A 10-megapixel Canon PowerShot should be a safe pair of hands, right? With the A2000 IS, you get motion detection, face detection, a 6x optical zoom, image stabilisation and AA battery power that's both practical and surprisingly frugal. Throw in a 76mm (3-inch) LCD and you're not doing badly for £140 or thereabouts.
The A2000 IS is a long way from being a super-slim. If that's what you want, you should be looking at a Canon Digital IXUS instead. It's not, however, as fat as a PowerShot G10, say, or some of the older PowerShot designs, and the flat profile and rounded edges means it'll slide neatly into a jacket pocket. The extra size compared to a super-slim also makes it a good deal easier to handle.
There's not much to know, either. You've got a mode dial on the top, and buttons on the back for ISO, focus mode, flash mode, self-timer and drive mode, as well as another button for activating the face detection. White balance, EV compensation and other tweaks are carried out using Canon's usual 'Func' button, which overlays the screen with a series of easy-to-navigate menus, leaving the main menu system for general setup options.
And who needs lithium-ion batteries? Canon reckons the A2000 IS can get 240 shots out of the pair of alkalines supplied, and twice that with NiMH rechargeables.
The autofocus is fast, the zoom is quite speedy and the LCD is good. The pictures are impressively sharp too. The definition can drift off a little towards the edge of the frame, but, overall, the results are well above average for a 10-megapixel compact. Detail does tend to mush up progressively from ISO 400 upwards, but not too badly, and here, again, the Canon is rather better than average.
The dynamic range isn't so good. If you go out on a sunny day, you can expect a good proportion of your shots to have blown highlights. You could fix that easily enough with the EV compensation, if only it wasn't just a couple of button presses too far away to bother with. And, if the sun isn't out, you might want to switch to the 'Vivid' mode, because the standard colour rendition can be limp.
Also, what's happened to all the manual controls we used to get on A-series PowerShots? There are no PASM exposure modes here, just program AE and a number of scene modes. The 6x zoom sounds good, but the focal range is biased towards longer-range shots at 36mm to 210mm. There are many compacts out there now with 28mm wide-angle zooms, so this is disappointing too.
The Canon PowerShot A2000 IS is sensible, practical and produces above-average pictures, but it's not perfect and it's a long way from exciting. Canon's PowerShot range has, over the years, produced some innovative, versatile and powerful compacts, but this isn't one of them. It's the Ford Focus of digital cameras.
Edited by Charles Kloet