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Design

With the advent of the A60 and A70 so comes an refreshed and more stylistic design to the body (compared to the A30 and A40). The main design element being the logical separation of the hand grip from the main body by the use of different color plastic and the shaping of the hand grip against the body. From the front the A70 looks quite traditional with a typical compact camera look, around the back is a simple control layout with relatively large buttons and clear labelling. There is also plenty of space left for the palm of your hand when holding the camera. One annoying design element must be the mirrored surround to the LCD monitor, you see yourself and whatever is behind you (on a bright day this can mean almost blinding brightness).

Another gripe comes from the 'afterthought' connections cover which again is a simple rubber door with no styling, it breaks the clean lines of the side of the camera and in my opinion spoils the overall appearance. Why can't we have a clean integrated plastic hinged door similar to what Sony have been doing for a few years. Overall however for an entry-level camera the A70 has a pleasing modern appearance designed to be eye-catching on the retail shelves.

Side by side

Here beside the similarly equipped (three megapixel, three times zoom) Nikon Coolpix 3100 the PowerShot A70 looks big, while height and depth are the same the Coolpix 3100 is only about two thirds the width. This size difference combined with the fact that the Coolpix 3100 only takes two AA batteries means that it weighs in 122 g (4.3 oz) lighter than the PowerShot A70.

In your hand

The A70 isn't an ultra-compact, and if you're new to digital cameras (more used to the size of a traditional film compact) or have large hands you'll be glad of that. The handgrip is nicely designed with plenty of depth and a comfortable hold, as the batteries reside in the grip it makes the overall weight balance feel just right.


LCD Monitor

As noted above the mirrored finish surrounding the LCD monitor can be annoying. The LCD itself is a 1.5" TFT unit with 78,000 pixels. It's bright and clear but not as a sharp as the 110,000+ pixel units found in more expensive cameras. It is exactly what we would expect at this price point.

The LCD monitor provides a commendable 100% frame coverage in live view and playback modes.


Viewfinder

The A70 has a typical 'optical tunnel' viewfinder, which may be perfectly adequate for occasional snapshots at reasonable subject distances but is no substitute for the 'what you see is what you get' LCD monitor. In addition the A70 viewfinder has no dioptre adjustment and no parallax correction lines. Note also that the center cross was very faint compared to what we are used to. The viewfinder provides approximately 81% frame coverage.

The two lights beside the viewfinder indicate the following:

Green Steady Ready to shoot
Green Flashing CF card activity / Computer connected
Orange Steady Ready to shoot (with flash)
Orange Flashing Ready to shoot but shot may suffer from blur (slow shutter)
Yellow Steady Macro focus / Infinity focus
Yellow Flashing Can not focus lock, focus difficulty


Battery Compartment

As we expect from most entry level digital cameras the PowerShot A70 is powered by AA batteries, four in this case. Canon only provide Alkalines which you will want to replace with a good set of NiMH rechargeables. These four batteries account for a third of the weight of the camera, it's a pity Canon couldn't cut the power requirements of the camera down to two AA's (and thus cut weight).

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