Conclusion - Pros
- Surprisingly good image quality (at lower ISO settings)
- Accurate metering in the majority of situations
- Long lens with surprisingly good edge-to-edge performance
- Handy macro performance at wide end of lens
- Bright, clear screen
- Very simple user interface
- Good battery life out of NiMH AA batteries
- Feels fast and responsive in use
- Fairly subtle noise reduction in ISO 100-400 region
- Direct print button can be customized into something useful
- Comprehensive range of controls
- Well priced
Conclusion - Cons
- Occasional tendency to ignore (and overexpose) bright regions
- Usual issues above ISO 400 due to noise and noise reduction
- Low resolution screen
- Rather cheap feeling plastics
- Plastic tripod mount mounted on far corner of body
- Battery life and flash recycle times far from class-leading (thanks to two AA cells)
The A720 IS comes from a long line of successful cameras and, while it is hardly the most exciting upgrade we've ever seen, it does nothing to detract from a popular and successful recipe. And this makes it quite hard not to damn the thing with faint praise because it's hard to say anything about the A720 IS beyond the fact that it's a really good little camera.
Finding fault with it is a pretty awkward task. It also has one of the most stupidly placed tripod mounts that we've ever encountered but that's hardly a fatal flaw and one that will be an inconvenience for only a tiny proportion of users. But beyond that we're struggling. Its weaknesses (ISO modes whose ambition outstrip their image quality and an optical viewfinder that wouldn't be out-of-place on something that fell out of a cereal packet), are present in its competitors too. And, poor though compact optical viewfinders tend to be, they're still handy to have in bright or very low light when the LCD is hard to see.
If anything, our major niggles are that the A720 IS could have been even better. It would have been nice to see Canon's clever 'Auto ISO Shift' function on here. It's a useful function that probably just needed to be 'switched on' in the camera's software, yet has been missed off - It's arguably a greater benefit to the user than the ISO 1600 mode. The decision not to use two of the directions on the four-way controller also seems a little perverse at a time Canon is providing more direct access buttons on its other cameras.
But none of this should take away from what is a very good camera. If used in automatic mode, it takes consistently good photographs so long as you keep away from the highest ISO settings. It also has a perfectly usable manual mode which is a fairly rare commodity on compacts.
Ultimately, while neither groundbreaking nor particularly inspiring, it's difficult not to be impressed with the A720 IS. It's a good little camera with a simple and consistent user interface that allows the user to take good photos for a very reasonable amount of money. These may sound like the qualities that all compact cameras should offer by default yet there are still many manufacturers that struggle with these basics. As long as their expectations are not utterly unreasonable, it's hard to imagine anyone being disappointed with the A720IS; an unpretentious little thing.
|Detail||Rating (out of 10)|
|Ergonomics & handling||8.5|
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