Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Canon PowerShot SX700 HS
Easily pack 30x worth of optical zoom in your pocket
- 30x optical zoom
- Relatively easy to make manual adjustments
- Good overall image quality
- Mode dial location a little awkward
- Some noticeable chromatic aberration
- Wi-Fi feature not great
Canon's PowerShot SX700 HS is a powerful little camera that can be used in a whole heap situations, from regular landscapes to long tele-zooms. It's a fun camera to use and well worth considering, especially if you want a camera for your travels.
Price$ 400.00 (AUD)
Despite the small size of Canon’s PowerShot SX700 HS compact camera, it contains a lens with a 30x optical zoom that can go up to 750mm. It’s a massive reach for any camera, let alone one that can fit in your pocket, and it opens up a slew of possibilities in terms of what you can capture and how you capture it. The massive lens gives the SX700 a versatility that comes in handy especially while travelling, and it’s a fun product to use in most types of situations.
Note: Sample images are on the next page.
Physical layout and ease of use
The PowerShot SX700 HS is about 35mm thick and 110mm wide, making it possible to fit it into a pants pocket while walking around looking for things to photograph. It’s only when you switch it on that you see its large lens, which extends to sit at 43mm from the body when the lens is at its widest point, and which extends further out to 65mm from the body when fully zoomed in. It’s almost the same size as the previous pocket-zoom camera that we reviewed, Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-TZ60, though the PowerShot has sloping lines that make it feel a little bit smaller in the hand.
In order to make it as small as possible, a hinge has been left off the LCD screen, so you’ll have to put up with traditional selfies in which you take a photo, look at the result, and then take another photo. The 3in screen is the only way to frame your photos so you might struggle to see it during very bright outdoor conditions. The Lumix TZ60 came with an small optical viewfinder in order to counter such conditions. Nevertheless, the screen on the Canon can be used to good effect, especially since what you see on the screen is what you get when you take the picture. This means that any on-the-fly changes you make to the exposure will be shown immediately on the screen.
You can use semi-manual and manual modes quite easily with this camera, so you don’t have to always rely on the auto settings if what’s been captured isn’t to your liking. The thumb ring on the rear allows you to change settings, and the +/- button allows you to switch between aperture and shutter modes when in manual mode. You can reach the ISO and white balance settings simply by pressing the function button in the centre.
We didn’t have any issues with the physical layout of the controls during our tests, though unlike the Panasonic camera, there is only a small amount of space on the rear for resting your thumb. This is because the mode dial is located on the rear of the Canon (it’s on the top on the Panasonic), and it can feel a little awkward to hold the camera because of this. Canon has made the mode dial very stiff due to its location, so that it can’t be easily moved out of position.
A 16-megapixel sensor sits behind the lens, which goes from a wide angle of 25mm to a tele-zoom angle of 750mm. You can capture distant objects with ease as long as you keep the camera steady, and as long as there is enough light. While the lens has a maximum wide aperture of f/3.2, it closes to f/6.9 when zoomed all the way in. Furthermore, because you are using such a long focal length at maximum zoom, slight movements of the camera can make it difficult to keep a subject in frame. You would do well to rest it somewhere, or attach a mini tripod to the bottom.
The overall speed of the camera is decent when it comes to shot-to-shot performance, and we experienced no lag during our tests, even though a preview showed up immediately after each shot. The shutter speed goes up to 1/2000 of a second, and the lens closes to a maximum of f/8.0. Both are standard values for a camera in this class, and they are a little limiting if you plan on getting creative during bright conditions (such as if you want to use a slower shutter and a smaller aperture to capture a motion blur in afternoon light). If you want more extensive exposure controls, then an interchangeable lens camera such as an Olympus PEN is a better option.
Next page: Image quality and sample photos.
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