisticated as the high-tech CCD-shift systems found in some of its better-known rivals. Instead it is an electronic image stabilisation system, similar to the type found in many digital video cameras. As a result it limits image size to 2560 x 1920 (5MP), and also slows down image processing. I have to say that I was not at all impressed by the performance of the image stabilisation system. Taking hand-held shots at shutter speed as high as 1/30th of a second with moderate zoom still produced significant shake blurring. Most other IS systems would have been able to handle that.
Unfortunately, it’s not only the IS system that is below standard. Exposure metering is also fairly sloppy, and is inclined to under-expose if there is any bright light in the frame. The manual backlight control helps, adding about a stop of exposure, but a decent multi-segment exposure system should be able to cope with this sort of thing.
Focusing is accurate and reasonably quick in good light, but despite the AF illuminator it has real problems in lower light conditions, often failing to lock on at all.
Overall performance is also rather weak by modern standards. The camera starts up in around three seconds, but it was in shot-to-shot delay times that it really fell down. In continuous mode it can shoot only three frames in three seconds before it has to pause for five seconds to write the pictures to the memory card. In standard mode there is a delay of about 1.5 seconds between shots. This was using a high speed Sandisk Ultra II card; using a cheap generic memory card writing took three times longer. To make matters worse, when shooting in continuous mode the LCD display is blank between shots, so your second and third frames are probably going to be a bit off target.
The menu system is also inexplicably slow. After every menu operation there is s noticeable delay as the screen refreshes. It is also poorly laid out, with ISO setting being found on the third page of the shooting menu.
The movie mode at least adequate, able to shoot at 640 x 480 resolution and 30 frames a second with audio, although the optical zoom cannot be used while filming. A 1GB card provides enough storage for over 14 minutes of recording or 228 still shots at the highest quality and resolution. The JPEG files at this resolution average around 2.7MB. Not surprisingly, there is no RAW mode.
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