Conclusion - Pros
- Excellent resolution
- Low noise at ISO 50 and 100, not bad at 200 and 400
- Excellent metering, color and dynamic range
- Very clean, artefact-free images
- Wide-angle zoom (28 - 100 mm equiv.)
- Excellent range of controls
- Solid build quality, nice metallic finish
- Improved ergonomics, separate zoom and four-way controller
- RAW file format
- Ability to turn JPEG shot into RAW during record review
- Advanced features such as intervalometer, sync curtain, spot AE point
- Custom shooting mode (user saved settings)
- AF assist lamp
Conclusion - Cons
- Some purple fringing visible at wide-angle or maximum apertures
- Some corner softness at wide-angle and maximum aperture
- Lens slow at telephoto (F5.3)
- Auto focus can be slow
- Low-light focus unreliable - especially at long end of the zoom
- LCD monitor difficult to use in very bright light
- Poor automatic white balance in incandescent light
- Average macro performance
- Images slightly soft (sharpen well in post-processing however)
- Slow playback (image to image)
Our first experience of Sony's new 7.1MP chip, as seen in the Cyber-shot P150, was overwhelmingly positive. Not only does it outperform the 5MP sensor it replaces (the 6MP version never really made an impact on compact cameras) in resolution terms, it also seems to control noise more efficiently. Perhaps this is because with such large files noise reduction can be a little more aggressive, perhaps it's simply a less noisy chip. Even more impressive is the new sensor's ability - when used with an accurate exposure system - to preserve detail in both highlight and shadow areas of even the brightest, most contrasty scenes.
What the S70 Canon has brought to the party is a superb 28-100mm equiv. lens (and if, like me, you love a true wide-angle this is a real selling point), excellent exposure, sophisticated (if slow) focus and understated, subtle - but effective - image processing. The result is a camera with a comprehensive range of controls, superb photographic quality and excellent handling.
There are inevitably some problems - the ambitious 28mm equiv. wide end of the zoom involves a certain amount of compromise; color fringing and the occasional softness in the corners of images can be reduced by dropping the aperture (and only really show up in big enlargements), but cannot be ignored or excused. Canon still hasn't really sorted out focus speed - and indoors in low light the focus struggles at the long end of the zoom to find anything at all, something not helped by the F5.3 maximum aperture. If Sony can make cameras that focus in an instant and allow near-instantaneous scrolling through images in playback mode, so should Canon.
At the end of the day, however, if image quality, build and manual control are your chief priorities (and especially if you mainly shoot scenery), the PowerShot S70 must sit near the top of your shopping list - it's well priced, a pleasure to use in all but the lowest light and it delivers results most 8MP cameras would be proud of, and represents a much more significant upgrade to the hugely popular S50 than the S60.