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Canon PowerShot A710 IS - digital camera review: Canon PowerShot A710 IS - digital camera

Canon's A series continues to deliver tons of bang for the buck, this time including optical image stabilization, 6X optical zoom, and solid image quality in a midsize compact camera with a stylish design update.

Phil Ryan
5 min read
Canon's A-series cameras have a long tradition of providing solid performance and impressive but not over-the-top feature sets at a reasonable price. In the past, that has often come with a slightly utilitarian design, but Canon's newest addition, the PowerShot A710 IS, looks practically classy, with its gently curved top; shiny, silver-plastic accents; and curved, dark-plastic section on its grip. Add to that the fact that it has a 6X optical, 35mm to 210mm (35mm equivalent), an f/2.8-to-f/4.8 zoom lens with optical image stabilization, a 7.1-megapixel CCD sensor, and a bunch of manual controls, and you've got one heck of a nice feature set for a camera in its price class.

Fans of the A series will note that the camera's grip isn't as large as some of the others' in the line, mostly because the A710 IS is powered by two AA batteries instead of four. This makes for a more pocketable design, and Canon still rates battery life at 360 images with NiMH batteries and 100 with alkalines. With a good pair of AA rechargeables, you should be able to use the camera for a weekend without running out of juice. Despite the smaller grip, the camera is still very one-hand-shooting friendly with all camera controls in easy reach of your right hand's fingers and thumb. Our only design criticism is the location of the SD card slot. As in a lot of cameras, it's tucked next to the batteries, which means that you'll have to be careful not to let the batteries fall out when switching cards. At least the spring-loaded slot pushes the card far up, so it's easy to remove.


Canon PowerShot A710 IS - digital camera

The Good

Optical image stabilization; manual exposure controls; 6X optical zoom; usable ISO 800.

The Bad

Sluggish flash recycling; widest angle of view is 35mm, auto white balance is very warm with tungsten lights.

The Bottom Line

Canon's A series continues to deliver tons of bang for the buck, this time including optical image stabilization, 6X optical zoom, and solid image quality in a midsize compact camera with a stylish design update.

Features are similar to those of the PowerShot A700, another camera in Canon's line. Standouts include controls for manual exposure and aperture and shutter priority, as well as flash compensation, which lets you roll back flash output power, and second-curtain flash, which fires the flash as the shutter closes so that moving objects don't end up with trails in front of them when you're using the flash. This happens a lot when shooting cars at night; with second-curtain flash, the headlights end up with slight trails behind them instead of looking like laser beams. Of course, if you like the laser look, you can also choose first-curtain (a.k.a. normal) flash, which is the default.

As you might expect, there are also many choices for tweaking your pictures, including 11 color modes, one of which lets you create your own by setting contrast; saturation; sharpness; red, green, and blue levels; and skin tone brightness. You can also use Color Accent mode to turn all but a selected color to black and white--perfect for making cutesy pictures of flowers in which only the petals are in color. Along similar lines, Color Swap lets you trade one color for another.

Optional accessories, such as the 0.7X wide-angle converter, 1.75X teleconverter, and close-up lens, all of which attach in front of the built-in zoom lens via a bayonet-mounted adapter, letting the A710IS grow with you as your shooting needs change and making the camera even more versatile.

The biggest place the A710 IS lags, feature-wise, is in its sensitivity settings. It tops out at ISO 800, which isn't bad. But with so many cameras, even budget snapshooters, pushing up to and past that mark, we would've expected to see Canon's flagship A-series camera go up to ISO 1600.

Given the A-series' track record, we weren't surprised to find that it performed well in our Labs' tests. It took 1.6 seconds to power up and capture its first image, and 1.8 seconds to capture subsequent images without flash. Activating the flash almost doubled that time, resulting in 3.5 seconds between shots in our tests. Shutter lag in our high-contrast test measured 0.35 second, jumping to 1.2 seconds in the low-contrast test--both very respectable numbers for a camera of this class. Continuous shooting was average, yielding an average of 1.7 frames per second for VGA-size JPEGs and 1.5fps for 7.1-megapixel JPEGs.

Image quality was very good in our tests. Colors were accurate, if a touch flat, and the camera was able to capture a healthy amount of detail. Exposures were generally accurate, with only minor blooming in extreme highlights, impressive shadow detail, and little or no fringing.

Noise wasn't noticeable at ISO 80 and was only minutely present at ISO 100, manifesting itself as extremely slight mottling of solid fields of dark colors--something that most people would not notice in prints, even at full size. By ISO 200, noise spread to a wider range of colors but still remained mostly as a light grain that most people would dismiss; it didn't appreciably detract from image detail and would likely be completely minimized when printed. By ISO 400, noise was more apparent and took away a mild amount of finer image detail. For example, the 1/16-inch markers on the measuring tape in our test scene began to blur together at this point. By ISO 800, noise was very noticeable, as a fine snowy grain. While not as objectionable as the heavily colored grain some cameras produce, it was hard to miss and was enough to make the numbers on the measuring tape unreadable. Still, prints were usable at smaller sizes, in which the grain served mostly to rob contrast and obscure shadow detail.

Once again, Canon has delivered a great value with it's A series in the form of the A710 IS. With its addition of image stabilization, you should be able to shoot a couple of shutter-speed stops slower than you normally would, making the long end of the zoom lens even more convenient, and the camera's usable ISO 800 setting will let you capture images in situations when IS is not the answer. Plus, for average situations, the camera's image quality is quite good for the money. Most casual shooters and simple snapshooters will find that the A710 IS is plenty of camera for their needs, and its versatile controls make it a nice spare camera for more advanced shooters, as well.


Canon PowerShot A710 IS - digital camera

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 7Image quality 7