Operation and controls

Canon's PowerShot S series of cameras have always offered considerably more control than their 'point and shoot' appearance suggests, and the S70 is no exception. As well as a decent smattering of external controls the logical and easy to navigate on-screen menus contain a wealth of advanced functions. In fact, even high-end models such as the G5 and G6 don't offer a significantly more sophisticated feature set.

Rear of camera

The rear of the S70 is covered in buttons - most of which have a single function covering all the most commonly accessed photographic controls. Up the left side are the three buttons; FUNC, MF (manual focus) and metering. Canon's familiar FUNC button brings up a single-page menu offering quick access to stuff you change most often (AE compensation, drive mode, image size/quality etc). Although I would prefer an external control for AE compensation (which I use a lot) the FUNC menu still offers fast, easy access to the wide range of controls on offer. Directly above the LCD, to the left of the optical viewfinder, are two small buttons controlling macro and flash mode.

To the right of the LCD is a cluster of controls mostly concerned with the 'digital' rather than the photographic aspects of the S70. In the center is the new four-way controller (used for navigating menus and changing exposure settings in A, S and M modes). The small 'SET/MENU' button in the center of the four-way controller is used to confirm changes in menus, and - in record mode - to manually select a focus point. Above sit the play mode and direct print buttons, whilst below you'll find the DISPLAY (for turning the color screen on and off and choosing the amount of information displayed) and MENU buttons.

Top of camera

The top of the S70 is home to the shutter release and main mode dial. This has a nice positive click action (thus avoiding accidentally knocking it to the wrong setting) and offers direct access to the 12 stills shooting modes and the newly-improved movie mode.

Display and menus

You can choose a clutter-free screen in record mode, or - as shown here - get a wide range of information around the edge of the screen. Whether you shoot with information displayed or not, a half press of the shutter activates the AF (autofocus) and AE (auto exposure) systems, with the camera displaying the focus point selected and the exposure chosen. A yellow focus frame (as here) indicates a focus problem.
Correct focus is indicated by a green square - here's we're using the excellent AiAF system, which automatically chooses the correct focus point. Here's a typical screen when using manual overrides - including white balance, ISO and flash mode. The focus point can be set manually by pressing the SET button and moving the point around using the four directional keys.
Canon's ubiquitous FUNC menu offers fast and easy access to a single page menu covering all the most commonly accessed shooting controls; AE-compensation, white balance, ISO, picture effects, drive mode, bracketing, flash level output and image size/quality. Press the Menu button in record mode and you can change more fundamental shooting settings from how long images are displayed after shooting, to basic flash settings, digital zoom and how big a JPEG is saved with RAW files. There's even a 1-60-minute intervalometer.
The white balance presets now include an underwater mode (for use with the optional housing). Manual focus is available at the push of a button; you can also choose to have the central area magnified for more accurate focus assessment.
Play mode default display, a line of basic information showing filename, date & time stamp and quality setting. One of the three alternative play mode views includes a histogram display and exposure information.
The S70 provides play magnification up to to 10x (as shown here). You can move around the image using the four-way controller. Press the zoom controller towards the wide angle to switch to a 3x3 thumbnail index. Note that you can also enable JUMP mode which allows you to step through a full page of nine images at a time.
Pressing the Menu button in play mode brings up a page of the usual file delete/protect/slide show options, plus DPOF print ordering. The set up menu is pretty standard Canon, offering you control over various camera-related settings - power, audio and card formatting.