Canon A700 Review. Фотоаппарат canon a700
Canon Powershot A700 Digital Camera Review
The Canon Powershot A700 is at the top of the three Powershot “A” digital cameras announced in February of this year. It was announced along with the A530 and A540. The A700 sets itself apart from the A540 by having a 6x optical zoom (the A540 has a 4x optical zoom). The A700 is positioned well for someone looking for excellent image quality and manual controls in a camera that takes AA batteries.
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Quick rundown of the latest Canon Powershot A digital cameras:
- Canon Powershot A700: 6 megapixels, 2.5 inch LCD, 6x optical zoom, full manual controls (auto, program auto, shutter priority, aperture priority, full manual)
- Canon Powershot A540: 6 megapixels, 2.5 inch LCD, 4x optical zoom, full manual controls (auto, program auto, shutter priority, aperture priority, full manual)
- Canon Powershot A530: 5 megapixels, 1.8 inch LCD, 4x optical zoom, partial user input on exposure modes (auto, program auto, full manual)
In the Box
Included in the box, along with the camera, are 2 alkaline AA batteries, a 16 MB SD card, wrist strap, software CD, USB cable, and A/V cable.
The A700 has the typical look of the rest of Canon’s A series of digital cameras. The camera is pretty much rectangular, with a larger hand grip that allows space for the 2 AA batteries that power it. The lens, when retracted, is bumped out a bit, about even with the hand grip. Since the A700 will accept some optional lens add-ons, the ring around the lens is removable.
The camera is very well built, despite being mostly plastic. It feels solid and nothing rattles. The buttons and dials are positioned well and easy to operate. Buttons stick up far enough out of the body that people with larger hands will have no problem.
The front of the camera features the lens, flash, optical viewfinder port, microphone, and focus assist / red eye reduction / timer lamp.
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The top of the camera has the power button, shooting mode dial, shutter release, and zoom control (ring around the shutter).
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The left side of the camera (when looking at the back) has a plastic flap, covering the area where you can connect the USB cable, AV cable or an optional DC power source.
The bottom of the camera provides access to the battery/memory media (SD or MMC) compartment and has a tripod mount.
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The back of the camera has the 2.5 inch LCD, optical viewfinder with status LEDs next to it. Also, you’ll fine a slider switch to toggle between capture and playback modes, the Delete/Exposure button, DPOF button, directional pad with a enter key in the middle, the Display button and the Menu button. Looking at the camera, you might think that it’s pretty odd that the capture/playback slider switch is oddly positioned, but it actually works out well. In addition to providing a resting spot for your thumb while you shoot, it also makes the switch easier to operate.
The A700 is currently the top A model (without flip-out screen) from Canon. Its younger siblings, announced at the same time, the A530 and A540, are the same size. The A700 sets itself apart from the A540 with a 6x optical zoom and 6 megapixel capture resolution. (The A540 has a 4x optical zoom and 6 megapixels. The A530 has a 4x optical zoom, smaller screen, and 5 megapixels).
Lens fully extended (view large image)
The A700 also has a 2.5 inch LCD with 115K pixels of resolution. It has good color representation and refresh rate, but I wish that the resolution was higher as the display looks a bit grainy. It automatically gains up and down, depending on lighting conditions. The A700 also has an optical viewfinder that will work in a pinch.
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Images can be captured at resolutions of: 2816×1584 (widescreen), 2816×2112 (large), 2272×1704 (medium 1), 1,600 x 1,200 (medium 2), and 640 x 480 (small). There are three settings for quality, SuperFine, Fine, and Normal. At Widescreen resolution and SuperFine compression file size is approximately 2,026KB so you can fit 235 shots on a 512MB memory card.
Movies can be captured in several modes: 640×480 and 320×240 at 30 fps and 15 fps up to 1GB, 320×240 at 60fps for 1 min, and 160×120 at 15 fps for 3 min.
For storage media, the A700 accepts SD and MMC memory cards.
For power, the camera takes 2 AA sized batteries. I used high-capacity rechargeable NiMH batteries and experienced excellent battery life. Under heavy usage during my review (lots of menu navigation, reviewing, etc) I got between 150 and 200 shots on a single charge of my 2400mAh NiMH rechargeable batteries. I highly recommend that you use NiMH batteries as you’ll get better battery life than with alkaline batteries. Also, real world use (the typical snapshooter) will get more out of a single charge than I did.
The A700 provides the full complement of exposure modes, from fully automatic, to full manual control. On the mode dial you have the following options:
- P – Program AE – you get more control over ISO, flash, metering while the camera calculates correct aperture and shutter speed
- Tv – Shutter priority – in addition to flexible settings in P mode, you can set the shutter speed and the camera determines the aperture setting
- Av – Aperture priority – like Tv mode, but you set the aperture while the camera sets the shutter speed
- M – full manual control
- Night Shot
- SCN – Choose from Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Color Accent, and Color Swap. The camera uses optimal settings for these conditions.
- Stitch Assist – Canon’s mode that makes it easy to take a series of shots that can easily be stitched together with their software tool
The auto focus system on the A700 can focus as close as 1.8 feet while in normal AF. When you switch over to macro, you can get as close as 0.39 inches. The default AF “area” is to use Canon’s AiAF system, a multiple area system. You can also use a center AF area, or the “Flexizone” area when you’re in P, Tv, Av, or M exposure mode. The flexizone AF area mode lets you set the focus point manually, using the directional pad.
The self-timer and other drive modes are easy to access, just by pressing the “func set” button in the middle of the directional pad and scrolling down to the right mode. For delayed shot timers, you can choose between a 2 second timer, 10 second timer, and a custom timer. The custom timer lets you modify the delay (up to 30 seconds) and the number of shots (up to 10). The continuous, or burst, mode which will capture images at a rate of about 2 frames per second is also available in the same menu.
Flash modes are accessible by using the “up” direction on the control pad. You can choose auto, auto with red eye reduction, fill (always on), fill with red-eye reduction, and disabled. At wide angle, the flash has a range of 11 feet. At telephoto, the range is up to 8.2 feet.
Camera Performance and Image Quality
The camera performed well in the speed department. Shutter lag was minimal, and cycle time when not using the flash was good. If you do use the flash, the flash cycle time can take up to 10 seconds, depending on battery condition. The continuous mode provides a capture rate of approximately 2 frames per second.
The camera was comfortable to hold. The larger hand grip provides a way to get a nice, stable handhold. All of the buttons were easy to access with good size and positioning. While it may be a bit large for a shirt pocket, it can easily slip in a pants pocket.
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I really enjoyed the 6x optical zoom on the camera. It moved through the focal range smoothly and provided fine control over the framing. It’s nice to have the longer zoom in this line of cameras.
The flash was above average for this class of camera. The specifications state the flash range as 11 feet at wide angle. During real world use, the flash performed very close to the claimed range. The only flash complaint, as is usually the case in small cameras, was that red-eye appeared pretty easily.
Indoors with flash (view medium image) (view large image)
Auto focus was achieved quickly and usually accurately. The focus assist light is a tremendous help when shooting in dark conditions. Please note that if you use the AiAF system for achieving a focus, it’s up to the camera to decide what to focus on and it’s not always right. For more predictability, try to use the center AF mode.
Image quality was excellent. Images have a nice pleasing look, with edges that aren’t too hard or too soft. Colors were accurate and the dynamic range was good. Images showed good detail and sharpness across the entire frame. Chromatic aberration (purple fringing) was very well controlled and I had such a hard time finding any that it’s not even worth mentioning.
Sharp detail across the frame (view medium image) (view large image)
Noise was very well controlled. In my opinion, it’s acceptable up to ISO 200 but a little too much at ISO 400 and above. See the image below for comparison.
Macro performance was very good, allowing almost microscopic views of this brick.
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- Focal Length: 5.8-34.8mm f/2.8-4.8 (35mm film equivalent: 35-210mm)
- Digital Zoom: 4x
- Focus Range: Normal: 1.8 ft./55cm-infinity Macro: 0.39 in.-1.8 ft./1-55cm (WIDE)
- LCD Monitor: 2.5 inch, 115,000 pixels, 100% coverage
- Maximum aperture: f/2.8 (W) – f/4.8 (T)
- Shutter Speed: 15-1/2000 sec.
- Sensitivity: Auto, High ISO auto, ISO 80/100/200/400/800 equivalent
- Light Metering Mode: evaluative, center-weighted average, spot (fixed in center or at AF point)
- Exposure Control Method: Program AE, Shutter-priority AE, Aperture-priority AE, Manual.
- Exposure Compensation: +/- 2 stops in 1/3-stop increments
- White Balance Control: Auto, Preset (Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H), Custom
- Built-in Flash: Operation Modes: Auto, Auto w/ Red-Eye Reduction, Flash On, Flash On w/ Red-Eye Reduction, Flash Off
- Flash Range: Normal: 1.8-11.0 ft./55cm-3.5m (W), 1.8-8.2 ft./55cm-2.5m (T) Macro: 1-1.8 ft./30-55cm (W/T) (when sensitivity is set to ISO Auto)
- Flash output control: +/- 2 stops in 1/3-stop increments
- Photo Effects: Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Custom Color
- Self-Timer: Activates shutter after an approx. 2 sec./10 sec. delay, Custom
- Continuous Shooting: Approx. 2 fps
- Storage Media: SD Memory Card, MultiMediaCard
- Computer Interface: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (mini-B PTP)
- Battery Type: 2 AA batteries
- Weight: Approx. 7.05 ounces (camera body only)
I enjoyed using the A700. It’s a very easy camera to just carry around to pull out to grab a quick snapshot. The image quality is excellent and having the 6x optical zoom is, in my opinion, worth the extra $50 compared to the Canon Powershot A540. Flash performance (except for cycle time) was good and battery life was average, so make sure you carry a spare set of batteries. I would have liked to see more resolution in the LCD, but it’s not a deal breaker. If you’re looking for a digital camera that’s easy to use, takes great pictures, and has a little more zoom, I highly recommend the Canon Powershot A700.
- Excellent image quality
- Comfortable to hold
- Nice 6x optical zoom lens
- Quick operation (except for flash)
- Flash cycle time takes a while(up to 10 sec)
- LCD could use a higher pixel count
- Average battery life
Canon A700 ReviewImaging Resource rating
4.5 out of 5.0
Canon PowerShot A700 Overview
By: Mike Pasini and Dave EtchellsReview posted: 05/31/2006
Canon is continually expanding its PowerShot A-series cameras, even as they reduce some of their other lines. The new A700, announced just before Spring PMA 2006, is the first step in yet another expansion of the A-series to a new level. This time the expansion is more than about pixels, but includes a longer lens than any A-series previously, reaching to 6x, or an equivalent of 35 to 210mm, making the PowerShot A700 excellent for all-purpose photography.
The Canon A700 also includes a respectable 6.0 megapixel sensor, more than enough for tack-sharp 11x14 inch prints. Like most of the other cameras announced at the same time, the A700 also includes an ISO range from 80 to 800. ISO 800 should be very good for indoor low-light shots.
Like nearly every other Canon A-series camera, the PowerShot A700 is replete with features to make the camera easier to use. You can just lock it into full Auto mode to point and shoot, or just turn the dial for gradually more and more control. Fourteen Scene modes allow you to look like a pro while the camera tunes its settings for certain situations, like Portrait, Snow, Beach, and even a setting for Fireworks.
An advanced movie mode allows you to capture TV-quality 640x480 or 320x 240 videos at 30 frames per second with the Canon A700.
A fast USB 2.0 connection allows easy offload of images from the SD or MMC card to a Mac or PC. You can even bypass the computer and print directly from the PowerShot A700 to a Canon or other PictBridge-enabled printer via the same USB connection.
Though it has a large 2.5 inch LCD, Canon didn't eliminate the A700's optical viewfinder, something we're seeing from other manufacturers. For saving battery life, sometimes it helps to turn off that LCD and just use the optical viewfinder. Despite its numerical position in the line, the A700 is lighter than the A620, partly owing to its use of only two AA batteries instead of the latter's four. In this sense, the A700 is quite the light, stealthy camera; more akin to the A500 series with its slimmer profile and lighter weight.
Any of the millions of A-series owners, going back to owners of the runaway bestseller A70, will find the A700 quite attractive. It's a smart, practical camera with a reasonable resolution, a big LCD, and a pretty long zoom, pressed into a small, light package that uses only two AA batteries. The A700 is another well-placed step in Canon's ongoing effort to make the PowerShot A-series the most complete line of family cameras on the market.
Canon A700 User Report
by Mike Pasini
|The A700 Fully Extended|
|The Battery Compartment. AAs tucked next to the little clock battery drawer with the SD card slot at top.|
Not to Canon. Its A-Series digicams use AAs and the latest crop use only two. And these two require no compromise in performance. There are features galore and I never had to change batteries in the middle of a shoot.
|PASM & Shutter|
Canon doesn't always mean Manual when it says Manual (generally only offering control over a few more exposure factors, like white balance, than Auto). But in the case of the A700, they mean it. You can control the shutter from 15 to 1/2000 second (depending on aperture) and the aperture from f2.8 to f8.0 (depending on focal length).
I find that important for two reasons. The first is that Auto occasionally disappoints. And the solution to those disappointments is often taking some small aspect of control back from the camera. The Canon A700 is happy to oblige. Secondly, though, having PASM on your camera means you can grow with it. You can read about some technique and actually try it out with this camera. You can't say that about every $350 digital camera out there.
The Canon A700 is just one of the A-Series cameras, however. It distinguishes it from its siblings with its 6.0 megapixel sensor, generous enough for very nice-looking 11x14 prints, and even more so by its 6x optical zoom lens. The A540, a near clone to the A700, has instead a 4x optical zoom -- both more generous than the common 3x zoom lenses found on many consumer digital cameras. At 6x, you don't need optical stabilization or an electronic viewfinder either.
|The Canon A700 & A540|
There are some other interesting features to explore, like the two Auto ISO settings and the unusually intimate macro mode. But to do that, we've got to go shoot!
Design. An AA-based design can't be super-compact, and the A-Series isn't. But it is small enough not to require any special consideration or luggage.
In the hand, it's quite comfortable. Your right hand wraps around the battery compartment, easily nesting the heaviest part of the camera. It isn't heavy but it isn't as light as a feather either. When you press the shutter, the camera doesn't yield. And that large shutter button can't be missed, either. When your thumb effortlessly finds the empty space on the back panel, you're ready to shoot.
You can get at most controls with your thumb, although it would be wise to stabilize the camera with your right hand while you do. You mainly work the Function/Set button, the four-way navigator, the Exposure Compensation/Delete button and the Menu button, all within reach of your thumb.
|An LCD Plus Optical VF|
Display. The LCD is your primary display, even moreso than usual. That's because the Canon A700 features a Wide format that the optical viewfinder knows nothing about. (Wide format actually just crops the sensor image top and bottom a little. You could get the same effect by cropping the images on your computer after they were shot, the A700's Wide format just does it for you, right in the camera.) The optical viewfinder is handy for brightly lit conditions, but it isn't terribly accurate. Its lens seems pushed over by the flash so the back end, centered over the LCD, actually has to take an odd angle on the scene.
The LCD is bright and has sufficient resolution that you can actually admire your shots after you take them. There's no live histogram, however, something I miss. But Canon does provide an optional grid overlay that makes it easy to line up horizons and vertical elements. (There is a histogram display available in playback mode, so you can check your exposure after the fact, but I personally really like having a live histogram available in record mode.)
|Optical VF. On the left edge, note the optical viewfinder eyepiece and compare to the right edge where the optical viewfinder lens sits. Not a straight-through path.|
With all the controls within thumb's reach, I couldn't complain about making changes to the exposure options either. The EV setting was blissfully simple. Press the button, use the navigator, take a shot, use the navigator, take another.
I really liked having the 6x zoom. I'm used to the range a 3x zoom offers, but wary of long zooms because I just can't hold them still even to see what I'm shooting. But 6x is a nice boost from 3x and safe from the impracticality of a non-stabilized 10x.
Shooting. With the A700 strapped to my wrist, I only had to swing it up, dial in a shooting mode, press the power button and compose to get my shot. It couldn't have been simpler.
Faced with a more complex situation, say some bright flower in my yard, I'd add a little exposure compensation, half-pressing the shutter button to get a preview of the adjustment. That was even more fun that just taking the shot with Auto.
|Wide Mode. Shooting at 16:9 is fun and the A700 knows how to have fun.|
|A Little Loopy|
Why two Auto ISO settings? The point of an Auto ISO setting is to automatically increase sensitivity to use a faster shutter speed so you won't capture blurred images. Normal ISO, available in Auto, Program, Shutter Priority and Aperture Priority modes, won't set sensitivity so high that noise is introduced. But High ISO Auto isn't afraid of a little noise. It's only available in Auto and Program mode, but that's enough to let you decide whether you'd rather err on the side of blur or noise.
Tapping into ISO 800 is a mixed bag. On the one hand, you'll get a noisy image. On the other, it will be sharp. Next to image stabilization, high ISO sensitivity is a real blessing for natural light shooting, something I'm particularly fond of. So, I'm glad to see ISO 800 available on the A700. I can think of half a dozen ways to deal with the noise in my image editing software later. But there's nothing you can do about a blurred image.
|Macro Mode. Shooting macro is fun, too, but you might want more elbow room.|
Movie mode (one of the fun reasons to buy a digital camera, after all) is impressive at 640x480 and 30-fps. That's broadcast quality. It's a little disappointing that you can't record in a 16:9 aspect ration (since you can take stills that way), but you do get to zoom while recording sound. And you don't really pick up much motor noise, either, something many digital cameras struggle with.
|Direct Printing. Plug in a USB cable and the Canon A700 becomes a print kiosk.|
One thing I didn't like so much about the Canon A700 was its manual, or more properly manuals. The camera manual is split into two volumes, a thin Basic User Guide, and a thicker Advanced one. This is perhaps a blessing to neophytes who might be intimidated by all the detail in the Advanced guide, but as a more sophisticated user, I found it maddening having to switch back and forth between the two guides to find information that was listed solely in one or the other.
Conclusion. I had no real quibbles with the Canon A700 (apart from the double-manual system), and lots of pleasant surprises. In the end what I most loved about this AA battery-based gem was the 6x zoom and manual control of exposure with an unusually easy to find and use EV adjustment setting.
- 6.0-megapixel CCD delivering image dimensions as large as 2,816 x 2,112 pixels
- 2.5-inch color LCD monitor
- Real-image optical viewfinder
- Glass, 6x 5.8-34.8mm lens (equivalent to 35-210mm zoom on a 35mm camera)
- 4.0x digital zoom
- AiAF autofocus and a manual focus mode
- AF Assist light for low-light focusing
- Automatic, Program AE, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, and Manual exposure modes, as well as 10 preset Scene modes plus Stitch Assist
- Manually adjustable aperture setting ranging from f/2.8 to f/8.0, depending on lens zoom position and shutter speed
- Shutter speed range from 1/2,000 to 15 seconds, depending on aperture (Shutter times longer than 1 second only available in shutter-priority and manual exposure modes and some scene modes.)
- Built-in flash with three operating modes plus red-eye reduction
- SD/MMC memory storage
- Power supplied by two AA batteries or optional AC adapter
- Movie mode (with sound), up to 640x480 at 30 fps
- Sound caption recording
- Stitch-Assist mode for panoramic shots
- Continuous Shooting and a variable delay Self-Timer mode
- Creative Effects menu
- White balance (color) adjustment with seven modes
- ISO adjustment with six ISO equivalents and two Auto settings
- Evaluative, Center-Weighted, and Spot metering options
- DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility
- USB cable for connection to a computer (driver software included)
In the Box
The PowerShot A700 box includes the following items:
- PowerShot A700 camera
- Wrist strap WS-200
- Two AA-type alkaline batteries
- USB cable IFC-400PCU
- AV cable AVC-DC300
- 16MB MMC memory card MMC-16
- Software CD
- Instruction manual, software guide, and registration kit
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Featuring a 6x optical zoom, 6.0-megapixel CCD, automatic, partial, or fully manual exposure control, and a wide range of preset shooting modes, the PowerShot A700 is another fine addition to Canon's A-series of digital cameras. Built on the same long-tested design as many A-series predecessors, the Canon A700 offers a lot in its compact package. Its combination of automatic and manual features make it very approachable for novices, but interesting for experienced users, the net result being a camera that will satisfy a broad range of interests and provide a good path for novice users to expand their photographic horizons as their experience grows. The 6x zoom lens is quite easy to hand-hold under reasonably bright lighting, but as the light fades, the A700's lack of image stabilization will come to be more of a factor. I'd also like to see it equipped with a more accurate optical viewfinder, and its image noise at ISO 800 was on the high side. Bottom line though, this is a camera that will meet the needs of the average consumer very well, and one that's particularly well suited to situations where both novice and experienced users need to share the use of the same camera. It would also make a great inexpensive camera for a budding photo student to learn about the effects of shutter speed and aperture variations with. All in all, an easy Dave's Pick.
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Canon PowerShot A700 Review | Digital Camera Resource Page
The Canon PowerShot A700 ($350) is a low cost camera offering a 6X zoom lens in place of the 3X or 4X lenses usually found on cameras this size. While it's name makes it sound like the top-end camera in Canon's A-series, that's up for debate. While it does offer more zoom than the other models, it has less resolution and doesn't offer a rotating LCD display like the PowerShot A620. Hopefully this chart will clear up any confusion that you might have about the various A-series cameras on the market:
I hope that chart helps a bit. Ready to learn more about the PowerShot A700? Our review starts right now!
Since the cameras share much in common, I will be reusing portions of the PowerShot A540 review here.
What's in the Box?
The PowerShot A700 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
- The 6.0 effective Megapixel PowerShot A700 digital camera
- 16MB Secure Digital card
- Two alkaline AA batteries
- Wrist strap
- USB cable
- A/V cable
- CD-ROM featuring Canon Digital Camera Solutions, ArcSoft PhotoStudio, and drivers
- 24 page basic manual + 137 page advanced manual (both printed)
Canon includes a 16MB Secure Digital (SD) memory card along with the A700, which holds just five photos at the highest quality setting. That means that you'll need to buy a memory card, which drives up the initial cost of the camera a bit. The PowerShot A700 uses Secure Digital memory cards, and I'd suggest a 512MB card as a good starter size. The camera takes advantage of high speed memory cards, so it's worth spending the extra bucks for one of those (60X or faster).
The camera uses two AA batteries for power, and Canon includes alkaline cells in the box, which will quickly end up in your trash can. So, I'd buy a four pack of NiMH rechargeables (2300 mAh or higher) plus a faster charger so you can get the most out of the A700. Here's how the camera performs against the competition in terms of battery life:
There aren't too many cameras in the A700's price range that offer a decent amount of zoom, so this list is fairly short. The A700 turns in impressive numbers, especially considering that it uses just two AA batteries.
Speaking of which, you may know that I'm a big fan of cameras that use AA batteries. Why? Two reasons. For one, NiMH rechargeables are cheaper than their lithium-ion equivalents. Second, if your rechargeables run out of juice in the field you can just drop in regular alkaline batteries to get through the day.
There's a built-in lens cover on the PowerShot A700, so there are no clumsy lens caps to worry about.
Like most of the A-series cameras the A700 offers plenty of accessories. They include:
That's not too shabby!
ImageBrowser (Mac OS X)
Canon includes several software products with the A700, the first being the usual ImageBrowser/ZoomBrowser applications that come with all of their PowerShot models. ImageBrowser is for the Mac, while ZoomBrowser is for Windows PCs.
The "Browser twins" can be used for downloading images from a camera, and then viewing, editing, and printing them. Editing functions include trimming, redeye removal, and the ability to adjust levels, color, brightness, sharpness, and the tone curve. There's also an auto adjustment feature available.
The Remote Capture feature (which I've mentioned in other reviews) does not work with the A700.
ArcSoft PhotoStudio 4.3 for Mac OS X
Also included is ArcSoft PhotoStudio (v 4.3 for Mac, v5.5 for Windows), which is kind of like a "light" version of Adobe Photoshop. It's not bad, though I miss all the bells and whistles of the newer PhotoImpression software that's available these days.
Last year Canon reworked their camera manuals a bit. There's a basic manual which will get you up and shooting quickly. For more details you can open up the advanced manual, which should answer any question you might have. A separate software manual is also included. The manuals are complete, though not the most user friendly ones that I've found.
Look and Feel
At first glance, the PowerShot A700 looks a lot like the A620. Look closely at the label on the lens and you'll see one difference (6X vs 4X), and on the back of the camera you'll find another (non-rotating vs rotating LCD). I have to say that I'm a bit disappointed that the flagship A-series camera lacks the very useful rotating LCD found on the A610 and A620.
The A700 is midsize: too big for your jeans pocket but never a burden to carry around. It's made of a mix of metal and plastic, and it's pretty solid for the most part. The controls are well-placed, and frequently used buttons are within each reach of your finger.
Now, here's a look at how the A700 compares with some of the competition in terms of size and weight:
Despite what you'd expect, the A700 and its big lens isn't any larger or heavier than the A610 or A620. It's also about average for this class (not that really is a class).
Let's start our tour of the camera now!
The biggest feature on the A700 is undoubtedly its 6X optical zoom lens. The focal range of this F2.8-4.8 lens is 5.8 - 34.8 mm, which is equivalent to 35 - 210 mm. Conversion lenses and filters can be added by removing that metal ring around the lens (which is released by the button to its lower-right), attaching the optional conversion lens adapter, and then screwing on the lens of your choice.
To the upper-right of the lens is the built-in flash. The working range of the flash is 0.55 - 3.5 m at wide-angle and 0.55 - 2.5 m at telephoto, which is just okay. The A700 does support Canon's external slave flash, which I mentioned in the accessories section. This flash attaches via the tripod mount and fires when the onboard flash does.
To the left of the flash is the optical viewfinder. Next to that is the AF-assist lamp, which doubles as the self-timer lamp. The AF-assist lamp is used by the camera as a focusing aid in low light situations. To the lower-left of that is the A700's microphone.
On the back of the PowerShot A700 you'll find a large 2.5" LCD display which, as I just mentioned, doesn't flip out and rotate like on the A620. As was the case with the A540, the resolution on the screen is a bit low, with just 115,000 pixels (the A540 had even fewer). Despite the low pixel count, the screen was fairly sharp -- I didn't have a problem with it. Outdoor visibility was average, while in low light the screen was quite visible, as it brightens automatically in those situations.
Just above the LCD is an average-sized optical viewfinder. Unfortunately it lacks a diopter correction knob, which is used to focus what you're looking at.
Jumping to the upper-right of the photo we find the record/playback mode switch, with the exposure compensation + delete photo and Print/Share buttons below that. The exposure compensation feature has the usual -2EV to +2EV in 1/3EV increments range.
When connected to a compatible photo printer, just press the Print/Share button and the selected image will be printed. When you connect to a Mac or PC, you can transfer photos (in numerous ways), and even set your computer's desktop background -- right from the camera.
Below those buttons is the four-way controller, used for menu navigation, selecting manual exposure settings, and also:
- Up - Flash setting (Auto, flash on, flash off) + Jump (quickly move ahead in playback mode)
- Down - Focus (Auto, macro, manual)
- Center - Function / Set
Manual focus (center frame enlargement not shown)
In manual focus mode you'll use the left and right directions on the four-way controller to adjust the focus distance. A guide showing the distance is shown on the top of the LCD, and the center of the frame is enlarged so you can make sure that your subject is in focus.
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) - see below
- White balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, fluorescent H, custom) - see below
- Drive (Single-shot, continuous, self-timer [2 or 10 sec, custom] - see below
- My Colors (Off, vivid, neutral, sepia, black & white, positive film, lighter skin tone, darker skin tone, custom color) - see below
- Flash exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV in 1/3EV increments) - in manual mode you can adjust the flash strength in three steps (1/3, 2/3, full)
- Metering (Evaluative, center-weighted, spot)
- Compression (see chart later in review)
- Resolution (see chart later in review)
There are two Auto ISO modes on the PowerShot A700. 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 the image will be on the noisy side. I'll have more on the camera's ISO performance later in the review.
The A700 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.
The A700 has an excellent continuous shooting mode. With a high speed memory card you can keep shooting at 2 frames/second until the memory card is full. There's a brief blackout between shots on the LCD, though you should still be able to follow a moving subject.
The My Colors feature has been changed a bit since last year. Canon has combined the Photo Effects and My Colors menu, and two of the color options (Color Swap and Color Accent) have been relegated to the scene modes (I'll talk about those two modes below). The options above should be self-explanatory, though I should mention that the custom color option lets you adjust the saturation, contrast, sharpness, plus red, blue, green, and skin tone levels.
The last thing to see on the back of the A700 are two more buttons. The Display button turns the LCD on and off, and also toggles what is shown on it. The Menu button does just as it sounds.
On the top of the PowerShot A700 you'll find the power and shutter release buttons, the zoom controller, the mode dial, and the speaker.
The mode dial has quite a few options, including:
As you'd expect from the flagship A-series camera, there are full manual exposure controls on the A700. You may not need them yet, but when you're ready to learn more about photography, the A700 is ready.
|Color Accent (kept green, everything else is B&W)||Color Swap (red washing machine)|
The Color Accent and Color Swap options were moved from the My Colors mode to the Scene mode on the A700 (compared to last year's models). The Color Accent feature lets you select a color to highlight, and then all the other colors are turned to black and white. Color Swap does just as it sounds -- it swaps one color for another.
The zoom controller, which wraps around the shutter release, moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in about 1.9 seconds. I counted fifteen steps throughout the 6X zoom range.
On this side of the camera you'll find its I/O ports. They include A/V out, USB, and DC-in (for the optional AC adapter). The A700 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 the full telephoto position 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 the battery/memory compartment is of average quality. You should be able to swap memory cards while the camera is on a tripod.
The A700 uses two AA batteries for power, and Secure Digital or MultiMedia memory cards for storage. A small watch battery stores camera settings and the date and time.
Using the Canon PowerShot A700
It takes just 1.6 seconds for the A700 to extend its 6X zoom lens and "warm up" before you can start taking pictures -- pretty snappy.
No live histogram to be found
Autofocus speeds were very good -- the A700 seemed a bit more responsive than the A540 that I recently reviewed. Typically, you'll wait about 0.2 - 0.4 seconds for the camera to lock focus, with longer (but not horrible) waits at the telephoto end of the lens. Low light focusing was very good, thanks to the A700'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 speed is excellent on the A700, with a delay of a little over a second before you can take another picture, assuming you've turned the post-shot review feature off.
You can delete a picture as it's been saved to the memory card by pressing the delete photo (exposure compensation) button.
Now, here's a look at the image size and quality choices available on the camera:
As you can see, a larger memory card is a wise investment if you buy the A700. I should also mention that there is a special "postcard" resolution (1600 x 1200) which is what you'll need to use if you want to print the date on your photos. You cannot do that at any other resolution.
There's no RAW or TIFF support on the PowerShot A700.
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 PowerShot A700 has a basic, easy-to-use menu system. Please note that some of these options are unavailable in the automatic or scene modes. The complete list of options in the record menu includes:
- AF frame (AiAF, center, Flexizone) - see below
- Redeye reduction (on/off)
- Spot AE point (Center, AF point) - what area is metered when using spot metering
- MF-point zoom (on/off) - enlarges the center of the frame in manual focus mode
- AF-assist beam (on/off)
- Digital zoom (on/off) - it's best to keep this turned off
- Review (Off, 2 - 10 secs, hold) - post-shot review; the hold feature will keep the image on the LCD until you press a button
- Save original (on/off) - whether an unaltered image is also saved while using the My Colors feature
- Grid lines (on/off) - puts a 3 x 3 grid on the LCD to help you compose your photos
- Date stamp (Off, date, date & time) - print the date and/or time on your photos; only works with the image size set to postcard (1600 x 1200)
There are three autofocus modes to choose from. AiAF is your multi-point mode, with the camera automatically choosing between nine areas of the frame. The center AF mode does just as it sounds: always focuses on the center of the frame. The Flexizone feature lets you select the area of the frame on which to focus, and there are 273 positions to choose from.
The setup menu has these options:
- 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)
- Power saving
- Auto power down (on/off)
- Display off (10, 20, 30 sec, 1-3 min)
- Date/time (set)
- Card format
- File numbering (Continuous, auto reset)
- 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
- Distance units (m/cm, ft/in) - for manual focus
- Lens retract (1 min, 0 secs) - how quickly the lens retracts when you switch from record to playback mode
- Language (way too many to list)
- Video system (NTSC, PAL)
- Print method (Auto, PictBridge)
- Reset all - back to defaults
An additional "My Camera'" menu allows you to customize the startup screen, beeps, and phony shutter sounds that your camera makes. The software included with the camera lets you use your own photos and sounds as well, if you desire. If these bother you, you can also turn them off.
Well enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.
The PowerShot A700 did a fine job with our usual macro test subject. The colors are spot on, and nicely saturated. The figurine has the "smooth" look that has become a trademark of Canon cameras of late.
The macro mode is only available with the lens fixed between 1X and 3X. When you're in that area, your subject can be between 1 and 55 cm away.
The A700 did a pretty good job with the night test shot as well. The camera took in plenty of light, thanks to its manual control over shutter speed. Purple fringing levels were low, and noise levels were average for a camera with this resolution.
I have two ISO tests in this review: one in low light and another in normal light. The low light ISO test uses the night scene above. Have a look:
As you can see, the noise levels in the ISO 80 and 100 crops are about equal. ISO 200 is a bit worse, though with a little clean-up in noise reduction software you can still use it for midsize prints. Details really start to disappear at the ISO 400 setting (though you can get a decent 4 x 6 after some noise reduction), and by ISO 800 they're just about gone.
There's mild barrel distortion at the wide end of the A700's 6X zoom lens. I didn't see any problems with vignetting (dark corners) or blurry edges in the test shot, or in my real world photos.
The A-series cameras have always had a problem with redeye, and the A700 continues this unfortunate tradition. While your results may vary, there's a pretty good chance that you'll encounter it as well.
Here's the other ISO test, this one taken in my studio under a pair of 600W quartz studio lamps. Since there's more light than in the night test shots (obviously), I expect noise levels to be lower here. I've cropped out an area of the test scene for easy comparison, but you should look at the full-size images if you want to really see the differences.
The PowerShot A700's ISO performance was the same as the A540 that I just reviewed, which isn't surprising, as they use the same sensor. You should be able to make large prints through ISO 200 without any problem. The ISO 400 image prints well at 4 x 6, and may be okay at larger sizes after a trip through NeatImage or similar. There was noticeable grain in the 4 x 6 inch print of the ISO 800 image, though it too could be usable (at that size) after some noise reduction.
I was very pleased with the photo quality on the PowerShot A700. Images were well-exposed, with accurate colors and minimal purple fringing. Sharpness was just about where I like it, with subjects having the trademark Canon smoothness. Noise levels were reasonable given the resolution of the camera.
Don't just take my word for all this, though. Have a look at the photo gallery, printing the photos if you'd like, and then decide if the A700's photo quality meets your expectations.
The A700 has the nice movie mode that comes along with the DIGIC II processor. You can record VGA quality video (with sound) at 30 frames/second until either the memory card fills up, or the movie file size reaches 1GB (which takes just eight minutes). A high speed memory card is required for the high quality movie mode.
For longer movies you can either lower the resolution or the frame rate. Two other resolution choices are available: 320 x 240 and 160 x 120. For the 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 sizes you can choose from 30 or 15 frames/second, while the 160 x 120 size is fixed at 15 fps (with a 3 minute recording limit as well).
There's also a unique "Fast Frame Rate" mode, which lets you record up to 1 minute of 320 x 240 video at a speedy 60 frames/second. This is great for videos of fast moving subjects.
The My Colors features mentioned earlier (including Color Accent and Color Swap) can be used in movie mode as well. A movie editing feature lets you trim unwanted footage off the beginning or end of a clip.
You cannot use the zoom lens during filming (it will be locked when you start filming). The digital zoom is available, though. Movies are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec.
Here's a sample movie for you:
Click to play movie (16.7 MB, 640 x 480, 30 fps, AVI format) Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
|Playback menu||Print menu|
The A700's playback mode has all the usual features and more. You've got slideshows, image protection, image rotation, voice captions, thumbnail view, and zoom and scroll. A new "print menu" lets you tag photos from printing on a photo printer. The zoom and scroll (AKA playback zoom) feature lets you enlarge the picture up to 10X, and then scroll around in the zoomed-in area. It's nice and fast thanks to the camera's DIGIC II processor.
The A700 also has the cool but not terribly useful "rotate the camera and the image on the LCD rotates too" that I first spotted on the PowerShot SD550.
By default, the A700 doesn't give you much info about your photos. But press the display button and you'll get plenty of details, including a histogram.
The camera moves through images quickly, with a delay of about half a second between photos.
How Does it Compare?
The Canon PowerShot A700 is a low priced camera with more zoom than you'd expect in a camera this size -- 6X. The A700 is much like the A540 that I just reviewed (with the lens being the main difference), and it earns my recommendation as well.
The A700 is a midsize camera made of metal and plastic. It's pretty solid for the most part, though the door over the battery/memory card compartment could be stronger. The controls are all easy to reach, and Canon didn't go overboard with buttons. The camera features a 6X optical zoom lens, which is a lot more than you'll find on other cameras in this price range. While it's not quite an ultra zoom, you can turn it into one by purchasing the telephoto conversion lens. The A700 has a 2.5" LCD display, though the resolution could be better, and the screen doesn't flip-out and rotate like on the "lesser" A610 and A620. The screen was easy to see in low light situations, though.
The PowerShot A700 features both automatic and manual controls. For those just starting out you'll find an auto shooting mode, plus numerous scene modes. While you won't use them often, the My Colors features are fun to play around with. When you're ready to use manual controls, you'll find that the A700 has a full set of them, from exposure to white balance to focus. There's also a nice burst mode, which can take 2 pictures per second until the memory card is full (high speed card required). The movie mode is also very good, though you'll hit the 1GB file size limit in just eight minutes.
Camera performance was good in most areas. The A700 turns on quickly, focuses without much of a wait (it seemed faster than the A540), and shutter lag wasn't a problem. Low light focusing was very good, thanks to the camera's AF-assist lamp. Battery life was above average, with the A700 squeezing out 400 shots using two 2500 mAh NiMH batteries (using the CIPA standard).
Photo quality was very good. The A700 took well-exposed photos with accurate color, low purple fringing, and reasonable noise levels. The A700's 6 Megapixel sensor has pretty good ISO performance, allowing you to print 4 x 6's through ISO 400. The ISO 800 isn't terribly useful, though you may be able to squeeze out a smaller print after running the image through something like NeatImage. The one area in which the A700 ran into trouble was with regard to "redeye" in flash photos.
I don't have too many other complaints about the camera that I didn't already mention. I'm not a fan of the plastic tripod mount, and a larger memory card and rechargeable batteries in the bundle would've been a nice touch.
If you want a compact digital camera with more zoom power than other cameras in this class, then the PowerShot A700 is well worth a look. The 6X zoom comes in handy for occasional nature and sports shooting (though an ultra zoom will get you considerably closer to the action), and the A700's manual controls let you take some creative shots. Despite a few minor annoyances, the A700 earns an easy recommendation from me.
What I liked:
- 6X optical zoom lens offers more zoom power than on other entry-level cameras
- Very good photo quality; ISO 200 and 400 settings are usable for small prints
- Large 2.5" LCD display is usable in low light (though see issues below)
- Full manual controls
- Snappy performance
- AF-assist lamp, good low light focusing
- Very good movie and continuous shooting modes (though see issue below)
- Support for add-on lenses, external slave flash
- Very good battery life
- USB 2.0 High Speed support
What I didn't care for:
- LCD doesn't flip-out and rotate like on A610/A620; resolution could be better
- Some redeye
- Can only record about 8 minutes of VGA video due to 1GB file size limit
- Plastic tripod mount
- No rechargeable batteries bundled; tiny memory card included
There aren't many cameras in the A700's class, but here are a few similar models worth a look: the Canon PowerShot A620 (only 4X zoom, but more resolution and a rotating LCD), Fuji FinePix F650, HP Photosmart R817, Nikon Coolpix P4, and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ5 and DMC-TZ1.
As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the PowerShot A700 and its competitors before you buy!
Photo GallerySee how the photos turned out in our gallery!
Want another opinion?
Read more reviews at Digital Photography Review and CNET.
Feedback & Discussion
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Canon Powershot A700 Review: Overview
The PowerShot A700 features six-megapixel resolution together with a retractable 6x optical zoom lens with a focal length of 35-210mm (35mm equivalent) The A700 model incorporates 20 shooting modes from fully automatic to fully manual to achieve optimum results for any photographic application. The A700 is also compatible with optional wide angle and telephoto lens converters, as well as a close-up lens and a wireless flash unit.
The A700 offers ISO equivalent speed ratings ranging from 80 to 800 with dramatically less noise at ISO 400 than previous PowerShot models. The camera also features a large 2.5-inch 115,000-pixel LCD color monitor, making it easier than ever to review captured images and even to do limited in-camera image editing and retouching such as a new Face Brightener function to help compensate for backlit images. The new widescreen 16:9 ratio resolution setting facilitates creating panoramic-style prints.
The A-series cameras have many of the latest advances in Canon technology including the proprietary DIGIC II imaging processor. The processor enhances picture definition, vibrancy, and quality, while helping increase the speed of the cameras' startup, autofocus, shutter response, playback, and image processing speed while reducing power consumption by 35 percent compared to the original DIGIC chip. Consumers benefit from accelerated image transfer speed (when used with a USB 2.0 compatible computer, printer, or other peripheral), thanks to the inclusion of a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port.
Canon enhanced the 'My Colors' mode found in the new PowerShot line. Where previously, users could only enable 'My Colors' while shooting, the current iteration permits captured images to be retouched as well, without the need for special software applications or tools. Available My Color playback modes include Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, and Vivid Red; lighter and darker skin tones, as well as options for creating black & white, sepia, neutral and positive film effects. A color accent setting turns all colors but the one selected by the user to monochrome and the color swap mode enables users to alter specific colors in an image by sampling another color from the same image or any other image on the memory card.
Like all PowerShot digital cameras, these newest additions to the A-series work seamlessly with Canon's petite SELPHY Compact Photo Printers - an essential PowerShot accessory. Consumers simply connect their PowerShot digital camera to a SELPHY printer - such as the SELPHY CP510 and CP710 models. Press the lighted Print/Share button, and within seconds , images emerge. Presto! It is that simple. Canon's SELPHY Compact Photo Printers are PictBridge compatible. They work with PictBridge enabled digital cameras and offer excellent image quality and ease-of-use, especially when paired with a Canon digital camera. At 28 cents-per-print , printing photos directly from a digital camera is both easy and affordable.
Powershot A700 Features:
- 6 Megapixel CCD imager for up to poster size prints
- 6x optical 35-210mm f/2.8-4.8 zoom, 4x digital zoom
- 2.5" color LCD with up to 10x playback zoom
- Advanced TTL AiAF 9-point autofocus system
- Program AE, Shutter-speed priority, Aperture priority and Manual modes
- Pre-programmed creative scene modes for beginners
- Movie mode w/sound, 640x480 / 320x240 up to 1GB, 160x120 up to 3 minutes
- 2.3fps Continuous burst capture of Large/Fine images
- Evaluative metering on focus point, Center-weighted or Spot options
- Stitch Assist mode for perfect panoramas
- Exposure compensation: +/-2EV in 1/3-step increments
- White Balance: Auto, 5 presets or Custom
- Orientation sensor that automatically detects vertical or horizontal shooting
- Low-light focus assist illuminator
- Light-guide zoom flash, angle changes with focal length
- Optional High-Power Flash HF-DC1
- Shutter speeds of 15 seconds to 1/2000 second
- Selectable ISO settings from 80 to 800
- Voice memo (up to 60 secs) can be attached to images
- Built-in microphone and speaker
- Powered by two standard AA type batteries
- Direct print and PictBridge Compatible
- USB 2.0 high speed connectivity for PC and Mac
- Secure Digital memory cards, 16MB supplied
The PowerShot A700 digital camera will be available in March for an estimated selling price of $349.99. The digital camera kit includes a USB cable, audio and video cable, wrist strap, 16MB MultiMediaCard and two AA-size Alkaline batteries as well as the Canon Digital Camera Solution Disc Version 22, featuring the latest versions of Canon's powerful software and ArcSoft PhotoStudio.