For a bargain-bin price the 8-megapixel Canon PowerShot A590 IS has a lot of features: that 8Mp resolution, 4x optical zoom, optical image stabilisation, face detection (which recognises faces in the frame and optimises the autofocus accordingly) and a smaller-but-serviceable 2.5in LCD screen. And conveniently it runs on two AA batteries.

To start, we simply ripped the Canon PowerShot A590 IS out of the box and started taking pictures. We had no trouble working our way through various settings, quickly finding and using many of the 19 shooting modes, including portrait, landscape, and auto. Not surprisingly, the Canon PowerShot A590 IS doesn't support a full range of manual settings (what do you expect for this price?), but it does let you program the shutter speed and aperture settings manually if you want to.

The big news with this point-and-shoot camera is image quality. Despite its rock-bottom price, the Canon PowerShot A590 IS scored significantly higher in our image-quality assessments than point-and-shoots that cost more than twice as much and have higher megapixel counts. In particular, our judges noted superior colours and flash exposures in our subjective tests.

Image quality gets an assist from our favourite Canon PowerShot A590 IS feature: the optical image stabiliser. We tried desperately to take a blurry picture - and failed. No matter how hard we shook that camera or how much my subjects shimmied, we couldn't induce a blurry image.

Like many other Canon cameras, the Canon PowerShot A590 IS has a classic, easy-to-hold ergonomic shape with a fat thumb/hand grip on the right side.

Although it's comfortable to hold, the Canon PowerShot A590 IS's camera body lacks rubber or textured trim on the plastic surface of its hand grip, which makes the grip a bit slick. We also wish that the Canon PowerShot A590 IS was smaller: it's a compact camera, but not exactly pocketable.

You'll need to secure the Canon PowerShot A590 IS in a small camera bag before stowing it in your purse or backpack, or you'll risk scratching it up.

Although the Canon PowerShot A590 IS's AA batteries are great for convenience, the A590IS produced only 248 shots running on a fresh pair. Many point-and-shoots can take more than 300 shots on a single charge.

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Canon PowerShot A590 IS: Specs

  • 8Mp camera
  • 4x optical zoom (4x digital zoom)
  • 0.4in CCD
  • 3264x2448dpi
  • 30fps, 640x480 (VGA), AVI, MJPEG video
  • max aperture: 2.6 1/f
  • Auto Focus, Face Recognition Auto Focus, Focus Lock, Manual Focus, Multiple Point Focusing, Spot Focus
  • 8 resolution modes
  • image stabilisation
  • Min Focal Length: 5.8mm, Max Focal Length: 23.2mm
  • 2.5in LCD screen
  • MultiMedia Card (MMC), SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
  • takes 2x AA batteries
  • USB - Universal Serial Bus, Video - RCA Composite Video
  • 40.8x94.3x64.7mm
  • 175g
  • 8Mp camera
  • 4x optical zoom (4x digital zoom)
  • 0.4in CCD
  • 3264x2448dpi
  • 30fps, 640x480 (VGA), AVI, MJPEG video
  • max aperture: 2.6 1/f
  • Auto Focus, Face Recognition Auto Focus, Focus Lock, Manual Focus, Multiple Point Focusing, Spot Focus
  • 8 resolution modes
  • image stabilisation
  • Min Focal Length: 5.8mm, Max Focal Length: 23.2mm
  • 2.5in LCD screen
  • MultiMedia Card (MMC), SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
  • takes 2x AA batteries
  • USB - Universal Serial Bus, Video - RCA Composite Video
  • 40.8x94.3x64.7mm
  • 175g

OUR VERDICT

Photos from the Canon PowerShot A590 IS will never be mistaken for digital SLR output, but this camera is a great choice for anyone seeking an inexpensive, easy-to-use point-and-shoot that produces high-quality images. And don't be afraid to put its optical image stabilisation to the test.

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