Top critical review
121 of 131 people found this helpful
About what you'd expect for the price
on May 20, 2011
Like nearly every camera in the compact point and shoot category, this camera suffers from too many pixels on a tiny sensor. Even in full sunlight, at the lowest ISO settings, there is noticeable pixel cross talk / ISO noise in the images, and colors are relatively flat. Combine that with jpeg compression, and fine textures become an unrecognizable jumble of pixels, and clean edges just don't exist.
I'd like to think that giving every camera of this type a one star rating would help convince manufacturers that consumers care more about picture quality than pixel count. But until their current mindset changes, it seems we're stuck with a glut of cameras like the A1200; cameras that have the potential to be so much better if they only had half the megapixels (or less) of their current incarnations.
With this camera, the key to happiness is realistic expectations. So here's what you can expect:
- "Good enough for the price" image quality. It's not the worst I've ever seen, but grain is always noticeable and colors are either relatively flat or out of balance depending on the situation. I've played with every possible setting, and there's just no way around this without post-processing.
- "Good enough for the price" LCD. It can be used for framing a shot, but that's about it. The LCD is slow, washed out, and streaks with high contrast images. With regard to color, brightness, and contrast, the screen does not give an accurate representatation of the picture being taken.
- Functional zoom and autofocus. They both can be a little slow and finicky, and the noises the camera makes reflect the cheap components, but they seem to work well enough if you're willing to wait an extra second or two longer than you might want.
- Decent battery life. The manual says 200 shots using alkalines with the LCD on, 400 shots with rechargeables, and 600+ with the LCD off. I haven't tested all of these combinations, but so far I have no complaints.
- Lots of settings to play with, if you're so inclined. The A1200 has the Digic4 processor/software, and many of the color settings, scenes, controls, etc. that come along with it. Unfortunately, none of these settings fully compensate for the shortcomings of the image sensor. With regard to manual settings, the user can control ISO, but shutter and aperture are always on Auto.
- An anti-blur / image stabilization mode that, ironically, produces the blurriest images I've taken with this camera.
In all, it's a cheap camera and it behaves like one. If you're looking for something that's good enough for the price, this is it. It's just a shame that it could have easily been so much better with a lower pixel count.