Canon PowerShot SD700 IS Digital Camera Review

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Testing / Performance

Color*(10.64)*The Canon PowerShot SD700 IS is equipped with Canon’s Digic II image processor, which generally does pretty well at reproducing colors accurately. To test and see how this Digital Elph performed, we took a sequence of pictures of the industry standard GretagMacbeth color chart, using the manual white balance setting and optimal lighting conditions. Below is the resultant color chart, modified by Imatest Imaging Software to show the differences between the SD700’s colors and the ideal colors from the original chart. The outer square of each of the 24 tiles shows the color produced by the Canon SD700. The inner vertical rectangle shows the ideal color, while the inner square is the ideal color, corrected for luminance.

The SD700 IS reproduces color well, as most of the SD700’s rendered tones look just like the ideal versions. To help us see just how close each color is to the original GretagMacbeth colors, Imatest output the following chart. It shows the original colors as squares and the Canon PowerShot SD700 IS’s colors as circles. The line connecting the two colors shows the degree of error, if any.

As seen in the chart, most of the colors are tightly tethered, with quite a few of them spot-on. Indeed, the mean color error was only 4.61. The overall color score came out to be 10.64, which is one of the best scores we’ve seen in awhile and far better than the SD500’s 8.12 color score. Color saturation was average, with the picture over-saturated by 14.2 percent. Overall, the Canon PowerShot SD700 IS performed very well and produced accurate colors worthy of the Digic II’s heavy marketing hype.  **Still Life Scene**Below is a shot of our classic still life scene taken with the Canon PowerShot SD700 IS.


Click on the image above to view a full resolution version.](

**Resolution ***(4.85)*We tested the SD700’s 6 megapixel sensor by snapping several shots of an industry standard resolution chart. We tried several focal lengths and apertures to ensure the absolute sharpest results. The best image came from a shot taken at f/5 with a focal length of 18.6 mm. That image is pictured below.


Click on the image above to view the full resolution file](

Imatest Imaging Software analyzed the file and output the results in terms of line widths per picture height (lw/ph). That unit describes how many alternating black and white lines of the same width could theoretically fit across a frame horizontally and vertically. Horizontally, Imatest determined that the Canon SD700 can resolve 1907 lw/ph. Vertically, the camera resolved 1844 lw/ph. This performance is better than some of Canon’s other PowerShots from different lines. The Canon S80, which advertises 8 megapixels, garnered 1633 lw/ph horizontally and 1809 lw/ph vertically. The Canon A620 read 1708 lw/ph horizontally and 1787 lw/ph vertically; this camera has a 7.1-megapixel image sensor.

In-camera sharpening on the SD700 was quite finicky however. The degree of in-camera sharpening fluctuated greatly from picture to picture, even when modes, settings, or subjects did not. The best image from the Canon PowerShot SD700 IS, pictured above, over-sharpened 18.3 percent in the horizontal direction and 0.148 percent in the vertical direction. While this produced the sharpest image, this image was also given the most in-camera sharpening.     In general, the Canon PowerShot SD700 IS performed well in the resolution tests. It received a 4.85 overall score, which is very respectable – especially for a compact model.  **Noise – Auto ISO *(2.10)*This Digital Elph has an automatic ISO option to accompany its manual 80-800 range. In optimal lighting conditions, the SD700 produced the same amount of noise found around the ISO 200 manual setting. This is unfortunate, as the 80 or 100 settings would have been better choices with less noise. Because the lower settings on the SD700 have relatively ample amounts of noise, this Digital Elph received a poor 2.10 automatic ISO noise score.  Noise - Manual ISO ***(4.92)*We tested the noise levels at each of the camera’s manual ISO settings, which extend from 80-800. Below is a chart showing the results, with the ISO setting on the horizontal axis and the noise level on the vertical.

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The Canon PowerShot SD700 IS does add a new ISO 800 setting to its manual offerings, which is a nice touch. Digital cameras had few higher sensitivity settings until this year, when many manufacturers released cameras with higher ISOs to attract consumers who shoot in less than perfect lighting. Unfortunately, the ISO 800 setting is extremely noisy. It makes pictures almost unusable.  The Canon SD700 didn’t perform fantastically at this test. The lower end of its  ISO range has more noise than most other comparable models and its higher ISO settings are practically worthless. The camera received a 4.92 overall manual ISO noise score.  **Low Light Performance ***(4.0)*For photographers who venture out of optimal lighting conditions, we tested the SD700’s low light performance. We took pictures at decreasing light levels of 60, 30, 15, and 5 lux, using the custom white balance and the optical image stabilization in the so-called "manual" mode. For those new to our low light testing system, 60 lux is about the light from two soft lamps after dusk. 30 lux is what comes from a single 40-watt bulb and 15 lux is roughly equivalent to a night light. 5 lux is uncommonly dark, but usually shows any image sensor limitations.

 The "manual" mode doesn’t actually allow users to choose shutter speeds and apertures, so the exposure time was left to the whim of the camera. At 60 lux, a 0.125-second exposure time was used. At 30 lux, a 0.2-second shutter speed was used. At 15 lux, the shutter flipped for a half second. At the darkest 5 lux test, the SD700 opened the shutter for a full second. The pictures above show how well the camera reacted. Images retain luminance well despite the dim lighting. The colors even remain relatively true. The mean color error started at 4.5 in 60 lux conditions and fell to 4.84 in 5 lux. Even at the darkest setting, the SD700 produces colors that are more accurate than other models in optimal conditions.  Below is a chart showing the exposure times on the horizontal axis and the noise levels on the vertical axis. As usual, the noise increases the longer the shutter remains open.

While the Canon SD700’s pictures are quite noisy, it is still impressive that the colors are so accurate and images retain illumination. This Digital Elph is a good candidate for shooting in low light. Its optical image stabilization system allows users to get away with a few more hand-held shots, which is good because many Digital Elph users won’t carry tripods around in their pockets. The custom white balance setting keeps colors true, and the camera does a good job of keeping images bright. The SD700 has some noise in the pictures, but they should be all right at small sizes.   **Dynamic Range ***(5.5)*A camera with good dynamic range records details in both very bright and very dark parts of a single scene. A picture of a black cat walking across a sunlit patch of snow would have very wide dynamic range; it would be hard for most cameras to show detail in the cat's fur and in the snow in the same picture. We test dynamic range by shooting a Stouffer test chart that shows a series of rectangles that range from very bright to very dark. We use Imatest software to measure the range of brightness recorded in the images. Dynamic range varies by ISO rating, or light sensitivity, so we test each camera at each ISO setting. Imatest delivers several measures of dynamic range, but we look particularly at the High and  Low Quality ranges. Low Quality is wider: useful for maintaining texture in dark shadows and bright highlights. High Quality is a narrower range, but describes how the camera will do in the parts of the image that viewers will be interested in.

 As many compact cameras do, the SD700 IS performs respectably at ISO 80, its lowest setting, but deteriorates quickly. It maintains good low-quality range at ISO 100 and 200, but drops significantly at 400 and is very limited at 800 and High ISO. The SD700’s High Quality range is good only at ISO 80, dropping below 6.0 at 100 and below 4.0 at 400. Its 1.65 rating at High ISO is a very poor rating, suggesting that low-light images  will have a grimy, noisy look.  **Speed / Timing***Start-up to First Shot (8.31)*The SD700 IS starts up fairly quickly for a small compact camera. It took a shot within 1.7 seconds of being turned on. That's not fast enough to catch sudden action, so it's wise to keep the SD700 IS turned on when on the prowl. *Shot to Shot (9.53)*Canon tends to deliver impressive burst modes. The SD700 IS shoots 11 images in 5.5 seconds for a 2 frames-per-second rate. The rate isn't outstanding, but the length of the burst is good, and, after 11 shots, the SD700 IS keeps plugging away at about 1 frame per second, apparently indefinitely. *Shutter to Shot (8.46)*The chief annoyance for many snapshooters is the delay between pressing the shutter button and getting the shot. The SD700 IS takes about 0.27 seconds to focus and get off a shot. That's not nearly good enough for serious sports photography, but it is better than a lot of compact cameras.

Physical Tour


In a new "Perpetual Curve" design, the flat front face and left side of the Canon PowerShot SD700 are contoured to fit more comfortably in the photographer’s hand. The Canon logo, located right where the fingers rest, also serves as a grip for the right hand. Just right of center is the Canon 4x zoom lens; its label and "5.8-23.2mm 1:2.8-5.5" specs are around the rim. Surrounding the lens rim is a shiny chrome band that looks almost like a fun-house mirror. On it is a plug for the camera’s image sensor: "6.0 Megapixels." An optical viewfinder is on the left of the chrome band, an auto focus assist lamp in the center, and a flash bulb on the right. The most unnoticeable feature on the front of the SD700 is the microphone, which is a tiny speck below the left side of the viewfinder.


Two colors in the Canon SD700 IS’s tri-color design appear on the rear plate. A silver matte panel sits at the right and provides a resting place for the mode dial and control buttons. The left portion of the back is shiny black and frames the LCD screen, optical viewfinder, LED indicator lights, and power button. While amply sized, the 2.5 inch screen leaves room for other features on the back. A Canon logo is painted in the top left corner above the screen, and next to it, almost on top of the camera, is the built-in microphone.

Almost directly in the center of the camera is the optical viewfinder, which protrudes ever-so-slightly from the black surface. On its left is an ‘AiAF’ logo and to its right are two LED indicator lamps. To the right of those is the power button, which has its own LED to indicate when the SD700 is on. The silver matte panel, which wraps around the right side and top of the SD700, only makes up about one-fourth of the camera’s back. A nickel-sized mode dial protrudes from its right side; a cutout on the back shows its icons. The control buttons are squashed on the lower half of the silver panel. About halfway down, a print/share button holds an LED in its center; a Func/Set button is in the center of the multi-selector below it. Below the multi-selector are two oval-shaped buttons; the left Disp. button changes the display on the LCD screen, and the Menu button, naturally, enters the menu system. A multitude of icons make the selector’s multi-function capability even more noticeable, but they are large enough to almost blend with each other and make the general impression somewhat overwhelming. The "back" function icon appears above the multi-selector, the ISO letters on the top of the selector itself. While the flash is the only icon on the right side, the bottom contains self-timer, burst, and delete functions and the left side has icons for macro and landscape focus modes. **Left Side ***(8.0)* Although there are no features on this side of the camera, the Canon PowerShot SD700’s left side shows off the camera’s full triad of colors. The steel-colored front panel and the shiny black rear panel sandwich the central matte silver band. **Right Side***(8.0)* The right side is a little thicker than the left side, but its size won’t make the SD700 any less portable. Widest at the front, it slopes back to the rear panel in a curvaceous design.. The wrist strap eyelet sits in the center of the right side, with a plastic port cover above it. This hides the two jacks to the USB and AV-out cables. Directly behind this feature is the notched side of the mode dial. **Top***(8.0)* On top of the SD700, the front panel’s steel color reaches almost to the center of the camera; a shutter release button surrounded by a zoom switch interrupts it on the right side. The center of the camera is a matte silver color. Its panel is skinny on the left – with an "Image Stabilizer" tag – and grows thicker until it consumes the right side and part of the back. The bottom left portion of the top is shiny black surface reminiscent of patent leather shoes. **Bottom***(8.0)* At the bottom, the three colors’ arrangement looks almost diagonal. A door on the left side opens when pushed toward the camera, then to the outer edge, revealing the lithium-ion battery and the memory card. Almost directly below the lens is a socket for a tripod mount. The company information and serial numbers are located on the black portion of the bottom.



The Canon PowerShot SD700 IS retains a traditional optical viewfinder in addition to the more modern LCD screen on its small frame. However, the real-image viewfinder is quite small, and its location above the LCD is impractical. As users strain to see the tiny view available, their noses will grease up the screen, rendering an already problematic view almost unusable.

When the lens is at its widest focal length, it appears in the viewfinder’s bottom left corner. While this obstructs the wide view slightly, the viewfinder also sees less than the image records; crops won’t be nearly as tight as photographers think.. When the viewfinder is zoomed in, pictures are still inaccurate. Images will have more space on the left side and less on the top than what appears in the viewfinder. Besides this inaccuracy, the optical viewfinder is plain difficult to look through. The size is a hindrance, but its blurry glass on the outer edges – especially the right and left sides – particularly makes the SD700’s viewfinder a sight for sore eyes.

LCD Screen*(6.5)*

A 2.5 inch low-temperature polycrystalline silicon TFT color LCD provides a superior view. Its size is much better than that of the optical viewfinder, and the fact that users won’t have to squash their faces against the camera to see is a plus. Even better is the LCD live view’s 100 percent accuracy: what you see is what you get. .

The resolution on the screen isn’t the greatest; users will still be able to see red, green, and blue pixels. Many models with this size LCD monitor have 230,000 pixels, but Canon skimped on this one and provided only 173,000. The screen had great contrast and was still easy to view out in broad daylight. A +/- 7 brightness scale, with a live view for adjustment, is available in the setup menu to further enhance the view in more interesting lighting. The SD700 is visible at just about any angle, providing easier photography in almost all situations. Pushing the Disp. Button switches between the LCD screen’s several viewing modes: turning it off to save battery live or bringing up a live view with or without information. Unfortunately, this model lacks a live histogram, but the screen is generally impressive, the sub-par resolution its only real drawback.


The flash on the Canon SD700 is typical for a compact digital camera. Its range isn’t very impressive: 1.6-11.5 ft in wide and 1.6-6.6 ft in telephoto (at the automatic ISO setting). The Canon HF-DC1 flash accessory, which retails for just under a hundred dollars, can extend the average range of the built-in unit. Still, as long as subjects are within range, the pictures will turn out great with the built-in flash. The flash itself fires fairly evenly, so foreheads won’t turn into hot spots and one side won’t be blown out. While the outer corners of the frame show some vignetting and the flash doesn’t quite make it to the outermost corners of the picture, it looks especially good in portraits. Pushing the right side of the multi-selector brings up the following flash modes: Auto, Auto with Red-eye Reduction, On, Off, On with Red-eye Reduction, and Slow Synchro. The flash doesn’t take long to fire and is ready to go less than a second after taking the first shot.

Poor placement is the biggest drawback of the SD700’s flash. Its location in the upper right corner of the front puts it right in the path of the left fingers. Sure, attentive photographers can avoid it. . However, most photographers will be thinking about the photographic moment at hand instead of their wandering fingers and the flash’s position. Quite a few pictures turned out completely or partially dark because of this.

Zoom Lens*(7.0)*

Several of the Canon Digital Elph series cameras have 4x optical zoom lenses, including the PowerShot SD700 IS This is just above the average 3x offering, but is becoming the norm with more interest in extended zoom ranges. The "IS" after the SD700’s name, however, indicates that its lens, unlike those on its predecessors, is digitally stabilized. Image stabilization functions in Continuous, Shoot Only, and Panning modes, and. can be turned off in the recording menu. The Continuous mode is available in any recording mode, but the Panning option – which is optimized for horizontally moving subjects – and the Shoot Only option are for still image modes only. Image stabilization works very well, especially in the movie mode, where it does a fine job of eliminating hand shake.

The Canon lens measures from 5.8-23.2 mm, which is equivalent to a 35-140 mm lens in the traditional 35 mm format. It moves within its range quite well, without making too much noise or taking too long. A tiny, hand-crampingly tight switch around the shutter release button controls zoom, and allows users to stop at 8 focal lengths within its range. The closest the lens can focus is 0.79 inches in the macro mode, where its focus extends to 2 ft in the widest focal length. In the macro telephoto mode, the SD700 can focus from 1.3-2 ft. Normally, the Canon 4x optical zoom lens focuses from 1.5 ft to infinity. For users who just can’t get enough zoom, the camera has 4x digital zoom that can be turned on and off in the recording menu. However, this degrades the image quality into a mere pile of pixels hardly reminiscent of the subject. The extending lens performs well and keeps pictures looking sharp and free from distortion.

Design / Layout

Model Design / Appearance*(8.0)*

Like its Digital Elph siblings, the PowerShot SD700 is very attractive. Its housing incorporates a tri-color design, along with some chrome highlights, to make it look positively classy. The front panel has a brushed steel look to it, while the rear panel that surrounds the LCD screen is a glossy black. In between them, a lighter silver-colored panel is thin on the left side and runs wider to the right, where it extends onto the back and covers the entire right side. The lines between all of these panels aren’t completely straight and at boring 90-degree angles. Instead, there are some rounded edges on this relatively slim model: in particular, Canon’s "Perpetual Curve" design adds a noticeable curve where the right hand grips the camera. This feature increases handling comfort, particularly for a model of this size, as does the SD100’s slightly thicker right side. As it should be, the general design is attractive and comfortable.

Size / Portability*(6.75)*

The Canon PowerShot SD700 IS measures 3.56 x 2.22 x 1.04 inches, which isn’t the slimmest on the market but is certainly pocketable. Its left side is slimmer than the right, which makes the camera comfortable to hold and even makes slipping it into a pocket easier. Only pushing the power button for about a second can turn the camera on, a useful safeguard against accidental snapshots that wear down the battery.  An included wrist strap, which attaches to the eyelet on the camera’s right side, further increases portability. The camera feels solid at 5.82 oz, and that’s not including the battery or memory card. Even so, the small size of the camera and curvaceous features make it a convenient accessory.

Handling Ability *(7.0)*

With small cameras, the positioning of the components, as well as the overall design, makes a huge difference in handling. The Canon SD700 wins some and loses some in this area. Bad news first: users will often accidentally cover the flash with their left fingers and smudge the LCD with their noses. The control buttons on the back are squashed toward the bottom, and the placement of the mode dial and zoom switch will cramp the right hand into a painful pose. This is certainly not the digital camera for arthritic joints.

While those issues complicate handling, Canon didn’t completely miss the boat. They did round the right side of the camera in what they call their "Perpetual Curve design." This makes holding the inch-thick camera a little more comfortable.

Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size*(6.25)*

The Canon SD700 doesn’t overwhelm users with vast amounts of buttons, but it doesn’t skimp either. Instead of including all kinds of designated buttons, the SD700 has a multi-selector that gives the "multi" prefix much more meaning than it has on most digital cameras. The selector multi-tasks so much that the icons overtake the entire outer donut around the Func./Set button – and then spill over onto the camera body itself!

Other than navigating through the menu system, the multi-selector can perform eight functions. Above the multi-selector is a designated Print button that lights up when connected to a PictBridge printer via the USB cable. In the upper right corner of the back is the mode dial, which is about the size of a dime and has a notched edge like one too. It protrudes slightly from the right side of the camera, with a cutout in the back for users to see which mode is selected. From the top, the modes are Playback, Auto, "Manual" (this title can be misleading, as there is no manual control over the shutter speed or aperture), Scene, and Movie. To its credit, the Canon SD700’s buttons are all decently sized.

The mode dial itself is too tight, so users have to jam their thumbs into the tiny notched edge and slam it up or down. This isn’t comfortable at all, especially when trying to make a quick mode change for the next shot. The other complication with the control buttons is the zoom switch that surrounds the shutter release button. It has a tiny switch that doesn’t move very far to the right or left; users have to jam their index fingers into the switch to push it.


In order to keep frequently used settings available, the recording menu is split in two: the left side shows the list of features, mainly expressed in icons, and the list of accompanying options displays across the bottom of the screen. Live views make this menu easy to use. The Func./Set menu offers scene modes when in the scene position of the mode dial, but also blocks access to other options.

The following menu is therefore from the "manual" mode, which grants the most access to the camera’s features.

The remainder of the settings are available with a push of the Menu button, which calls up the same three-folder system that is on other Digital Elph cameras. A red camera icon on the first folder’s top tab designates recording settings, including the following.

The central folder has a yellow tab at the top, which displays a wrench-like tool to represent the setup menu. This menu has tons of options that require a lot of scrolling with the multi-selector.

All of these options include a way to cancel the action and return to the previous menu. This is a nice feature, as it gets annoying to hit ‘cancel’ in some cameras and completely exit the menu system.

The final tab on the right is blue and features a Lego-like bust of a person. This is where users can customize the welcome image and make the camera sounds mimic bird calls and wolf howls. When the Menu button is pushed in the playback menu, the following options appear.

Users will wish the deletion feature was a little more accessible: as it is, they must scroll through pages and pages of images to tag and delete only some of them. Still, the menu system does its job. It is intuitive, easy to scroll through, and fairly well organized. Some users may not like the split system in the recording menus, though, and will stumble through pages of menus looking for the ISO options, only to remember that they are on the multi-selector instead.

Ease of Use*(7.5)*

If the SD700 is a gift for Great Aunt Gertrude, expect a positive response. This camera is intuitive. Switching into the auto mode, designated by a camera icon on the mode dial, will allow the user to simply point and shoot. Even outside of auto mode, the Canon PowerShot SD700 IS keeps things simple for the most part. The abundance of icons on the multi-selector is a little confusing and there are some quirky handling issues, but this digital camera can take pictures easily – which is all that really counts anyway.


Auto Mode*(7.0)*

A red camera icon on the mode dial represents the SD700’s auto mode, which limits options to the bare necessities for point-and-shooters who don’t want to be hassled. It still allows users to select flash and macro modes, turn the ISO setting to Auto or High, and activate the self-timer, though the burst mode is unavailable. Once one of these options is selected, the camera saves the settings for later. For example, if the user activates the High ISO setting in the auto mode, then switches to a scene mode for a few shots, switching back to the auto mode will reactivate the High ISO setting. Some people love that the camera remembers its settings; others wish it had the memory of a goldfish so that it would reset to its defaults each time.

Movie Mode*(7.0)*

The Canon PowerShot SD700 has an easy to use movie mode with plenty of size options and good looking video capabilities. Movies can be shot at a full 640 x 480 pixels or the more email-friendly 320 x 240 pixels; both shoot at frame rates of 30 or 15 per second. The Motion JPEG movies can also record in a Fast Frame Rate mode that captures 320 x 240 pixels at a speedy 60 frames per second. A slower Video Mail option shoots 160 x 120 pixels at 15 fps. These latter two options have time limitations, though. The speedy Fast Frame Rate mode only operates for one minute at a time, and the Video Mail records only 3 minutes maximum. Other movies can record up to 1 GB of video.

Exposure options are already available on the SD700. Users can choose the white balance setting and My Colors mode, and can activate the image stabilization system. The system should always be activated, because it greatly reduces the natural jostling that plagues so many movie modes. While most footage from compact digital cameras looks shaky, the Canon SD700’s image stabilization keeps the picture steady even when the user is not. Image stabilization works continuously in movie mode, so the audience checking out the video later won’t get sick watching it.

The SD700 records monaural audio with the video; it is quite clear and free of excessive handling noise. Movie mode cannot optically zoom while recording, but the 4x digital zoom works. . This deteriorates the picture and looks awful, but some users still insist on using it. Overall, the movie mode on this PowerShot is the best we’ve seen in the Digital Elph series – mainly because the image stabilization system keeps videos steady and clear. The options are vast compared to most compact cameras’ movie modes, and the video footage itself looks great.

Drive / Burst Mode*(7.5)*

Pushing the bottom half of the multi-selector cycles through the self-timing options and the single and continuous shot options. This method can turn the self-timer on or off, but specifics must be set via a non-intuitive process in the recording menu. The options include selecting the self-timer to capture a shot 2 or 10 seconds after the shutter release button is pressed. A custom self-timer option also lets users set the camera to take 1-10 pictures after 1-30 seconds of waiting. The camera notifies the subjects of the upcoming exposure by flashing an orange LED and beeping.

The burst mode takes a quick 2.1 frames per second and goes for an insanely long time. I took 32 full-resolution shots before the burst stopped – and that was because my memory card was full. When the flash is activated, the burst mode slows down to about a frame a second, but even this is quite good for firing the flash so much. Many compact models have burst modes that shoot in the 2 fps range, but hardly any capture this many consecutive shots. All in all, the burst mode performs extremely well.

Playback Mode*(7.5)*

Switching the mode dial to the playback icon puts the camera into playback mode, where viewing and editing options abound. Pictures can be viewed individually and magnified from 2-10x to show even the smallest of details. The SD700 has an automatic rotation feature that flips the picture right-side-up, no matter which way the camera is held. Rotation can also correct the file itself.

Also available in playback mode is My Colors mode, which, unlike that offered in previous Digital Elph models, can change pictures after the fact. Options in both recording and playback mode include Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, and Vivid Red. A Custom Colors choice is also available in recording mode only.  In addition, users can view individual images with file information and histograms, record sound memos up to 60 seconds, and protect pictures from deletion. Deleting individual pictures is possible with the bottom portion of the multi-selector. The only other option is to delete all of the pictures from the playback menu; there is no way to scroll through screens and pick and choose which to delete. Although this makes it difficult to save a few files and delete the rest, it’s easy to get into a pattern, which makes deletion relatively quick.

The camera can display pictures on index frames of 9 like most models, but it also includes a "jump" feature that makes navigating a large memory card simple. Users can jump 10 images, 100 images, to the first image of each date on the memory, to the movie files, and to the first image in each folder. This is a great feature that would have been complemented by a nicer deletion function. Slide shows can play all images, all movies or stills, pictures from a certain date or folder, or the DPOF order. Images show for 3-30 seconds and can play on continuous loop. During playback, movies can be navigated with VCR-like controls at the bottom of the screen (when the Func. /Set button is pushed). Movies can also be chopped into two files, giving users the option of saving them as two separate files or keeping just one. While the lack of deletion selection is a bit bothersome, the playback mode is generally thorough and decent.

Custom Image Presets*(8.0)*

When the mode dial is switched to the "SCN" position and the Func. /Set button is pressed, the following scene modes appear as options in the menu: Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Underwater, Color Accent, and Color Swap. All of the modes disable access to the white balance, My Colors, ISO, and metering options, but allow freedom with the exposure compensation and flash choices. The Portrait mode works well, softening the background and firing the flash to capture all the details in the face. Night Snapshot fires the flash, so the subject looks quite unflatteringly illuminated compared to the dark background. Kids & Pets throws in some fast shutter speeds that seemed to work on my speedy one-year-old. Indoor works similar to the Portrait mode, but keeps the background in sharp focus. The Foliage mode really stretches colors in strange ways, turning isolated green leaves bright green and giving those close to pink flowers a maroon-ish hue, Supposedly, this works really well for those New England walks in the fall. The Snow and Beach modes use quick shutter speeds and different white balance modes, while the Fireworks mode uses slower shutter speeds. The Underwater mode is only useful if users buy the optional underwater housing. The last two scene modes were once part of the My Colors menu, but have since migrated to this part of the menu system.

Color Accent lets users choose a single color to exaggerate. Users press the Disp. button to enter the mode, then push the left part of the multi-selector to select the color and press up and down to adjust its the intensity. This sounds quite complicated, but there are helpful on-camera arrows and icons to. The Color Swap mode also has instructions on how to switch the sky’s beautiful blue color with the subject’s hot pink shirt. In general, scene modes work well and the color modes are very interesting and fun to play with.

Control Options

Manual Control Options

The Canon PowerShot SD700 IS has a camera icon with the letter ‘M’ next to it on its mode dial, which usually signifies the Manual mode. On this model, though, the designation is misleading. The SD700 is one of a growing number of compact models which try to redefine "manual" as free access to options blocked in the auto and scene modes, such as the full ISO range, exposure compensation, white balance, My Colors modes, metering, image size and file compression. Unlike cameras which fit the traditional definition of a "manual mode," the SD700 doesn’t allow manual control of shutter speeds or apertures.


Auto Focus*(7.75)*

Canon strapped in a Digic II image processor that virtually eliminates shutter lag on this camera unless shooting in low light. In dim places, the SD700 shoots out its orange auto focus assist beam. The through-the-lens system carries the AiAF name and can be turned on or off in the "manual" mode. When on, the camera guesses where the subject is and displays green boxes around its guess, which is only correct about 50 percent of the time. Otherwise, it focuses only in the center of the frame. The camera can focus from 0.79 inches in the macro mode and 1.5 ft otherwise.

Manual Focus*(0.0)*

This feature is not available on the Canon PowerShot SD700.



This camera’s metering modes are typical for a compact model: Evaluative, Center-Weighted Average, and Spot. The first, default, mode measures from points around the entire frame for an average; the second choice shows the measurement source as a box in the center of the frame; and the last option is also fixed to the center, but uses a smaller area to measure. Most point-and-shooters don’t mess with this setting, but they’d be missing out on the SD700. The metering modes show live views in the menu, so picking the Spot option and pointing the camera at a black subject in a mostly white frame makes everything start looking blown out. Live view is great for users who don’t normally pay attention to metering effects.



The Canon PowerShot SD700 IS does not let users adjust the shutter speed or aperture individually, but it does allow a little tweaking of both with the standard exposure compensation scale. Also found in the Func. /Set menu, this option can go up or down two exposure values, with choices every third of a step.


White Balance** (7.5)

The white balance option can be found in the Func. /Set recording menu. Scrolling right and left takes users through the following live options: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, and Custom. Setting the custom white balance is easy; a small bracket in the center of the frame shows the source of the SD700’s white measurements. Users need only to fill that tiny bracket with white and press the Menu button; instructions are on-screen. 


With many of this year’s cameras introducing higher ISO sensitivities, Canon included a wider range on its recent Digital Elph offerings. The Canon PowerShot SD700 IS has the Auto, 80, 100, 200, and 400 options from previous models. It adds an 800 setting and a High ISO Auto setting. All of these options can be chosen by pushing on the multi-selector.


The wide manual range will be great for low light photography where users want to keep the flash out. The High ISO Auto setting is an interesting concept too, as most compact cameras have an Auto mode that only extends as far as ISO 200 and is useless in low light. As is generally true, increasing the ISO setting decreases the amount of accurate information recorded. To see how well the Canon SD700 performed, check out our testing sections. 

Shutter Speed*(0.0)*

Users cannot choose specific shutter speeds on the Canon PowerShot SD700 IS, but they can make selections to give the camera hints at what they want. An fireworks scene mode uses a slow shutter speed. Users can also select the Long Shutter option in the recording menu. The choices are only On and Off; when On, there is still only a slim chance that the camera will choose to go as slow as 1.3-15 seconds. With these slower speeds, the Canon SD700 uses a noise reduction system to keep pictures clean. The SD700 has a shutter speed range of 15-1/1600th of a second, but users will rarely see the outer limits of that range.


The Canon zoom lens uses an f/2.8 maximum aperture at its widest focal length. That shrinks to f/5.5 at the far end of that 4x optical zoom lens. The aperture cannot be manually adjusted.

Image Parameters

Picture Quality / Size Options*(7.5)*

The Canon PowerShot SD700 IS has three compression sizes, all located in the Func. /Set menu: SuperFine, Fine, and Normal . Just below the compression choices is the list of image sizes. The following 4:3-formatted options are available: 2816 x 2112, 2272 x 1704, 1600 x 1200, and 640 x 480. There is also a widescreen-optimized 16:9 mode that shoots with 2816 x 1584 pixels. Sadly, there is no 3:2-formatted image size. This would have been helpful to the majority of users, who simply print 4 x 6-inch sheets.

Picture Effects Mode* (8.0)*

A My Colors mode, unique to the Canon digital cameras, offers lots of interesting color filters and effects. In the SD700, My Colors is available for the first time in playback as well as recording. The following filters are in the My Colors portion of the Func./Set menu: Vivid, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, and Custom Color, which is only available in recording mode. Unlike previous Canon cameras, the SD700 groups the really interesting effects with the scene modes. The Color Swap and Color Accent modes are not very intuitive, even though there are on-screen directions. Users can trade the color of a shirt for the color of the couch or accent their lovely eyes if they so choose. All of the My Colors modes are very cool, but users should play with them for quite awhile before recording anything of any meaning.


Connectivity / Extras



The PowerShot SD700 comes with a version 28.0 Canon Solution CD-ROM. One would think that, by the 28th release, this software would be pretty elaborate. That isn’t the case, though. The CD has a Canon EOS Utility program that lets users monitor on-camera folders, enable remote shooting, and select images for downloading from the SD700.

ZoomBrowser EX organizational and editing software is also included on the CD-ROM. Its options are all too common. There are three viewing modes: zoom, scroll, and preview. The zoom mode fits all of the images from one folder onto a single screen and displays a larger thumbnail when an image is scrolled over. The scroll mode lets users scroll up and down through the pictures. Both of these modes allow users to control thumbnail size.

The preview mode shows a scroll bar and thumbnails across the bottom of the screen and a larger version of the selected thumbnail with all of its shooting information. From here, users can rename the files and view file info, shooting info, and a histogram. Users can, for example, also assign one to three stars to each photo, then search files for all three-star photos. To make searching easier, users can also add keywords and comments to each image file.

To edit an image, users simply double-click on a thumbnail and access. simple editing commands: red-eye correction, auto adjustment, color/brightness adjustment, sharpness, trim, and insert text. Rotation is also available, but in the main window instead of with the editing options. Movies cannot be edited at all, only played back. In every viewing mode, users can download images from the camera, view and classify them, edit, export images, and print at home or on the internet. Pictures can be played in slide shows, with 32 different transitions, and change every 1-120 seconds or only when the mouse on the computer is clicked.

Overall, the editing options are skim but the organizational components are all there. Canon’s Solution Disk is a good solution for users who won’t be doing much editing but need some way to organize the thousands of pictures on their computers. The version 28.0 software is easy to use and has basic options, with its slide show and remote shooting capability being perhaps its best qualities.

Jacks, ports, plugs (5.0)

A single port cover hides the SD700’s USB and AV-out jacks. While many compact models combine these jacks into a multi-terminal, the SD700 keeps them separate. UBS 2.0 high-speed cable is included in the package, along with an AV cable that can be selected to fit NTSC or PAL standards. There is no port for a power adaptor, which is bad news when users want to upgrade the firmware on low batteries.

*Direct Print Options (7.0)

*From the playback menu, users can add selected images to a DPOF print order with the Transfer Order option. Images can be selected individually or all at once. The version 1.1 DPOF system on the SD700 doesn’t allow users to choose how many prints of each image to make; it is assumes that they want one print from each picture. When the camera is connected to a PictBridge printer with its USB cable, users need to only touch the Print button when they have completed their print order. While the SD700 can connect to any PictBridge printer, Canon naturally recommends the Canon CP and Selphy Compact photo printers .These expand printing options to include filmstrip-type index prints and an ID Photo Print mode that makes instant passport photos. 

*Battery (7.0)

*The SD700 comes with its own slim and light NB-5L rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It only gets 240 shots per charge with the LCD on, although its life extends to 700 shots with the screen off. . The included wall-mount charger has an LED that displays orange when in the charging process and green when it is finished. It takes a little over an hour for the battery to rejuvenate.

*Memory (3.5)

*The SD700 doesn’t come with any internal memory; it only includes a 16 MB SD card. This is enough to get an entire four pictures at the finest resolution available. For users who want to be able to jump a hundred shots and take advantage of the image stabilization system in the movie mode, a larger SD or MMC card will be necessary.

Other features*(5.0)*

Waterproof Case  - If consumers are excited about the underwater scene mode, they will need the optional WP-DC5 waterproof case to keep the SD700 from shorting out. A WW-DC1 case weight keeps the case from floating up.

Stitch Assist  - Available in the recording mode menu in the "manual" mode, stitch assist takes lots of pictures together either from right to left or left to right. This mode displays part of the previous image to help users line up the next shot. While this mode can take images as long as there’s memory on the card, it doesn’t stitch them in the camera. This must be done in the Canon software once pictures are downloaded to a computer.

Overall Impressions


The Canon PowerShot SD700 IS has an expensive retail price tag of $499. This camera does have a nice feature set, complete with 6 megapixels, 4x optical zoom lens, 2.5-inch LCD screen, and image stabilization. However, this probably isn’t enough to warrant dropping five Ben Franklins on the SD700. Canon probably anticipates that the sexy body and strong feature set will lure consumers to pay the price, but perhaps they forgot that other manufacturers have similar offerings for much less.


Canon PowerShot SD600 – The image stabilization system must have really cost Canon a pretty penny, because the unstable SD600 has a very similar feature set for a much lower price. Both Digital Elph cameras were announced in February 2006 and have 6-megapixel image sensors. They have the same mode offerings, down to the last scene mode, the same ISO selections, and the same image sizes. There are some minor tweaks, like the slower top shutter speed of 1/1500th of a second in the SD600 rather than the SD700’s 1/1600th of a second. Bigger differences, however, are in the lenses: the Canon PowerShot SD600 has a shorter 3x optical zoom lens that lacks an image stabilization system. The camera bodies look similar, but the SD600 is a little smaller at 3.4 x 2.1 x 0.85 inches. This is noticeably thinner than the SD700’s 1.04-inch thickness. At $349, the Canon PowerShot SD600 is much more affordable.

Kodak EasyShare V603 – For a whopping two hundred dollars less, consumers can grab a trendy 6.1-megapixel Kodak digital camera. This model has a Schneider-Kreuznach C-Variogon 3x optical zoom lens that functions while recording video, unlike the Canon SD700. The Canon does one-up the Kodak with its image stabilization system: the Canon system is optical, while the Kodak V603 has a less effective digital image stabilization system that corrects pictures with algorithms instead of physical movement. While the EasyShare’s 22 scene modes include an in-camera Panorama Stitch mode, which the Canon lacks, its color modes aren’t nearly as extensive as those on the SD700. The Kodak has high color, natural color, low color, black and white, and sepia offerings. It has limited white balance options and an 80-800 ISO range, although the highest sensitivityis only available at a ridiculously small image size. Other bright spots are a 2.5-inch LCD screen with great 230,000-pixel resolution, a Favorites mode and 32 MB of internal memory, and movie print options without having to buy a certain printer. There are also some inferior features: in addition to the inferior stabilization system Kodak’s burst mode shoots 3 fps but only for a maximum of 4 shots. Still, consumers may be able to look past its faults because of its $299 price tag.

Nikon Coolpix S5 – This model has similar components and automatic modes as those in the Canon SD700. The Nikon S5 has 6 megapixels on a 1/2.5-inch CCD, a 3x optical zoom lens, and a 2.5-inch LCD screen with much nicer 230,000-pixel resolution. Its lens is not optically stabilized, but the camera does use an electronic vibration reduction system in the movie mode, which has lots of size options, but doesn’t have the 60 fps frame rate. The Nikon S5 has 15 scene modes and a simple one-touch Portrait mode; this activates a that includes face priority, auto focus, and red-eye fix. Nikon also included some other ease of use features: a rotary multi-selector dial and a new graphic user interface. Finally, the Nikon S5 has a cool Pictmotion mode that merges soundtracks and slide shows together within the camera.

This Coolpix may not have the perpetual curve, but it does have a "wave design" that makes it a little easier to hold than the usual boxy, compact camera; its all-metal body measures 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.8 inches. Its battery has even less power, with only 210 shots per charge. The S5 retails for $349. Its sibling, the Nikon Coolpix S6, has very similar features but a larger 3-inch LCD screen and built-in WiFi; it sells for $399.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01 – Also at a much cheaper $349 price, the 6-megapixel FX01 has a slightly shorter 3.6x optical zoom lens, but it does have an optical image stabilization system. Its Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens also has a wider 28 mm angle than the SD700. The FX01’s body is boxy at 3.7 x 2.01 x 0.95 inches, but still trendy with its multiple colored available housings and flat surfaces. It omits the optical viewfinder and instead includes just the 2.5-inch LCD screen. While it is the same size as the Canon SD700’s screen, the Panasonic version has more resolution, with 207,000 pixels. Panasonic also markets a High Angle mode on its LCD to increase the viewing angle, but it isn’t any better than the normal viewing angle on the Canon SD700. The FX01 has 12 scene modes, including the unique Baby mode and the hip High Sensitivity mode, which is being included on many of this year’s new cameras. It uses 800-1600 ISO settings for this scene mode, but only allows users to access 80-400 options in the manual range. This 6-megapixel model offers image sizes in three different formats: the standard 4:3, the 4 x 6-inch print optimized size, and the 16:9 widescreen format. The Panasonic FX01 can also record 848 x 640-pixel video. The camera’s color effects are limited to the basics, but its battery lasts a little longer at 320 shots per charge.

Who It’s For

Point-and-Shooters – This model is mostly easy to use, especially for the basics. The Color Swap mode may be a stretch for point-and-shooters, but the SD700 is otherwise intuitive.

Budget Consumers – With a $499 price tag, the Canon PowerShot SD700 is a bit pricy, even with its sweet My Colors mode and image stabilization system.

Gadget Freaks – These consumers will appreciate the image stabilization system and the interesting My Colors mode availability in both recording and playback, but there are no stellar features that will really catch their fancy.

Manual Control Freaks – Control enthusiasts will rotate the mode dial straight to the "manual" icon, only to spend several minutes frantically searching for the shutter speed and aperture controls. Once they consult the user manual, manual control freaks will panic at the concept of a manual mode without manual controls. It’s just not right.

Pros/ Serious Hobbyists – The SD700 could be a more pocketable camera for this audience. It certainly won’t satisfy their creative needs, but its pretty images could be enough to draw a few hobbyists.



The Canon PowerShot SD700 IS packs a solid set of components into its sturdy and trendy body. This 6-megapixel digital camera has a 4x optical zoom lens that is lengthier than the average and nicely complemented by an optical image stabilization system. The system has several modes optimized for different purposes like saving battery power and shooting horizontally moving subjects, but all of them work really well, both works when snapping still images and when recording video. While the Canon SD700 also has an optical viewfinder, it is more for decoration than anything else. Its inaccuracy and blurry view is nearly useless, but the 2.5-inch LCD screen is much more inviting to look at anyway, even with a disappointing 173,000-pixel resolution. A 100 percent accurate view and a wide viewing angle that can be seen in bright daylight or the dark of night are definite assets.

The new flagship of the Digital Elph series has a very attractive tri-color design that incorporates the "Perpetual Curve" design. This design element is meant to add some comfort to the relatively tiny camera, whose genre is generally difficult to handle because of its size. Not every design element had comfort in mind, though. The tiny zoom switch surrounding the shutter release button and the placement of the stiff mode dial cramp hands into stiff gang gestures. The left fingers have a little more freedom to roam, which gets the built-in flash in trouble sometimes. Several pictures came out dark because the flash fired through a fingertip or two. Still, the 1.04-inch-thick body looks good and is very portable.

The mode dial indicates the presence of a manual mode on the Canon PowerShot SD700 IS, but don’t be fooled. By "manual," this camera means control over features like white balance, ISO, and exposure compensation – not over shutter speed or aperture settings. Still, the available options are fairly extensive: a custom white balance mode that keeps colors accurate, a wide ISO range from 80-800, and a standard exposure compensation scale to easily brighten or darken the image. This PowerShot has plenty of scene modes, including a MyColors mode available in playback mode as well as recording, unlike in previous Canon models.

However, the Canon PowerShot SD700 does have its quirks: it has a cool Jump feature to navigate large amounts of photos, but no deletion feature to scroll through and select a partial order of pictures to delete. The viewfinder is inaccurate and the handling is complicated by the small size. Perhaps the biggest impediment for the Canon PowerShot SD700 IS is its price. At a time when other manufacturers are offering similar features for $399 or less, the SD700 is being released at a retail price of $499. Sure, it has an awesome image stabilization system and takes excellent pictures…but it will sure hurt the pocket book.

Specs / Ratings

**Specs / Ratings


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