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Canon Digital IXUS 70 Zoom - Digital Camera Review
aka - Canon Powershot SD1000

Review Date: 10/04/2007
Rating: Recommended

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Introduction: Announced on the 22nd of February 2007, the Canon Powershot SD1000 / Canon Digital IXUS 70 is one of the slimmest Canon Digital IXUS cameras measuring just 19.4mm wide, and is available in two different colours: Silver and Black or Silver. The IXUS 70 is a 7.1 megapixel digital camera with a 2.5" screen, and a 3x optical zoom lens. The 3x optical zoom lens is equivalent to 35– 105 mm on a 35mm camera. The Canon Digital IXUS 70 is available from around £175 this makes it average to good value for money for an ultra compact 7 megapixel digital camera. The camera has a 640x480 30fps video mode with sound. The camera is very compact and has a metal body with a more traditional design, inspired by the original IXUS. The IXUS 70 measures: 85.9 x 53.5 x 19.4mm (excluding protrusions), and weighs approx. 125g excluding batteries and media.

Canon have this to say about the camera:

"The Digital IXUS 70 brings contemporary styling to the classic IXUS design concept. Clean lines and sharp edges combine in an ultra slim body to achieve a look of understated, timeless elegance. A 7.1 Megapixel CCD sensor captures every scene with razor sharp detail, for photo quality prints up to poster size. An Ultra-High Refractive Index Aspherical (UA) 3x optical zoom lens delivers crystal-clear performance in an exceptionally compact form."

You can find more information on their website.

The Camera: a visual tour: (Photos of the camera taken with the Olympus SP-550 Ultra Zoom)


Front - Camera off.


Front view - focus assist lamp, optical viewfinder, flash, lens, microphone, left: nothing on this side


Back - 2.5" screen, Optical viewfinder, status LEDs, speaker, mode switch, Print button, 4-way controller, Function/Set button, Display, Menu. On the right: AV Out / Digital socket cover, wrist strap loop.


Top: On/off, Power LED, Shutter release, Zoom control.


Bottom / side - plastic tripod mount, battery and memory compartment. 3.7v 760mAh Lithium Ion battery.

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax 35mm film camera - a medium/compact sized 35mm film camera.


Size comparison.


Size comparison.


Size comparison, compared to the Olympus Mju Stylus 770SW.


Size comparison, compared to the Canon Digital IXUS i7 Zoom.

Specifications / Features:

  • 7.1 Megapixels CCD Sensor
  • 3x optical zoom (35mm - 105mm equivalent)
  • 4x Digital Zoom with Safety Zoom
  • Compact, stylish design available in two designs: silver and black or silver
  • DIGIC III Image Processor
  • Face Detection AF/AE
  • Red-eye correction
  • 2.5" LCD, 230,000 pixels
  • 17 shooting modes including My Colours
  • ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 and High ISO Auto for flash-free indoor shooting
  • 15 – 1/1500 sec (Shutter speeds of 1 sec. and more available in Long Shutter Mode only)
  • Video at VGA, 30fps with sound - digital zoom available, Time Lapse Movie
  • 3cm macro mode
  • Supports SDHC memory cards

Box Contents:

  • Digital Camera
  • Wrist Strap
  • Battery Pack
  • Battery Charger
  • USB Cable
  • AV Cable
  • Software CD Rom
  • Full Manual on CD Rom
  • Basic User Guide
  • 32mb SD Memory Card

Average box contents. There is a small 32mb memory card provided with the camera - you should invest in a much larger memory card. Some kind of case would be very useful.

Battery usage: Battery life is average for an ultra-compact digital camera, rated at 210 shots according to CIPA standards, I managed around 165+ shots before the battery went flat. This is average (not brilliant, but not too bad either) for an ultra-compact but not as good as the excellent 580 shot battery life of the the Fujifilm FinePix F30.

Camera Operation and OptionsThe mode switch on the back of the camera lets you switch between the main modes: Play, Video, and Photo. You can access the further modes in the Function menu.

Photo mode/menu:

Photo mode (with grid lines on) Photo Function Menu

Screen / LCD display in photo mode: (shown above, left) The screen resolution with 230,000 pixels is good for a 2.5" screen and pictures look clear on it. The screen is clear and the text and menus are easy to read. The screen can seem a bit cluttered in use, but the additional icons can be switched off - there is no histogram in photo mode, but there is one viewable in playback mode. Accessing some of the most popular options (such as Flash, Macro, ISO, Self-timer) is easily done using the 4-way controller.

Function menu options: (available in M mode) On the left is: Mode (details below ), Exposure compensation, White balance (including custom), My Colours (Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black and White, Positive Film, Lighter skin tone, Darker skin tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, Custom Colour - this allows you to change Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation, Red, Green, Blue, and Skin Tone), Exposures (Evaluative, Center weighted average, spot), Image quality (super fine, fine, normal), Image size.

Modes: In manual mode, you can press the function button and select: Auto, Manual, (Scene modes:) Digital macro, Portrait, Night snapshot, Colour accent, Colour swap, Kids and Pets, (and other scene modes accessed by pressing menu:), Indoor, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Aquarium, Underwater. Examples of colour accent, and colour swap can be seen below.

Colour Accent (Red) Face-Detect Focus - People

Face-detect focus: the camera manages to focus on upto 9 people. This is a useful feature if you regularly take photos of people, making sure that the focus (and exposures) is based on the people rather than anything else in the photo.

Photo Menu Setup Menu

Photo menu options: AiAF (Face detect, On, Off), Digital Zoom (Off, Standard, 1.5x, 1.9x), Slow-synchro, Red-eye, Self-timer (custom set), Auto ISO Shift, AF-assist beam, Review, Auto category, Disp Overlay (Grid lines, 3:2 Guide), Date stamp, Set print button (can be set as a custom function button to: exposure compensation, white balance, custom white balance, digital tele convertor, display overlay, record movie, display off, play sound effect), Stitch assist.

Setup menu options: Mute, Volume, LCD brightness, Power saving, Time zone, Date time, Clock display, Format, File numbering, Create folder, Auto rotate, Distance units, Lens retract, Language, Video system, Print method, Reset all.

Optical / Electronic Viewfinder:  This is probably the smallest Canon Digital IXUS with an optical viewfinder. The viewfinder doesn't give a full view and is very small - but could be useful in some conditions. Personally I prefered using the screen.

Playback (Review) mode/menu:

Playback view (showing colour swap) Playback menu, Print menu (rollover)

Playback mode: Scrolling through the photos is very quick. Zooming in is very quick and magnifies the image up to 10x. Further photo information (shown above, left) is available by changing the display mode in the menu, and shows the ISO setting even when you haven't manually selected it when taking the photo! (Finally Canon have decided to show the ISO setting in playback mode!)

Playback menu: Sildeshow, My Category, Erase, Protect, Red-eye correction (this works very well), My Colours (Allows you to change the colours in the same way as when you are taking the photo), Sound memo, Sound recorder, Rotate, Transfer order, Transition (for the slideshow). Print menu options are: Print selected images, select images and quantity, select by date, category, folder, all images, clear all selections, and print settings.

Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures, and the following number will fit in the 32mb SD Memory card provided:

Size
Number of Photos Stored / Quality
Superfine
Fine
Normal
L 7mp (3072x2304)
9
15
32
Wide (3072x1728)
12
20
42
M1 5mp (2592x1944)
11
20
41
M2 3mp (2048x1536)
18
32
64
M3 2mp (1600x1200)
29
52 (Postcard)
99
S VGA (640x480)
111
171
270

As shown in the table above, higher quality images take a large amount of memory, so a high capacity memory card is definitely recommended. You can fit a very limited number of 7mp Fine images on the built in memory, and you will definitely need to buy a larger memory card.

A large memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 256mb memory card, and preferably a 512mb or 1gb memory card, especially considering the relatively low prices - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to be away from a computer for a long time (such as when going on holiday) then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in. This camera takes only secure digital memory. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Canon Digital IXUS 70 / SD1000:

Find the latest prices for SD memory cards at Amazon.co.uk: 256mb: £5, 512mb: £4, 1gb (1000mb): £8, 2gb (2000mb): £11, 4gb (4000mb SDHC): £30 (with USB reader)
Need more help deciding what memory card to buy? Have a look at our guide to digital camera memory cards or our article what size memory card should I buy?

Speed: The camera's switch on time is very quick and takes around 1.4 seconds to switch on and take a photo. Focusing is quick at around 0.4 seconds - shutter response is quick at around 0.1 seconds. Shot to shot time is around 1.5 seconds (with review off), with flash on this slows down to around 3.5 seconds between shots. Playback mode is very quick, and its easy to zoom in on your last shot and check for blur with the zoom control. Moving from picture to picture is very quick but you can also get an overview of 9 shots at a time if you zoom out one more notch. Moving around the different menu options is rapid. Continuous shooting is very quick at slightly under 2fps - flash is available whilst in continuous shooting mode - however shot to shot time slows drastically to around 1 shot every 2.4 seconds.

Ease of use: Using the camera is fairly straightforward, simply switch it on and start taking photos, however, when you want to use some of the more advanced features of the camera it can becomes more complicated, due to some of the hidden functions (such as the sharpness, contrast, and saturation controls). Switching between the modes is easy thanks to the mode switch on the back of the camera and once you find all the options the camera becomes fairly easy to use, and it is fairly easy to use the more basic functions of the camera - for example it's easy to switch between the photo, video and playback modes. The Canon way of using the Function menu as the main controls and the Menu button to access setup options can take some time to get used to, especially if you are used to cameras from other brands. The camera has a good number of buttons giving quick access to ISO, Drive mode (self-timer), Macro, Flash and display options.

Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc.) The camera feels solid, with a robust metal body. The stylish design and colour scheme and choices look very good (although don't stand out very well in the photos above). However there isn't much that your thumb can grip onto, and the front of the camera is almost completely flat, the only raised part is the Canon logo. The zoom control is very easy to use. The shutter release button feels good. The compact camera fits very easily into small pockets. The camera labels are clear. The buttons and controls are all positioned so that the camera can be operated with one hand, and the buttons are a good size despite the small size of the camera. I found the mode switch easy to use with my thumb. The ability to stand the camera vertically for portrait photos, as well as horizontally, is a potentially useful feature that isn't regularly found on digital cameras.

Image Quality: Here are some real world sample photos taken in various settings, such as Inside, Outside, Macro, to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the Canon Digital IXUS 70 / SD1000 Sample Photo Gallery!

Inside:

Heather and Flower (ISO100) Group photo (ISO200)

Inside: The camera has very good colour - It took a good "Heather and Flower" photo - there is very little red-eye in the photo, although there is some redeye in the group photos. The colour is quite richly saturated and detail is good - saturation can be increased by setting the camera to the Vivid mode and by adjusting exposure compensation by -1/3. It has a slightly weak flash, and may struggle with group photos, especially with large groups of people - this may also means noise is quite high in group photos. The camera did a good job at focusing most of the time even in low-light thanks to the focus assist lamp.

ISO Noise Test: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels, and manual ISO settings (ISO: 80, 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600).

Below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops from the image taken at different ISO settings, compared with the 6 megapixel, Fujifilm FinePix F30, (which is currently the benchmark compact camera for noise tests due to it's excellent high ISO performance), and 7 megapixel Canon Digital IXUS 850 IS.

Fujifilm FinePix F30 (6mp) Canon Digital IXUS 70 (7mp) Canon Digital IXUS 850 (7mp)

ISO Noise Test Photos - Flash is off. Fujifilm FinePix F30 on the left, Canon Digital IXUS 70 in the middle, Canon Digital IXUS 850 IS on the right. The colour difference is due to automatic white balance.

Fujifilm FinePix F30 (6mp) Canon Digital IXUS 70 (7mp) Canon Digital IXUS 850 (7mp)
 
N/A ISO80 - Actual Pixels ISO80 - Actual Pixels
ISO100 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels
ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO200 - Actual Pixels
ISO400 - Actual Pixels ISO400 - Actual Pixels ISO400 - Actual Pixels
ISO800 - Actual Pixels ISO800 - Actual Pixels ISO800 - Actual Pixels
ISO1600 - Actual Pixels ISO1600 - Actual Pixels ISO1600 - Actual Pixels

With the IXUS 70 noise is noticeable in ISO80 shots with noise becoming more and more noticeable as the ISO setting is increased. Colour remains good till ISO800 or higher is used. Detail remains quite good until ISO400 and above. The results aren't as noise free as the Fujifilm FinePix F30, but ISO settings 80 - 200 should produce acceptable results, ISO400 - 800 are usable when needed, and ISO1600 should probably be avoided. Compare to the Canon Digital IXUS 850 IS - noise results are very similar with perhaps a very slight advantage to the IXUS 70 in these tests.

Image Stabilisation: The Canon Digital IXUS 70 does not have built in image stabilisation - you will need to manually select a higher ISO speed or set Auto ISO to Hi, in order to raise the shutter speed and try and avoid image blur.

Outside:

Liverpool shops Crewe Train Station

Outside: The camera has great colour - accurate and richly saturated with good contrast and good detail, although images could benefit from sharpening. Saturation can be increased by switching to vivid mode, and by setting exposure compensation down by -1/3 or -2/3. Noise was low in ISO80 photos. The quality was set to maximum to minimise any jpeg artefacts.

Zoom: This camera has a 3x optical zoom lens and a built in 4x digital zoom - in the case of this camera the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the photo and enlarges it using software blurring the image so that it is not pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it degrades the quality of the image and, often, better results can be obtained by using a photo package such as Adobe Photoshop. I've included examples below to show what the 3x optical zoom and 4x digital zoom is capable of.

Wide-angle 3x Optical zoom Optical and Digital Zoom

Exposure: The photos of the clock tower seem to be very well exposed, with good detail in the dark areas, and good detail in the clouds.

Lens noise and zoom: The lens makes some noise in operation. There are six steps between wide and telephoto zoom, this gives you fairly good control over how you frame your subject.

Other Image Quality issues: Purple fringing was low and difficult to detect in any normal photos, and shouldn't cause any problems in the majority of photos.

Macro:

Timex Watch Macro Actual Pixels (ISO80)

The macro mode lets you take photos with the camera roughly 3cm away from the subject - this means macro photos can be very good - with good detail and colour.

Video mode: The camera features a good video mode - it records VGA videos at 30fps with sound as AVI files. Compared to other digital cameras the Canon can't fit very long videos on the memory card, as it doesn't use very high compression, such as MPEG4. The video mode doesn't let you use the optical zoom whilst recording. Uniquely the camera can also record 320x240 videos at 60fps.

Conclusion

Image Quality: I was impressed by the camera's image quality - the camera has good detail and excellent colour (accurate, and well saturated) although some images did appear slightly soft and could benefit from sharpening. Images have good saturation and contrast, with fairly low noise at the lower ISO settings. The higher ISO settings of ISO800 and ISO1600 are probably best avoided and noise is about average for a 7 megapixel digital camera. Indoors photos were good, although noise was noticeable in some shots and red-eye occurred occassionally (this can be removed using the new red-eye correction feature in playback mode). Purple fringing was noticed in one of the shots, but wasn't a problem in the majority of shots. The camera was good at focusing indoors thanks to the focus assist lamp. I did not notice any vignetting, barrel or pincushion distortion. There is a very good range of image sizes, aspect ratio, and compression options. Auto white balance, metering, and exposure seemed to be very good. The camera gives you good control over image quality with custom white balance, sharpness, contrast, saturation options and other colour options (such as Vivid etc). The video mode is good with high resolution, and high frame rate. The macro mode is very good, with good detail. (8/10)

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera is very compact with a stylish and smooth body available in two colours. The camera has a very good 2.5" screen. The camera feels sturdy and is comfortable to hold. The camera is fairly easy to use, thanks to the mode switch. There is a good layout of buttons and controls, although some of the options may take a little time to get familiar with. The camera speed is good, with a very good switch on time, rapid focusing time, quick shutter response, quick playback mode, quick menus, and excellent continuous shooting (without flash), although this becomes slightly sluggish when using the flash. The camera has a large range of features, plus a lot of imaging options, such as Vivid colour mode, Sharpness, Saturation, Contrast, Custom White Balance etc. Some people may appreciate the optical viewfinder, however I found it too small to be comfortable to use. Battery life is average to good for an ultra compact. (8/10)

Value for Money: The Canon Digital IXUS 70 is available from around £175, this makes it fairly good value for money for an ultra compact 7 megapixel digital camera (although expect the price to drop over time). There are a number of other ultra compact 7 megapixel digital cameras, such as the Olympus Mju 770SW, Canon Digital IXUS 850 IS, Samsung NV3, Canon Digital IXUS i7 Zoom, Ricoh Caplio R5, Pentax Optio S7, Casio Exilim EX-S770, etc. (7.5/10) See more digital camera reviews sorted by megapixels here.

Summary: The Canon Digital IXUS 70 / SD1000 is an excellent ultra compact digital camera - image quality is very good with great colour and detail although images are slightly soft. This camera is one of the slimmest Canon digital cameras available and is a camera that you can take anywhere and use in almost every situation. This camera has a lot of options and features which makes it a very capable and useful digital camera, one that could easily be used as a main or backup digital camera. The Canon Digital IXUS 70 is ultra-compact with a metal body, and scores highly in all of the key areas: image quality, features and price, and is therefore recommended.

Canon Digital IXUS 70 / SD1000 Rating: Recommended (8/10)
Only £175 at Amazon - Check for more price below!

What I like:

  • Good image quality - excellent colour
  • Good video mode - VGA, 30fps, Sound
  • Feels good (solid) and looks good with an ultra-compact stylish body
  • Slimmest Canon Digital IXUS at just 19.4mm thick.
  • Quick in operation - continuous shooting is quick
  • Lots of control over image quality (colour, sharpness, saturation etc)
  • Custom White Balance
  • Very good macro mode
  • Optical viewfinder - albeit a very small one
  • ISO setting and Aperture / Shutter setting shown in photo and playback mode even when ISO left on auto! (Finally!)
  • Very good 2.5" screen

What I don't like:

  • Videos take up a lot of space - eg 2 minute VGA/30fps video uses 250mb! (MPEG4 compression would be nice)
  • Slightly slow flash recharge time
  • Some (slightly) hidden options: Panoramic / Stitch assist at bottom of Photo menu, Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation in My Colours / Custom.
  • Slightly soft images - could benefit from sharpening

Additional Test Images are viewable in the Canon Digital IXUS 70 / SD1000 Sample Photo Gallery.

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