Dec. 2, 2008 -- For years, electronic companies have relentlessly pushed out digital cameras, many of them quickly forgotten.
There are all these companies making cameras for you to buy, and some of them don't even specialize in cameras, like Panasonic and Samsung.
Many feature the latest gimmicks, like the defunct Kodak Easy Share camera that would post photos on the Web, when "sharing" files was still fresh, or the Nikon Cool Pix starring Aston Kutcher and its touch screen.
All these cameras make for much more competition, harder decisions, and general product overkill, since most of these aren't sold for artistic photography.
The Canon PowerShot A1000 IS is a camera that may be best known for its marketing campaign with Maria Sharapova and her fluffy white dog, but the PowerShot A1000 IS is a camera that is in the less expensive range ($170) and goes above and beyond gimmicky cameras in quality.
On the front of the camera is the hardware. The lens has a 4X optical zoom that keeps the picture in good quality. For very long distance pictures, there is a 16X digital zoom, which, unfortunately, does not produce sharp images. It's the thought that counts, and it's good that they put it in there in case someone really needed to use it.
The lens boasts 10.0 megapixels. There once was a time not long ago (two years) when six or seven megapixels seemed adventurous. Now they are going to reach that on phones in about a year or two. The 10.0 megapixel technology is many months from being perfected, but it still takes good pictures and falls into the top ranks of cameras meant for casual photography.
The top and back is mostly the software. The camera offers an auto setting for most pictures. There's also a scene setting for special photographs (fireworks, dawn/dusk, etc.) and allows the user to change how fine the picture is -- the brightness.
It has a custom self-timer, which allows you to set the waiting time before it takes a picture, and also how many pictures it will take. Taking multiple pictures comes in handy in case somebody blinks.
The camera even has an elderly friendly feature: the easy mode. This mode just delivers the basics: taking pictures, viewing pictures, flash and a self-timer.
In contrast, this shows how much is on the camera; there's a continuous shot mode, face recognition, a complete menu of things to change, even a bonus button that has a selection of settings, including flash scenes, continuous shot mode, or a screen divider, which produces a 3 X 3 grid, making it judge where objects are in the screen.
When viewing the pictures, there are quite a few little amenities. For pictures taken sideways, just turn the camera sideways and the picture fits the screen. The zoom when viewing pictures does make it look like a fuzzy Bigfoot picture, but it looks good in normal proportions, and that's what's important. It also allows you to skip over pictures quicker, even over large amounts of pictures. In addition, it shows a quick transition effect when moving from picture to picture.
The camera comes with an easy to follow manual and a separate manual with a USB cable for connecting the camera to the computer. The software is helpful and easy to operate. It allows users to download photos to their computers, print pictures and manage their memory, all in one simple program.
It comes with a little A/V cable to view pictures on a television, and the manual is clearly written, which makes it easy to use.
There is a little hole to stick the camera on a tripod, and a jack to plug the camera into a wall, so as to not use up any precious batteries.