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Review: Canon PowerShot S70
By
Vipul Shah

Last few weeks have been very pleasant for all my friends and family since I had to keep taking their pictures to keep testing all camera functions/modes on Canon PowerShot S70. Canon sent this camera for review and I carried it in my pocket for 4 weeks randomly taking shots in various conditions.

At first glance, this camera looks just like any other consumer model digital camera but ever since its launch few months back it has become a popular camera among professional photographers as second camera for quick shots. This camera does what it is supposed to do like any other camera in many auto modes; however, it also has manual modes like Custom, Manual, Program, Shutter Priority, and Aperture Priority. If you have been fond of manual controls photography using SLR camera in past and now seek something pocketable, which you can use and at same time give it to your family, who may just prefer point and click photography, then this is camera for you. In manual modes, you can control aperture, shutter, DX, focus and get exactly kind of image you want and not depend on camera’s auto modes.

Canon S70 with its 7.1mega pixel chip is big jump from S60 with its 5mega pixel chip. Professionals all know importance of high effective mega pixel resolution; you can often crop part of image for use separately and still have enough details in it. If you are into photography for print publications, you will appreciate higher mega pixel. To nonprofessional, if you take close-up pictures using Canon S70, on your PC at 1x zoom you will see things on your face which you can't see on mirror at 2 inch distance. Every facial detail would be visible to you. Largest image size is 3072x2304 pixels and video-audio clips can be 640x480 at 10fps. JPG files at highest image size and quality would be anything from 2MB to 3.5MB. Camera also supports RAW image. 32MB CF memory card camera ships with will be useless as at 1MB or 2MB file sizes it won't store many pictures before you need to transfer it to PC, but good news is 512MB or even 1GB CF cards are not expensive anymore. If you are into RAW images then you can go for CF cards storing more then 2GB in FAT32 file system. The built-in flash offers the options on/off/auto/red-eye reduction. By switching to the night scene mode - you can use slow synch flash too.

Camera offers 3.6x optical zoom, and best part is you can switch off digital zoom. One should never use digital zoom while taking pictures, you can always do that when on PC. Camera's macro setting captures objects as close as 4cm. I used this camera instead of scanner to scan pages for last few days. It has a very high quality aspherical glass lens that produces image quality usually found in more expensive and larger professional cameras

At 230g, Canon S70 is on heavier side compared to their S300/400/500 series, which were light enough that you would just forget that it is lying in your pocket. Design is very comfortable to hold in hand with strap eyelet doubling as finger grip and thumb grip carved on back of body. There is no power on/off button on camera. Protective sliding cover on lens also acts as power button. Backside of camera is full of buttons, which will help you use most functions with minimum clicks. Compared to other 7-mega pixel camera, Canon S70 has excellent 28-100mm equivalent lens for those who love wide-angle. Other then that it has excellent exposure, good but slow focus, and very effective image processing. Body of camera is strong and robust and you will not feel you are holding something delicate object. LCD is big 1.8inch TFT with 118,000 pixels, it is almost impossible to see this LCD when you are out in sun. Even with your hand covering LCD to make shadow you won't be able to see picture. Often I had to use optical viewfinder to take pictures. Battery lasted almost 135 pictures and could have lasted more if LCD use was reduced.

CD with camera contains ArcSoft Camera Suit, but if you are power user, don't touch this CD, just download Downloader Pro from www.breezesys.com and do quick and efficient file transfers with EXIF 2.2 info generated on separate text file for every picture.

At around US$425, it is not cheap but its cheaper then digital SLRs. Also price has been dropping ever since it was introduced few months back at US$599.

Photo quality of S70 may give competing 8MP camera inferiority complex. Combined with Canon's excellent auto focus system, the lens produced razor sharp results shot after shot Competition to this camera could be Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-P150 or Fuji film FinePix F810. Those who need speed of focus, playback should look at Sony models. If you were considering Canon G6 then have a good look at S70 before you open your wallet, you will save some money. If you need swing out LCD to take pictures at public events, have a look at cheaper Canon PowerShot A95. Check out very detailed reviews of these cameras at http://www.dpreview.com

Pros

Enough resolution to print 8x12 inch
Low noise at ISO 50 and 100
Excellent metering,
Very clean images
Wide-angle zoom, 28 - 100 mm equivalent
Excellent range of controls
Solid build quality,
RAW file format
Ability to turn JPEG shot into RAW during record review
Custom shooting mode
AF assist lamp
Long Battery life
You can turn off Digital zoom.

Cons

Lens slow at telephoto
Auto focus can be slow
Low-light focus unreliable
LCD monitor impossible to use in very bright light
Average macro performance
Slow playback

Vipul Shah
guide@vipulshah.com


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