Digital Camera: Canon Powershot A80

The A80 Vs The Ixus II And 400

The A80 would be as close as possible to perfection if it were the same size as the Ixus. But not this time. With an overall volume of 234 cu. cm (4.1 x 2.6 x 1.4 in) and weight of 350 grams (10 oz), it is 69% bigger than the Powershot S400 in the US (called the Ixus 400 in Europe) and 52% heavier. In other words, it is small enough to fit into a pocket size-wise, but it would damage the pocket with its weight.

At a purchase price that is just a little more expensive, the Ixus 400 is just as fast at powering up between photos and at auto-focusing. It's not as big, not as heavy and the power and brightness of the zoom lens are as good as those on the A80. On the other hand, the LCD screen on the Ixus 400 is fixed and the camera only works in automatic mode. The speed cannot be slowed down and the aperture cannot be adjusted manually. As far as we are concerned, that really rules it out of the contest.

The more recent Ixus II is also completely automatic and has a sensor that is "only" 3 megapixels, but it should not be ruled out due to one considerable advantage, namely, you can shoot video with it in 640 x 480 pixels. The Ixus 400 and A80 only produce 320 x 240, making it fun but unusable. The Ixus II produces video at a slower speed than normal,16 fps, but the quality is adequate for it to be usable as a spare video camera. We tested it by filming a wedding ceremony. The sequences - which unfortunately are only 30 seconds long maximum - were edited using Pinnacle's Studio 8; the effects, transition shots, and titles were added and the whole thing was finally exported to S-VCD. The guinea-pig bride and groom were very happy with the result, which was not as good as might have been obtained using a digital video camera, but the definition was still good. Some people will be even more pleased to find that the film is directly in AVI, so all that needs to be done is to cut and paste.

If the transfer phases and editing software put you or your grandparents off, this might be the best video solution for you.

But the issue remains the same: Whether you want video or manual mode and for an adjustable LCD, you have to choose. The A80 has assets that are lacking in the Ixus.

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