Canon PowerShot A630 review
I received my A630 about two weeks ago and have taken many indoor and outdoor photos. WOW!!! That’s all I NEED to say. But I also WANT to say more. The A630 is truly an excellent camera.
Here’s my review of each category:
Image Quality: I have been an S45 owner for the past 4 years, and my S45 takes superbly sharp, detailed and color accurate photos, with the exposure being somewhat fair to average. The S45’s main problem was corner vignetting and slight corner softness. The S45 is also a 4 MP, 3x optical zoom camera. These were great stats four years ago, but not today. It was time for me to make the upgrade to the 7 – 10 MP range with a bit more zoom. My challenge was to find a Canon camera that could take photo images as sharp and detailed or maybe even more sharp and detailed than my S45, and provide the same level of excellent color saturation and accuracy, with better overall exposure. A pretty tall order for any point & shoot camera. After spending much time researching various cameras, reading numerous reviews and viewing many internet photo samples, I narrowed down my choices to three Canon cameras. So a few weeks ago, I bought the A630 along with the A710IS and the newly released G7. I passed on the S3IS, mainly because it was too bulky and has 6 MP. My test shots included indoor scenes under incandescent and fluorescent lighting conditions and also with no lighting at all. Outdoor shots included landscape, buildings, people and moving objects in both sunny and cloudy conditions.
The results……….only the A630 produced better image quality than my S45 (for both indoor and outdoor), when viewed on my Dell Ultra Sharp 19” computer monitor and when printed out on my HP D7360 PhotoSmart printer. The sharpness was better and the level of detail in the A630 surpassed that of the S45, especially in the corners. Image quality is excellent for both indoor and outdoor shots. The A710IS was a disappointment, as the images were noticeably less sharp and not as color accurate. The G7 was sharper than the S45 in image quality for outdoor shots, but produced the same corner softness on indoor shots as the S45. The A630 produced sharp corners for indoor shots and even for extremely low light shots. In summary, the A630 and G7 produced about the same image quality for outdoor shots and both exceeded the quality of my S45, but the A630 produced the best image quality for indoor shots. Therefore, considering the fact that the A630 costs half as much as the G7, it was a no brainer to send the G7 back to the store, although I loved the G7’s feature set, solid feel and higher resolution LCD screen. The G7 is a great camera, don’t get me wrong, but I could not justify keeping both cameras, especially for the cost of the G7 and considering that the G7 did not produce better quality photos than the A630 (equal in some cases, but not better). Maybe the G7 I received was not the best of the litter from the assembly line.
Construction: The A630 is very solid and well built. It is heavy enough to give a sense of sturdy construction, but not too heavy. Size is just about right. Hand grip is excellent and is easy to hold. The G7 was difficult to quickly grab and hold without pressing any buttons on the back. All the buttons are arranged in an orderly fashion, are easily accessible and have a solid feel to them. I like the fact that the lens retraction can be adjusted to 1 min. or not at all. I prefer Lithium-Ion batteries over rechargeable AA batteries, but battery life does seem to be better with the AA’s. And with a Sony charging unit that only takes 15 minutes to charge four NiMH 2500 mAh batteries, as compared to one hour to charge the Lithium-Ion batteries, I guess I’m starting to like the AA’s. The 2.5” LCD screen is large and bright, but the resolution is lacking. It only has 115,000 pixels, the same pixel count as my S45’s 1.8” LCD. Canon should have provided at least 230,000 pixels for this size screen. I would gladly trade-off lower battery life for a higher resolution screen than not being able to accurately judge the sharpness and detail of the shot just taken with this screen. With the low pixel count of this LCD screen, it is impossible to tell if you have a good shot or not. You won’t know until you download it to your computer. The A630 is a very fast camera, as start-up time, focus time, flash recharge time and shutter lag times are excellent.
Features: Excellent and very comprehensive feature package, especially all the manual controls. The “C” mode is great for custom settings. I have preset the “P” mode for outdoor shots and the “C” mode for indoor shots. This camera gives you the option for focusing using single focus frame, AiAF and Flexizone. I love AiAF focus setting. I wish this camera had a live histogram. I also wish it had a dedicated Shortcut button for setting adjustments inside the Function menu. The zoom is a bit noisier than the other three cameras I tested. Lack of RAW is no big deal for me, as I never used it on my S45. The twist screen is a nice new feature to have for those hard to frame shots.
Ease of Use: The A630 is very easy to use, but then again, I have used several Canon cameras over the past 4 years, so I am used to their menu system and button locations and function. I was able to operate the A630 right out of the box without even needing to read the manual. The 4-way wheel makes it easy to make adjustments.
Overall, the A630 is excellent camera with amazing image quality, fast operation, full manual control and easy to use once you get used to the menu system (for new Canon users). I highly recommend this camera, especially at a retail cost $299, and an on-line cost averaging around $250.
Edit 11.14.2006 - I continue to be amazed at the image quality of this camera, especially considering you can buy it on-line for $250. Also, don't just view your images or make comparison judgements by only looking at your computer monitor, no matter how good you think your monitor is. I have a 19" Dell Ultra Sharp 1907FP, set to its max resolution of 1280 x 1024, and yes the images on the computer screen look great. But when you print them out, they are absolutely breathtaking. I have the HP D7360 PhotoSmart printer. I also did a comparison between this printer and the Canon Pixma iP6600D and the new iP6700D photo printers, and the HP D7360 produced better quality photos. REVIEW YOUR A630 PICS ON A HIGH QUALITY PHOTO PRINTER AND YOU WILL BE AMAZED!!!
Edit 11.22.2006 - I experienced none of the problems that d50dad experienced in his recent post. I also bought two of the A630's because the first one produced such sharp, clear detailed images. Both of mine are producing identical image quality, which is very sharp. Also, the lens bezel on both my A630's are firm and not loose at all. I do not have to slightly depress the shutter button in order to get the zoom dial to work. Sounds like d50dad's two A630's were defective, because my two are not like this at all.
Edit 11.26.2006 - I just bought an A620 with the printer package to compare it to my two A630's, in response to d50dad's user review. I'm always looking for a sharper image producing camera. However, the A620 does not produce a better image than the A630. I made 20 test shot comparisons, again both indoors and outdoors, using the exact same settings and frame compositions. Both of my A630's beat the image quality of the A620 in every test shot. The A620's autofocus hunts in low light situations where the A630 does not. I will be returning the A620. The A630 still has the best overall image quality over the G7, A620, A710IS and the S80. You want the best image producing Canon P&S camera, get the A630. Trust me on this, as I have spent about $200 on printer paper and ink making comparisions between all of the cameras listed above, so I have the prints to prove that the A630 rules the roost when it comes to image sharpness, low noise and color accuracy.
These are minor issues and would be great enhancements for the next generation of the A6xx series:
1) Low resolution LCD screen
2) No Shortcut button
3) No exposure bracketing
4) No "flash" setting in the White Balance menu
5) Noisy zoom
6) No zoom indicator on the LCD screen
7) No live histogram
8) Slight vignetting