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Canon PowerShot A3300 IS / A3200 IS Ken McMahon, April 2011

Canon PowerShot A3300 IS verdict

The Canon PowerShot A3300 IS is a 16 Megapixel compact with a 3 inch LCD screen and a 5x stabilised optical zoom lens. It sits at the top of Canon's A series compact range which combines point-and-shoot auto exposure modes with ease of use features like scene detection, face detection, Smart shutter and a range of scene modes.

The technology works in practice too. There may be little for manual control enthusiasts, but left to figure everything out by itself in auto, the A3300 IS handles confidently and delivers good results.

Canon has added some innovative new features like results-based Live View Control, Creative filters and discrete mode and, for the first time on A series models, there's a 720p HD video mode in addition to standard resolution recording. Annoyingly there's still no optical zoom when filming, but with a relatively noisy zoom motor, that's not necessarily a bad thing.



Compared to Canon PowerShot A3200 IS


The PowerShot A3200 IS (unavailable in some regions) is a slightly lower-end version of the A3300 IS that's identical in all but two details. First, it has a lower resolution 14.1 megapixel sensor and secondly, a slightly smaller 2.7 inch LCD screen. The first of these is something that you might easily live without. Indeed, unless you plan to make a lot of A2 sized prints the extra resolution isn't likely to be of any use.

The screen is a different matter. There's no denying that having a larger screen on which to compose and review shots makes the whole business of picture taking that much easier and more pleasurable. Having said that, if you're on a tight budget it's something you might be prepared to compromise on.

Lastly there's the question of image quality. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the PowerShot A3300 IS outperforms its lower reolution sibling in terms of image quality. In our outdoor resolutuon tests the crops from the PowerShot A3300 IS were better than those from the PowerShot A3200 IS. Unless you're making big prints or heavily cropping images any quality differences are likely to be marginal though, so it's really a straightforward trade off - a smaller screen and 2 million fewer pixels for a lower price tag.

It's also worth bearing in mind that if you don't need the big print capability that a large Megapixel count provides and can live without HD video the 12.1 Megapixel PowerShot A3100 IS is still available and now represents very good value for money. See our Canon PowerShot A3100 IS review for more details.


Compared to Panasonic Lumix FS18 / FH5


The Panasonic Lumix FS18 / FH5 shares the same 16.1 Megapixel count as the Canon PowerShot A3300 IS, can also shoot 720p HD video and the two cameras are similarly priced. So much for the similarities, what sets them apart?

The FS18 / FH5 is a slimmer, more compact model - at only 19mm it's a full 5mm slimmer than the PowerShot A3300 IS and it's also significantly lighter. So if you're looking for a compact that you can easily slip into you trouser pocket the FS18 / FH5 will be a better fit.

One reason the FS18 / FH5 is smaller is that it has a 4x (28-112mm) zoom compared with A3300's 5x (28-140mm) zoom, giving them the same wide-angle coverage, but a longer reach to the Canon. Both cameras have optical image stabilisation, but neither can zoom during video recording, though the PowerShot A3300 can at least use its digital zoom. The FS18 / FH5 also has a smaller 2.7 inch LCD screen compared to the 3 inch screen on the PowerShot A3300 IS.

Finally there's handling to consider. Though both cameras hve a variety of auto shooting modes and quick access menus, the PowerShot A3300 IS outdoes the Panasonic Lumix FS18 / FH5 in offering a wider range of fun and ease of use features. Though it has a wider range of scene modes, the FS18 / FH5 can't compete on features like Easy shooting mode, Live View Control, Creative filters and Smart shutter options like wink and Face self-timer.

See our upcoming Panasonic Lumix DMC FS18 / FH5 review for more details.


Canon PowerShot A3300 IS final verdict.

The Canon PowerShot A3300 IS is Canon's top of the range PowerShot A-series camera. Price-wise, it occupies the higher-end of the budget compact market and is designed to appeal to people looking for a point-and-shoot camera that offers a little bit extra while at the same time providing excellent value for money. The extra here isn't necessarily more advanced operation or manual control, but something that adds to the picture-taking experience, making it easier, more enjoyable and producing better results.

By introducing new features like Creative filters and Live View control, Canon has succeeded admirably. With these new features, the PowerShot A3300 IS genuinely brings something fresh to point-and-shoot photography. In addition, there are other tangible improvements including a wider zoom range, HD video and a higher resolution sensor. It all adds up to a very compelling point-and-shoot compact.

Good points
5x stabilised optical zoom.
28mm equivalent wide angle.
Creative filters and Live View Control.
720p HD video.

Bad points
Difficult to operate control pad.
No optical zoom on video.
No HDMI port.
Poor continuous shooting performance.


(relative to 2011 compacts)

Build quality:
Image quality:


17 / 20
16 / 20
17 / 20
16 / 20
17 / 20


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