DigitalCameraReview.com
Canon Powershot A570 IS Review
by Jim Keenan -  6/19/2007

Canon’s website describes the newly introduced Powershot A570 IS as "designed for the demanding family photographer".  Elsewhere, the site proclaims the A570 IS to be "Canon’s most affordable A-series digital camera with proprietary Optical Image Stabilizer Technology for steady shooting at all zoom settings". Image stabilization (IS) notwithstanding, terms like "family photographer" and "most affordable" at first blush might seem to suggest a somewhat pedestrian and narrow-purpose camera.  Add a couple of AA batteries and a memory card and you’ll quickly discover that kids and pets aren’t the only things this camera does well.

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This new Canon traces its lineage back to the A540 and features a 7.1 megapixel sensor and 4x Canon optical zoom lens that provides a 35 to 140mm (35mm equivalent) focal length range in addition to the aforementioned IS. The camera also boasts a DIGIC III processor which Canon says provides better images, better battery performance and improved Face Detection and Red Eye Correction technologies. There’s a 2.5 inch LCD monitor, a viewfinder, full manual controls, ISO to 1600, and just in case you opt not to dabble with those manual controls, 15 shooting and special scene modes that let the camera do the work.

A CLOSER LOOK 

While Canon might be targeting “demanding family photographers” with the A570 IS, the inclusion of manual controls gives the camera an additional degree of versatility. Virtually any point and shoot can make those family shots of the kids, the cat, and the barbecue without moving out of “auto” mode and the A570 IS is no exception. But along with the manual controls comes some very good shutter and continuous shooting performance that makes this “most affordable” Powershot look like one heck of a performance bargain.

Canon provides 2 AA alkaline batteries, a 16MB multimedia card, wrist strap, CD-ROM software, USB interface and AV cables with each camera.

Camera dimensions are approximately 3.52 x 2.53 x 1.69 inches with a shooting weight (2 AA NiMH batteries, SD memory card installed) of about 8 ounces.

The A570 IS can capture JPEG still images in seven pixel sizes: Large (3072 x 2304), M1 (2592 x 1944), M2 (2048 x 1536), M3 (1600 x 1200), S (640 x 480), Postcard (1600 x 1200) and Widescreen (3072 x 1728). Quality (compression) of these images may be at the Superfine (high quality), Fine (normal quality), or Normal (more images) levels.

Movies may be captured in AVI format at 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels and 15 or 30 frames per second (fps) for a maximum of 4GB; 320 x 240 pixels at 60 fps for a maximum of one minute; 160 x 120 at 15 fps for a maximum of three minutes.

CAMERA FEATURES AND LAYOUT 

The front of the camera houses the microphone, AF-assist beam/red-eye reduction lamp/self-timer lamp, viewfinder window, flash, lens, ring and ring release button.

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The camera rear is dominated by the 2.5 inch LCD monitor. Also found here are the viewfinder, speaker and a host of controls including the indicators; mode switch; print/share, menu, function/set, display and exposure/single image erase buttons, and a multi control button that includes flash, jump, macro and up/down/side-to-side toggle functions.

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The top of the camera houses the power lamp and power button, zoom lever, shutter button and shooting mode dial.

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The camera bottom features a threaded tripod socket, and the battery/memory card cover with lock button.

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The left side of the camera has A/V OUT, DIGITAL and DC IN terminals protected by a terminal cover. The right side features a lug for attaching the wrist strap (not shown).

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SHOOTING WITH THE A570 IS 

The curved handgrip-style body of the A570 IS is quite nice ergonomically and promotes a secure-feeling, one hand shooting position. Personally, I much prefer this easy to hold design to the more numerous rectangular bodies that seem to always be on the verge of slipping out of your hand.

Auto Mode 

The default settings for the A570 IS include the “Large” (3072 x 2304) pixel setting at “Fine” (normal quality) compression. Except where noted, images produced by the A570 IS to illustrate this review were shot at Large/Superfine (high quality) settings and in “auto” mode.

As a practical matter, I had a hard time differentiating between shots at the three compression levels. If memory card space becomes a problem, my experience is you can drop down to the Fine or Normal settings to save memory on image sizes without significant impact on image quality, at least for brightly lit subjects. Here’s one of each…………

canon powershot a570 is sample image
Normal quality (view medium image) (view large image)
canon powershot a570 is sample image
Fine quality (view medium image) (view large image)
canon powershot a570 is sample image
Superfine quality (view medium image) (view large image)

And here are a few others on “auto”…

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canon powershot a570 is sample image
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canon powershot a570 is sample image
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canon powershot a570 is sample image
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Shooting Modes/Special Scenes 

In addition to “auto”, the A570 IS features five shooting modes conveniently available via the shooting mode dial atop the camera: portrait, landscape, night snapshot, kids/pets and indoor.

Eight special scenes may be accessed via the shooting mode dial and internal menu: night scene, foliage, beach, snow, fireworks, aquarium, underwater and stitch assist (for producing panoramic shots).

Here are a couple “night scene” shots at our local county fair’s fun zone, and an “auto” and “foliage” shot. Personally, I prefer the look of the auto foliage shot to the special scene one – I wouldn’t have any qualms about leaving the A570 IS in “auto” for most of my shooting.

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canon powershot a570 is sample image
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Auto (view medium image) (view large image)
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Foliage scene mode (view medium image) (view large image)

Manual Controls 

The A570 IS also features a full set of manual controls: programmed auto, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual exposure. Typically these features are designated P, A, S and M. The 570 IS follows convention with the mode shooting dial having P, M, and Av designations, but for some reason shutter priority becomes “Tv”. Not very intuitive, but a 570 IS owner will figure it out quickly enough.

In-Camera Editing Tools 

Red eye correction and the ability to attach sound memos to images are available via internal menu. The red eye correction feature requires manual manipulation of individual images to correct the condition, but does a pretty good job once it’s used. Having to fix a large batch of images would get time consuming and make the user wish the camera had Nikon’s slick automatic in-camera red eye fix, but the A570 IS does a pretty good job of avoiding red eye in the first place, as will be explained in the flash section of this review.

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Exposure Compensation 

Exposure compensation of +/- 2 EV is available in 1/3 EV increments. 

Light Metering 

The A570 IS provides three metering options: evaluative (the default setting), center weighted, and spot. There’s a reason evaluative is the default – it works across a wide range of lighting conditions. Here, a shot under direct, high contrast midday sun and another on a gray, overcast morning.

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canon powershot a570 is sample
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Focus/Macro Focus 

Normal focus range on the A570 IS extends from 1.5 feet to infinity. Macro focus extends from 2 inches to 1.5 feet at wide angle.

The camera also features a manual focus capability from 2 inches to infinity at wide angle, and 1 foot to infinity at telephoto.

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canon powershot a570 is sample
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Monitor/Viewfinder 

The 2.5 inch monitor has pretty much become a standard size for this type of camera, but its 115,000 dot composition is about half that of the highest resolution versions. The image is more than adequate for composition purposes and is adequate for image review, but it is definitely a coarser image than a 200K or 230K monitor, and I would be a little leery of deleting images based on review through the monitor in anything but ideal lighting conditions. You might find yourself dumping images that don’t appear satisfactory on the monitor but might look OK on the computer. As with virtually every monitor, the A570 IS can be tough to use in bright conditions and with low contrast subjects.

The A570 IS overcomes the bright light/monitor woes with its real-image zoom viewfinder. Like most viewfinders in point and shoots, this viewfinder is fairly inaccurate when it comes to portraying what the camera will record versus what the viewfinder shows. But given the choice of having to deal with only a monitor on a bright day, or having a viewfinder, it’s no contest. In the shot that follows, the image in the viewfinder was composed so the edges of the picture filled the frame, but you’ll notice a lot of wall made its way onto the final image. The error seems more pronounced at the telephoto end, but there’s still a fair amount at wide angle as well.

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Flash 

Canon lists a flash range from 1.5 feet to 11 feet at wide angle, and 1.5 feet to 7.2 feet at telephoto, figures which seem accurate based on my experience.

“Red eye” (reduction) is a default setting and seems to work quite well. I had to disable the feature in order to get a couple of shots of red eye with which to try the red eye correction tool. 

Color 

The A570 IS features “My Colors” settings that may be used to modify the camera’s images, as well as shoot in Sepia or Black & White. The default setting for “My Colors” is off, which records colors “normally”. You can increase or decrease contrast and color saturation with menu settings, or use a “Custom Color” setting to adjust contrast, sharpness and saturation individually before shooting.

ISO 

In addition to the default “auto” setting, and “high ISO auto”, ISO values of 80, 100, 200, 400, 800 or 1600 may be manually selected. The A570 IS is fairly typical with its ISO performance: 80, 100 and 200 are quite good and fairly hard to tell apart, with a little more noise coming in at 400. 800 is more apparent, with the biggest apparent increase in noise from 800 to 1600. 


ISO 80

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1600

White Balance 

The A570 IS provides for auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, fluorescent H, underwater and custom white balance settings.

Battery Performance 

Canon claims 120 shot performance with AA alkalines, and 400 with NiMH rechargeables. I used 2700 mAh NiMH batteries and took over 300 shots without exhausting the batteries.

Shutter Performance 

The A570 IS powers up quickly, acquires focus rapidly in good lighting conditions and once in focus, fires the shutter nearly instantly once the shutter button is completely depressed. The Nikon S500 has the best shutter lag performance in a point and shoot that I’ve reviewed, and the A570 IS might be next best. Excellent shutter response once focus is acquired!

The camera also features a continuous shooting setting that provides a 1.7 frames per second capability (in the Large/Fine mode) with a high performance memory card that has been low-level formatted. Canon reports the camera can shoot at this rate until the memory card is full. I didn’t bother to fill my 1GB SanDisk Ultra III card, but after 18 shots with no sign of slowing I figured to take Canon at its word. During this time I panned the camera through a range of about 180 degrees, and all the photos had good exposure and focus. Very impressive performance.

Lens Performance 

The Canon 4x optical zoom was pretty uniformly sharp across the frame at both wide and telephoto settings. There was some barrel distortion (lines bow out from center of image) at the wide end that could cause sharp-eyed viewers to notice some “bent’ lines in some images. Chromic aberration (purple fringing in high contrast boundary areas) was also present, but only readily noticeable at enlargements that would seldom be used.  Very good performance overall.

There is also a 4x digital zoom capability. 

MISCELLANEOUS 

The A570 IS provides for a “direct print” capability to appropriate Canon printers without need for a computer, as well as non-Canon PictBridge printers.

Wide angle and telephoto converters as well as a close-up lens are available from Canon. The wide angle converter provides a 24.5mm focal length; the tele converter 245mm.

I found the camera’s battery/memory card cover to be somewhat awkward to close and it doesn’t seem particularly robust. I’m a little concerned that it may not stand up to repeated openings/closings. Another minor but annoying feature is the Basic and Advanced Camera Users Guides. Rather than two volumes as they are now, Canon should just combine them into one. 

CONCLUSION 

Canon might be marketing this camera to “family photographers”, but the A570 IS should appeal to a much wider range of shooters. With great image and color quality, image stabilization, excellent shutter lag and continuous shooting capability, manual controls and versatile “auto” performance, this camera can ably serve a novice who never leaves the “auto” setting or provide a learning tool for someone looking to get some manual experience before possibly jumping into the DSLR world. The optional teleconverter gives the camera a 245mm focal length to bring those distant subjects a bit closer. Overall, anyone who wants good performance at a very reasonable price should give serious consideration to the A570 IS.

canon powershot a570 is sample
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canon powershot a570 is sample
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canon powershot a570 is sample
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canon powershot a570 is sample
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canon powershot a570 is sample
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canon powershot a570 is sample
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PROS 

CONS