Canon PowerShot ELPH 190 Review

Canon ELPH 190 Review
The Canon ELPH 190 is available in black, red, or blue camera bodies. Canon

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There was a time in the digital camera market where having a simple, ultra-thin point and shoot camera at around $150 would've have been a significant coup. These days, though? It's tough to recommend such a camera, just because smartphone cameras have become so advanced, eroding the lower end of the digital camera market. As my Canon PowerShot ELPH 190 review shows, this camera will only appeal to beginning photographers seeking a decent zoom lens -- which their smartphone camera cannot match -- at a reasonable price.

The Canon ELPH 190 does offer 20 megapixels of resolution, but because the image sensor is a small 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor, the camera's overall image quality is not much better than a smartphone camera. It's also limited to a 720p HD movie recording resolution, which is a significant disappointment in a new digital camera, as 1080p HD video resolution is the norm.

The PowerShot ELPH 190 would be a better option at a lower price point than its MSRP of $159, as it compares more favorably to the best cameras for under $100 and perhaps to the best cameras for under $150. But even at a lower price, it still has a way to go to be a camera that's easy to recommend.

Specifications

  • Resolution: 20.0 megapixels
  • Optical zoom: 10X (24-240 mm equivalent)
  • LCD: 2.7-inch, 230,000 pixels
  • Maximum image size: 5152 x 3864 pixels
  • Battery: Rechargeable Li-Ion
  • Dimensions: 3.75 x 2.24 x 0.93 inches
  • Weight: 4.34 ounces (without battery and memory card)
  • Image sensor: 1/2.3-inch CCD
  • Movie mode: HD 720p

Pros

  • 10X optical zoom lens great to find in very thin camera
  • Small camera fits easily in most pockets
  • Limited number of control buttons makes this ELPH easy to use
  • Camera has minimal shutter lag when used in adequate lighting conditions outdoors
  • Special effect shooting options make camera fun to use

    Cons

    • Image quality is not good enough consistently, especially in terms of color reproduction
    • Movie resolution is limited to 720p HD
    • Camera's buttons are too small to press comfortably
    • Small LCD screen at 2.7 inches (measured diagonally) with below average resolution
    • Very slow continuous shot mode

    Image Quality

    As digital camera makers have focused more heavily on the mid- and upper-range of the market, the image sensors on those more advanced cameras are larger and extremely good at producing sharp, vibrant photos. Which means when you encounter a camera like the Canon PowerShot ELPH 190 with its tiny 1/2.3-inch image sensor, the flaws in the image quality it produces are very noticeable.

    You'll be able to create some nice looking photos when shooting in great lighting conditions, thanks in part to the 20 megapixels of resolution the ELPH 190 provides. Yet even in sunlight, the PowerShot 190's color reproduction is not as consistent as it should be, such as when shooting a series of a few photos of the same object. This can be a frustrating problem.

    One nice feature of this camera is the fun special effect options that Canon included with it. You can shoot with special effects such as fish-eye or monochrome effects, and some of the effects have multiple levels that you can control.

     

    Even though the ELPH 190 has a dedicated movie recording button for starting and stopping video recording, you are limited to 720p HD video quality. It's difficult to believe that a modern digital camera doesn't include at least 1080p HD video resolution, but the ELPH 190 doesn't.

    Performance

    One area where the PowerShot ELPH 190 surprises to the upside is in terms of its shutter lag. Most ultra thin point and shoot cameras really struggle in this area, requiring 0.5 seconds or more to record the photo from the time you press the shutter button. Although this doesn't sound like much time, if you're shooting photos of fast-moving children or pets, they can move out of position or even out of frame that quickly.

    But the ELPH 190 has almost no shutter lag when used outdoors, which is above average performance versus similarly priced cameras.

    You will notice shutter lag -- and a lot of it -- when shooting in low light, with or without the flash. Shutter lag will be more than 1 second consistently when you're using the flash. And delays between shots total several seconds when shooting flash photos too, so be prepared for these delays and choose your shots carefully.

    The PowerShot 190's continuous shot modes are basically unusable because of extremely slow performance. For example, you'll need more than 11 seconds to record 10 photos at the maximum resolution setting, which is a below average level. 

    Battery life is poor with the Canon ELPH 190, as you'll struggle to even achieve Canon's estimate of 190 shots per charge.

    Design

    The extremely thin Canon ELPH 190 IS measures just 0.93 inches in thickness when powered down, meaning you'll be able to slide it into a pocket or purse, making it easy to carry with you at all times. And having the ELPH 190's 10X optical zoom lens available to you may cause you to reach for this camera more often than you reach for your smartphone camera. This digital camera has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing you to share its photos with social networking sites. However, the poor battery life problems mentioned earlier become significantly worse when using the Wi-Fi.

    The control buttons on the Canon PowerShot 190 are far too small and too tightly set to the camera body to be used comfortably.

    This is a common problem with the pocket-sized ELPH cameras, found both in older and newer models.

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