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Canon PowerShot A50

The smallest megapixel zoom digicam in the world, I have a feeling the PowerShot A50 will become the breakthrough camera for digital photography, just as the Canon SureShot made point-and-shoot conventional photography popular and nearly foolproof. And, as one of the best digital cameras available for under US$500, it seems to offer the right balance of size, features, value, appearance, and brand recognition to make it a top seller.

But what really sets the PowerShot apart from almost every other digicam is the widest setting on the zoom lens, which is equivalent to a 28mm lens on a 35mm camera. Only Kodak comes close to that, offering several models with the equivalent of a 30-60 zoom. But unlike Kodak's confusing array of models, Canon's line has just one model in this range, and the Canon lens runs both wider and longer than Kodak's.

Although 70mm isn't much on the long end, remember that you can zoom in using Photoshop and other image editing programs, especially if you shoot at maximum resolution and minimum file compression. It won't be as good as with a longer zoom, but if you're making small prints or using the images on the web, quality should be sufficient.

After looking over all the models on the market today, the PowerShot A50 tops my wish list. The only thing missing seems to be USB.


  • viewfinder: optical and 2" / 5.1 cm LCD
  • pixel resolutions: 1280 x 960 (large), 640 x 480 (small)
  • CCD: 1.3 megapixels
  • bit depth: 24-bit images reduced from 30-bit source
  • file size: 65 KB (small, normal), 120 KB (small, fine), 170 KB (large, normal), 320 KB (large, fine) 1561 KB (raw)
  • size (HxWxD): 2.7" x 4.1" x 1.5" / 103 x 68 x 37.7mm
  • weight: 9.2 oz. / 260 g (without battery, CompactFlash card)
  • lens (35mm equivalent): 28-70mm f/2.6-4
  • close focus: 1.6' (macro: 6.7")
  • digital zoom: no
  • shutter speeds: 1/6 to 1/750 sec. (2 seconds in slow mode)
  • ISO equivalent: 100-400 (400 only at 640 x 480 setting)
  • flash range: 11.5' (wide), 8' (tele)
  • storage: CompactFlash, includes 8 MB card (stores 61-106 small images, 23-43 large, 4 raw)
  • shot time: under 4 seconds between shots, 1 shot per second in small mode
  • interfaces: serial, CompactFlash, NTSC video out
  • battery: 2CR5 lithium or NB-5H NiMH

Recommended Accessories

  • DK110 Power Supply Kit: rechargeable battery, charger, AC adapter, about US$100. (2CR5 lithium batteries sell for $10-15 each.)
  • NB-5H rechargeable battery, about US$40. (you'll probably want 2 or 3 batteries - they run down pretty quickly).

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