Canon PowerShot A590

PowerShot A590

The PowerShot series of cameras began in
1998 with the PowerShot A5 and its 5mm f/2.5
lens and .81 mpx images. Fourty models
later the A590 was introduced in 2008. By this
time we were up to a 4x optical zoom lens,
image stabilization and 8mpx sensor. How far
we came in ten short years!

The lens is a 5.8 to 23.2 mm (35 to
140mm 35mm equivalent) with f/2.6-5.5 aperture.
The camera has an optical and mechanical shutter
and can shoot from 15 seconds to 1/2000th of a

second. The ISO range is 80 to 1600 in auto mode. Below a shutter
speed of 1.3 seconds the camera applies image noise reduction.

Canon says there are 19 shooting modes comprising a range of automatic and manual settings. In continuous shooting mode it can capture 1.4 shots per second. Images are saved in JPEG files of varying sizes the largest of which is 3264 x 2448 pixels. Video is captured in AVI format.

Canon PowerShot A590

When the A520 is off the lens is retracted making it a good fit for purse or pocket.

Canon PowerShot A590

When turned on the lens extends into shooting position. It then moves in and out for various focal lengths.

Canon PowerShot A590

On the front of the camera the built in flash is along the top beside the viewfinder window.

Canon PowerShot A590

On the back is the LCD screen and most of the custom feature controls. The User Guide below explains all.

Canon PowerShot A590

On the top deck is the on/off button, the shutter button and zoom control lever and, of course, the function selector wheel.

Canon PowerShot A590

On the bottom is the battery compartment and the separate SD chip slot. There is a tripod screw mount as well.

One feature of this camera that is really convenient is that it is powered by two AA batteries which are available everywhere.

I do not pretend this to be a full review of this camera. Those can be found elsewhere I am sure. The full specifications can be found in the Canon Museum here. You can also find the specifications at dpReview here.

PowerShot A590 User Manual

If you have questions about the operation of the A520 you can always read the Camera User Guide.

So, how does it Shoot?

This is a nice little camera. It is small enough to carry in your pocket but large enough that you can get a good grip on it. It has the ability to shoot using manual settings but there seems little point as it has been optimized to shoot in auto mode. And this it does beautifully.

When I got the camera the previous owner had been changing settings so I simply went into the menu and hit the reset button. I then went outside and took some pictures in “Auto” mode. The resulting images were well exposed although a little flat. The shutter was silent but it made a mechanical chirp so that I knew a picture had been taken. 

I processed the images slightly to overcome what I felt was a lack of color and contrast. It was possible to find the color and depth that I wanted although the images were recorded as jpeg’s. 

At 5.8mm, the widest setting, the camera chose f/2.6 at ISO 80 and 1/800th of a second. This is the full frame from the camera.

In Photoshop I set the magnification to 100% and sampled the upper left corner of the picture. You can see that at almost full aperture this lens performs well. 

At 23.2mm, the longest setting, the camera chose f/5.5 at ISO 100 and 1/250th of a second. Again, this is the full frame from the camera.

Again, the upper left corner at 100%. The camera and lens perform very well, especially when you remeber that this camera is intended for family snapshots. More than adequate performance.

Still on Automatic, the focal length was at the widest at 5.8mm. The camera chose F/4 at 1/1600th using an ISO of 80. This is the full frame from the camera and I have enhanced it a little in Photoshop and Lightroom to bring out the contrast and color.

This is from the center of the same image with magnification set to 100%.

This is from the center of the same image with magnification set to 200%.

This is a great little camera. If you remember what the camera was intended for it is way more than adequate. I would not have chosen the settings the camera did. It seemed to go for low ISO probably because these small cameras have noise problems if you get up around ISO 400 or higher. And the camera is chosing fast shutter speeds because the entry level photographer probably flinches when he shoots and you want to avoid that affecting the pictures.

Personally, I know I can hand hold at 1/60th of a second with no trouble so I would have gone for smaller apertures to get maximum performance out of the lens. But all of that said, for the intended audience for this camera, it is great.

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