Timing & Performance
The DIGIC II processor helps lift the A710's performance out of the 'budget' category, and in use it feels fairly snappy, with our only real complaint being the slow flash recycle times (due no doubt to the use of two AA batteries instead of four) - at distances over more than a few feet, at the long end of the zoom range or when the batteries are not at full charge the shot to shot times with flash can stretch to as much as 8 seconds - sometimes more with very tired batteries - which is a pain in social situations. We'd also like to see Canon working on the lagginess of its entry-level LCD screens (which is the reason for the sizeable difference in shutter lag when using the screen). Overall though, in general use, I found little to really complain about.
All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3072 x 2304 Fine JPEG image (approx. 4,000 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 1.0 GB Sandisk Extreme III card.
|Power: Off to Record||1.5|
|Power: Off to Play||Image displayed||1.5|
|Power: Record to Off||All activity ceased||1.7|
|Power: Play to Off||When buffer is empty, lens retracted||~0.3|
|Power: Play to Off||When buffer is empty, lens extended||~1.4|
|Record Review||Image displayed||~1.0|
|Mode: Play to Record||1.2|
|Play: Magnify||To full magnification (16x)||1.0|
|Play: Image to Image||Time to display each saved image||0.3|
|Play: Thumbnail view||3 x 3 thumbnails||0.6|
|Zoom from Wide to Tele||35 to 200 mm (6 x)||2.0|
|Half-press Lag (Focus time)||Wide angle, AiAF||~0.3 *1|
|Half-press Lag (Focus time)||Telephoto, AiAF||~0.4 *1|
|Pre-focus Lag (S1>S2)||LCD live view||~0.09|
|Pre-focus Lag (S1>S2)||Viewfinder||~0.05|
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)||LCD live view, wide angle||~0.5|
|Off to Shot Taken||LCD live view||~2.2|
|Shot to Shot||Flash off||~ 2.0|
|Shot to Shot||Flash on ( red eye reduction on / off)||2.7 / 3.8|
|*1||Focus speed is fractionally faster if you use center AF rather than AiAF.|
|*2||Focus at the tele end slows down in low light - to about 0.6 seconds|
Continuous drive mode
Like most A series cameras the A710 IS has a single continuous shooting mode that offers around 1.7 frames per second at all file size / quality settings (down slightly from the 2.0 fps its predecessor offered). You can't see a preview when shooting bursts, but there is a brief review image displayed after each exposure. Those who like to shoot long sequences will be pleased to hear that there appears to be no limit to how many pictures you can take in a single burst with a fast card.
Although it's unlikely that many users of a camera such as this will need to shoot such long sequences, it's nice to know you can if you want to.
File writing / playback performance
The A710 IS takes around 0.9 seconds to save a 4MB 7MP/Super Fine JPEG, which isn't bad for what is essentially a 'budget' model (certainly in Canon terms). Playback isn't bad either, at just over a third of a second per frame. You can also hold down the left or right arrow key and scroll through low res images at high speed.
Battery life is surprisingly good for a camera powered by a pair of AA's - around 360 shots (CIPA standard testing using Canon NB-3AH cells) if you use the LCD screen or a whopping 900 shots if you exclusively use the viewfinder. Incidentally we would certainly recommend getting the best batteries you can - we used 1600mAh and 2500mAh cells during our test, and the former faded way too quickly and struggled to keep up when we were using flash extensively during the evening.