Canon PowerShot A700 review

Review Date : Mon, 7 Aug 2006

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Canon PowerShot A700

Canon’s latest PowerShot in the popular A series....

Pros: Handling, images, lens, viewfinder, manual control, good ISO range
Cons: No RAW, low-resolution LCD, no image stabilisation, slow to use with image preview on

The A series of Canon cameras has proved popular for years, whether for those taking their first steps in digital photography or those wanting a compact as a backup to a DSLR. The A700 promises to take the series to new heights.

Features
The A series cameras have always allowed the photographer to take control, so Manual, Aperture and Shutter priority modes are included. The 6x zoom lens offers the 35mm equivalent of 35-210mm. For the technically minded, there’s a double sided aspherical element in the optics too. We don’t have IS (image stabilisation) in the A-series yet, but I predict we’ll see it next year. The A700 also boasts a raft of digital features in its menu: there’s a colour option set that includes such rarities as positive film to replicate slide film, and skin lighten or darken options. Unfortunately, like the latest S-series, there’s no RAW facility, so JPEG will have to suffice.

Design
The A700 has a conventional look, a weighty, meaty feel, and not dissimilar style and livery to the popular and missed G-series of cameras. Even better is the nice big 2.5in screen, though its resolution is lower than I’d like. Even better than that is an optical viewfinder. I admit I used this more than the screen, even though it’s not strictly accurate. But I’d rather crop a sharp image to improve the composition than have a perfectly composed blurred image.

Performance
The camera takes a couple of seconds to start up but is a nippy mover once ready, though shot-to-shot time is quicker if you turn the review off; I couldn’t even zoom between shots when it was on. The AF, using Canon’s multi-zoned system, is split-second speedy, and there’s almost no shutter lag. Similarly the zoom is quick, though uses a stepped system so you’re limited to some degree. It’s not a massive problem, though.

Image Quality
Exposures can be a little erratic depending on the subject, not in an overly bad way, but the meter seems especially sensitive. For particularly tricky subjects I found the spot metering a more sensible option. Colour is punchy, and with crisp contrast and sharpness: images spring out of the screen and prints. Noise is well controlled too, especially at the lower end, but even ISO 800 is certainly not offensive.

Value For Money
For the amount of features, the lens and final image quality, the A700 is a good proposition. At this price, it’s really good value for money. It might not have the build of the S80 or the image stabilisation of other cameras at this price. But it offers more control than many of its competitors and is for that reason a joy to use.

Verdict

We like this camera. It's workmanlike, useful and comes up with the goods. What it lacks in style, it more than makes up for in quality


Compact System Camera Reviews

Price as reviewed

£250.00

Scores

Scores
Design 17/20
Image Quality 18/20
Performance 17/20
Value 19/20
Features 18/20
Overall Score 89%

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