Canon updated 2009's PowerShot A480 by splitting it into two models: the A490 and the A495. The PowerShot A490 is about $20 less expensive than the A495, but it's only available in silver; has a 5-point Face AiAF autofocus system instead of the A495's 9-point; does not have Face Self-Timer (explained later in this review) or Canon's two, new creative shooting modes, Super Vivid and Poster Effect; and uses 13 scene settings for its Smart Auto mode whereas the A495 uses 18.
Regardless of those differences, they both turn out great photos for their budget price tags (though the A495 seemed to get negligibly better results in Auto mode). The biggest downside is that they aren't remotely fast when it comes to shooting performance; shot-to-shot times are particularly long. But, if you're strapped for cash and want a pocket camera, the A495 is certainly worth the money for its photos alone. The extra shooting modes are nice, too, but if you don't need them or any of the other things mentioned above, save $20 and get the A490.
Key specs Canon PowerShot A495
Price (MSRP) $129.99
Dimensions (WHD) 3.7x2.4x1.2 inches
Weight (with battery and media) 6.7 ounces
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 10 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD
LCD size, resolution/viewfinder 2.5-inch LCD, 115K dots/None
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 3.3x, f3-5.8, 37-122mm (35mm equivalent)
File format (still/video) JPEG/Motion JPEG (.AVI)
Highest resolution size (still/video) 3,648x2,736 pixels/ 640x480 at 30fps
Image stabilization type Digital
Battery type, CIPA rated life AA-size alkaline (2), 150 shots
Battery charged in camera No; alkaline batteries supplied
Storage media SD, SDHC, SDXC memory cards
Bundled software ZoomBrowser EX 6.5/PhotoStitch 3.1 (Windows); ImageBrowser 6.5/PhotoStitch 3.2 (Mac)
The A495, which is available in red, blue, and silver, is chubby, but still reasonably compact. It's not very wide or tall, but is more than an inch thick, so though it'll fit in a pants pocket, it might be a tight squeeze. From the front, the camera looks reasonably stylish with nice rounded corners. Unlike the A480, the buttons don't feel cheap and are clearly marked in white on black. In fact, the overall build seems improved. Plus, Canon kept the controls straightforward and simple, and the menu systems are likewise uncomplicated.
On top are the power and shutter release buttons with the remaining controls on back to the right of the LCD. At the top is a zoom rocker followed down by a button for playback; four-way control pad with select button; and shooting mode and Menu buttons. The Menu button pulls up two tabs of general settings, whereas the select button (labeled Func. Set) opens shooting-mode-specific options. Overall, it's easy to control and should be simple enough for beginners out of the box.
The lens is narrow at a 35mm-equivalent of 37mm and it has an optical zoom of 3.3x; standard for cameras in its class. The LCD, though a decent size, is fairly low resolution; it gets fairly bright, but it can still be tough to see in direct sunlight.
This model is powered by AA-size batteries, something many people find convenient. However, you'll only get about 150 shots out of the A495 before they'll need replacing. Getting two NiMH AA-size batteries should more than double your shot count, though.
General shooting options Canon PowerShot A495
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600
White balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom
Recording modes Auto, Program, Special Scene, Movie
Focus modes Normal, Macro, Infinity, Face AiAF, Center AF
Metering modes Evaluative, Center-weighted average, Spot
Color effects Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Custom
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) Unlimited continuous
The A495 predictably doesn't have a lot of shooting options. The most complicated it gets is in Program, which gives you options for white balance, focus, metering, ISO, and color effects. Don't want to touch any of those things? Canon's Smart Auto (simply called Auto now) is very reliable at picking the appropriate settings based on 18 different scene types. Or you can choose from one of 13 special scene modes like Fireworks, Long Shutter, Foliage, or Kids & Pets. Canon renamed its High ISO mode to Low Light to alleviate confusion, but it's otherwise the same, capturing 2-megapixel shots at ISOs from 500 to 3,200. The highlights are new Super Vivid and Poster Effect modes. (They're appropriately named and you can see a sample of them in use in the slideshow in this review.) Canon also includes Face Self-Timer, which, when activated, will wait to take a shot until the camera detects an additional face in the frame. If you like taking a lot of close-up macro shots, the A495 is a great option for the money. You can get very close--down to 0.4 inch--and the autofocus seems improved from the A480, which struggled to properly focus.
The Movie mode is VGA only with no use of the optical zoom while recording. The video quality is good, on par with a standard-definition pocket video camera. It's fine for a quick clip to post online, but not much else
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