The Canon Powershot A710 IS is a seven megapixels digital camera with a six times optical zoom lens. It also offers image stabilisation. Canon have packed a good range of controls and features into the Powershot A710 IS including manual exposure controls.
I would say that this camera has a particularly wide appeal. With a fairly compact body the extra zoom is a very worthwhile addition for just about anyone. The manual controls mean that it is suitable for anyone who is looking for a step up from a typical point and shoot camera.
97.5 x 66.5 x 41.2mm
If I was buying a consumer level digital camera for around about £200 and my purchasing decision was based purely on picture quality then the Powershot A710 IS is the one I would buy. I have no real complaints about any of my test photos and there are a large number of plus points too.
Starting off with sharpness this is a clear step up from the levels I normally see. I have recently reviewed some of the Canon IXUS range. They are a different type of camera and the picture quality of those models is very good, but in terms of focusing the Powershot A710 IS goes beyond what they are capable of producing. Key markers for sharpness in my test photos include the bricks on the building and the names on the boats in the first test photo, plus the boats in the third outdoor test and my portrait shots. In each one the Powershot A710 IS hits the mark. Sharpness is also maintained right out towards the edges of each photo.
Colours are impressive too. This is inline with the other Canon models I have tested recently. This feature is highlighted in the skies and foliage of the outdoor shots, the outdoor portrait and also in the dedicated test for colour. That test shows that while the colours are strong they do not go as far as having an unreal look to them.
Detail in light and dark areas is good as well. Although the Powershot A710 IS has failed to cope with the reflection of the sun on the white beams in the building of the first test shot other indicators such as the boats and face in the outdoor portrait suggest to me that the camera does not really have any major weakness in this area.
Moving on to the outdoor portrait I think it works really well. It was taken in the shade and the cloudy white balance setting was used. This helps to add some warmth to the photo and to bring out some extra colour. The skin tones have a natural feel to them and again focusing is to a high standard.
Taking the camera indoors seems to have a fairly minimal affect. It is still able to focus sharply. Once more the portrait is colourful and there is more or less no red eye present at all it the shot. The indoor conditions I use present a good challenge to the camera and the Powershot A710 IS performs better than the vast majority of digital cameras are able to.
Good quality close up shots can also be produced. The camera is capable of getting more or less right next to the subject and is still able to produce a bright, clear and focused macro shot.
As with many digital cameras one area where the Powershot A710 IS struggles is when the ISO settings are pushed up. There is a loss of quality at ISO 400 and when used on the maximum setting of ISO 800 the picture becomes quite grey.
Shutter Lag and Recycling Times
I was able to take a single shot in 0.32 seconds and five shots in 8.22 seconds. These are both average times.
You can compare this camera to other models by taking a look at the Shutter Lag Comparison Table.
The six times optical zoom lens has a focal length equivalent to 35 - 210mm in 35mm format. There are also two features available that allow you to increase the zoom if you decrease the image size (shoot with less megapixels). These are called Digital Tele-Converter and Safety Zoom. These give you up to 1.9x extra zoom capacity. You can use these in conjunction with digital zoom to give a maximum further 4x zoom.
The manual exposure controls consist of fully manual, aperture priority and shutter priority. The maximum aperture is f/2.8 - f/4.8. Shutter speeds work in the range 15 - 1/2000 seconds.
Other advanced settings include: metering (Evaluative, Centre-weighted average, Spot), white balance (Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Underwater, Custom), exposure compensation (+/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments) and ISO sensitivity (High ISO Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800). Continuous shooting is also available. This allows you to take photos at a maximum rate of 1.7 frames per second until the memory card is full.
There is 9-point AiAF, 1-point AF auto focusing available. You can also focus manually. For close up work the camera can focus from 1cm away from the subject.
One feature I see less and less often is a viewfinder. An optical viewfinder is included here. Canon also manage to pack in a large 2.5" LCD screen. This is made up of around 115,000 pixels.
The built in flash unit is not the most powerful. It has a range of 3.5m. This falls to 2.5m when the zoom lens is fully extended. To boost the power of the zoom you can buy Canon's High Power Flash HF-DC1. The flash modes you can use are automatic, on and off. Red eye reduction and slow sync speed can be turned on through options in the menu system. Flash exposure compensation, flash exposure lock and second curtain synchronisation are also available.
There are a number of preset scene modes available to use. By selecting a scene mode you alert the camera to the type of photo you are about to take. The camera will then use what it considers to be the optimum settings for the shot. The scene modes available are: Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks and Underwater.
A stitch assist setting is available for putting together panoramic type shots.
There are also a wide range of colour options you can use. These help add variety to your photos and also make them a little more personal. The colour modes available are: Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Positive Film, Vivid Blue, Vivid Red, Vivid Green and Custom Color. You can also take advantage of controls for colour accent and colour swap.
Two types of movies can be recorded. The first is a standard type of movie. The maximum resolution is 640 x 480 pixels and the maximum speed is 30 frames per second. Digital zoom is available while the movie is being recorded and sound can be captured as well. Up to 1GB or one hour of footage can be recorded (whichever limit is reached first).
The second type of movie allows you to shoot a short one minute movie. The maximum resolution is 320 x 240 pixels and the top speed is 60 frames per second. These movies can be played back in slow motion and used to analyse subjects such as golf swings.
Other features include a self timer (delay: 2 or 10 seconds, plus a custom setting), histogram and 60 seconds of commentary can be added to a photo you have already taken. On top of this there is a feature allowing you to take photos that have the correct dimensions to allow playback on a widescreen television.
Canon supplies all the necessary cables and software to connect the Powershot A710 IS to a television set, computer and PictBridge compatible printer.
Additional accessories available for the Powershot A710 IS include a 1.75x tele converter lens (TC-DC58N), a 0.7x wide converter (WC-DC58N) and a close up lens (250D (58mm)). You will need a Conversion Lens Adapter (LA-DC58G) before being able to use the lenses. An underwater case (WP-DC6) and a weight for the case (WW-DC1) can also be bought.
Ease of Use
When you first get hold of the Powershot A710 IS you can use it purely as a point and shoot camera. There is a wide range of features and you will find some are a bit tucked away within the menu system. Therefore it will take time to make full use of the camera, especially if you have only owned a more basic model previously. Stick with it though as you will be rewarded for your patience with the camera.
You can pick up a Canon Powershot A710 IS for around £205. This compares to around £155 for a Panasonic LZ5, £220 for a Olympus MJU 750 and £190 for a Olympus SP-510.
Cameras with a similar specification to the Powershot A710 IS are few and far between. In fact I am not aware of any other digital camera with a combination of seven megapixels and a six times optical zoom lens. Measured against the cameras listed above I would say this camera offers very good value for money.
Style is probably not the camera's strongest suit. Designed along the lines of a smaller SLR camera there is nothing really wrong with the design, but there are many more stylish cameras around. It would certainly be a good choice for anyone who would like extra zoom in a more compact body than a typical super zoom digital camera.
It has dimensions of 97.5 x 66.5 x 41.2 mm and weighs 210g.
Batteries and Memory Cards
Two AA batteries are used to supply power to the camera. You will find you need to replace the batteries on a fairly regular basis, so I would advise picking up some good quality rechargeable batteries (minimum mAh rating 2300) to go with the camera.
A 16mb SD card was supplied with the camera. I was able to take seven photos before the card was full. You will be struggling to even give the camera a good test from just seven shots. Therefore I would suggest picking up a high capacity card to go with the camera. The Powershot A710 IS is also compatible with SD HC (high Capacity) cards.
Click here to save money on SD cards.
Points I like:
Overall picture quality
Advanced movie mode
Where it is not so hot:
Small memory card supplied
The Canon Powershot A710 IS almost has its own little corner of the digital camera market. In terms of controls and picture quality I really like this camera. Price wise it represents more than fair value for money in my view. Recommended.
Canon Powershot A710 IS Front View
Canon Powershot A710 IS Back View
Canon Powershot A710 IS Top View
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