Canon PowerShot A490 review

Canon surprises with this sub-£100 compact camera

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canon powershot a490

Unlike Canon's higher-end cameras, the PowerShot A490 uses slightly older technology to process its images.

But while DIGIC IV might be Canon's most current processing technology, DIGIC III was good enough for cameras such as the 40D and 1D MKIII, and the A490's images, while not likely to strike fear into the hearts of professional photographers, are still rather good.

canon powershot a490
Macro mode (see full-res image)

The lens suffers principally from a rather whiny-sounding motor, but it's reasonably specified.

It's a 3.3x zoom, which equates to 37-122mm in 35mm terms. It's neither particularly wide nor long, but users won't have reason to complain in most situations.

Testing revealed a few minor shortcomings - high-contrast edges were a little prone to purple fringing, but our test images are otherwise sharp and well exposed.

canon powershot a490
Wide angle (see full-res image)

Even at higher ISO settings - the A490 goes as high as ISO 1600 - both noise and noise reduction are applied even-handedly, with the result that the A490 consistently produced good, sharp, clean images.

There's a fair degree of manual control. Shutter speed and aperture are naturally left to the camera's processor to figure out, but you can still control the A490's ISO setting, and there's +/- two stops of exposure compensation as well.

(See full-res image)

You can choose from centre-weighted, spot and evaluative metering. There's even the option for custom white balance and a customisable self-timer.

(See full-res image)

The video mode is good though. The lack of an HD mode isn't a shock, but the 640 x 480 VGA video is fine for short clips, although the fact you can't use the optical zoom while recording is annoying.

Tech Specs

Product TypeCompact Camera
Battery Size SupportedAA
Maximum Video Resolution640 x 480
Effective Camera Resolution10 Megapixel
Product FamilyPowerShot A
HD Movie ModeNo
Memory Card SupportedMMCplus, HC MMCplus, MultiMediaCard (MMC), Secure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Optical Zoom3.3x
Digital Zoom4x
Brand NameCanon
FeaturesFace Detection
Screen Size6.4 cm (2.5")
Video FormatsMotion JPEG (AVI)
Viewfinder TypeNo
Weight (Approximate)175 g
Maximum Image Resolution3648 x 2736
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height61.7 mm
Width93.5 mm
Depth30.6 mm
Product SeriesA
Focal Length6.60 mm to 21.60 mm
Image FormatsJPEG
Focus ModesAuto
ManufacturerCanon, Inc
Product ModelA490
Product NamePowerShot A490 Compact Camera
Product LinePowerShot
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part Number4258B011
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Affordable, easy and fun, the PowerShot A490 uses Canon know-how to let everyone take great 10 Megapixel photos. Its compact, lightweight design slips easily into any pocket. A 10.0 Megapixel sensor gives you the detail for superb, large-scale prints, or creatively cropping shots to perfection.

Package Contents
  • PowerShot A490 Compact Camera
  • 2 x AA Alkaline Batteries
Limited Warranty1 Year