POWERSHOT a3300is

The design of the new PowerShot sees quite a radical departure from that of its predecessor, with Canon abandoning the A3100 IS' boxier shape in favour of a more modern-looking silhouette.

The combination of coloured metal front and back panels with a black plastic inlay that runs around the top, bottom and sides of the camera creates a stylish two-tone look and lends a robust feel to it, with the A3300 IS feeling reassuringly weighty and well-balanced in the hand.

The top panel of the new camera remains largely the same as that of its predecessor, with a similarly-positioned, but now lozenge-shaped power button, responsive silver shutter release and a well-proportioned mode dial that nestles in a neatly-carved groove to the right hand side.

One slight change to be noted is that the old rocker switch that controlled the zoom (appearing on the back panel) on the previous model has been replaced by a more intuitive spring-loaded lever that now surrounds the shutter release.

Around the back, the latter change to the interface has made slightly more room for you to rest your thumb, with dedicated Face Detection and Playback buttons falling directly below this point.

Above further Disp. (Display) and Menu buttons sits the new circular four-way d-pad, which offers the same softkey access to the camera's exposure compensation, flash, self-timer and AF mode options.

Powershot a3300 is

LCD Screen

The central Func/Set button lets you make selections from menus and pressing it while in shooting mode calls up a bank of icons that appear down the left hand side of the LCD, offering fast access to further options – the scope of which expands and contracts according to the particular exposure mode you're using at the time.

The previously mentioned LCD on the A3300 IS is marginally larger than the previous model's - increasing from 2.7-inches to 3-inches, in-line with the competition.

The 230,000-dot resolution has sadly not increased, but the bright screen does offer a fairly decent wide viewing angle and enough detail for everyday shooting.

Exposure modes

The mode dial offers a good selection of exposure modes, with a point-and-shoot Easy Auto mode for the complete beginner, plus a more advanced 'intelligent' Auto mode that determines the subject you're photographing and selects the right scene mode for the task.

Once you're ready to take a bit more control over your shots, there's an innovative Live shooting mode, which presents you with three sliders to control how light/dark, neutral/vivid and cool/warm your images appear - a useful way of getting to grips with the basics of photography.

There are ten scene modes for you to choose from, as well as a selection of fun creative filters to customise the look of your images. The latter menu comprises Fish-eye, Miniature, Toy Camera, Monochrome, Super Vivid and Poster effects, with each filter producing its own unique look.

There's a handy Discreet mode - which turns off the sound, flash etc when you need to be a bit more covert about your photography - this sits alongside the camera's HD movie mode on the dial.

The final option on the dial is the most advanced setting on hand: Program mode. This allows you the most control over the A3300 IS' settings, with options including white balance, ISO, drive mode, metering and image size - among others - available for tweaking.