Budget cameras are everywhere these days. Plenty of snapshot cameras cost less than £150, and you can even find some for around £100. The Canon PowerShot A460 is in that second category of inexpensive shooters.
This basic 5-megapixel camera comes in at the very low end of Canon's PowerShot A series of digital cameras. On paper, it looks like your average budget camera. Unfortunately, a lacklustre design in addition to image-quality issues make it feel like Canon phoned this one in.
The chunky, brick-shaped A460 weighs 210g with batteries and memory card, and at 41mm thick, it's slightly too fat to fit in your jeans.
The minimalist control layout consists of four buttons and a zoom rocker integrated into a menu-navigating joy pad. This is an irritating design, and large thumbs will be prone to accidentally bumping the zoom in or out, or changing settings such as flash when using the zoom.
As a budget shooter, the A460 fails to really stand out of the crowd. Its most notable aspect is its 38mm-to-152mm-equivalent 4x lens, slightly more powerful than the 3x lenses found on most snapshot cameras. Its 2-inch LCD, however, is just slightly smaller than the norm. Fortunately, the small screen leaves enough room for an optical viewfinder, offering greater flexibility when framing shots.
Besides those features, the A460 has the standard complement of scene modes and presets, though its movie mode is limited to either VGA resolution at 10 frames per second or QVGA (320x240-pixel) at 30fps. Most cameras have a 30fps VGA movie mode, making this a disappointing omission for users who want to shoot videos with their camera.
The Canon PowerShot A460's performance was acceptable, but not great. After the camera took 1.7 seconds to start up and capture its first image, we could take an additional photo every 1.5 seconds. With the flash enabled, however, that time quadrupled to a full 6 seconds between shots.
Shutter lag was a decent 0.5 seconds in bright light, though it increased to 1.2 seconds in dim light. We shot 47 full-resolution images in 31 seconds for a rate of 1.5fps. This would be a decent score for a 6- or 7-megapixel camera, but we expected a faster rate for a mere 5-megapixel shooter.
For a camera with a maximum sensitivity of ISO 400, the A460's images were awfully noisy. We saw at least some grain on almost every test shot. Our ISO 100 test image looked like it was taken at ISO 200 on almost any other camera, our ISO 200 test image could have been taken at ISO 400, and our ISO 400 test image resembled one taken at ISO 800.
Image quality was otherwise decent. The automatic white balance produced a drastic yellow cast under our lab's tungsten lights, though the tungsten preset proved very neutral, even more so than the manual white balance. We also noticed some purple fringing around bright highlights, and while the images weren't the sharpest we've ever seen, they were on a par in that respect with other cameras in this price range.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
||Typical shot-to-shot time||
||Time to first shot||
||Shutter lag (typical)|
The Canon PowerShot A460 would have been a good camera a few years ago, but these days it just doesn't cut it. With only 5-megapixel resolution and horrible image noise, we can't easily recommend this camera. Even among sub-£100 cameras, there are better choices out there.
Edited by Philip Ryan
Additional editing by Nick Hide