The Canon PowerShot SD700 IS is packed with handy features. Its 6-megapixel sensor works with its image-stabilized f/2.8-to-f/5.5 35mm-to-140mm lens (35mm equivalent) and can hit sensitivity settings as high as ISO 800. Its 2.5-inch LCD screen is nice and bright, and it leaves just enough room for an optical viewfinder. Unfortunately, the viewfinder is just above the center of the LCD screen, forcing you to turn your head uncomfortably or polish the LCD with your nose.
Beyond the standard automatic and manual-ish settings--it lacks shutter- and aperture-priority exposure modes--the camera offers a nice handful of scene presets. Included are standard shooting modes such as nighttime, portrait, and kids and pets. It also includes Canon's Color Accent and Color Swap modes, gimmicky but fun options that let you switch colors in photos or take artsy, everything-is-black-and-white-except-for-a-toy shots. The SD700 IS can also shoot video at a standard 30fps in VGA resolution or at 60fps in QVGA (320x240) for effects such as slow motion. The camera offers Canon's thorough color-adjustment settings. If manual and preset white-balance options aren't enough, you can tweak individual colors until they look just right.
The SD700 IS's quick and responsive performance hits the right note. A shutter lag of 0.5 second in bright light and 0.8 second in dim light are about average for an ultracompact, but its 1.5-second time to first shot and 1.6-second shot-to-shot time definitely rise above the crowd. Even with the onboard flash enabled, shot-to-shot time rose to only 1.9 seconds. And it keeps up the pace in continuous-shooting mode--about 2.1fps in burst mode for an effectively unlimited number of shots.
Though it's the first SD-series Digital Elph to use Canon's optical image stabilization system, the SD700 IS does a very good job of minimizing blur. Zoomed-in photos look crisp and clean with image stabilization, and wide-angle, low-light photos suffer less blur than usual.
Image quality, much like performance, rates as excellent. The SD700 IS reproduces color very well, and images are clean with few processing flaws. Photos remain consistent and noise-free at low-to-moderate ISO speeds and are acceptable even at ISO 400. At ISO 800, we noticed some distinct noise in our photos, but it was a clean, grainlike noise that left the images very usable. Furthermore, lens sharpness remains relatively consistent around the edges, unlike with some similar cameras. This helps keep fringing to a minimum.
The Canon PowerShot SD700 IS is a very strong, compact digital camera that produces great pictures. Its price is a bit high compared to that of its little brothers, the SD600 and SD630, but its great image stabilization and subsequent blur-free photos are worth the extra few quid.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)