The 12.1-megapixel Canon PowerShot A1200 stands out among budget cameras with a rare find: an optical viewfinder. Reviewers also praise this pocket-friendly (4.8 ounces) camera for its easy handling and features. A raised grip houses the convenient AA batteries, while roomy control buttons make it easy to navigate the abundance of automatic settings. In addition to 32 scenes and lots of creative filters, the A1200 has Live View Control, which lets users preview changes to brightness, color and tone in the 2.7-inch LCD before snapping a shot. The viewfinder allows shots to be framed when the low-resolution display (230,000 pixels) is hard to see in bright light. It also uses less power and saves battery life over the LCD, which can be turned off.
Reviewers give the A1200 solid grades for well-colored shots. While the 720p HD video quality is on par for its class, it offers a step up from the VGA format on the Sony Cyber-shot W510 (*Est. $90). Likewise, the 28 mm wide angle on the 4x zoom lens gives the A1200 a "tangible advantage" over the Nikon Coolpix L24 (*Est. $70), says Ken McMahon at CameraLabs.com. However, all critics call out the A1200 for poor electronic image stabilization and an underwhelming Blur Reduction mode. But in the final tally, the A1200's value wins out. Editors at Which? magazine say the viewfinder is the "ultimate victory for consumers" despite its small viewing field, while reviewers and owners agree that it's hard to find a better budget camera at the $100 price point.
Test-based reviews from CameraLab.com and CNET compare the Canon PowerShot A1200 against class rivals, and editors at Which? magazine provide a stand-alone yet thorough write-up. Rounding out our sources are user reviews at Amazon.com, which help to reveal problems that may surface with extended use.
1. Camera Labs.com
Reviewer Ken McMahon runs the Canon PowerShot A1200 through its paces alongside the Canon PowerShot A800, Nikon Coolpix L24 and Sony Cyber-shot W510. The nicely proportioned A1200 pulls ahead of the competition with its optical viewfinder, 28 mm wide-angle lens and 720p HD video.
Review: Canon PowerShot A1200 Review, Ken McMahon, May 2011
CNET's Joshua Goldman says the Canon PowerShot A1200 may be inexpensive, but it nevertheless delivers very good features and image quality. He likes the real-image viewfinder, large selection of shooting options and the camera's ability to turn out "some excellent photos." However, he says the A1200 is slow, and he doesn't recommend it for shooting in low-light conditions.
Review: Canon PowerShot A1200 (Silver), Joshua Goldman, May 10, 2011
3. Which? magazine
The editors at Which? magazine praise Canon for reintroducing an optical viewfinder on the Canon PowerShot A1200, calling it a great backup to the LCD despite its small viewing field. The A1200 also takes good photos and "colorful" HD footage, but editors give low grades to the image stabilization and low-resolution LCD.
Review: Canon PowerShot A1200, Editors at Which? magazine
Several dozen owners of the Canon PowerShot A1200 weigh in on this budget camera's features and performance. While a few users are disappointed with the Blur Reduction mode and grainy photo quality, most find the camera to be a great value. One user says that at "a little over $100, you will not find anything better."
Review: Canon PowerShot A1200 12.1 MP Digital Camera With 4x Optical Zoom (Silver), Contributors to Amazon.com, As of Oct. 2011