These controls include a knurled mode dial, a slide switch to toggle between recording and viewing, and a cursor pad with a central Set button. The pad's four-way rocking action is an improvement over the PowerShot A70's four discrete directional buttons, which were separated from the Set key by a couple of inches. The double-duty cursor pad can be pressed upward to adjust flash options or downward to activate macro mode or manual focusing. When you switch to manual mode, the right and left arrows provide control over aperture and shutter-speed settings.
The PowerShot A75 has a traditional Menu button, with three tabbed listings for adjusting basic camera features such as sound; formatting the CompactFlash card; and turning digital zoom, red-eye reduction, or automatic review on and off. A separate Function button activates a menu of features you're more likely to access while shooting. If the extensive manual controls and the ability to snap off 11 full-resolution pictures at a 2-frame-per-second clip in burst mode aren't enough to sell you on the Canon PowerShot A75, there are lots of other tasty features. The 3X zoom lens (35mm to 105mm equivalent on a 35mm-film camera) is fairly basic, but you can focus down to 2 inches at the wide-angle setting or 10 inches in telephoto mode. Shutter speeds of 15 seconds to 1/2,000 second and apertures adjustable from f/2.8 to f/8 provide a broader range than many cameras in this class. Canon's noise-reduction system kicks in automatically when exposures exceed 1.3 seconds.
Should you prefer your camera to do all the thinking, the PowerShot A75 has exposure and scene modes galore. In addition to full autoexposure, you can select Program AE, which adds the ability to customize many settings, including exposure compensation, white balance, ISO speed, or metering mode. Also available are aperture-priority and shutter-priority autoexposure options, as well as Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Fast Shutter (sports), Slow Shutter, and Stitch Assist (panorama) shooting modes.
Six special scene modes are available for taking pictures of foliage, snow, beach scenes, fireworks, underwater, and indoor settings. Useful for those who take both horizontally and vertically oriented photos is the optional ability to sense a picture's orientation and display it correctly during review.
You can choose standard center-point focus or opt for a nine-point system that uses autofocus to find the center of interest and outline the area of sharpest focus on the LCD. If you like shooting minimovies, you can grab up to 30 seconds of 640x480-pixel video with sound, then use Print mode to output up to 63 individual frames onto a single index sheet. The PowerShot A75 is both DPOF and PictBridge compatible, so you can make prints and index sheets of still images, too. The Canon PowerShot A75 stands out with its ability to capture a burst of 11 full-resolution shots at nearly 2 frames per second. This Canon's impressive continuous shooting capabilities, coupled with fully manual controls, make it an excellent choice for action photography. However, aside from its burst mode, most of the PowerShot A75's performance figures were in the middle of the pack.
Only a noticeable shutter lag keeps the PowerShot A75 from being a primo sports shooter. Canon's autofocus system handled well-lit scenes with aplomb, but there was still a delay of 0.9 second between pressing the shutter release and capturing the shot. With less favorable, low-contrast lighting and the autoassist focus illuminator working full time, lag increased to 1.5 seconds. Power-up to first shot was on the slow side at a hair less than 4 seconds, while shot-to-shot times averaged an unremarkable 2 seconds without flash and about 3.6 seconds with flash and red-eye reduction activated.
Although 0.3 inch larger than the LCD in the previous PowerShot A70 model, this camera's 1.8-inch display was still difficult to view under direct sunlight. The Canon PowerShot A75's image quality was excellent for its 3-megapixel class. Our test images showed clean, neutral highlights and no tendency to blow out the lightest areas. Shadows, too, had lots of detail and no apparent color casts. Colors were rich and vivid, and flesh tones realistic. Noise was relatively low until we set the sensitivity to ISO 400; even then, it wasn't terribly objectionable.