Specifications: 8 megapixels; 6x optical zoom / 4x digital zoom; Lens-shift image stabilization; JPEG file format; Movie mode with sound; Auto and manual focus; Auto and manual exposure; ISO 80-1600; 2.5-inch LCD display; Secure Digital memory storage (16MB card included); 2 AA batteries
Retail Price: $249, Price Through Our Merchants:
6x Optical Zoom
The most appealing feature of the A720 IS is its above average 6x optical zoom. The extra boost in range this provides a photographer is very helpful, letting you grab far-off shots that would be impossible with a standard 3x model. To get an idea of how dramatic the zoom can be, take a look at the pictures to the right.
The first is a photograph taken in landscape mode, with no zoom. The second is the same scene, photographed from the same distance, but at 6x zoom. The results are impressive: notice that the fallen log at the center of the zoomed image is hardly visible in the full-scene photograph. Compare the level of detail in both photos; there's virtually no loss of picture quality.
For a final comparison, look at the photo taken at 24x digital zoom. Though it does provide a noticeable boost in range, it lacks the precision to capture a satisfactory photo. Edges are blurred and the photo has a flat, fuzzy feel. Don't judge the A720 IS on the quality of this photo; this is merely to illustrate why optical zoom is superior to fake, digital zooming.
All that zooming would be impossible without the built-in optical image stabilization of the A720 IS. A year ago, image stabilization was something of a luxury. Now, Canon is making it available to all levels of camera users, in all of their new cameras. We're thrilled that IS has finally become a standard feature because, as our images will show, shooting without it can be perilous.
To the right, you'll see two photos. Look again at the 6x optical zoom photo we first showed you above. Now, compare it to this new photo, of the same scene, taken with Image Stabilization turned off.
Face Detection Auto Focus
Face Detection Auto Focus is a nifty little feature that sounds like a made-up marketing come on. That is, until you see it in action. Time and time again in my testing of the A720 IS, the face detection was spot on. Usually, Canon's cameras would highlight large areas of the scene with a big green box, indicating the spots the auto focus believed were what you wanted to capture.
The face detection technology can spot a human face from across a room and will zero-in that green box right around it (or in some cases, many faces). This is tremendously helpful, ensuring that photos of family and friends can hone in on exactly who you want to capture and not on the background or some unrelated distraction.
Lightweight, Compact Design
It's amazing to see how the Canon 'A' series has improved over the years. They've managed to slim down these point-and-shoot cameras significantly. Three years ago, the Canon A95 was a lot closer to film point-and-shoots in size (and maybe even heavier in weight). Now, the A720 IS could almost pass for an ultracompact.
It's palm-sized and comfortably light. The 'AA' batteries require more space than a lithium-ion would, but they're tucked in quite nicely, and are a great option for people who don't want to be dependent on a particular battery. The camera's controls are simple and easy to use, while the large 2.5-inch LCD makes navigating the menus and previewing photos a pleasure.
An Affordable, Full-Featured Camera
Considering the wealth of features included in the Canon A720 IS, you might expect it to cost a pretty penny. Instead, it has a price tag that you'd most likely classify as "budget-minded" or "affordable." The Canon A720 IS retails for $249, which is pretty reasonable to begin with. Shop around online, and at our merchant partners, and you'll find it available for prices
Big savings on an excellent camera. DCHQ heartily endorses the A720 IS as great choice for casual or novice users looking for an easy-to-use point-and-shoot digital camera.