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DCRP Review: Canon PowerShot A570 IS  
   

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: May 9, 2007
Last Updated: December 6, 2007

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The PowerShot A570 IS ($279) finds itself in the middle of Canon's entry-level A-series of digital cameras. It features a 4X optical zoom lens, 7.1 Megapixel CCD, full manual controls, a 2.5" LCD display, and a VGA movie mode. The A570 is also the cheapest Canon camera to offer optical image stabilization, which makes it a smart step up from the PowerShot A550 and A560 below it.

So what's the difference between all the A-series models? This chart should help:

Feature PS A550 PS A560 PS A570 IS PS A630 PS A640 PS A710 IS
Street price
(at time of posting)
$179 $205 $252 $214 $316 $271
Resolution 7.1 MP 7.1 MP 7.1 MP 8.0 MP 10.0 MP 7.1 MP
Optical zoom 4X 4X 4X 4X 4X 6X
Lens max. aperture F2.6 - F5.5 F2.6 - F5.5 F2.6 - F5.5 F2.8 - F4.1 F2.8 - F4.1 F2.8 - F4.8
Focal length (35 mm equiv.) 35 - 140 mm 35 - 140 mm 35 - 140 mm 35 - 140 mm 35 - 140 mm 35 - 210 mm
Image stabilization No No Yes No No Yes
Image processor DIGIC II DIGIC III DIGIC III DIGIC II DIGIC II DIGIC II
LCD size 2.0" 2.5" 2.5" 2.5" 2.5" 2.5"
LCD resolution 86,000 115,000 115,000 115,000 115,000 115,000
Rotating LCD No No No Yes Yes No
Manual controls No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Face detection No Yes Yes No No No
Movie mode file size limit 1GB 4GB 4GB 1GB 1GB 1GB
Supports conversion lenses No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Supports underwater case No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Supports Remote Capture No No No No Yes No
Battery used AA (2) AA (2) AA (2) AA (4) AA (4) AA (2)
Battery life with 2500 mAh batteries (CIPA standard) 550 shots 500 shots 400 shots 500 shots 500 shots 360 shots

The A570 looks pretty compelling next to the more expensive A710. About the only thing in the A710's favor is a bit more zoom power.

Ready to learn more about the A570? Then keep reading, our review starts right now!

Since the cameras share so much in common, I will be reusing portions of the PowerShot A550 review here.

What's in the Box?

The PowerShot A570 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 7.1 effective Megapixel PowerShot A570 IS digital camera
  • 16MB Secure Digital memory card
  • Two AA alkaline batteries
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • A/V cable
  • CD-ROM featuring Canon Digital Camera Solution
  • 30 page basic manual + 129 page advanced manual (both printed)

Canon includes a 16MB memory card along with the A570, which is quite small for a 7MP camera, holding just four photos at the highest quality setting. So, unless you already have one sitting around, you'll need to buy yourself a larger memory card. The A570 supports Secure Digital, MultiMedia, and the new SDHC memory card formats, and I'd recommend picking up a 512MB or 1GB card along with the camera. Buying a high speed card (50X or higher) is a good idea, as it does improve camera performance.

Like most of the cameras in the A-series, the PowerShot A570 uses two AA batteries for power. The alkalines that come in the box will quickly find their way into the trash, so you'll want to pick up a four pack of NiMH rechargeables and a fast charger right away. Once you've got those installed, here's what kind of battery life you'll get out of the camera:

Camera Battery life, LCD on
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Canon PowerShot A560 500 shots 2 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Canon PowerShot A570 IS * 400 shots 2 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Canon PowerShot A710 IS * 360 shots 2 x 2500 mAh NiMH
GE A730 400 shots 2 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Kodak EasyShare Z885 300 shots 2 x 2100 mAh NiMH
Nikon Coolpix L12 * 370 shots 2 x 2000 mAh NiMH
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ7 * 460 shots 2 x Unknown NiMH
Pentax Optio A30 * 150 shots D-LI8
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W80 340 shots NP-BG1

* Has image stabilization

Battery life numbers are provided by the manufacturer

Well, there were a bunch of other cameras I wanted to list up there (Fuji FinePix A820, Olympus FE-240, Samsung S850), but their respective manufacturers don't provide this information. Anyhow, for the group that I do have listed, the A570's battery life is above average.

As you may know, I'm a big fan of cameras that use AA batteries. They're cheaper than their proprietary counterparts, and you can use off-the-shelf alkaline batteries when your rechargeables die.

As with all of the A-series cameras, the A570 has a built-in lens cover, so there's no lens cap to fumble with.

The PowerShot A570 supports a number of interesting accessories, many of which are rarities on entry-level cameras like this. Here's the full list:

Accessory Model # Price Why you want it
Wide-angle lens WC-DC52 From $71 Brings the wide end of the lens down by 0.7X to 24.5 mm; requires conversion lens adapter
Telephoto lens TC-DC52A From $99 Boosts focal range by 1.75X to a whopping 245 mm; requires conversion lens adapter
Close-up lens 250D (52 mm) From $71 Reduces the minimum focus distance when you're not at the wide end of the lens; requires conversion lens adapter
Conversion lens adapter LA-DC52G $23 Required for conversion lenses; threaded for 52 mm accessories as well
External slave flash HF-DC1 From $91 Boosts flash range and reduces redeye
Waterproof case WP-DC12 $170 Take your camera up to 40 meters underwater
AC adapter ACK800 From $33 Power the camera without wasting your batteries
Rechargeable battery kit CBK4-300 From $38 Includes four 2500 mAh batteries and a charger

Not bad, eh? The only thing I want to mention before we continue is a note about that external flash. Being a slave flash, it's not connected in any way to the camera -- it fires when the onboard flash does.


ImageBrowser (Mac OS X)

Canon includes version 30 of their Digital Camera Solution software package with the PowerShot A570. The main applications are the ImageBrowser/ZoomBrowser "twins" that come with all PowerShot models. ImageBrowser is for the Mac, while ZoomBrowser is for Windows PCs. The Mac version is not Universal, so it doesn't run as fast as it could on Intel-based Macs.

After you download photos via the CameraWindow application, you'll end up with the screen above, which has a standard-issue thumbnail view. Photos can be organized, printed, and e-mailed from this screen.

Double-click on a thumbnail and you'll bring up the edit window. Editing functions include trimming, redeye removal, and the ability to adjust levels, color, brightness, sharpness, and the tone curve.


ImageBrowser - MovieEdit Task (Mac OS X)

The MovieEdit task lets you take your movie clips, add effects and transitions, and then save the results as a single movie.


PhotoStitch (Mac OS X)

A separate program called PhotoStitch can, well, stitch together separate photos into one giant panorama.The interface is simple, the process takes minutes, and the results are impressive, as you can see. You can use the camera's Stitch Assist feature to help line up the photos side-by-side.

The A570's documentation comes in several parts. You get a basic manual to get you up and running, and an advanced manual for more complex camera features. There's also separate manuals for the bundled software and direct printing via PictBridge. While the manuals aren't what I'd call pleasure reading, they will definitively answer any question that you may have about the camera.

Look and Feel

The PowerShot A570 IS looks a whole lot like its lower cost siblings, the A550 and A560. That means that it's a compact (but not jeans pocket compact) camera mad almost entirely of plastic. The plastic is pretty high quality though, giving the A570 a solid feel in your hands. The right hand grip is just the right size, and the important controls are all within easy reach of your fingers.

Now, here's a look at how the A570 compares with some of the competition in terms of size and weight:

Camera Dimensions (W x H x D, excluding protrusions) Volume (bulk) Mass (empty)
Canon PowerShot A560 3.6 x 2.5 x 1.7 in. 15.3 cu in. 165 g
Canon PowerShot A570 IS 3.5 x 2.5 x 1.7 in. 14.9 cu in. 175 g
Canon PowerShot A710 IS 3.8 x 2.6 x 1.6 in. 15.8 cu in. 210 g
Fujifilm FinePix A820 3.8 x 2.4 x 1.3 in. 11.9 cu in. 155 g
GE A730 3.7 x 2.4 x 1.1 in. 9.8 cu in. 120 g
Kodak EasyShare Z885 3.5 x 2.5 x 1.2 in. 10.5 cu in. 161 g
Nikon Coolpix L12 3.6 x 2.4 x 1.0 in. 8.6 cu in. 125 g
Olympus FE-240 3.7 x 2.2 x 0.8 in. 6.5 cu in. 115 g
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ7 3.9 x 2.5 x 1.3 in. 12.7 cu in. 184 g
Pentax Optio A30 3.5 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 7.2 cu in. 130 g
Samsung S850 4.1 x 2.5 x 1.0 in. 10.3 cu in. 172 g
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W80 3.6 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 7.5 cu in. 124 g

The A570 is more or less than same size as the cheaper A560. It's a bit heavier, probably due to the added weight of the image stabilizer. In the group as a whole, the PowerShot A570 is on the chunky side. It won't fit in your jeans pocket (at least not comfortably), but it's still small and light enough to carry in a purse or small camera bag.

Let's begin our tour of the camera beginning, as always, with the front.

On the surface it looks like the PowerShot A570 has the same lens as the A550 and A560, but there's a significant difference inside it. The basic specs are the same: it's an F2.6-5.5, 4X optical zoom lens, with a focal range of 5.8 - 23.2 mm (equivalent to 35 - 140 mm). While the lens itself is not threaded, you can remove the ring around the lens barrel (by pressing the button to the lower-left of the lens) and attach any of the optional conversion lenses I mentioned earlier.

Inside the lens is Canon's optical image stabilizer, which helps to reduce the effects of "camera shake". This phenomenon is caused by tiny movements of your hands, which can blur your photos, especially when the shutter speed isn't fast enough. Sensors inside the A570 detect this motion, and one of the lens elements is shifted to compensate for it. It won't guarantee you a sharp photo, nor will it stop a moving subject, but it will let you use slower shutter speeds than you could otherwise. Want proof? Have a look at this:


Image stabilization off


Image stabilization on

Both of those photos were taken at the very slow shutter speed of 1/5 sec. As you can see, the image stabilization system did the job -- no Photoshop tricks here! In addition to reducing blur in still photos, the IS system can also be used to smooth out your movies too. But more on that later.

The flash, located at the upper-right of the photo, has the same specs as the one on the A550 and A560. The working range is 0.45 - 3.5 m at wide-angle and 0.45 - 2.2 m at telephoto (both at Auto ISO), which is average for this class. While there's no hot shoe for an external flash, you can use the optional slave flash that I mentioned in the previous section.

To the left of the flash is the optical viewfinder, with the AF-assist/self-timer lamp to the left of that. The AF-assist lamp is used as a focusing aid in low light situations.

The last thing to see here is the microphone, which is to the upper-left of the lens.

The A570 has the "standard" 2.5-inch LCD display found across the A-series lineup (except for the A550). The screen is large, but the resolution is not, with just 115,000 pixels (many screens have twice that). You'll notice that the resolution isn't so hot when you use the screen, but I figure it's good enough for the A570's target audience. Outdoor visibility was about average -- you may have trouble seeing the screen when it's really bright (but at least there's an optical viewfinder). In low light situations the screen brightens automatically, so you can still see your subject.

Above the LCD is the average-sized optical viewfinder that I just mentioned -- still a standard feature on all of the A-series models. It doesn't have a diopter correction knob, so those of you without perfect vision may have a somewhat blurry view, but hey, I'll take what I can get.

Moving over to the upper-right of the photo, we find the speaker, with the playback/record switch next to that.

Under that we find the exposure compensation + delete photo and Print/Share buttons. The exposure compensation has the usual -2EV to +2EV in 1/3EV increments range.

When you're connected to a computer or printer, the blue light on the Print/Share button will light up. For computers, you can transfer images (in various ways) and even set the desktop background of your PC, right from the camera. If you're connected to a PictBridge-enabled printer, the button is used to start printing (you can set the print settings using the menus). In record mode this button can have various functions assigned to it, and I'll list those for you later in the review.

Below those buttons is the four-way controller, which you'll use for menu navigation, choosing manual settings, and also:

  • Up - Flash setting (Auto, on, off) + Jump (quickly move through photos in playback mode)
  • Down - Focus (Auto, macro, manual) - see below
  • Center - Function / Set


Manual focus (center frame enlargement not shown)

One of the many manual controls on the A570 is for focus. When this feature is activated you'll use the four-way controller to set the focus distance. The LCD shows the current focus distance, and the center of the frame is enlarged so you can confirm that your subject is properly focused.


Function menu

By pressing the center button on the four-way controller, you'll open up the Function menu. This menu has the following options:

  • ISO speed (Auto, High ISO Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600) - see below
  • White balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, fluorescent H, underwater, custom) - see below
  • Drive (Single-shot, continuous, 2 or 10 sec self-timer, custom self-timer)
  • My Colors (Off, vivid, neutral, sepia, black & white, custom color) - see below
  • Flash compensation (-2EV to +2EV in 1/3EV increments) + flash output (1/3, 2/3, full) - this last item is only available in manual mode
  • Metering mode (Evaluative, center-weighted, spot)
  • Compression (see chart later in review)
  • Resolution (see chart later in review)

As with all of Canon's recent cameras, there are two Auto ISO modes to choose from on the PowerShot A570. The difference is that the High ISO Auto mode will boost the sensitivity higher than the regular Auto mode. This lets you use a faster shutter speed, which will result in sharper photos. The catch is that your photos will contain more noise. I'll have more on the camera's ISO performance later in the review.

The A570 has a custom white balance mode, which lets you use a white or gray card for perfect color in any lighting. This will come in handy when you're shooting in unusual lighting condition, like I do in many of the test shots later in the review.

Canon's cameras always have nice continuous shooting modes, and the A570 is no exception. With a high speed memory card you can keep shooting at 1.6 frames/second until you run out of memory. The LCD keeps up with the action fairly well, with just a slight blackout between each shot.

The custom self-timer is a very nice feature exclusive to Canon cameras (for the moment). You can select how many shots are taken, and how long of a delay there is before the shutter releases.

The PowerShot A570 has a stripped down version of Canon's My Colors feature. You can make your photos more vivid or neutral, take a picture in black and white or sepia, or manually adjust the sharpness/contrast/saturation. The fun (for a while) color swap and color accent options are not available on this camera.

Below the four-way controller are two more buttons. The display button toggles what is shown on the LCD, and it can also turn the thing off entirely. The menu button does just as it sounds -- it opens the menu.

Let's move on to the top of the camera now. First up is the power button, which has the mode dial next to it. The options on the mode dial include:

Option Function
Movie mode More on this later
Stitch Assist Helps you line up photos for later stitching into panoramas
Special Scene mode Scene modes: pick the situation and the camera uses the appropriate settings. Choose from night scene, foliage, snow, beach, fireworks, aquarium, and underwater.
Indoor More scene modes, easy to access
Kids & Pets
Night Snapshot
Landscape
Portrait
Auto mode Fully automatic, most camera settings locked up
Program mode Still automatic, but with full menu access
Shutter priority (Tv) mode You set the shutter speed and the camera chooses the appropriate aperture. Select from a range of 15 - 1/2000 sec. Do note that the fastest shutter speeds are only available at the smallest apertures.
Aperture priority (Av) mode Just the opposite: you choose the aperture, and the camera picks the shutter sped. Aperture range is F2.6 - F8.0.
Full Manual (M) mode You select both the shutter speed and aperture. Same ranges as above.

As you know by now, the A570 IS has a full set of manual controls. If you don't want to bother with those, there are plenty of scene modes to choose from. But when you're ready for more advanced photography, the A570 will be waiting for you.

The only other thing to see on the top of the camera is the shutter release button, which has the zoom controller wrapped around it. The controller moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in 1.6 seconds. I counted eight steps in the A570's 4X zoom range. One annoying thing about this camera (as well as a few other Canons) is that there's no indication on the LCD of the current zoom setting.

On this side of the camera you'll find its I/O ports, which are protected by a rubber cover. The ports include A/V out, USB, and DC-in (for the optional AC adapter). Like all of Canon's cameras, the A570 IS supports the USB 2.0 High Speed standard for fast data transfer to your Mac or PC.

There's nothing to see on the other side of the camera. The lens is at full telephoto here.

On the bottom of the camera you'll find the battery and memory card compartment plus a plastic tripod mount (boo!). The door covering this compartment is of average quality. You should be able to swap memory cards while the camera is on a tripod.

Using the Canon PowerShot A570 IS

Record Mode

It takes the A570 IS about 1.4 seconds to extend its lens and prepare for shooting. That's fairly good.


No histograms here (and none really expected)

Focus speeds were pretty much the same as they were on the similar PowerShot A550 -- which means "quick". Typically it took between 0.1 and 0.3 seconds for the camera to lock focus, with slightly longer delays at the telephoto end of the lens or when the AF system has to "hunt". Low light focusing was very good, thanks to the A570's AF-assist lamp.

I did not find shutter lag to be a problem, even at the slower shutter speeds at which it can occur.

Shot-to-shot speeds were excellent, with a delay of about one second between shots. That number jumps to a little over three seconds if you're using the flash.

You can delete the photo you just took by pressing the delete photo (exposure compensation) button on the back of the camera.

Now, here's a look at the image size and quality choices available on the PowerShot A570:

Resolution Quality Approx. file size # Images on 16MB card
(included)
# images on 512MB card (optional)
Large
3072 x 2304
Superfine 3.0 MB 4 156
Fine 1.9 MB 7 251
Normal 902 KB 16 520
Wide (16:9)
3072 x 1728
Superfine 2.3 MB 6 207
Fine 1.4 MB 10 335
Normal 678 KB 21 686
Middle 1
2592 x 1944
Superfine 2.4 MB 5 190
Fine 1.5 MB 10 339
Normal 695 KB 21 671
Middle 2
2048 x 1536
Superfine 1.6 MB 9 295
Fine 893 KB 16 529
Normal 445 KB 33 1041
Middle 3
1600 x 1200
Superfine 1002 KB 26 471
Fine 558 KB 50 839
Normal 278 KB 56 1590
Small
640 x 480
Superfine 249 KB 56 1777
Fine 150 KB 88 2747
Normal 84 KB 138 4317

There's one more image size on the A570 that I didn't list in that chart, and it's called postcard. If you want to print the date on your photo then you must use postcard mode!

The A570 doesn't support the RAW or TIFF image formats, nor would I expect it to.

Images are named IMG_xxxx.JPG, where x = 0001 - 9999. The file numbering is maintained even if you replace and/or format memory cards.

Now, onto the menus!

The A570 uses the standard Canon menu system. It's attractive, responsive, and easy-to-use. Here's the complete list of items in the record menu:

  • AiAF (Face detect, on, off) - see below
  • Digital Zoom (Off, 1.5X, 1.9X, standard) - see below
  • Flash adjust (Auto, manual) - if manual is chosen, you can select the flash strength in the function menu; only displayed in Av or Tv modes
  • Redeye reduction (on/off) - uses the AF-assist lamp to reduce this annoyance
  • Safety FE (on/off) - the camera automatically adjust the shutter speed or aperture in flash shots to prevent overexposure
  • MF-point zoom (on/off) - center-frame enlargement in manual focus mode
  • Safety MF (on/off) - lets you use autofocus after manually focusing
  • AF-assist beam (on/off)
  • Review (Off, 2-10 seconds, hold) - post-shot review
  • Display overlay (Off, gridlines, 3:2 guide, both)
  • IS mode (Continuous, shoot only, panning, off) - see below
  • Converter (None, wide, tele, macro) - for using the conversion lenses
  • Date stamp (Off, date, date & time) - only works when using postcard resolution!!
  • Set Print/Share button (Off, ISO, white balance, digital teleconverter, display overlay, display off) - define what this button does in record mode
The camera has detected four faces When I pressed the shutter release halfway, it locked focus on four of them

There are three focus modes on the PowerShot A570. The first one is Face Detect, which is one of the "hot" (and probably unnecessary) features of 2007. This will lock the focus and exposure on up to nine different faces in the frame. If it doesn't see any faces you'll get regular 9-point autofocus. If you don't want it to look for faces, just select the "on" AiAF option and it'll do regular 9-point. If you choose "off", the camera will focus on the center of the frame.

The A570 supports Canon's new digital zoom feature. Canon calls the 1.5X and 1.9X options a "digital tele-converter" -- it's basically just fixed digital zoom. The Standard option is what you'll find on every camera -- it just enlarges the center of the frame digitally. The camera's Safety Zoom feature warns you when you pass the point where image quality is degraded. When you're shooting at the highest resolution that starts as soon as digital zoom kicks in, but if you're using a lower resolution you can use it for a little while before that happens (e.g. you can go up to 6X total zoom at the M2 resolution). You can do the same thing in your favorite photo editor, by the way.

What are those IS modes all about? Continuous IS activates the image stabilizer as soon as you halfway-press the shutter release, which helps you compose your shot without camera shake. Shoot only mode activates the IS system when the photo is actually taken, which is more effective at stopping blur than the previous mode. Panning mode only compensates for up and down motion, and it's name describes when you'd want to use this feature. Finally, you can just shut the whole image stabilization system off, which is a good idea if the camera is on a tripod.

The setup tab in the menu has the following items:

  • Mute (on/off) - turns off all the beeps
  • Volume
    • Startup volume (Off, 1-5)
    • Operation volume (Off, 1-5)
    • Self-timer volume (Off, 1-5)
    • Shutter volume (Off, 1-5)
    • Playback volume (Off, 1-5)
  • Startup image (on/off)
  • Power saving
    • Auto power down (on/off)
    • Display off (10, 20, 30 sec, 1-3 min)
  • Date/time (set)
  • Card format
  • File number reset (on/off) - maintain file numbering
  • Create folder
    • Create new folder - on the memory card
    • Auto create (Off, daily, weekly, monthly) - this new features will automatically create new folders on the memory card at set intervals
  • Auto rotate (on/off) - camera will automatically rotate portrait photos on the LCD
  • Lens retract (1 min, 0 secs) - how quickly the lens retracts when you switch to playback mode
  • Language
  • Video system (NTSC, PAL)
  • Print Method (Auto, PictBridge)
  • Reset all - back to defaults

Well enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.

The A570 did a very nice job with our standard macro test subject. The colors look good (thanks to the custom white balance feature), and the subject has the buttery smooth look that you come to expect from Canon cameras.

In macro mode, you can get as close to your subject as 5 cm at wide-angle and 30 cm at telephoto -- both fairly average numbers. If you pick up the optional macro conversion lens you can get even closer, especially at the telephoto end of the focal range.

The night shot looks good as well. The A570 took in plenty of light -- you'll want to use shutter priority mode for best results here. There is some noise and noise reduction artifacting here, but it's competitive with other cameras with this resolution. Purple fringing popped up in several places, but overall it's not too bad.

Now, let's use that same night scene to illustrate how the A570 IS performs at varies ISO sensitivities:


ISO 80

ISO 100

ISO 200


ISO 400


ISO 800

ISO 1600

The ISO 100 shot actually looks a bit sharper than the ISO 80 one, probably due to the increase in noise. Noise reduction artifacting starts to noticeably kick in at ISO 200, and by the time you hit ISO 400 there's a lot of lost detail -- and it's all downhill from there (to say the least). Thus, I'd keep the ISO at 200 and below for low light shooting if at all possible.

I'll have another ISO test for you in a moment.

There's mild to moderate barrel distortion at the wide end of the PowerShot A570's lens. In the real world this makes things like buildings appear to curve, as this photo illustrates. I did not find blurry edges or vignetting (dark corners) to be significant problems on the A570 IS.

Canon's A-series cameras have had a redeye problem for quite some time. Even if you turned on the redeye reduction flash, you'd get results like you see above. That hasn't changed on the A570, but now there's a software-based redeye removal tool that you can find in the playback menu. Here's what it did to the above crop:

Now that's what I call an improvement! My only wish is that you could have this run automatically when you take a flash picture, so you don't have to edit each photo one-by-one. By the way, this feature can remove redeye from several people's eyes in a photo.

And now it's time for ISO test number two, which is shot in my "studio". You can compare this test with those in other reviews on this site. While the crops below give you a quick view of the differences at the various ISO sensitivities, it's a good idea to view the full-size images as well. And with that...


ISO 80

ISO 100

ISO 200


ISO 400


ISO 800

ISO 1600

There's not much to talk about from ISO 80 to 200 -- everything looks great. At ISO 400 we pick up some small amounts of noise and noise reduction artifacting, but you'll still get nice midsize to large prints at that setting. At ISO 800 there's quite a bit of noise, so this setting is best reserved for small prints. The ISO 1600 crop is quite soft and noisy -- I would avoid it.

The PowerShot A570 has the kind of image quality one expects from Canon: very good. It took well-exposed photos, with accurate, saturated colors. Photos have a smooth look to them which is more common digital SLRs than compact point-and-shoots. As the tests above showed, noise levels in good lighting are quite low, even at ISO 400. Purple fringing was minimal.

Now, head on over to our photo gallery. Take a look at the full size images, print a few if you can, and then decide if the A570's picture quality meets your expectations!

Movie Mode

The PowerShot A570 has the same high quality movie mode as Canon's other DIGIC III based cameras. You can record video at 640 x 480 (30 fps) with sound until the file size hits 4GB. That takes about 32 minutes, which is pretty good these days. Do note that you will need a high speed memory card in order to record long continuous movie clips.

You can record longer movies by either lowering the resolution or the frame rate. The other resolutions are 320 x 240 and 160 x 120, with the latter having a 3 minute recording time limit. The frame rate can be lowered to 15 fps (and it's locked there at the lowest resolution), though I don't recommend doing this, as your video will be awfully choppy.

There's also a "Fast Frame Rate" mode available, which lets you record up to 1 minute of 320 x 240 video at a whopping 60 frames/second. This is great for videos of fast moving subjects.

As is usually the case, you cannot use the optical zoom lens while recording your movie clip. You can, however, use the digital zoom. The image stabilizer is active during filming.

Movies are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec. The A570 IS does not have any in-camera movie editing tools, unlike some other Canon cameras.

Here's a sample movie for you, which I recorded at the highest quality setting. Be warned, it's a big download (and a fast moving train).


Click to play movie (23.6 MB, 640 x 480, 30 fps, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime
.

Playback Mode

The A570 has a pretty standard playback mode. Basic features include slideshows, image protection, voice captions, thumbnail view, and zoom and scroll. This last feature lets you enlarge the picture up to 10X, and then scroll around in the zoomed-in area. When you're zoomed in you can press the Func/Set button and then move from photo to photo at the same magnification setting. The A570 also has a separate print menu lets you tag photos for printing to a PictBridge-enabled photo printer.

There's also the redeye removal tool that I mentioned in the previous section. After a photo has been retouched, you can choose to either overwrite it, or create a new image.

While you an rotate a photo on the camera, there's no way to resize or crop them.

The default view in playback mode doesn't show much information about a photo. If you hit the display button you'll get a lot more, though, including a histogram.

The A570 moves between images almost instantly. Like nearly all of Canon's recent cameras, when you rotate the camera 90 degrees, the photo on the LCD rotates too.

How Does it Compare?

I've long been a fan of Canon's PowerShot series, and here's why. They offer features (like manual controls and conversion lens support) normally found on cameras costing hundreds more. They are also use AA batteries, are quick performers, and take high quality photos. The PowerShot A570 IS continues this tradition, and adds a very handy feature: optical image stabilization. With a street price hovering around $225, there's no arguing about the A570's value -- you get a lot of bang for the buck. All these things make it an easy camera to recommend.

At first glance, the PowerShot A570 IS looks just like its little brothers, the A550 and A560. That's because the big changes are inside: this camera packs Canon's lens-shift optical image stabilization, which allows for sharp photos at shutter speeds that would be blurry on other cameras. It won't work miracles, but it most definitely helps you take better pictures. The A570 may be a plastic camera, but it doesn't feel like it, thanks to high quality materials. I do wish that it had a metal tripod mount, though. It's easy to pick up and use with one hand, with the important controls within easy reach of your fingers. The camera features a 4X optical zoom lens -- a little more than what most entry-level cameras give you -- and a 2.5" LCD display. The screen resolution isn't going to win any awards, but it's good enough for the A570's target audience. Outdoor visibility was average, while low light visibility was very good. The A570 has an optical viewfinder, which is a fairly rare feature these days.

The A570 is packed with features for both beginners and enthusiasts. If you're just starting out then you'll like the numerous scene modes on the camera, the most common of which are right on the mode dial. When you're ready to learn more advanced techniques, the A570 is ready, with manual exposure control, white balance, and focus. All of this is controlled by a simple, attractive user interface. Everyone will like the camera's movie mode, which allows for over 30 minutes of continuous VGA video recording with sound.

While it won't break any records, the A570 is a good performer overall. It starts up in 1.4 seconds, focuses quickly (even in low light), and shutter lag isn't an issue. Shot-to-shot delays are minimal. Like all recent Canon cameras, the A570's continuous shooting mode lets you keep shooting -- at 1.6 frames/second in this case -- until your high speed memory card fills up. Battery life was above average.

Photo quality was very good. The A570 took well-exposed photos with pleasing color and sharpness, low noise through ISO 400 (in good light), and minimal purple fringing. While redeye continues to be a big problem, there's now a tool in playback mode that quickly removes this annoyance. Too bad you have to run it each time you want to remove redeye!

There aren't too many other negatives about the A570 to mention. The only thing that really stands out is the fact that the current zoom setting is not shown on the LCD display. Come on Canon, this is basic information.

The PowerShot A570 IS is the definition of an excellent value. It's packed with virtually every desirable feature, from image stabilization to manual controls to conversion lens support. And you don't have to pay through the nose for it, either -- it can be found for well under $250. I can highly recommend the A570, whether you're a beginning or more experienced photographer.

What I liked:

  • Very good photo quality, noise levels low through ISO 400 (in good light)
  • Great value for the money
  • Optical image stabilization
  • More "zoom" than competition
  • Snappy performance
  • Large 2.5" LCD visible in low light
  • Full manual controls, plus plenty of scene modes
  • AF-assist lamp, good low light focusing
  • Effective redeye removal tool
  • Great movie and continuous shooting modes
  • Support for conversion lenses and underwater case
  • Above average battery life using just two AA batteries
  • USB 2.0 High Speed support

What I didn't care for:

  • Noisy images above ISO 800
  • Redeye remains a problem (though now you can remove it in playback mode)
  • Zoom setting not shown on LCD
  • LCD resolution could be better
  • Plastic tripod mount
  • Small memory card included

Other cameras worth considering include the Canon PowerShot A710 IS (only if you need more zoom), Fuji FinePix A820, GE A730, Kodak EasyShare Z885, Nikon Coolpix L12, Olympus FE-240, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ7, Pentax Optio A30, Samsung S850, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W80.

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the PowerShot A570 IS and its competitors before you buy!

Photo Gallery

See how the photos turned out in our gallery!

Feedback & Discussion

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If you have a question about this review, please send them to Jeff. Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for a personal recommendation.

Want another opinion?

You'll find more reviews of the PowerShot A570 IS at CNET and Steve's Digicams.