The Canon PowerShot is somewhat large for a compact digital camera, but tons of features and an articulating LCD screen make for an incredible digital product!The PowerShot A630 packs an amazing array of useful features and is incredibly simple to operate. Despite the cost, there is plenty to love.

Two features make the Canon PowerShot A630 particularly easy to use and like: an articulating LCD and a glass viewfinder. Neither affects picture quality directly, but they have a lot to do with how you capture your pictures. And they are pretty rare finds in a compact camera.

Canon PowerShot A630 w/ articulating LCDFor those who don’t know, an articulating LCD is one that can be pulled out from the camera and swiveled and tilted in various directions. Often found on camcorders, this type of LCD can also rotate so that it faces in the same direction that your camera lens is pointing—invaluable for taking self-portraits or keeping toddlers entertained for hours.

A glass viewfinder, or more accurately put, a direct-vision viewfinder, does not give you WYSIWYG viewing, but it nevertheless gives you a general idea of what you’re photographing. That’s because it’s not in the exact same place as the lens, so when you’re shooting very close-up pictures, what you see through the viewfinder is different from what you’re capturing—an effect called parallax error.

Top view of the Powershot A630. Note the slightly off-center glass viewfinderThese two features come in handy on bright sunny outings or on days with a lot of glare-producing snow all around you. Under those conditions, even the brightest LCDs appear washed out. But with an articulating LCD, you can angle the PowerShot’s 2.5-inch LCD for better viewing. Or simply look through the glass viewfinder, which always displays your subject no matter how bright your scene may be.

There are many other reasons for which I like this camera. It comes with a 4X optical zoom lens with a 7.3mm-to-29.2mm range, which is equivalent to a 35mm lens with a 35mm-140mm zoom. It has corresponding maximum f-stops of f/2.8 to f/4.1. I also love the well-labeled manual control dials, which let you quickly access the settings you need and keep you from getting lost in the camera’s menus. This makes it easy to switch modes, say, from full auto to shutter priority, aperture priority to full manual, or among other scene or specialty modes.

The PowerShot A630 is an impressive compact digital camera. It has everything you need to take professional, video, and even macro pictures!In addition, I was quite impressed with the A630′s macro function, which lets you shoot subjects up close and, in effect, create images that are almost larger than life. (Macro photography is anything that is shot at a 1:1 ratio or greater magnification.) In my informal tests, I found the camera’s macro or close-up functions worked very well. All you eBay shooters, listen up: The combination of the PowerShot’s articulating LCD (which makes it easy to use on a light stand) and worthy macro feature makes it an inexpensive alternative to more expensive D-SLR setups. And you get lots of control over manual functions, the way you would with an SLR camera.

Performance was pleasing too. During lab testing, bootup took just 2.5 seconds, which was very good. The camera also had a respectable 2.4-second recycle time, and I found hardly any shutter lag. I noticed, as I have with many recent Canon cameras, that the A630 has a great burst mode as well. You can snap scores of shots, and the images keep getting captured. The camera is powered by four double-A batteries, a type that can be purchased virtually anywhere.

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