High-resolution sensor, fun-to-use effect filters, 5x optical zoom and HD video recording are some of the features that are common to point-and-shoot cameras. You can expect these even in the most basic models that are priced below Rs 6,000. One such camera we came across recently was the 20 megapixel Nikon Coolpix L28, which looked good on paper but didn’t deliver to our expectation. Today, we have the 16 meagapixel Canon PowerShot A2500 – one of the 12 new cameras that Canon launched in India in April 2013. Let’s find out if it gives the L28 a run for its money or is it the other way round.
A 16 megapixel point-and-shoot camera with 5x optical zoom
Design and features
The Canon PowerShot A2500 is almost identical to the A2400 IS. The difference is quite obvious looking at the model number—the missing suffix “IS” indicates that the A2500 lacks optical image stabilisation. Apart from this and a few subtle design changes, the feature set of the both of the cameras is the same. Had Canon not added the silver accent on the front of the shell and retained the black back panel, it would have been difficult to differentiate between the A2400 IS and A2500 just by their looks. Also, the A2500 comes in different colours than the A2400 IS—black, silver and red. However, note that only the front panel is coloured. The rear, sides and most of the top panel is silver. So, the silver colour variant is all-silver.
Weighs 125 grams with battery; quite slim at 20.9 mm
Weighing in at only 125 grams (with the battery), the A2500 is very light. It’s lighter than the Nikon Coolpix L28 by 40 grams and also slimmer by around 8 mm, all thanks to the li-ion battery pack it uses. Good, but the advantage of AA batteries is that you can resort to spare batteries if the ones in the camera run dry. Here, you will have to buy a spare battery pack or take a break from shooting if the battery dies. If you ask us which one between the PowerShot A2500 and Coolpix L28 looks good, we would say it’s the L28 hands down. Although it’s a bit chunkier, the L28 looks more stylish. You will like the A2500 if you like sober colours and design.
At 28 mm, the lens of the A2500 is slightly less wide than the one in L28, which starts from 26 mm. However, with a focal length of 140 mm at the wide end, you get a closer view with the A2500. You don’t need optical image stabilisation for a 5x zoom lens when you shoot in broad daylight and in good lighting conditions. But the lack of optical IS is Achilles Heel in low light. The Nikon L28 too doesn’t have optical IS, but the A2500 features digital IS to make up for the lack of optical IS.
The rear of the A2500 sports a 2.7-inch, 230K dot LCD monitor. To its right is the control panel comprising a 5-way D-pad and buttons for video recording, help, playback and menu. Canon has taken a slightly different approach with the provision of shortcuts on the D-pad. Pressing the Up button toggles the Auto mode, which is nice if you want hassle-free shooting. It’s equivalent to Smart Auto mode found in many cameras, wherein the camera analyses the scene or subject and uses optimal settings. The Left button toggles Eco mode. When active, this mode turns off the display to save battery life when the camera is idle for 10 seconds. The other two directional buttons are for flash settings and display info. Shortcuts for EV, macro or self-timer would have been more useful than the Auto and Eco mode toggles. In this case, you have no choice but to navigate menus to access the functions. Eco mode could have been included in the camera settings and selecting Auto mode using the menu wouldn’t have been an issue.
Compartment for Li-ion battery pack and memory card
The A2500 can record videos at 640 x 480 or 1280 x 720 at 30 fps. A good thing is that you have optical zoom at your disposal while recording videos.
As with most entry-level point-and-shoot digital cameras, you don’t have granular control over exposure. The aperture ranges from f/2.8 to f/6.9 and the shutter speed ranges from 15 to 1/2000 sec, but these are automatically set by the camera depending on the light conditions and the scene modes you select. The mode that offers most flexibility is the Program mode, which allows setting the white balance, EV, metering mode, ISO and drive mode (single shot or burst). The user interface of the A2500 is intuitive and snappy. The Function/Set button at the centre of the D-pad brings up the stack of controls on the left side of the display. You then use the directional keys to set the shooting parameters. Only the parameters applicable to the selected shooting mode are highlighted and the rest are greyed out. The shooting modes include Auto, Program, Portrait, Low Light, Toy Camera Effect, Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Monochrome, Poster Effect, Fireworks and Snow. To keep things simple, Canon hasn’t categorised these into Scene mode and Effect filters. You have everything in one list, which makes selection easier.
Control panel with large buttons; Macro mode available via menu
Even if you’re a novice, it won’t take much time getting used to this camera. If you need help, there’s the Help button which explains most of the camera’s functions in simple language.
Build quality and ergonomics
The shell of the A2500 sports matte finish, because of which it doesn’t feel too plasticky. The overall build of the camera is good, but it doesn’t have the feel of a premium product. The use of metal like in the IXUS range would have made a big difference. The A2500 is quite comfortable to use even single-handed. The slim design and dimpled thumbgrip next to the video recording button lend good grip, but only if you have small hands. The bulge around the battery compartment in the Nikon Coolpix L28 felt somewhat more comfortable.
Unlike the L28, which was a laggard when it came to initialisation and time between shots, the A2500 is eager to spring into action. We used the same 16GB SDHC card (class 6) that we used for testing the L28. The camera takes around 2 seconds to get ready to shoot from the time you press the on/off button. With the resolution set to highest (16 megapixel), the time between shots is around 3 seconds—twice as quick as the L28.
With settings for ISO, light metering and tracking focus, the A2500 offers some flexibility over exposure and focus. The noise is well controlled at up to ISO 200, after which you should boost the ISO only if you don’t get fast shutter speeds; for instance, late in the evening or in low ambient lighting. At high ISO, the noise isn’t too coarse, but the details are blotchy and there’s presence of colour noise, which is more apparent in darker areas of the frame.
The outdoor performance in broad daylight is very good. The colours are punchy and reproduction of details is excellent. Not much compression artefacts and graininess are visible even when you view photos at 100 percent zoom. That’s because the camera uses the lowest ISO speed. But when the ISO is even boosted in low light, there’s great loss of details and colour noise.
Purple fringing wasn’t visible around dark areas against strong backlight, but slight chromatic aberrations are visible along the edges of the frame.
The A2500 is best at capturing macros and close-ups. The closest shooting distance is about an inch from the object, and the results are excellent—crisp details, vibrant colours and good background blur.
The quality of video recording is very good. The optical zoom comes in handy when you want to zoom into subjects while recording videos. There’s negligible stutter in videos and the picture quality is good even in low light.
Sample shots (click on the photos for full view)
Crisp and punchy outdoor shots
100 percent crop of the above shot
Shot using Miniature effect filter
Shot using Toy Camera effect filter
Shot using Monochrome filter
Spot metering was used to meter the exposure of the flame
Crisp focus and good background blur
Great looking macro shots
Verdict and price in India
At an MRP of Rs 5,995, the Canon PowerShot A2500 is priced at par with the Nikon Coolpix L28. The package includes a 4GB memory card and a carrying pouch. Given a choice between the A2500 and L28, the former is definitely a better choice despite L28’s more-intuitive user interface and handier shortcuts on the D-pad. The A2500 is snappier and the overall imaging quality is a notch better than that of the L28. It’s also more fun to use with a raft of effect filters you get. The quality of video recording is also better and the option to use optical zoom while recording videos is a bonus. Although the provision of optical IS would have been nice, the A2500 is still good value for money.
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