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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Canon PowerShot A80

Canon Digital Cameras


Canon PowerShot A80 Review

Review Date: Nov 1, 2003

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

Canon PowerShot A80 

Image Quality

The Canon PowerShot A80 is a digital camera targeted to beginner and serious amateur photographers and its image quality is comparable to other 4 megapixels resolution digital cameras.

For this review, I used the following settings as my preferred settings:

  • Shooting Mode: Program AE
  • Metering Mode: Evaluative
  • ISO: 50
  • Image Size: 2272x1704 (Large)
  • Image Quality: Superfine
  • White Balance: Auto

All the pictures on this and the other pages (including the navigation pictures at the top of each page) have been taken by the PowerShot A80 for this review. The pictures on this page provide a good sample of what the PowerShot A80 is capable of and I have provided the 800x600 version. Remember that this version is of slightly lesser quality than the original 2272x1704 version. Please open and download only once to your hard drive -- and save me some precious bandwidth. Thanks!

Clicking on a picture version will display the 800x600 version image in a separate window. Leave that separate window up for all the other images will also display in that same separate window.

Cineplex Odeon: 1/60 sec., F2.8 and ISO 50, with Flash (File size: 1.6 MB)Cineplex Odeon, located inside the Square One Mall in Mississauga (currently Ontario's largest mall). This shot is to demonstrate how the PowerShot A80 fares indoors. I use flash to illuminate the foliage in the foreground. The stores and signs provide their own lighting. The image is a bit on the dark side and could do with some positive exposure compensation, which is easily accomplished in the A80 through the FUNC button. Focal Length 5.4mm, Program AE, shutter speed 1/60 sec., aperture F2.8 and ISO 50, with Flash. [File size: 1.6 MB]

Dupont Subway Wall Art: 0.4 sec., F3.5, +2/3EV and ISO 50 (File size: 1.7 MB)Believe it or not this is an "indoors" shot. I am underground at the Dupont Subway Station on the Northbound platform. The platform is too narrow for me to take a picture of the wall art on my side, so I aim at the wall art of the Southbound platform. The light reflections at the top of the wall come from lights on the ceiling of the subway. The shutter speed is so slow that I have to take a number of hand held shots to get one that is not blurred. Eventually the "classic pose" to prevent camera shake wins out: arms tight against the body, camera against the face (switching to using the viewfinder for this shot), back against the wall, breathe in, release half, hold, and gently squeeze the shutter release. If you decide to attempt to reproduce this shot, let me just warn you of the strange stares you can expect from the other people waiting on the platform ;o). A tripod is definitely recommended here. Focal length 13.6 mm, Program AE, Evaluative, shutter speed 0.4 sec, aperture F3.5, +2/3EV and ISO 50. [File size: 1.7 MB]

Mannequins: 1/60 sec., F3.2, +2/3EV and ISO 50, with Flash (File size: 1.2 MB)Setting up mannequins display in a store window. Another indoors shot, this time to demonstrate the Auto White Balance. AWB does a pretty good job here under the strong yellow glare of tungsten lighting: the chair and table, white; the mannequin's trouser, black; the straw hat; and, blond hair all around. The mannequin on the left seems to be thinking, Is that a way to hold a mannequin? Focal length 9.6mm, Program AE, Evaluative, shutter speed 1/60 sec., aperture F3.2, +2/3EV, ISO 50, with Flash. [File size: 1.5 MB]

Mums: 1/250 sec., F2.8, Macro and ISO 50 (File size: 1.8 MB)These mums come out in the Fall, and grace my neighbour's garden plot. Macro on the A80 is as close as 5 cm (2 in.). I believe this shot is about 10cm away. I can get away taking it handheld because the fast shutter speed negates any camera shake. Focal length 7.8mm, Program AE, Evaluative, Macro, shutter speed 1/250 sec., aperture F2.8, ISO 50. [File size: 1.8 MB]

Hydro Meter: 1/100 sec., F2.8, Macro ON, and ISO 50 (File size: 1.3 MB)I took a shot of my hydro meter in July on my first review of a digital camera, and it's back! Looks like I have barely used any electricity during the past 3 months, but that's only because these counters roll over when they reach 99999. Yeah, the meter looks a bit dirtier. Focal length 7.8 mm, Program AE, Center-weighted averaging, Macro, shutter speed 1/100 sec., aperture F2.8, ISO 50. [File size: 1.3 MB]

No Petals: 1/40 sec., F2.8, Macro ON and ISO 50 (File size: 1.4 MB)Most of the petals on these perennial daisies have already fallen off, leaving only the fuzzy bases. I try to take this at a smaller aperture for greater depth of field but the shutter speed is too slow for hand holding the camera. The blurred background achieved in Macro mode is quite nice. Focal length 7.8mm, Program AE, Center-weighted averaging, Macro, shutter speed 1/40 sec., aperture F2.8, and ISO 50. [File size: 1.4 MB]

Pine Needles: 1/30 sec., F2.8, Macro ON,  and ISO 50 (File size: 1.8 MB)Pine Needles against a backdrop of Fall colours. Again I try to use F8 for increased depth of field so as to get most of the needles in sharp focus, but there's not enough light for a high enough shutter speed. It's a cloudy day, so the sky is washed out light gray. This is a tough shot, especially since I am standing bent in half under the thick canopy of the fir tree, and there are poison ivy plants all around me! Focal length 7.8 mm, Program AE, Spot, Macro, shutter speed 1/30 sec, aperture F2.8 and ISO 50. [File size: 1.8 MB]

Red Leaf: 1/200 sec., F2.8, +1/3EV, Macro ON,  and ISO 50 (File size: 2.3 MB)Letters of the alphabets are etched haphazardly in the floor. The PowerShot A80 picks up the concrete details as well as the fine veins of the leaf. The shutter speed is fast and I could -- should -- have used a smaller aperture here to increase depth of field. Focal length 7.8 mm, Program AE, Evaluative, Macro, shutter speed 1/200 sec, aperture F2.8, +1/3EV and ISO 50. [File size: 2.3 MB]

Suzuki TL1000: 1/400 sec., F3.5 and ISO 50 (File size: 1.6 MB)On my way to High Park, this rider noisily zooms past me on his fiery red motorcycle and eventually stops for a red light. As I catch up and stop beside him, on the spur of the moment I lower my window and snap this shot. This is a good shot to judge how faithfully the PowerShot A80 captures colour since we all know how a faded blue jeans, black sweater, bright red chassis, and silver tailpipe should look like. Focal length 13.6 mm, Program AE, Center-weighted averaging, shutter speed 1/400 sec., aperture F3.5 and ISO 50. [File size: 1.6 MB]

Grenadier Pond: 1/60 sec., F4, +1EV and ISO 50 with fill-in Flash (File size: 2 MB)Grenadier Pond at High Park. Aperture-priority mode is perfect for landscape shots since you can fix the aperture to F5.6 or F8 for maximum depth of field. However, it's cloudy and the light intensity is quite low, necessitating the use of a slow shutter speed. Therefore, I leave the camera on Program AE and settle for the maximum aperture at the focal length. Sky is cloudy and gray all over. Focal length 16.2 mm, Program AE, Evaluative, shutter speed 1/60 sec, aperture F4.0, +1EV, Flash ON, and ISO 50. [File size: 2.0 MB]

Garden Path: 1/50 sec., F2.8, and ISO 50 (File size: 2.7 MB)Garden Path at High Park. Rolling hills and curved garden paths lead from one clump of autumn foliage to another. There are lots of space for kids to run around, for the elderly to sit and admire the view. Stressed out? Give your soul a rest and visit a garden. Research shows we feel less stressed out when we drive along a scenic route than if we drive along buildings and advertisement boards, but then everybody already knows that, no? Focal length 16.2 mm, Program AE, Evaluative, shutter speed 1/50 sec, aperture F2.8 and ISO 50. [File size: 2.7 MB]

Going Home: 1/60 sec., F4.0, and ISO 50 (File size: 2.6 MB)Hikers trekking home under the protective cover of a canopy provided by (Japanese Cherry?) trees. [This would look fabulous in Spring.] After a day of walking up and down hilly landscapes, I need 1/60 sec. for camera shake-free shots. So, I switch to Shutter-Priority mode and fix the shutter speed to 1/60 sec. and let the camera light meter decide on the aperture. Focal length 16.2 mm, Shutter-Priority, Evaluative, shutter speed 1/60 sec, aperture F4.0 and ISO 50. [File size: 2.6 MB]

Here is our obligatory panorama shot. The Stitch Assist (panorama) function of the PowerShot A80 is very helpful for beginners, helping them to easily overlay part of one shot over another to ensure proper alignment. The A80 also locks the exposure and white balance settings for the rest of the shots to ensure consistent exposure. Up to 26 images can be taken in a horizontal direction only. Since I want more precise control over where and how much of the previous image to overlay, I do it manually for this panorama shot of Kiriya Park. I first take an exposure measurement, switch to manual and dial in the exposure settings. PhotoStitch does a good job stitching the 4 landscape shots. Focal length 7.8mm, Stitch Assist, Evaluative, shutter speed 1/80 sec., aperture F8 and ISO 50. [File size: 2.0 MB]

Kiriya Park Panorama: 4 landscape shots taken at 1/80 sec., F8 and ISO 50; Combined in PhotoStitch (File size: 2 MB)

Need a place to upload your photos? Free photo sharing and photo hosting web site at cassepoze.

A Personal Word

The Canon PowerShot A80 is very easy to use and produces quality 4MP pictures in Program AE mode. Canon has improved on the popular A70 by providing higher resolution (and, more importantly, in a larger size 1/1.8 in. image sensor) and a very useful swivel LCD monitor.

In Playback mode, you can press the DISP button to display detailed info about your captured images, including a histogram. All you really need to know about using the histogram is on Page 41 of the User Guide: by reviewing the histogram you get instant feedback on whether your image is too dark or too bright. If it is too dark, retake the picture again and give it a positive exposure compensation (say, of +1/3EV); if the histogram says the image is too bright, give it a negative exposure compensation (say, of -1/3EV).

The Canon PowerShot A80 is a beginner or serious amateur photographer's dream camera; an advanced amateur looking for a compact digital camera will appreciate the exposure flexibility and image quality it provides.

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