It's been awhile since I bought a new point and shoot camera, so typically when I write these reviews, I'm also considering whether or not the camera I'm currently handling is one I might want to buy for myself. Let me go on record as saying that the Canon Powershot A2000 IS just made the top of my personal list.
This sleek little camera is a joy to use, with fantastic image quality, easy controls, fast operation, and intuitive design. It also offers a truly impressive range of controls for users from amateur to advanced. As of this date, I'm going to go ahead and call this one the best camera available for the price point, and I think I may hold onto that opinion for awhile.
The body of the A2000 IS is impressive from the get-go. It has a sort of industrial look, with a dark pewter gun metal finish and a black grip on one end. It's true that it's somewhat bulkier than you might expect, with a slightly thicker profile and heavier weight than many of the credit card-sized cameras you see today. On the other hand, it's thinner and smaller than previous A series models; Canon has removed the large swollen grip on one end and slimmed down the body in general. It's easy to hold, fairly substantial in your hand, and doesn't feel like it's going to break if you use it. Considering everything that's packed inside this camera, I think it's pretty impressive that they were able to make it as small as it is, and it's surprisingly comfortable to handle.
This camera features a crystal clear 3-inch wide angle LCD, 10 megapixel sensor, outstanding 6x optical zoom, Face Detection, and Image Stabilization. The control set is much the same as most Canon models, with a variety of Scene modes and all the typical settings you'd expect; it also includes Canon's fairly new innovation, Easy mode, for amateur users (personally, I still can't find much difference between Easy mode and Auto mode, but I may just be missing it). What's more (and this is a big one), it includes full manual control for advanced users.
Start-up and shoot time are surprisingly quick, as is flash recovery time. I shot a variety of flash photos back to back and, possibly for the first time with a camera of this level, the wait time between photos was so insignificant that I didn't even notice it. Image quality is unsurpassed, with smooth, brilliant flash, low noise (ISO 3200 is pretty grainy, but still useable) and rich, accurate color reproduction. Image Stabilization works flawlessly and is a real bonus, particularly at the full 6x zoom.
Speaking of zoom, that 6x optical is perhaps the most impressive feature offered by the A2000 IS. With most cameras this size coming in at a 4x zoom, tops, this one is a huge leap forward in capability. What's more, the zoom itself is fast, quiet, and accurate. Even at full magnification, auto focus is sharp and accurate with little to no hunting time.
I expected quite a bit from the A2000 IS, and not only wasn't I disappointed; it surpassed my expectations in quite a number of ways. It's fast and easy to use, with flexible control options and gorgeous results. I seriously doubt there's anything better available for the price, and if my intuition is correct, I won't be the only one purchasing this camera sometime in the very near future.