I’ve just published my review of the Canon PowerShot E1, the “stylish twin” to the A1000 IS which also features a 4X zoom lens, 2.5 inch LCD and an optical viewfinder. I’ve got the Canon PowerShot E1 photo gallery online too.
DPInterface Canon PowerShot E1 IS Review
Brad Soo – January 23rd, 2009
Looks like Canon wants to do more than just selling digital SLRs to professional photographers and stylish compact cameras to the general public. They’re taking things a step further with the PowerShot E1, which is targeted at young kids and “tweens” (anyone read the Canon press release?). Of course, that’s just the crowd they PLAN to address, but I’ve seen older people (read: not just 15 year olds) using E1’s outside as well.
The Canon PowerShot E1 features 10 megapixels, a 4X optical zoom lens, a 2.5 inch LCD with an optical viewfinder and numerous point-and-shoot functions; not to mention the camera also carries an affordable price tag. Is this camera for you? Read on.
Size and Weight
(188.8) 95.4 x 62.4 x 31.0 mm (155 g) – Canon PowerShot A1000 IS
(196.4) 101.2 x 63.8 x 31.4 mm (160 g) – Canon PowerShot E1
(172.5) 92.0 x 57.9 x 22.6 mm (146 g) – Fujifilm FinePix J150w
(192.8) 89.5 x 64.3 x 39.0 mm (164 g) – Kodak EasyShare Z1085 IS
(171.0) 93.0 x 54.5 x 23.5 mm (130 g) – Nikon Coolpix S560
(174.2) 94.7 x 56.7 x 22.8 mm (128 g) – Olympus FE370
(192.8) 97.5 x 62.0 x 33.3 mm (141 g) – Panasonic Lumix LZ10
(177.5) 97.5 x 56.5 x 23.5 mm (130 g) – Pentax Optio V20
(174.3) 94.0 x 61.0 x 20.3 mm (140 g) – Samsung TL9
(175.7) 93.7 x 58.0 x 24.0 mm (142 g) – Sony Cyber-shot W170
All the weight figures above show when the camera is empty without a battery or memory card
The Canon PowerShot E1 turns out to be one of the more bulky cameras of the bunch, being larger than its identical (feature-wise) twin, the A1000 IS, as well. Don’t fret, the E1’s non-blocky, curvy shape will fit nicely in most pockets (not your back pocket however). Sure there are smaller cameras out there which are priced similarly, but chances are you won’t get the almost class-leading battery life of the PowerShot E1.
Here’s a comparison picture with the Canon PowerShot E1 in front and the PowerShot A1000 IS behind. The PowerShot E1 looks like a more modern and fun camera to use versus the A1000, but under the skin, they’re actually both the same camera.
There’s an average bundle of goodies which come with the Canon PowerShot E1:
- 2 AA alkaline batteries
- 32 MB SD memory card
- Wrist strap
- USB and A/V cables
- Camera software CD (Digital Camera Solution Disk)
- User’s manual and quick start guide
The Canon PowerShot E1 comes with a measly 32 MB Secure Digital memory card which even a 6 year old would think is ridiculous for a camera whose photos are 2-3 MB each. The Canon PowerShot E1 takes SD, SDHC (SD cards which are 4 GB and above) and MMC (typically slower than SDs) memory cards; and you should be looking for at least a 2 GB memory card to use with the camera. A high-speed card (60X to 90X speed) is useful as well since it allows the camera to perform faster.
The Canon PowerShot E1 uses 2 AA batteries and you should pick up a set of AA NiMH rechargeable batteries and a charger with the camera. The two AA alkaline ones bundled with the camera are non-rechargeable and won’t last long (about 220 shots). With a set of rechargeables, you’ll make Al Gore proud AND the camera can go for about twice as long (450 shots).
450 shots – Canon PowerShot A1000 IS
450 shots – Canon PowerShot E1
150 shots – Fujifilm FinePix J150w
250 shots – Kodak EasyShare Z1085 IS
160 shots – Nikon Coolpix S560
200 shots – Olympus FE370
460 shots – Panasonic Lumix LZ10
200 shots – Pentax Optio V20
240 shots – Samsung TL9
390 shots – Sony Cyber-shot W170
All the cameras above are rated with rechargeable batteries with LCD on according to CIPA Standard
The Canon PowerShot E1 beats almost every other camera in its class in terms of battery life, with only the Panasonic LZ10 being ahead of it.
What probably shouldn’t come as a surprise is that there aren’t many accessories available for the Canon PowerShot E1. The only extras you can get are an AC adapter, slave flash and various camera cases.
The Canon PowerShot E1 is essentially identical feature-wise to the PowerShot A1000 IS. Probably the only difference between the two are design – the Canon PowerShot E1 looks a lot more appealing and “fun” to use than the boring-looking A1000, hence is why the E1 is aimed at the youth/children market.
The camera is made of plastic but is still sturdy. There aren’t many buttons on the E1 and the camera is easy to hold with just one hand. The Canon PowerShot E1 comes in your choice of three rather playful colors: white, baby blue and pink.
The Canon PowerShot E1 features a 4X optical zoom lens on the front. The lens is equivalent to 35 – 140 mm in 35 mm terms and has the aperture range of f2.7 – f5.6. Of course, there’s optical image stabilization here which comes in handy to reduce blur caused by shaky hands.
Next we have the camera’s flash unit which is on the average side. At wide-angle and Auto ISO, the flash covers 30 cm to 4.0 m and it drops to 2.0 m at telephoto. Next to the flash is the optical viewfinder window and then the autofocus assist lamp. The last item of note on the front is the microphone near the top left edge of the lens rim.
The Canon PowerShot E1 has a 2.5 inch LCD along with an optical viewfinder. The LCD’s resolution is on the low side with only 115,000 pixels. Thankfully, it isn’t noticeable in most cases and the LCD is very usable indoors and average outdoors. The viewfinder is rather small but still useful as an option when you wanna conserve battery power or don’t want to use the LCD. The two indicator lights next to the optical viewfinder indicate focus and flash status.
On the right side, there’s a row with several buttons (but not too many to be confusing). I’ll split the buttons and all into a few rows. The first “row” consists of the camera’s speaker and playback button. The playback button allows you to access playback quickly and easily, even when the camera is turned off. Next are the Face Detection and print buttons (the print button can also be assigned to a function in shooting mode).
There’s the five-way controller used to navigate menus, browse pictures and of course, access these functions directly:
- Up – ISO (Auto ISO, High auto ISO, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600)/Playback jump
- Down – Drive mode (Single shot, continuous, self-timer [10 seconds, 2 seconds, custom])/Delete photo
- Left – Focus mode (Normal, macro, landscape)
- Right – Flash setting (Auto, on, off; red-eye reduction and slow sync are turned on/off in the menu)
- Center – Function menu/Set
Pressing the center button when you’re taking pictures will bring up the function menu which contains a list of several settings you can adjust (most of them are available in program mode):
- Exposure compensation (+/-2 EV in 1/3 steps)/Long shutter (1 to 15 seconds)
- White balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, fluorescent H, custom)
- My Colors (Normal, vivid, neutral, sepia, black & white, custom)
- Metering method (Evaluative, center-weighted, spot)
- Image size and compression
On the last row are the DISPlay and MENU buttons. The DISPLAY button toggles the information being displayed on-screen and also toggle between the LCD and viewfinder, while the MENU button brings up the camera menu.
At the top of the Canon PowerShot E1, there are the camera’s power button, mode dial and shutter button with a zoom controller wrapped around it. Let’s take a closer look at the modes available on the PowerShot E1, going anti-clockwise around the mode dial:
- Program mode
- Automatic shooting
- Easy mode
- Portrait mode
- Landscape mode
- Night snapshot
- Kids and pets
- Other scene modes (Night scene, foliage, snow, beach, sunset, fireworks, aquarium, ISO 3200)
- Movie mode
The Canon PowerShot E1’s mode dial features your typical camera shooting modes plus five directly accessible scene modes. The rest of the scene modes can be found under the “SCN” spot on the mode dial. Like its sibling the A2000, the PowerShot E1 IS also features an “Easy Mode” which is so simple, there’s only one option that can be adjusted – that is to turn the flash on or off.
Over here is the PowerShot E1’s mini-B jack, used for both A/V out and USB 2.0 High-speed connectivity, and DC-IN port for plugging in the optional AC adapter.
Lastly is the battery/memory card compartment covered by a fairly sturdy door and a plastic tripod mount. You won’t be able to swap memory cards/batteries while the camera is on a tripod.
Taking pictures (Shooting mode)
The Canon PowerShot E1’s display is as simple as the camera’s operation itself. There are the essentials of picture taking shown here: exposure information (shutter speed and aperture), camera settings and optional composition guide overlays on the screen when you’re taking pictures. The on-screen overlays you can activate are a 3:2 guide, 3 X 3 framing gridlines or both. Unfortunately, the camera lacks a battery indicator and a live histogram.
The Canon PowerShot E1 IS has a few image resolutions for you to select from, including full 10 MP, 6 MP, 4 MP, 2 MP, VGA and widescreen. There are also three image compression modes here: Superfine, Fine and Standard… I’d recommend choosing Fine, which is a good compromise, since SuperFine file sizes are a bit large while Standard compresses pictures noticeably. For your information, a 2 GB memory card will hold around 750 full-res (!0 MP) Fine images; compared to the 32 MB card bundled with the E1 which just holds 11 pictures.
Most of the camera’s main settings can be adjusted via the Function menu I described in the previous section, but now let’s head on to the other settings in the camera’s main menu:
- Autofocus mode (Face detection, 9 point AF, center AF)
- AF point size (Normal, small) – Choose how size of the camera’s focusing point area
- AF point zoom – magnify the focus point
- Digital zoom – you should keep this turned off, it lowers picture quality
- Flash settings – toggle red-eye reduction (lamp and software based) and slow sync
- Custom self-timer settings – Set the countdown interval and number of shots that the camera should take
- AF assist beam
- Review – This option decides whether the camera will show the image on the LCD screen right after the picture is taken
- Review info
- Auto category – the camera attempts to organize your photos into categories automatically
- Display overlay – Toggle grid lines, 3:2 guide, both or none
- IS Mode – Off, Continuous, Shoot-only, Panning
- Set print button – customize what this button does in shooting mode; you can assign it as a shortcut to a shooting function
The PowerShot E1 has three optical image stabilization modes: continuous (the stabilizer is always on to make composition easier, which uses up more battery power) or shoot-only, where image stabilization only works when you take a picture, which is more effective. Panning mode is self-explanatory – it’s for times where you’re tracking a moving subject with the camera.
You can also assign one of seven “shortcut” functions to the print button I mentioned earlier. Those functions include exposure compensation, white balance, custom white balance, red eye correction, digital teleconverter, toggle grid lines and display off.
Seeing I’ve already told you about the PowerShot.E1’s scene modes, I only have macro mode left here. The E1’s macro mode has a minimum focusing distance of 3 cm at wide-angle and 30 cm at telephoto. You will have to manually activate macro mode of the time by pressing the macro button, unless you’re using automatic or easy mode.
The Canon PowerShot E1 has a decent VGA (640 X 480) movie mode with sound and records at 30 FPS. There are two other options you can choose: Long Play mode which records at the same resolution but uses more compression and QVGA (320 X 240) mode that records at 30 FPS. Each movie clip is limited to 4 GB or 60 minutes per clip, depending which one you hit first.
A final option in the PowerShot E1 is an “email movie” mode that records at 160 X 120 at a choppy 15 FPS. In this mode, each movie clip is limited to 3 minutes each. I don’t know how many people nowadays would actually email tiny (and barely viewable) movie clips to their friends with places like YouTube around… but if you wanted such an option, you’ve got it here.
Unlike more expensive Canon models, the PowerShot E1 still uses the “old” AVI MJPEG format for movies which means movie file sizes will be larger. A 2 GB memory card will hold around 16 minutes worth of movie at the highest settings. Both optical image stabilization and the E1’s 4X digital zoom are usable while recording movies but optical zoom is not (you can only preset optical zoom beforehand).
Overall, the PowerShot E1 has good video and audio quality that will be appreciated by many.
All performance testing of the Canon PowerShot E1 was performed using a high-speed 4 GB SanDisk Ultra II SDHC (90X) card.
The Canon PowerShot E1 IS starts up in just a tad above one second; very quick for a camera with a telescoping lens. From there, the camera focuses quickly as well; with times ranging from 1/5 to 1/2 a second in good light and up to a full second when you’re taking pictures in the dark. Low-light focusing was good since the camera has an AF-assist light.
- Shot-to-shot speed – 1 shot every 1.6 seconds, fairly fast
- Flash recharge time using a fully charged battery – 5 seconds on average
On the E1, there’s also a full-resolution burst mode which fires off at 1.3 frames per second until the memory card fills up. When utilizing the zoom lens, the camera goes from wide-angle to telephoto in one second – that’s fast for a 4X lens though zooming isn’t very precise with just 8 steps in the entire range. Power down time is two seconds, with the lens at full zoom.
Not surprisingly, the PowerShot E1 and A1000 IS perform very, VERY similarly since they are essentially the same camera inside. And the E1’s performance is no slouch too.
Let’s see how the E1 performs in terms of image quality now:
The Canon PowerShot E1 performs well from ISO 80 to ISO 200 with low noise. Noise goes up at the ISO 400 setting but images still remain usable at this point. ISO 800 would be the max you would want to take the camera as ISO 1600 noise makes picture quality unusable.
The Canon PowerShot E1 shows a moderate amount of barrel distortion and a little edge softness but little pincushion distortion. Most of the time, chromatic aberration (color fringing) levels are low but there are times where it appears in photos.
Redeye is not a problem as the camera is able to automatically remove it digitally. Even if it doesn’t, you can always use the redeye removal tool in playback to pinpoint and remove redeye without touching a computer. As of whole, the Canon PowerShot E1 has good image quality with a few small flaws coming up now and then.
Visit the Canon PowerShot E1 photo gallery to view full-sized sample photos.
The Canon PowerShot E1 shares the same playback mode as some of Canon’s other compact point-and-shoots. You can browse through pictures (complete with two transition effects of your choice) and play back video with sound. Basic playback functions such as print marking, voice clip attachment, image resizing and rotation are all here. There’s even a redeye removal tool in playback. You can magnify still photos by 10X and pan around using the 4 navigational buttons; and sort them into categories as well.
Pictures can be played back as individual photos, in sets of nine thumbnails or by category. You can also use the JUMP feature to skip several photos at a time or to ‘jump’ right to a specific shooting date. The slideshow feature is available as well for automatic playback.
Pressing the face detection button in playback mode automatically magnifies faces, if any, in photos so you can check focus easily. Pressing the DISPLAY button will cycle through several display layouts of information; one of them is an image inspection tool which magnifies the focus point(s) of your photos so you can check focus..
You can choose to delete single photos and all photos on the E1 but you can’t select multiple photos yourself and delete them. An “Easy” playback mode (you need the mode dial to be in Easy Mode as well for this to work) simplifies playback just as much as in shooting mode.
The Canon PowerShot E1 shows you shooting details, mode, exposure information (with shutter speed and aperture value) and everything you need to know about your photos in playback – that includes a histogram as well. An overexposure warning feature makes overexposed areas of your photos “blink” to alert you of them.
You don’t have to have a whole lot of money to buy a fast point-and-shoot camera with good image quality and battery life like the PowerShot E1. Canon has done a good job in reaching out to the younger crowd as well; with arguably the cutest (but not tiniest) camera around which comes in three appealing colors and low price tag.
The E1 is compact enough to be pocketable and features 10 megapixels with a 4X optically-stabilized zoom lens. There’s a 2.5 inch LCD on the back, along with an optical viewfinder (though a little small) as well as ample space for holding the camera with one/both hands.
As you know, the PowerShot E1 is strictly point-and-shoot (Save for long shutter and custom white balance) so there are no manual controls neither are there many accessories available for the camera. The E1’s operation consists mainly of automatic controls and scene modes thatcan be simplified even further by using the camera’s Easy Mode.
However, the camera isn’t always “super” in all areas… the E1 has just an average movie mode (nothing to complain about but not impressive either), has a LCD with low-resolution and average outdoor visibility (you’ll have to find the correct angle where the LCD doesn’t reflect light) and sometimes produces some soft edges in photos.
The E1 deserves my recommendation for being a capable point-and-shoot camera which manages to balance price, style, features and image quality. For kids and tweens, the Canon PowerShot E1 will be a definitive step-up from a Fisher-Price toy camera or 13 year old son/daughter’s cellphone camera. For everyone else, well, Canon didn’t put a restriction on the E1 being “for kids only” now, did they?
- Stylish and sturdy design; three nice colors to choose from
- Good image quality
- Very good battery life
- Responsive to use; fast
- Effective red-eye removal (in shooting and playback) and low color fringing
- No manual controls
- Corners a tad soft at times; some color fringing
- Reflective LCD needs “correct angle” outdoors, low in resolution
- Lacks a battery indicator and live histogram
- 2 GB high-speed SD memory card
- Set of 4 AA NiMH rechargeable batteries and charger