Price When Reviewed: 255
The Canon PowerShot A70 straddles the line between point-&-shoot and advanced camera, at an astounding estimated street price of only £255 plus VAT. Its small size and light weight are typical of point-&-shoot cameras, and it offers six scene modes to help casual photographers get better shots. It also has an extensive set of creative controls – such as aperture- and shutter-priority modes, and a full manual exposure setting – that will appeal to advanced shooters. We were extremely impressed by the optional adaptor lenses, which is almost unheard of on a camera of this price. A plastic ring around the camera’s lens rotates off, exposing a bayonet mount for a wide-angle, telephoto, or close-up lens. Unfortunately, the accessory lenses are pricey, ranging from £52 to £59, and you’ll need a £12.75 adaptor to use them. The A70’s image-quality scores were second only to those of the Olympus C-740 Ultra Zoom among the 3mp cameras we’ve reviewed to date. Our sample photos showed accurate exposure, pleasing colours, and fairly fine detail. Blue sky in our sunny cityscape shot looked slightly weak, but the A70 reproduced fine white clouds nicely. A couple of quibbles: first, the A70’s menus are divided into two sets – one for basic shooting settings, such as exposure value and resolution, and the other for everything else. You have to remember which set of menus cover a particular task. Once you learn the arrangement, however, you can make changes fairly quickly. Second, the automatic power-off options are rudimentary: you can’t change the amount of time the camera waits before it automatically shuts itself down. The A70’s boxy shape and enlarged battery compartment give you a solid grip on the camera. The controls are sensibly positioned and, for the most part, adequately labelled. Advanced elements, in addition to those mentioned earlier, include a panorama mode, manual focus, white-balance calibration, and a feature that lets you attach audio notes to stills. The better-than-average software bundle includes Canon’s adequate photo utility for downloading and managing images, and ArcSoft Camera Suite 1.2 (a competent package for editing your still shots and movies). You also get thorough, nicely designed, and easy-to-read documentation.