The Canon PowerShot A3400 is the mid-range A Series PowerShot for 2012, but it has one unusual feature that sets it apart from its stablemates – a 3 inch touch screen. Until now if you wanted a touch screen Canon compact you had to look to the up market IXUS range, the A3400 IS brings touch screen control within the reach of those on smaller budgets.
It has a 5x optical zoom with the same range as the less expensive models in the range, but, crucually, with the added benefit of optical image stabilisation which makes a big difference to its ability to get good shots in low light as well as smooth movie footage at 720p HD resolution.
The 16 Megapixel sensor will enable you to make big prints, but compromises the A3400’s image quality, particularly at high ISO sensitivities. And, though not unusual in a compact in this price bracket, the lack of optical zoom control during movie recording is a bit disappointing. Those criticisms aside, add in excellent auto exposure and focussing and a great range of fun and creative effects and you’ve got an affordable touch-screen compact with a great deal to offer.
Compared to Canon PowerShot A2300
The PowerShot A3400 IS has two features in common with the cheaper A2300: a 5x optical zoom lens and the same 16 Megapixel CCD sensor. That might lead you supose they’re quite similar cameras, but beyond the lens and sensor lie a couple of very significant differences.
Their respective lenses may share the same range, but the A3400 IS zoom is optically stabilised, making it a much more capable-low light performer. Don’t be fooled into thinking the A2300’s Digital IS mode is an adequate substitute, its reduced resolution high ISO shots don’t come close and there’s no option for stabilised video either. The other major difference is the PowerShot A3400 IS is the first PowerShot to feature a touch-sensitive screen. At 3 inches it’s bigger than the 2.7 inch screen on the A2300, has a wider viewing angle and makes for easier menu and feature selection as as well improving the handling with features like touch focus.
The A3400 IS has all the same ease of use features as the A2300 and shares the same best quality 720p25 HD movie mode. It’s a little heavier and a little more expensive than the A2300, so if you’re not too bothered about low light performance and can live without a touch screen, the A2300 makes more sense. Another option worth considering is its predecessor the A3300 IS which shares many of the same features, but lacks the touch screen. But if you like the idea of a touch screen and do a lot of your picture taking in low light the small additional cost will be money well spent.
Canon PowerShot A3400 IS final verdict
The PowerShot A3400 IS is the only A series PowerShot to offer a touch-screen. Canon isn’t the only, or even the first manufacturer with a touch screen model in this price bracket, but few of its competitors can match the good looks, feature set, ease of operation and creative control that the A3400 IS provides.
By simplifying the A Series line up around a common sensor and lens combination – 16 Megapixel CCD and 28-140mm 5x optical zoom (the 8x A4000 IS excepted), Canon has made the choice of which PowerShot to buy much easier for consumers. The A3400 IS is the touch screen model, if you don’t want a touch screen its the A2300 IS and if you don’t need optical image stabilisation it’s the A2300. It’s a bold move which reduces the options if you want, say, a wider wide angle, or a lower resolution sensor, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it pays off in terms of increased popularity for A series PowerShots and the A3400 IS in particular. In the meantime, I feel the A3400 IS hits a sweetspot in terms of features and value, so earns our Highly Recommended award.
(relative to 2012 budget compacts)
17 / 20
16 / 20
18 / 20
18 / 20
16 / 20