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Conclusion - Pros

  • Good resolution, excellent edge-to-edge sharpness
  • 4x zoom range
  • Very clean results at lower ISO settings, perfectly usable up to ISO 400
  • Reliable exposure system
  • Very fast and accurate focus
  • Very responsive
  • Excellent user interface, easy to use
  • Image stabilization
  • Superb build quality
  • Decent macro mode
  • Punchy results out of camera
  • Excellent flash performance
  • Large, bright screen & optical viewfinder
  • High quality movie mode
  • External ISO control

Conclusion - Cons

  • AiAF focus a bit unpredictable - turn it off
  • Battery life when using LCD not fantastic
  • Very little manual control
  • ISO 800 noisy (low noise reduction means there is detail, however)
  • Finish very susceptible to marks and scratches
  • Still no exposure information for shutter speeds over 1/60 sec
  • Very slight corner softness and just visible vignetting at wide angle
  • Quite pricey

Overall conclusion

Whereas virtually ever other Ixus/ELPH camera I've reviewed over the last few years has failed, in some way, to produce image quality that quite lived up to the promise of such attractive and luxurious external design and construction, the SD 700 IS really does, for the most part, deliver the goods. Having started the review with the slightly weary feeling that - image stabilization aside - this was just going to be another pretty, but slightly disappointing 'style' camera, I found myself more and more convinced that Canon had finally pulled something a little bit special out of the hat. For the first time in years I found myself using a Canon compact I really found hard to fault, and really wanted to keep.

The SD 700 IS is, in essence, everything a pocket camera should be; fast, easy to use, well designed and - above all - reliable. When you've got little or no manual control the reliability and accuracy of the automatic focus, exposure and white balance systems is of paramount importance, and it is here where the SD 700 IS really shows its mettle; out of the 750+ shots we took for the gallery no more than a handful had any problems at all with exposure, focus or color. That's an impressively high hit rate, and one that inspires the confidence needed for someone like me, used to endless tweaking of camera controls, to use a true 'point and shoot' model. It's also surprisingly good in low light, with the combination of image stabilization and usable ISO 400 (even ISO 800 is fine for social snaps), meaning you can shoot without flash if you want to. If you do use flash it's fast and exposure is excellent (though the range is a bit limited unless you crank up the ISO).

Of course it's not perfect; the battery life could be better, and I cannot understand why the option to see aperture and (especially) shutter speed on-screen isn't at least an option; even with an effective image stabilization system I like to know what shutter speed I'm using. The SD 700 IS shows the shutter speed when it's below 1/60th, so why not all the time? Compared to many of its competitors the SD 700 IS also looks a little light on features, but to be honest I so rarely use 'scene modes' that I personally don't care if there are 16 or 60, and for the typical user of this type of camera the lack of pages and pages of obscure options may well be seen as an advantage rather than a problem. From an image quality point of view the only complaints are those common to all cameras in this class; a lack of biting sharpness, some muddying of fine, low contrast detail at anything over ISO 100 and a touch of fringing - but there's nothing here to really worry about.

Because ultimately the thing that matters is taking pictures, and - a few minor quibbles aside - that's where the SD 700 IS's strength lies. It's fun to use, takes great pictures in almost any situation and it's fast and accurate; what more could you ask for?

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Build quality 9.0
Ergonomics & handling 8.0
Features 7.5
Image quality 8.0
Optics 7.5
Performance (speed) 9.0
Value 7.5

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Samples Galleries

There are 30 images in the samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.

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Canon SD700 IS Review Samples

30 images • Posted 14 July 2006 • View album
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