PowerShot S70 ($599) is a 7 Megapixel version
of the PowerShot S60 (see
our review) that was released earlier this year.
The S60 and S70 are virtually identical, with the
S70 having a 7.1 Megapixel CCD (versus 5.0 on the
S60), a slightly slower burst mode, and a different-colored
body. The two cameras have the exact same design,
lens, and feature set.
Is the S70 a good choice for those
who want a ton of resolution in a compact body? Find
out now in our review!
Since the two cameras are nearly
identical, I will be reusing a lot of text from the
S60 review here.
What's in the Box?
The PowerShot S70 has a very good
bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
- The 7.1 effective Megapixel Canon
PowerShot S70 camera
- 32MB CompactFlash card
- NB-2LH lithium-ion battery
- Battery charger
- Wrist strap
- USB cable
- A/V cable
- CD-ROM featuring Canon Digital
Camera Solutions, ArcSoft Camera Suite, and drivers
- Camera manual + software manual
Canon includes a 32MB CompactFlash
card with the camera, which was okay on the 5 Megapixel
PowerShot S60, but too small for the 7 Megapixel S70.
So you'll definitely want to buy a larger card right
away, and I'd suggest 256MB as a good place to start
(512MB is even better). The included card is marked
as "high speed", and from my own experiences
I think it would be considered 8X. The S70 can use
Type I or Type II cards, including the Microdrive,
and it supports the FAT32 format for cards larger than
The S70 uses the same NB-2LH battery
as the S60 -- which is quite a bit more powerful than
the old NB-2L battery on the S50. The old battery had
4.2 Wh of energy, the new NB-2LH has 5.3 Wh -- a 25%
improvement. Canon estimates that you can take about
140 shots using the new CIPA battery life standard,
which is about average.
My usual complaints about proprietary
batteries apply here. They're expensive ($60 a pop),
and you can't put in a set of alkalines to get you
through the rest of the day like you could with an
When it's time to recharge, just drop
the battery into the included charger. This is my favorite
style of charger -- it plugs right into the wall (yes,
I know some don't like this). It takes about ninety
minutes to fully charge the battery.
A sliding metal cover protects the
S70's lens and doubles as the power switch. You need
to be careful not to accidentally bump the door and
shut off the camera, though.
The S70 has quite a few accessories
available, including a conversion lens. Here's what
options are available:
||Why you want it
||Boosts focal distance by 2X, up to 200
mm; requires LA-DC10 conversion lens adapter
|Conversion lens adapter
||Required for conversion lenses; also lets
you use 37 mm filters
|Wireless remote control
||Take pictures and replay them wirelessly
||Take your camera up to 40 meters underwater
||Power the camera without wasting your batteries
|Car battery charger
||Charge your batteries using your car
|Soft leather case
||Protect your easily-scratchable metal camera
Well that's not too bad for a compact
(Mac OS X)
Canon includes version 20 of their
excellent Digital Camera Solutions software with the
S70. Included in this package are ZoomBrowser (for
Windows) or ImageBrowser (for Mac), PhotoStitch (for
making panoramic photos), plus TWAIN and WIA drivers
for Windows. Zoom/ImageBrowser can be used for downloading
images from your camera, basic editing of your photos,
and photo printing.
RAW Image Task (Mac
If you shoot in RAW mode, then you'll
probably be using the RAW conversion tool built into
Zoom/ImageBrowser to manipulate those images. For those
who don't know about RAW, it's a lossless format that
lets you manipulate various properties of your image
-- a kind of virtual reshoot. Botch the white balance?
Just change it in the RAW file, and it's just like
you took the photo again. You can also adjust the saturation,
sharpness, contrast, tone curve, and more.
Also built-in to the "Browser" software
is RemoteCapture, which you can use to control your
camera over the USB connection. Images are saved directly
to your computer.
for Mac OS X
ArcSoft Camera Suite 2.1 is also included
with the S70. Although it has a quirky interface, there's
a lot of tools in this easy-to-use software.
Recent Canon camera manuals have been
more complex than earlier ones, but they're still above
average. The S70's manual is complete, but expect lots
of "notes" and fine print.
Look and Feel
If you've seen the PowerShot S60 then
you've seen the S70. The only physical difference is
the S70's two-tone black body color. I did notice that
the black body shows scratches (which often occur on
metal cameras like this) more than the silver body
of the S60.
The S70 is a midsize camera, fitting
in somewhere between the A95 and G6 in terms of size.
It's not Digital ELPH size -- not even close. Still,
you'll find that it fits in most of your pockets. The
camera is made almost entirely of metal, and most of
it feels very solid. The important controls are easy
to reach, and the camera is easier to operate than
the old S50.
The dimensions of the S70 are 114.0
x 56.5 x 38.8 mm / 4.5 x 2.2 x 1.5 inches (W x H x
D, excluding protrusions), and it weighs 230 grams
/ 8.1 ounces empty. Canon's other 7 Megapixel camera,
the PowerShot G6, is considerably larger and heavier,
with numbers of 4.1 x 2.9 x 2.9 inches and 380 grams.
You'll find out how Canon got the
S70 to "thin down" in our tour, which starts
I took this shot from a higher angle
than normal since that mirrored panel on the right
just reflects my camera and lights.
The PowerShot S70 uses the same "UA" lens
design as the S60, which allows Canon to make the camera
thinner while adding more zoom power. This lens is
also wider than most, with a focal range of 28 - 100
mm (5.8 - 20.7 mm in "digital terms"). The
maximum aperture is F2.8 - F5.3. As I mentioned in
the previous section, the camera supports 37 mm filters
as well as a 2X teleconverter through the use of the
conversion lens adapter.
To the upper-right of the lens is
the built-in flash. The flash has a working range of
0.55 - 4.2 at wide-angle and 0.55 - 2.0 m at telephoto,
which isn't too bad. You cannot attach an external
flash to this camera -- that's what the G6 is for.
Directly below the flash is the receiver
for the optional remote control, plus the microphone.
To the left of the flash (next to the optical viewfinder)
is the AF-assist lamp, a useful feature which has been
found on nearly all Canon cameras for years. The lamp
is used to help the camera focus in low light conditions.
The S70 has the same 1.8" LCD
display as the S60, with 118,000 pixels of resolution.
Images on the screen are sharp and motion is fluid.
You can adjust the brightness of the screen in the
setup menu, though it's just normal or bright. The
LCD brightens a bit in low light, but not as much
as I've seen elsewhere.
Above the LCD is the S70's optical
viewfinder, which is good-sized for a fairly compact
camera. It shows 80% of the frame. The viewfinder lacks
a diopter correction feature, which is used to bring
things into focus.
To the left of the viewfinder are
- Flash setting (Auto, fill flash,
flash off) - redeye reduction is turned on in the
- Macro mode (on/off) - more on this
Continuing the tour, there are three
buttons to see directly to the left of the LCD:
- Func - opens the function menu;
- Manual focus (see below) / Delete
- Metering (Evaluative, center-weighted,
spot) / Voice recording (add up to 60 sec voice clips
to an image in playback mode)
Pressing the Function button
brings up -- get this -- the function menu! Here's
what it includes:
- Exposure compensation (-2EV to
+2EV in 1/3EV increments)
- White balance (Auto, daylight,
cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, fluorescent H, flash,
- Drive (Single shot, continuous,
high speed continuous, 10 sec self-timer, 2 sec self-timer,
remote) - see below
- ISO speed (Auto, 50, 100, 200,
- Photo effect (Off, vivid, neutral,
low sharpening, sepia, black & white, custom
- Bracketing (Off, AE, focus) - see
- Flash adjust (-2EV to +2EV, 1/3EV
- Flash strength (1/3, 2/3, full)
- only shown in manual mode
- Resolution (see chart later in
- Compression (see chart later in
The S70 has a custom white balance
option, which lets you shoot a white or gray card to
get perfect color in any lighting.
There are two continuous shooting
options on the S70. Standard mode recorded 11 shots
at a little over 1 frame/second (based on my experience
at the Large/Superfine setting). High speed mode took
8 shots at 1.5 frames/second, though the images will
not be shown on the LCD while you're taking them, which
kind of defeats the purpose. The S60 is capable of
shooting a bit faster than the S70, since it's processing
lower resolution images.
The photo effect feature lets you
quickly change the color of your image, or turn down
the sharpness. For more control choose the custom effect
option, which lets you adjust the contrast, sharpness,
and saturation in three steps.
There are two types of bracketing
on the S70. The first is the usual AE bracketing, which
takes three shots in a row, each with a different exposure
value (in 1/3EV increments). Focus bracketing is the
same idea, except it's used in manual focus mode (which
I'll discuss in just a second). The camera takes a
shot at the chosen focus setting, plus one closer,
and one further away.
(enlargement feature not shown)
Manual focus mode lets you use the
four-way controller to set the focus you desire (you
must hold the MF button down first). A guide is shown
on the LCD/EVF, giving you the approximate focus distance.
The center of the frame is enlarged so you can make
sure that your subject is in-focus. After using manual
focus, you can press the "set" button on
the four-way controller to have the autofocus see if
it can improve on what you came up with.
Over on the other side of the LCD
there are four buttons plus the four-way controller.
I'll cover the four buttons first -- they are:
- Playback - you can hit this to
turn on the camera for replaying photos without opening
the lens cover
- Print/Share - see below
- Display - turns LCD on and off
and also what is shown on it
So what's the deal with the Print/Share
button? When connected to a Direct Print or PictBridge-enabled
printer, pressing this button will let you print your
photos. When connected to a Windows PC, the following
screen will be shown on the LCD:
As you can see, you can transfer all
images, new images, images that you've DPOF marked,
or you can manually select some. The wallpaper option
sets the chosen image as the background picture on
The four-way controller is used for
menu navigation, choosing manual settings, and operating
the FlexiZone focus system. This lets you position
a cursor almost anywhere in the frame for the camera
to focus on (there's margin around the edges which
you cannot select). This comes in handy when the camera
is on a tripod. The controller is a vast improvement
over the horrible one that was on the S30/40/45/50.
The final item on the back of the
camera is the zoom controller, which is located at
the top-right of the photo. It moves the lens from
the wide-angle to telephoto position in about 1.9 seconds.
There are nine steps in the zoom range.
On the top of the S70 you'll find
the speaker, mode dial, and shutter release button.
The mode dial has the following options:
||More on this later
||For help making panoramic shots
||For night shots
||For portraits, believe it or not
||Point-and-shoot mode, many options are
||Camera chooses shutter speed and aperture.
All menu options are unlocked.
|Shutter Priority (Tv)
||You choose the shutter speed and the camera
picks the correct aperture. You can choose
from a number of speeds ranging from 15 sec
- 1/2000 sec. The 1/2000 shutter speed is
only available above F4.0 at wide-angle and
F8 at telephoto.
|Aperture Priority (Av)
||You pick the aperture, the camera picks
the appropriate shutter speed. The choices
range from F2.8 - F8 and will vary depending
on the focal range used.
||You pick the aperture and shutter speed.
See above for values.
||Your favorite settings, easy to access.
The custom option is a handy one.
Pick your favorite settings and access them anytime
just by selecting the "C" option on the mode
Circumstances allowed me to take a
cool panoramic shot of San Francisco using the S70's
Stitch Assist mode, and you can see it above. I downsized
it considerably since it would be huge otherwise!
The only thing to see on this side
of the S70 is the I/O ports, which are under that rubber
cover. The ports include USB (1.1) and A/V out.
Aside from the hole for the DC coupler
cable (for the AC adapter), there's nothing to see
on this side of the camera.
We end our tour with a look at the
bottom of the camera. Here you'll find the battery
compartment, memory card slot, and metal tripod mount.
The plastic door covering the battery/memory card compartment
feels as if it could break off if forced.
The tripod mount, located off to one
side of the camera, is where you'll attach the conversion
lens adapter. Because of the placement of the mount,
you should be able to swap memory cards while the camera
is on a tripod.
The included NB-2LH battery is shown
Using the Canon PowerShot
The S70 takes 2.8 seconds to extend
the lens and "warm up" before you can start
to be found
The S70 was able to lock focus in
about half a second in most situations. If the camera
had to hunt a bit, expect a slightly longer delay.
Thanks to its AF-assist lamp, the camera focused well
in low light conditions.
Shutter lag was not a problem, even
at slower shutter speeds.
Shot-to-shot speed is very good on
the S70. You will wait for just 1.5 seconds before
you can take another shot (even in RAW mode, until
the buffer fills up), assuming that you've turned off
the post-shot review feature.
You can delete a picture as it's been
saved to the memory card by pressing the delete photo
button. If you really meant to take the photo in RAW
mode, just press the function button, and the camera
asks if you'd prefer to save the image in that format
Now, here's a look at the image size
and quality choices available on the S70:
||Approx. file size
||# Images on 32MB card
(3072 x 2304)
(2592 x 1944)
(2048 x 1536)
(1600 x 1200)
(640 x 480)
I explained the RAW format at the
beginning of the review. The camera embeds a JPEG thumbnail
in the RAW files which speeds up the viewing of the
image later. More on this in a second.
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 S70 uses the latest Canon menu
system, as you'd expect. They're still basically the
same, just with a more modern look. The items found
in the record menu are:
- Flash sync (1st, 2nd-curtain) -
when the flash fires when taking slow sync shots
- Slow synchro (on/off)
- Redeye reduction (on/off)
- Wireless delay (0, 2, 10 sec) -
delay before picture is taken when optional remote
control is used
- Spot AE point (Center, AF point)
- what part of the frame is used to judge exposure
while in spot metering mode
- Safety shift (on/off) - described
- MF-Point zoom (on/off) - turns
on focus point enlargement feature in manual focus
- AF-assist beam (on/off)
- Digital zoom (on/off) - using this
will reduce photo quality
- Review (Off, 2-10 sec)
- RAW + JPEG recording (Small, Medium
1, Medium 2, Large) - see below
- Intervalometer - see below
- Save settings (to the C position
on the mode dial)
The safety shift feature allows the
camera to adjust the shutter speed or aperture in Tv
or Av mode if necessary, to get a good exposure.
The RAW + JPEG option isn't what it
sounds like. The camera doesn't save a separate JPEG
image along with the RAW file like Canon's SLR cameras.
Rather, it embeds a JPEG thumbnail that allows for
the zoom and scroll (AKA playback zoom) feature and
image playback on the camera or the PC. Why would you
want to use a larger thumbnail? The answer is, to check
the detail in the image. If you use the zoom and scroll
feature a lot, a higher resolution thumbnail will let
you see more detail when zoomed in.
The Intervalometer tool lets you use
the S70 for time lapse photography. You select the
interval between shots (1-60 minutes) and the total
number of shots to be taken (2-100). Using the optional
AC adapter is strongly recommended.
There is also a setup menu on the
S70, so let's take a look at that now. Here's what
you'll find in the setup menu:
- Mute (on/off) - turn off those
annoying beep sounds!
- 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)
- LCD brightness (Normal, bright)
- Power saving
- Auto power down (on/off)
- Display off (10, 20, 30 sec,
- Card format
- File number reset (on/off) - maintain
- Auto rotate (on/off) - camera will
automatically rotate portrait photos on the LCD
- Distance units (m/cm, ft/in)
- Language (English, Deutsch, Français,
Nederlands, Dansk, Suomi, Italiano, Norsk, Svenska,
Español, Chinese, Japanese)
- Video system (NTSC, PAL)
An additional "My Camera'" menu
allows you to customize the startup screen, beeps,
and phony shutter sounds that your camera makes. If
these bother you, you can also turn them off.
Well enough about menus, let's do
photo tests now.
The S70 produced a smooth, somewhat
washed-out photo of our usual macro test subject. Manual
white balance allowed the camera to handle my quartz
studio lamps with ease.
The focus range in macro mode is 4
- 44 cm at wide-angle and 30 - 44 cm at telephoto.
The night shot test turned out fairly
well, though it's on the noisy side. Although I wasn't
able to frame the pictures in the same way (due to
the difference in lenses), the S70 seemed to have considerably
more noise than the PowerShot G6 did in its
night shot. The S70's manual shutter speed control
allowed it to take in plenty of light, and there isn't
much purple fringing to be seen here.
Using that same scene, let's take
a look at how adjusting the ISO sensitivity affects
the noise levels in images:
The S70 starts out on the noisy side
and things go downhill quickly. At ISO 200 a lot of
detail is destroyed by noise, and ISO 400 may not be
usable (unless you're a fan of pointillism).
As was the case with the S60, there is moderate barrel
S70's lens. There's a slight hint of vignetting (dark
corners) here, and that's about as bad as it was in
my real world outdoor test shots as well -- barely
noticeable. However, if you use the flash, you can
expect some very noticeable vignetting at the wide
end of the lens.
Just like with the S60, the PowerShot
S70 is a redeye machine. That's what happens when you
put the flash close to the lens! While your mileage
may vary, you'll most likely have similar experiences.
The PowerShot G6 fared a bit better, but it wasn't
the best in terms of redeye either.
Overall photo quality on the PowerShot
S70 is very good, though it's a step down from the
PowerShot G6 (which uses the same sensor) in several
For one, purple fringing levels are
higher on the S70 than on the G6. Beside the example
above, the "purple fringing torture test" shot
gives you some evidence to back up that claim.
The S70 (and S60 as well) also have
a problem with blurriness around the edges of the frame.
These two shots are
great examples of this problem. So you definitely give
up some photo quality when you choose the S70. Things
like the noise level, color, and exposure are quite
similar between the G6 and S70, and they are all acceptable.
All things considered, you get very
good photos out of the S70, though I'd say that the
G6 is better suited for large prints and on-screen
viewing. Have a look at the S70
photo gallery and see what you think about the
The S70's movie mode is okay, but
really nothing to write home about. While you'll get
VGA resolution (640 x 480), you'll have a 30 second
limit regardless of the size of your memory card, and
a glacial frame rate of just 10 fps to boot. Lower
resolutions are available too: you can record up to
3 minutes at 320 x 240 and 160 x 120, with a frame
rate of 15 frames/second. Sound is recorded at all
of those resolutions.
You cannot use the zoom lens during
Movies are saved in AVI format, using
the M-JPEG codec.
Here's a sample movie for you, recorded at the 640 x 480 setting:
to play movie (5.2 MB, 640 x 480, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
The S70 has the same, excellent playback
mode as seen on other Canon cameras. Everything is
The camera has all the basic playback
features that you'd expect. That includes slide shows,
DPOF print marking, image protection, thumbnail mode,
image rotation, and zoom and scroll. Playback mode
is also the place to print photos when connected to
a compatible Canon or PictBridge-enabled photo printer.
The zoom and scroll feature lets you
enlarge the picture up to 10X, and then scroll around
in the zoomed-in area. It's nice and fast!
By pressing the metering/sound recording
button on the back of the camera, you can add voice
clips of up to 60 seconds per photo.
If you've recorded a movie, an editing
function lets you trim unwanted frames from the beginning
or end of it.
By default, the S70 doesn't give you
much info about your photos. But press the display
button and you'll get plenty of details, as well as
The camera moves between photos at
a decent clip, with about a 0.9 second delay between
high res photos.
How Does it Compare?
The Canon PowerShot S70 is a good
choice for someone wanting an ultra-high resolution
camera with a wide-angle lens and compact body. With
7 Megapixels at your disposal, you can make enormous
prints. Noise levels are higher than the 5 Megapixel
cameras of days past, but not as bad as the 8 Megapixel
models that were introduced earlier this year. The
S70's photos are colorful, sharp, and well-exposed.
One of the nicest features of the S70 is its 3.6X zoom
lens, which starts at 28 mm (not too common these days).
But with that wide lens come some tradeoffs: moderate
barrel distortion, blurry edges/corners, and more purple
fringing (than the PowerShot G6, which uses the same
sensor). Telephoto-lovers will also be disappointed
in the S70's 100 mm telephoto end, though that can
be improved upon by using the optional 2X teleconverter.
The S70 has a compact (but not too compact) metal body
which is well designed, save for the door over the
memory card and battery slots. One negative about that
compact body is that the lens and flash are placed
closely together, producing quite a bit of redeye in
The S70 has a full suite of manual
controls, including shutter speed, white balance, and
focus. A nice feature is the ability to bracket for
focus, which comes in handy in tough focusing situations.
Low light focusing is good, thanks to the S70's AF-assist
lamp. I found the LCD to be on the "dark side" in
those situations, though, since it doesn't gain up
A few other things worth mentioning:
there's no live histogram in record mode (still!) and
the movie mode isn't so hot due to its time limit and
sluggish frame rate.
Between the PowerShot G6 and S70,
I think the former is clearly the better choice for
photographers. If you want something with a smaller
body and wider lens, the S70 gets the nod. I do believe
that most folks don't really need 7 Megapixels of resolution,
and with that in mind I'd recommend looking at the
PowerShot S60 to save yourself a few bucks. Regardless
of which model you choose, all three cameras take good
pictures, while offering good performance and plenty
of manual features.
What I liked:
- Good photo quality (though see
- Lens starts at 28 mm
- Full manual controls
- Robust performance
- AF-assist lamp
- Supports telephoto conversion lens
and underwater case
- Can save favorite settings to spot
on mode dial
- RAW image format supported
- Good battery life for a smaller
- Nice software bundle
What I didn't care for:
- Softness around edges and corners
- Above average purple fringing and
- Redeye is a problem
- Vignetting in wide-angle flash
- Cheap plastic door over memory
card / battery compartment
- Not much telephoto power (but a
conversion lens is available)
- No live histogram in record mode
- Movie mode limited to 30 secs,
10 frames/sec at highest resolution
Some other high resolution, wide-angle
cameras to consider include the Canon PowerShot Pro1 and S60, Fuji
FinePix E510, Konica
Minolta DiMAGE A200, Nikon Coolpix 5400 and 8400,
Olympus C-5060 and C-8080 Wide
Zoom, and the Sony
While it's not a wide-angle camera,
G6 shares the same CCD and most of the features
of the S70 -- and it takes better pictures to boot.
As always, I recommend a trip down
to your local reseller to try out the PowerShot S70
and its competitors before you buy!
See how the photos turned out in
Want another opinion?
Read other reviews at Steve's
Digicams and Imaging
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