Canon PowerShot A1200
Price (MRP): Rs 5,995
Price (Street): Rs 5,815
Affordable point-and-shoot cameras are the best selling cameras for any company, and this is the segment where they actually earn a lot. It is therefore not surprising that this segment is extremely crowded, with each company having several models on offer. Recently, Canon had launched the 12.1 MP PowerShot A1200, which belongs to the segment signified by the company as its A-Series. This is similar in almost every way to the A2200 from the same company, but it has a smaller image sensor and comes with an optical tunnel viewfinder. Also, it is powered by AA batteries as against the slim Li-Ion battery used by the A2200.
There's always a market for decent and cheap compact cameras, a niche which Canon seems to fill admirably with its A series of PowerShot cameras.
* Canon PowerShot A1200
* AA battery x 2
* Micro USB data cable
* Wrist strap
* Utility Disc
* User manual
Canon seems to have been cutting the cost of this camera by even excluding the memory card without which, the camera cannot be used.
Design and features
The A1200 appears very attractive in its slim and curvaceous form factor. The left side is thicker than the right because it houses the compartment for the two AA batteries. The front prominently features the lens with a 4x optical zoom at f/2.8 for wide angle (28 mm) to f/5.9 at telephoto end. The AF assist window is present near the centre top, while the Xenon flash is present on the side opposite to the shutter button. This is smart placement, because it reduces the possibility of it getting accidentally covered by fingers (which are usually of the right hand). There is enough space to get a firm grip on the camera with the right hand and it is light and comfortable enough for one-handed operation. You can hold it with both hands for better stability, especially because it lacks image stabilisation of any type. The build quality is very good and there is no sign of flimsiness anywhere.
A distinguishing feature of this camera is that it features an optical viewfinder of the tunnel type. This is very useful in conserving battery life because it lets you use the camera even if you switch off the LCD viewfinder, which is a major battery hog. A major part of the back of the camera is consumed by the 2.7" TFT LCD display, which produces a crisp and bright output. To the right of the LCD, there are buttons for Face Select, Playback, Display (to decide what is to be displayed on the LCD), and Menu (to control the advanced camera functions). There is a jog dial to sift through the captured photos or videos. The jog dial also lets you select different settings such as Macro mode, Flash, Delete, Electronic Exposure values and delayed shutter, which can be chosen for 2 seconds or 10 seconds. You can choose other settings too by pressing the OK button at the centre, selecting the setting using the direction keys, and then pressing OK again.
The recessed triangular power button is present rather inconspicuously at the top of the camera. Just besides it, there is the shutter button with a zoom ring with lever around it. The shutter button could have been made a little pronounced by either making it larger, or giving it a different colour. The zoom lever works smoothly and silently.
Lastly, there is a mode dial, which lets you select the different shooting modes. These include a program mode, full automatic, movie modes and also a Live View mode, which allows you to change brightness, vividness and colour tone, while the results are displayed in real time. The Easy mode leaves the user with just the Flash control, thus is for the novice who don't want to be bothered by the camera controls. Other scene modes include Fisheye, Miniature, Toy Camera, Monochrome, Super Vivid, and Poster Effect, with each one being fancier than the other. Also present is a Discreet mode, which turns off all sound effects, the flash and even the AF assist light for silent operation. The rest of the common shooting modes, such as Portrait, Landscape, Fireworks, etc are available as always, but there is one extra mode called Blur Reduction, which shoots at 3.5 MP and reduces the blur from camera shake. There is also the Movie mode to capture movies in up to 720p HD (1280x720) at 24 fps for the 24p real film effect.
The battery compartment is present below the camera and the cover of this compartment also covers the SD memory card slot. There is a centrally located threaded tripod mount socket. Since this is made of plastic, it has to be used with caution because it is not durable like metal.
The camera can be connected to a TV using an AV cable via the AV-out port. Computer connectivity can be achieved using the microUSB cable.
The camera takes around 3 seconds to become fully operational once you press the power button. The average gap between two shots was found to be a slow 4 seconds. There is a noticeable shutter lag between the moment you press the shutter button and the point at which the picture actually gets clicked and this was found to be just under a second. This makes it difficult to use this camera to shoot fast moving subjects and you may miss shooting an important moment such as your kid blowing out the candles on his/her birthday party.
Ergonomically, the camera can be easily used for an extended period. The buttons have excellent feedback. The overall user interface is easy for even an inexperienced user. The two AA batteries are supposed to last for about 200 shots as per official specifications.
Let us now take a look at the image quality.
The A1200 features 4x optical zoom, which is not much, but we don't expect too much from a point and shoot camera at this price range.
Let us now take a look at the Macro mode shooting capabilities of the camera.
Although the minimum distance at which the subject needs to be placed from the lens is restricted to 3 cm, Macro shooting results of this camera were found to be very good with the camera able to lock focus very fast.
Here is another test shot of a tree taken in daylight.