Canon recently added two models with 6x optical zoom to the top of its vast and successful 'A' series, PowerShot A650 IS and its younger sibling, the PowerShot A720 IS. The Canon PowerShot A720 IS is priced at £179.

Features

The Canon PowerShot A720 IS lives up to the expectations from the second highest model in Canon's A series. 8Mp sensor, 6x optical zoom aided by optical IS, face recognition and ample manual controls feature on the specification sheet.

The Canon PowerShot A720 IS can also take in filters and lenses of 58mm thread through an adaptor. Manual control lets you set aperture from f/2.8 to f/8.0 at wide while at the tele end, the least aperture number you get is f/4.8. Shutter speed can be varied from 15 seconds to 1/2,000 second.

The manual focus is difficult to use as the preview on the LCD is not good enough for you to easily observe if the subject is in focus or not. The Canon PowerShot A720 IS can be made waterproof with an optional casing.

Performance

Images produced by the Canon PowerShot A720 IS make us both smile and frown at the same time. While colour reproduction, exposure and detail levels are very impressive, the noise level isn't.

The Canon PowerShot A720 IS performed very well in our resolution chart test, being able to distinguish fine lines better than many other models in this category. Outdoor shots composed of sky, buildings and trees came out well, with no over exposure and colours looking natural.

We tested the Image Stabilisation (IS) function at full 6x zoom and found that handheld shots taken with IS on were significantly less blurred compared to the ones with IS off. In indoor light we had no problems with the auto focus, but with low light, we had to try a couple of times before the Canon PowerShot A720 IS could set focus.

Though the Canon PowerShot A720 IS boasts of a high ISO 1600, we found shots with ISO 400 and above to be very noisy, more than other 8Mp models. Canon has added a VGA LP (Long Play) mode for video shooting that considerably decreases file sizes (about 60MB per minute against the 100MB that the usual mode takes).

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