Lake Success (NY) - Three years ago, Canon introduced its Powershot A-series digital cameras, with the idea of introducing creative photographers' features into the consumer market. Today, the company announced some boosts to that product line, replacing the A700 introduced just last February with the A710 IS, boosting image size from 6.0 to 7.1 Mp; and bolstering the A600 line with two new models, of which one will boost the image size to from 7.1 to 10 Mp.
But the features of the A710 IS certain to excite film photographers eager to explore the digital world on a budget won't be the big megapixel number. One of the more exciting additions to the product line is Canon's new digital teleconverter, which the company has been keeping mum about until just recently. Although traditional teleconverter lenses for all new A-series models, this new feature will allow first-time buyers to explore the kinds of image manipulation that were only made possible in the past using snap-on fisheye and telephoto lenses.
And if you're wondering what the "IS" stands for, it's image stabilization. The A710 IS will be the first A-series Canon to include this feature, along with a new treatment for digital zoom (whose popularity had been declining in favor of optical zoom) that Canon says will enable photographers to test high-rate zoom capability without sacrificing image quality.
Evidently, the company is integrating new digital image manipulation capability right into the camera. "The DIGIC II chip," Canon's statement reads this morning, "combines the roles of image processing and camera function control into one chip, resulting in faster display and write times for each image and lower power consumption, which extends battery life."
Besides the extra electronic features, the A710 IS is essentially a continuation of the A700, which already received rave reviews earlier in the year. Steve's Digicamscalled the A700, "an awesome consumer digital camera. One that I would highly recommend to anyone in the market for a fair priced model with loads of user friendly features and outstanding image quality and performance." Steve's was able to run the A700 for 100 shots, for 180 minutes, on a fresh set of ordinary alkaline AA batteries, although rechargeable NiMH batteries are recommended for 300 minutes.
Buyers at the $399.99 price point will have the choice of purchasing the A710 IS with a plethora of creative features and the 7.1 Mp image size, or the new A640 for the same price, fewer options, but a 10 Mp image size. The new A630 drops the price by $100, with the only tradeoff being an 8 Mp image size.