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8/10

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Over the past few weeks we've seen some budget-priced compact cameras that have been short on features but low on cost. However for just a few pounds more you can get a well-made and easy-handling camera that offers 8.0 megapixels, 4x zoom, manual exposure options and impressive performance. I'm talking about today's review camera, the new Canon PowerShot A950 IS.

The A590 IS and its non-stabilised twin the A580 are the new mid-range models in Canon's popular A-series of advanced compacts. Like the other cameras in the range it offers a range of features designed to meet the needs of the more creative photographer. It has an 8.0-megapixel 1/2.5-inch CCD backed by the DIGIC III image processor, a relatively fast f/2.6-5.5, 4x zoom lens with a focal length range equivalent to 35-140mm and equipped with Canon's optical image stabilisation technology, a 2.5-inch 115k monitor and an optical viewfinder. It has a range of manual exposure controls and automatic scene modes, a useful selection of image customisation options and a maximum sensitivity of 1600 ISO.

With the recent expansion of Nikon's P-series Canon no longer has the advanced compact market all to itself, but it's certainly not giving up without a fight. The A590 IS has a similar specification and overall design to the Nikon CoolPix P60 which I reviewed last month, but with a current price of under £120 it beats its rival by around £40. The other main alternative is another Canon model, the £155 A720 IS, which has a similar specification but is fitted with a longer f/2.8-4.8 6x zoom lens. Oddly, the non-stabilised A580 is currently selling for around the same price as the A590 IS, so I can't see it doing terribly well.

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