This camera caught our eye in among Canon's annual end-of-year product deluge. It's the latest PowerShot and includes the same DIGIC III processor as Canon's IXUS and DSLR models. You get a whopping 12.1-megapixel capture rate, and plenty of scope for cropping and editing the massive images you get back.
The A650IS is very good at capturing detailed, colour-accurate shots in variable light. A strong performer indoors and out, it snapped well in low light and has a flash which, while not as powerful as some other models, gets the job done. Outdoors, its long zoom range is very handy and it starts up quickly, so you're less likely to miss that shot.
Above and beyond the other performance marks, it's the colours that are particularly impressive. Flesh tones are true, contrast is clearly defined and there's a broad range of ISO settings and shooting modes to play with.
There's little fuss to the camera; no flash hot shoe, a single fixed lens and it runs on four AA batteries, so you can avoid expensive battery replacements. For framing shots, the 2.5-inch LCD swivels out and tilts. It's bright enough to read in daylight with little bother. The added size of the body over an IXUS gives more space for the buttons, and consequently the power button, zoom toggle, menu click wheel and AV port flap are all very simple to operate.
Generally, we liked the shape and grip that you get with a PowerShot. It's basically a high-end IXUS that you can grip rather than pinch.
The little extras are there; you get the tripod screw hole, Face Detection, Image Stabilizer and, if you spend the money, a broad range of tele-convertors and other accessories including a waterproof enclosure. We think this would make a great family camera, and it has a deep enough feature set to satisfy your creative flair.