Canon PowerShot ELPH SD970 IS - digital camera review: Canon PowerShot ELPH SD970 IS - digital camera

The SD970's performance is mixed and unfortunately it feels more sluggish than our lab tests let on. From off to first shot is a reasonably quick 1.6 seconds. Its shutter lag was decent, too, at 0.4 second in good lighting and 0.6 second in more challenging lighting conditions. Regrettably its shot-to-shot times are a little flat taking 2.1 seconds without flash and 3.5 seconds with. In addition, its continuous shooting mode comes in well under some of its competition at 1 frame per second.

Photo quality is very good, mostly because of its excellent color reproduction and very good white balance and exposure. Some smudginess from noise reduction starts appearing at ISO 200, but all photos were generally soft. On the other hand, there's very little to no color noise. So, despite subjects getting noticeably softer and smoother as the ISO increases, detail remains reasonably good up to and including ISO 800. While large prints may be out of the question, the noise is suppressed well enough to make small prints and Web use a possibility.

The camera's 720p HD video quality is also very good. Again, though, you get no use of the optical zoom while recording.

If it seems like this review sort of contradicts the overall rating, there's a reason for that. Technically, there is nothing horribly wrong with the Canon PowerShot SD970 IS. It is a very good camera. It's just that for the money, there are better options out there, including models from Canon, Sony, Panasonic, and Nikon.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time (flash)  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Canon PowerShot SD970 IS
1.6 
3.5 
2.1 
0.6 
0.4 
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W290
1.3 
2.7 
2.3 
0.7 
0.4 
Canon PowerShot SD880 IS
1.2 
3.2 
1.9 
0.8 
0.4 
Nikon Coolpix S630
3.9 
3.4 
3.1 
0.8 
0.5 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5
2.4 
2.5 
2.1 
1 
0.7 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test digital cameras.

Best Digital Cameras for 2020

All best cameras

More Best Products

All best products