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Canon Powershot A700 Digital Camera Review

Canon Powershot A700 Digital Camera Review - The Canon Powershot A700 includes a wide range of featuresthat provide complete creative control.

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Category : Compact Cameras
Product : Canon Powershot A700
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The Canon Powershot A700 includes a wide range of featuresthat provide complete creative control. In this review, Gary Wolstenholme takes a look at whether this camera is an inspired choice.


Canon Powershot A700Specifications
  • 6.0 megapixels
  • 6x optical zoom
  • DIGIC II image processor
  • 9-point AiAF
  • 19 shooting modes
  • ISO 800 and widescreen recording
  • 30fps VGA movies
  • 2.5inch LCD screen
  • PictBridge compatible
Build and handling
The A700 feels chunky for a compact, the extra mass accommodates the larger than normal, 6x zoom range and optical viewfinder, which are both welcome features. Most of the body is made of plastic, but still feels sturdy enough and a clear plastic fingergrip helps to provide a secure hold.

Canon Powershot A700Display screen
An excellent 2.5inch LCD screen fills two thirds of the rear. The image it displays is bright and sharp. My only reservation is with the shiny protective cover, which can make it difficult to see the screen in bright conditions as reflections on the surface reduce the contrast of the display.
Hoods and other solutions that shade the screen are available from the ePHOTOzine shop if this too much of a problem.

Autofocus
The A700 uses the tried & tested AiAF system that has been used throughout the range of Canon Powershot cameras. At the wide end of the zoom, autofocus response is quick, with the AiAF system rapidly choosing a point in the frame when the shutter button is depressed. Performance drops a little at the long end of the zoom, with a tendancy to hunt in low light, but not enough to cause any major frustration.

Battery
AA batteries provide the power for the Powershot A700. I'd recommend using high-capacity NiMh rechargeables, of 2000mAh or greater, as they last longer and they will be easier on your wallet over time. When using standard alkaline batteries, I generally got approximately 120 shots from each set. The battery life can be extended further by switching off the screen and using the optical viewfinder instead.

Memory card
The Powershot A700 takes SD cards which fit into a slot beside the batteries. The following are write speeds for different Jpeg quality settings when using an Sandisk Extreme III 1GB card.

Quality setting Time taken to write to card
6 megapixel Jpeg Superfine 1.9secs
6 megapixel Jpeg Fine 1.6secs
6 megapixel Jpeg Normal 1.5secs

I also timed the delay between shots with this camera in the single shot mode. I measured this by taking five shots in quick succession and working out the average delay.

Quality setting Shot-to-shot delay
6 megapixel Jpeg Superfine 3.9secs
6 megapixel Jpeg Fine 3.0secs
6 megapixel Jpeg Normal 2.26secs

The A700 quickly dispatches images to the card, the time taken to write the image is among the quickest for this type of camera. Conversely there doesn't appear to be a substantial enough buffer, as the average shot-to-shot delay is much greater than the time taken to write the image to the card.

Canon Powershot A700Menu and controls
The controls are well laid-out on the A700, with most falling directly under finger and thumb when the camera is held with one hand. Although one-handed operation is possible, steadying the camera with your left hand will lead to sharper results, especially when using the 6x zoom lens at its full extent.

The menu system is clear and straightforward to navigate. Common shooting functions, such as ISO and quality settings, are accessed by pressing the button in the centre of the directional pad and the range of features are navigated by pressing up or down, then you can select your specific option by pressing left and right.

The control dial on the top provides access to the various shooting modes, which range from creative manual, through to automatic scene programs and a panorama assist mode. The range provided is great for novices and more demanding photographers alike.

Zoom lens
The 6x zoom lens covers the equivalent of a 35mm wide-angle to a 210mm telephoto lens. The 35mm wide end, isn't very wide by today's standards. I found myself having to step back to get all I wanted in the frame.

Macro mode
Canon Powershot A700
The macro mode allows you to focus 5cm from your subject, which is close enough for most people.
Canon Powershot A700
A 100% crop of the the shot to the left which shows the level of detail captured.

Image quality
There are two different image quality levels on this camera, Superfine, Fine and Normal. All images in this review were taken on Fine and at maximum resolution so that I could see what the camera is capable of producing using the typical settings.
Canon Powershot A700
Canon Powershot A700
Canon Powershot A700
Flash exposure is accurate, providing even illumination from about 10cm from your subject.
Above - This difficult scene has been exposed well. The meter has chosen to ignore the strong backlighting.

Right - Colours produced are natural, without looking washed out or pale.
Canon Powershot A700

Detail
Canon Powershot A700
This busy scene was taken using a tripod to determine the level of detail this camera can produce.
Canon Powershot A700
A 100% crop of the image shows that this camera reproduces an impressive amount of detail. The image was taken at ISO100.

Compared to...
Canon Powershot A700
Fujifilm Finepix F30, at ISO100
Canon Powershot A700
Ricoh Caplio R4, at ISO100

The image produced by the Powershot A700 compares well to the competition. The image is sharp and full of detail, although it is just a little less so than the image from the Fuji.

Noise
The following images illustrate the amount of digital noise apparent at each ISO setting.
The image to the right is the full image. The crops below are taken from where the green square is.
Canon Powershot A700
Canon Powershot A700
ISO80
Canon Powershot A700
ISO100
Canon Powershot A700
ISO200
Canon Powershot A700
ISO400
Canon Powershot A700
ISO800


Images taken at the two lowest sensitivities are clean and virtually free of noise, At ISO200 the noise levels have increased, but they are still well within acceptable levels. Noise is more prominent at the two highest sensitivity settings, which will reduce quality at larger print sizes.

Compared to...
Canon Powershot A700
Canon Powershot A700 at ISO800
Canon Powershot A700
Ricoh Caplio R4 at ISO800
Canon Powershot A700
Fujifilm Finepix F30 at ISO800

The A700's noise pattern in coarser than both the Finepix F30 and the Caplio R4, although the noise produced by the Canon is more neutral than the Ricoh. Both of these cameras are put to shame by the super-low noise levels of the Fuji, which has the best high ISO performance of the three.

Verdict
Great image quality in good light, coupled with good handling and a very useful 6x zoom lens definitely make this camera worthy of consideration.

Although it may not perform the best in low light when compared directly with the competition, it isn't a poor performer. If you require the extra controls, AA battery support or the extra range of the 6x zoom lens then this could be the camera for you.

In summary the positive points of the Canon Powershot A700 are:
Canon Powershot A700Good image quality in good light.
Canon Powershot A700Range of controls.
Canon Powershot A700Simple to use.
Canon Powershot A7006x zoom lens.

The negative points:
Canon Powershot A700Not the best performance in low-light when compared to competitors.
Canon Powershot A700Delay between shots in single shot mode.

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