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Canon A95 Test

Friday 17 September 2004, by Phi, 1009 Views

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I have bought recently a Canon A95 digital camera, the latest model with rotating LCD screen, 5 Mpixels, but still not too expensive (around 389 euros that is 400 USD). So what is it worth ?

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First, let me tell you that I don’t know anything about photography (digital or not). Previously I had an Agfa CL100 (1 Mpixels without LCD screen) and for one year I had a Kodak DX4330 (3 Mpixels). The Kodak is, with hindsight, almost perfect (easy to use, light, use regular AA batteries, no manual settings but the pictures are almost always good, fast). The real drawback of this camera is a too high JPEG compression level which can not be set (so that some 3 Mpixels photos are only 400 Ko!), which leads to artifacts when there are less light, and when the subject is people (skin tones are strange because it is too much compressed). With time, I focused more and more on this drawback, and so I wanted to buy a better digital camera.

So I ordered on August 16th the Canon A80 camera at LDLC (a french internet shop). With great timing I receive it on August 19th and on August 20th Canon announce its new range of digital camera including A95! After thinking it over for a few days, I decide to sent it back at LDLC for a refund (LDLC provides me with a RMA and refund me quickly, excellent service at LDLC). I would have kept the A80 only two days and taken only 40 plus pictures, most of them indoors, so I can’t say I mastered it (the german guide provided didn’t help ...).

Why did I sent back the A80 to buy a A95 ? Minuses would be that pictures would be more noisy (5 Mpixels CCD with a size of 1/1.8 similar than the A80’s 4 Mpixels CCD). Pluses was that it was 15 grams lighter (Canon A80 was 50 grams heavier than my previous Kodak DX4330 camera which was noticeable), video recording at 640x480, 5 Mpixels and larger LCD screen.

After having purchased the Canon A95 at Ldlc tuesday August 30 (during the short period where it appeared on supplier stock on the site 8-)), I lost my patience on September 6th and go buy it during lunch at Orys shop, in Paris for 389 euros including VAT (I got a package with a german guide).

Package contents

I have bought the regular version without battery charger.

The package includes
- Canon A95 camera
- A 32 Mo Compact Flash labelled \"High Speed\" (I find it almost slower than a noname)
- wrist strap
- non-rechargeables AA batteries
- documentation (in german) and software CDs (I use Kodak Easyshare which is free and can be downloaded on Kodak’s site and I only install Photostich for panoramas).

My A95 was \"Made in China\", some people says that \"Made in Japan\" version is far superior (better quality control).

First look

I couldn’t test it for long (because I’m supposed to work today) but here are my first impressions:

- Physically it’s very similar to the A80, perhaps a little less heavy. The main difference comes from the LCD screen which is larger but mostly whose resolution is far greater.

- Next is that almost all pictures I take are blurry! I must say that with the A80, I had well one third of pictures which were blurry (but I had kept it only two days, so I’m not sure I understood how to set the right settings). When compared with my humble Kodak 4330, almost no bad pictures because of blurriness. However I think I’ve found the reason, by setting autofocus and light measurement in the center (instead of flexizone, Aiaf or evaluative) it seems to be a little better. But it is dark, and I don’t always use the flash so it must make things worse (but it was also the case with A80 or Kodak DX4330 that’s why I make the comparison).

I have not have blurry pictures for outdoors day scenes yet. See below for a possible answer to this \"problem\"

- Last, like DCResource noticed, there is lots of red-eye with this camera (it’s the first time I see some in fact).

So, just now, I think that I could have kept the A80 but I’m not thinking yet that the A80 was better than the A95 8-| (one good night sleep to think it over).

Other stuff: the Camera use a compact flash as memory card. My first memory card (512 Mo noname at 59 euros at Ldlc) has lost some pictures after the fourth one! I realise I had always some problems with compact flash (sooner or later, even with good brand cards) whereas I have never had any problems with SD Card or MMC. I think that the format is less reliable (on the net I have never found articles on bad SD or MMC cards which lead to loss of pictures whereas there are lots of those on compact flashes). So when in doubt, it’s better to buy a high quality compact flash card (ex: Lexar or SanDisk).

Here are the first day pictures (sorry, on the path to work), on fine quality:
Bridge on the Seine (landscape mode)
Notre Dame (auto mode)
Statue in front of Notre Dame (auto mode)
Notre Dame bis (auto mode)
Zoom on Notre Dame (auto mode)
Tube (auto mode, flash)
Tube train (auto mode, flash)
Tube map (auto mode)

I find the pictures pretty noisy, there is also some purple fringing (which doesn’t bother me that much). That said, the pictures are acceptable as long as they are not magnified.

Battery life: I have taken 50 pictures with the LCD screen on (perhaps 10 with flash) before a battery warning showed on the screen. I managed to take (with difficulty) 20 more pictures without flash before the supplied alcalines batteries went dead.

How to take good pictures with the Canon A95 ?

Bon, j’ai accepté l’évidence, contrairement au mode auto du Kodak DX4330 qui permet de faire de bonnes photos dans 90% des cas, le mode auto du Canon A95 fait bien rater les photos dans 75% des cas. Cependant, grâce aux nombreux contrôles manuels de l’A95, ces défauts peuvent peut-être être compensés ?

Blurry pictures

Pour compenser le bougé en intérieur ou lorsqu’il fait sombre je n’ai trouvé que la solution suivante: mettre un délai de 2s avec le drive mode. En effet, le bougé est souvent du à la pression sur le déclencheur dans mon cas! Je le fixe dans le mode C du canon A95, et je l’utilise aussi pour les photos extérieur.

Par ailleurs, je crois que l’appareil joue le son avant d’avoir pris la photo. Je ne me permets de bouger que lorsque la led d’écriture clignote et non qd j’entends le son.

White balance

La balance des blancs AWB ne marche pratiquement jamais (sauf en extérieur). Il faut donc au minimum choisir la bonne balance des blancs (ce que l’on ne peut faire en mode auto), et il est souvent beaucoup mieux de fixer la balance des blancs avec un set (très facile, il suffit de fixer qque chose de blanc).

Couleurs moins ternes

Je suis habitué aux couleurs éclatantes (mais moins réalistes) de mon Kodak. En mettant le mode éclatant, cela compense un petit peu sans aller jusqu’au degré de retraitement des appareils photos numériques Kodak.



- Rotating LCD screen with very good resolution
- Lots of manual settings
- Uses standard AA batteries
- Not too expensive
- Automatic lens cache
- Fairly quick on start-up, snapshot and pictures review

- Auto or default settings don’t always give a good picture
- Camera fairly sensitive to movement which gives blurred pictures (at any rate when the same type of pictures is taken with an A80 or Kodak DX4330)
- Noise in pictures, when compared to A80 or Kodak DX4330
- Significant red eye effect
- Significant purple fringing
- Not straightforward to set all parameters to take the best pictures (especially with a german manual ...)
- Plastic tripod mount

I really think that I should have kept the Canon A80 because it was 60 euros cheaper and because its pictures were certainly not worse. But I know well that I would have always regretted the A95 ... and it shows with all people who want to convince themselves that A95 is a good buy (it is a good buy in absolute terms but certainly not better than A80). I ask myself in the end if the A80 was really better than the A95 ? At any rate it’s not a satisfying camera as there is always a doubt on the quality of pictures taken (that is if the pictures are not good, one always wonder if it’s because of the camera and not of one’s photograph skills ...). If I had to buy a new camera I’ll perhaps go for the more expensive G6.


Bon, vous avez acheté un Canon A80 ou A95, que faut-il d’autre ? Pour ma part j’ai acheté en sus:
- Un étui Canon SC-PS600 (environ 40 euros). Il est parfaitement à la taille du Canon A80, par contre je n’aime pas bcp sa matière (attire la poussière) et j’aurais préféré un étui en cuir.
- Un chargeur Uniross Globetrotter de voyage avec 4 piles Ni-MH 2100 mAh (environ 40 euros chez Pixellium). En effet, il n’y a pas de chargeur dans la version que j’ai acheté (il paraît qu’il y a un nouveau chargeur qui est très bien dans les pack Plus). Cette version est portable avec des adaptateurs pour les prises des autres pays. A noter qu’il n’est livré avec quatre piles uniquement chez pixellium (2 piles sinon).
- Une carte compact flash San Disk Ultra II de 1 Go (environ 180 euros chez Pixellium mais je l’ai trouvée moins cher après 8-( à 142 euros sur Digit-photo). La version ultra rapide ne sert absolument à rien sur l’A80 mais si vous la réutilisez plus tard sur un autre appareil numérique, cela peut être utile. En effet, la revue d’une image complexe me prend 2\"42 exactement autant de temps qu’avec la carte mémoire fournie (voire un peu plus lent).

Useful links

Steve Digicams A95 test
E-photografija A95 test
DCResource A95 test
Orys Image shop (french)
Hardware.fr forum topic (french)
Albert Achtung A80 review (lots of useful tips)

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