Canon SD870 IS Digital ELPH (IXUS 860 IS) Concise Review
The SD870 IS has five white balance presets (daylight, cloudy, tungsten and two fluorescent settings) in addition to the default auto white balance. There is also a 'manual' white balance setting that allows you to point the camera at a neutral target to set the white balance. This manual setting is remembered even if you turn the camera off. In normal outdoor shooting the auto white balance works perfectly (as confirmed by our studio tests). Indoors it's a bit more hit and miss, as we've seen with most Canon PowerShots incandescent (tungsten) lighting causes a fairly strong orange color cast (and the appropriate preset only gives reasonable results). If you don't like the warm tone, you need to switch to manual WB.
|Auto White Balance||Fluo Preset||Auto White Balance||Incandescent preset|
|Fluorescent light - Auto white balance average,
Preset white balance average
|Incandescent light - Auto white balance poor,
Preset white balance average
As is common to most compact digital cameras the SD870's macro mode is most effective at the wide end of the zoom, where you can get as close as 3cm, capturing an area 45mm across - not bad at all for an 'ultra-compact'. At the long end of the zoom the performance isn't too bad - 30cm subject distance capturing an area 10cm wide. There is inevitably some distortion when shooting very close up at the wide end, but it is not too strong, and certainly less so than many of its competitors. If you look at either of the samples below you'll also see some chromatic aberration and corner softness, though to be fair this is something we only really saw in the lab, not the real world.
Thanks to the extra million pixels the SD870 IS is pulling a touch more resolution out of our chart, and overall the results are a noticeable improvement (though how much of this is down to us having a 'better' sample of the SD870 IS than we had of the SD800 IS is open to debate). Again there's a little moiré at the highest frequencies, but overall these are better than we'd expect from a camera in this class, showing that the constant sensor upgrades we complain about all the time do bring some benefits!
|Click here for the full resolution test chart||
resolution 1550 LPH
resolution 1600 LPH
Distortion and other image quality issues
Despite the wideangle lens the SD870IS exhibits only moderate distortion at the wide end of the zoom - 1.3% barrel distortion (click here for test chart) - nothing to worry about on a camera of this type. On a more positive note there is virtually no (0.1%) measurable distortion at all at telephoto end (click here for test chart).
On the whole, the SD870 IS produces decent results in a wide range of situations, and - perhaps more important - it does so reliably, shot after shot. Considering its relatively wide-angle lens, there is remarkably little in the way of chromatic aberration or fringing in the majority of photos. There is some, of course, but it's not something that you're likely to notice unless you really zoom in and start looking for it. For the typical user making prints the results are very good, with excellent color (not too overdone but bright enough to please the target market) and reliable focus, white balance and exposure (though see below).
The only real niggle is something that we noticed in the previous model - that faced with a hard-to-expose scene, the camera will tend to overexpose - which is probably the worst thing it can do. We also found a little corner softness in a couple of shots when shooting at the widest zoom setting and F2.8, but you need a lot of fine detail in the corner of the frame to see it.
Highlight clipping / contrast issues
Like all compact cameras the SD870's tiny sensor struggles to capture the full range of tones when faced with a scene containing a very wide dynamic range (from deep shadows to bright highlights). To make matters worse, there is fairly steep tone curve that makes for punchy, contrasty prints but exacerbates the problems of limited dynamic range by pushing near-whites to white and near blacks to black.
The SD 870IS has most difficulty in situations featuring deep shadows and bright sunlight in the same scene. These are the situations that any camera will find difficult but the Canon is prone to overexposing these scenes, letting large areas clip to white, rather than underexposing them and leaving some detail present. In some cases, the results can be improved using manual exposure compensation but it does mean certain scenes require a little more thought than simply pointing and shooting.
|100% crop||28mm equiv., F2.8|
|100% crop||28mm equiv., F2.8|
Another result of the SD870's tendency to clip to white in high-contrast scenes is that individual color channels can also clip in certain circumstances. In this instance, a bright red region has completely overexposed and caused noticeable bleeding into surrounding pixels. To be fair, this happened only once in 400 or so photographs and with a brightly-lit red area in an otherwise shaded scene, which would be difficult to expose correctly. However, we can imagine other situations in which it might happen, so feel it is worth noting.
|100% crop||105mm equiv., F5.6|
I own it
I want it
I had it
Discuss in the forums
|Well Hello There by evancj|
from My Best Photo of the Week
|Normally Amsterdam by Rudolph Arnstein|
from Your City - Biking
|laboratory glass by bombelpl|
|57 BelAir Chevorlet by TexasGal|
from Car Shows 2018
Following the CES 2017 announcement of its revival, Kodak Alaris has started shipping test rolls of its new Ektachrome to photographers for beta testing.
Take an inside look at the work that goes into testing Nikon cameras from drops, dust, water and debris. There were definitely cameras harmed in the making of this video.
In a press release issued this morning, Sony announced it has sold more full-frame cameras than any other brand in the US over the past six months, measured both by units sold and by value.
Yuneec has introduced the Mantis Q, a consumer drone with an integrated 4K camera, electronic image stabilization and voice control.
The new 3 Legged Thing Patti is a compact tripod that doesn't break the bank.
Alex and Kathryn are photographers, friends and Tokyo residents who love exploring Japan's hidden cultural treasures. They each brought a Canon EOS M50 on a recent trip starting in bustling Tokyo and ending in the peaceful riverside town of Gujo Hachiman.
The triple-camera in Samsung's 2019 Galaxy S10 smartphone is expected to use three sensors with varying pixel counts.
Net SE, the parent company behind the likes of Oprema Jena, Meyer Optik Görlitz, Emil Busch, C.P. Goerz, Ihagee and A. Schacht products has filed for bankruptcy and removed itself from the German stock exchange.
Canon's latest 70-200mm F4L comes with a five stops of image stabilization, a new coat of paint and impressive sharpness. We've been shooting with our copy for several weeks now - see how it stacks up in our sample gallery.
Special 4K and 6K Photo modes may be one of the most under-appreciated features on recent cameras. In this week's episode, Chris and Jordan take a closer look at these modes and explain why – and when – you'll be glad to have them on your camera.
Ten years ago this month Panasonic and Olympus announced a new concept called Micro Four Thirds. We're now on the brink of full-frame mirrorless from at least one major player, so perhaps it's a good time to take a look back at where it all started – and how far we've come.
Ted Forbes of The Art of Photography breaks down five 'hacks' for organizing your camera equipment.
The City of Redding has published a series of aerial images showing the devastation caused by the ongoing Carr Fire in Shasta County, California.
Sigma full-frame Art lenses are finally available in Sony E-mount. Here's how the 85mm F1.4 Art looks on an a7R III and a7 III.
Sigma is now shipping the FE versions of its 14mm F1.8 DG HSM, 70mm F2.8 DG MACRO, and 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lenses that were announced in February.
We got some quick hands-on time with Samsung's newest, biggest Galaxy smartphone at the company's launch event. Here are the most noteworthy camera features we uncovered.
Leica has released the Elpro 52, a close-up lens adapter that works 3with more than 20 Leica M and TL lenses.
Nikon has released yet another teaser video for its full-frame mirrorless camera set to be announced August 23rd.
At a high-profile launch event in New York, Samsung took the wraps off its next Note device. The Galaxy Note 9 borrows the S9+'s 12MP dual-aperture dual-cam, with OIS in both cameras and an emphasis on AI-enhanced shooting modes.
One of the most keenly-awaited lenses for a while, the new Pentax D FA* 50mm F1.4 is finally here, and we've been using it for a few days. In this article, we're updating our initial impressions on the basis of our recent shooting with the K-1 II.
AirSelfie2 boasts longer flight times, a higher resolution camera and more built-in memory than its predecessor.
In 2016, Samsung launched a prohibitively expensive 4TB SSD. This week it revealed that it has started mass producing a less expensive variant.
At max speed, the Epson FastFoto FF-680W can scan a photo every second at 300dpi.
Lighting manufacturer Cactus has officially launched its RQ250 bare bulb wireless TTL flash unit on the Kickstarter crowd funding website, and says it will be ready for delivery in October.
Lensbaby's Sol 45 fixed-aperture selective focus lens is aimed squarely at photographers new to the manual, in-camera creative effects possible with Lensbaby's lineup. We took it out for a spin.
Android 9, also known as 'Pie,' will add support for the HEIF image format and will allow third-party app developers to access multiple camera streams simultaneously.
DJI has partnered with messaging app Line to launch a special-edition version of its Spark drone that's made to look like an adorable little character affectionately referred to as Brown the bear.
We all know what ISO means, or do we? The truth is that ISO probably doesn’t mean what you think it does, and it might be holding you back from getting the most out of your camera.
Tamron has introduced the 17-35mm F2.8-4 Di OSD zoom lens for full-frame Canon and Nikon bodies. This compact lens is weather-sealed, features a minimum focus distance of 28cm (11") and uses an 'Optimized Silent Drive' AF motor.