Canon PowerShot A490 review

Canon surprises with this sub-£100 compact camera

canon powershot a490
The Canon PowerShot A490 is one of the cheapest Canon compacts yet released

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We were surprised at how much we liked the A490. Its rather staid plastic finish isn't amazing to look at, the 2.5-inch screen on the back isn't spectacular, and the AA batteries are a bit of a blast from the past, but more importantly than anything it does take excellent pictures.

We liked:

First and foremost image quality. Look at the test images - sharp details, reasonably low noise and good colour reproduction all make the A490 a decent buy. After that, the build quality is good considering the all-plastic construction, and the menu system is standard Canon - easy to navigate, quick, and intuitive.

We disliked:

Features are thin on the ground, and the A490's finish looks worse in real life than it does in the pictures. There's no way you'll pick it up and have any illusions as to which end of the price spectrum the A490 falls. We'd also prefer a little more from the video mode, but that really would be having our cake and eating it.


You don't always get the control that you want over them, and features such as a decent HD video mode are missing, but if you're looking for a camera for occasional use, and simply want reasonable results every time you press the shutter, this is a cast-iron bargain.

Dave is a professional photographer whose work has appeared everywhere from National Geographic to the Guardian. Along the way he’s been commissioned to shoot zoo animals, luxury tech, the occasional car, countless headshots and the Northern Lights. As a videographer he’s filmed gorillas, talking heads, corporate events and the occasional penguin. He loves a good gadget but his favourite bit of kit (at the moment) is a Canon EOS T80 35mm film camera he picked up on eBay for £18.