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I had an interesting time trying to take sample shots with this 3.2 megapixel camera. I thought I’d spend an afternoon at Exeter’s historic quayside, because there’s always something interesting there to photograph.
I parked my car, got out, and started walking towards the boats and stuff. I got the Canon out of my pocket, and instantly it started to rain, and I mean pouring down. I ran for a nearby café and waited with a coffee until the rain stopped. I went outside again, got the camera out, and immediately the rain started again, just as heavy as before. I went back to the café for a second cup. Ten minutes later, I tried again with the same result. This went on for over an hour, with me dashing back to the café no less than four times. Based upon my experiences while using it, I would like to suggest a new name for the Canon A510. From now on it will be known as the Canon RainMagnet. If anyone from Canon’s marketing department reads this, please alter the labeling, packaging and advertising accordingly.
Anyway, with a bit of perseverance and a borrowed umbrella I was eventually able to take some pictures with the RainMagnet, and if you look at the samples accompanying this review, I think you’ll agree that they’re very nice indeed, apart from the dark clouds lurking in the background.
The reputation of Canon cameras is solidly founded on quality, reliability and outstanding performance, and with a camera like the A510 it’s easy to see why. Even though this model is positioned second from bottom in Canon’s extensive range, it is well-made, loaded with useful features and takes great pictures. Add to this an attractive design, simple operation and excellent value for money and it’s clear why Canon has such a large share of the digital camera market.
The A510 has nearly all of the features I like to see on a camera, including aperture priority, shutter priority and full manual exposure modes, manual focusing, spot metering, AA batteries and it even comes with a digital zoom set to off as a default. Of course, it also has a full auto mode and a wide selection of scene modes and program modes. It also has a useful 4x optical zoom, equivalent to a 35-140mm zoom on a 35mm film camera. I would have liked a little more range at the lower end, but very few digital compact cameras go wider than 35mm, and some don’t even do that.
Although it has a plastic case the A510 is very strong and well built. In fact, it took me a while to be sure it wasn’t made of metal. It isn’t a particularly small camera, and the control layout takes full advantage of the available space. The buttons are large and easy to press, the big chunky mode dial turns with an audible click and the menu navigation control is larger than the one on my SLR. The LCD monitor measures 1.8 inches and carries 115,000 pixels, but looks smaller on the large back panel. I guess a larger screen would have pushed the price up.
The only control with which I have a problem is the zoom. It is operated by turning a ring around the shutter button, but you have to turn it a long way before the zoom suddenly jerks into life. It is very difficult to move the zoom gradually and I couldn’t get from the widest to longest settings in more than five steps. Canon never seems to get the zoom control right on any of its digital cameras, despite the fact I keep nagging them about it. If, like me, you like to compose your shots in the camera you’ll just have to move backward or forwards. I nearly fell into the harbour doing exactly this.