The A3200 is built around a 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor with an effective resolution of 14.1-megapixels, backed up by Canon’s DIGIC 4 image processor. It’s pretty slow at about 1fps maximum and the sensitivity range is pegged at a rather meagre ISO 1600, but in other areas the diminutive little Canon has plenty to offer casual photographers.
On the front, the A3200 gets a 5x optical zoom offering the 35mm focal equivalent of between a reasonably wide 28mm and lengthy 140mm. This can be further extended to 20x using the digital zoom option within the menu, although as this merely takes a crop from the sensor and magnifies it, resolution and overall quality takes a massive hit. To be perfectly honest, you’re better off switching the digital zoom off altogether and keeping it off permanently.
For a budget camera we were pleasantly surprised to see the shooting mode dial adorned with no fewer than seven shooting modes, plus a movie capture option. Naturally enough given the target audience, the vast majority are point-and-shoot in nature, although there is a Program mode that allows you some limited control over shooting settings.
However, anyone looking for a camera they can simply switch on and use are most likely going to be very pleased with what’s on offer here. For starters, there’s a fully Automatic mode that uses Canon’s iSAPS scene recognition technology to automatically select the right scene mode, which sits alongside an easy-to-use Live View mode where on-screen sliders can be used to effect the look of your image in real-time on the rear LCD screen.
In addition, there’s also an Easy mode that effectively disables all of the in-camera menus and control buttons (bar the flash control) to turn the A3200 into a shutter-button-only device. Wrapping things up is a choice of 10 individual Scene modes, including a low-light option and a Discreet setting that turns the flash and various audio alerts off (although, even then, the camera isn’t entirely silent).
Actually, that’s only six shooting modes. The seventh offers a selection of Canon’s Creative Filters for immediate in-camera digital effects fun. With a choice of Fish-eye, Miniaturisation, Toy Camera, Monochrome, Super Vivid and Poster Effect the A3200 offers plenty of potential for individual expression without the need for any Photoshop skills.
While the A3200 is JPEG only, there is some scope to tinker with the contrast, sharpness and saturation via the My Colours options. Although you can only access the My Colours menu in Program, Scene and Discreet modes, it does allow you to fine-tune the look of your JPEGs with a number of presets – Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black and White – along with a custom setting.
No doubt mindful of all the parties, pubs and other social gatherings the A3200 is likely to find itself at, Canon have rather usefully included a dedicated Face Detection button on the back of the camera that can be engaged to make sure human subjects remain the A3200’s centre of attention when it might otherwise be tempted to focus elsewhere.
Of course, with all these useful and clever features the A3200 has to cut costs somewhere and the monitor is the most obvious place where money appears to have been saved. It’s a rather pokey 2.7-inch affair with a resolution of 230k-dots, which is actually quite standard for a compact at this price. It’s perfectly adequate for framing and reviewing shots on, but you’ll need to view your images on a monitor to see any kind of detail.