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Canon PowerShot A720 IS Optics


Lens

Zoom
Excellent results from the 6x optical zoom lens, and digital zoom performs well also.

35mm 210mm 4x Digital Zoom

The Canon PowerShot A720 IS' optical zoom covers the equivalent of a 35-210mm range, which is exceptional among consumer digital cameras. Results were very good at wide angle, with good definition in the fine details of the trees and generally good sharpness throughout most of the frame. Only a tiny amount of blurring was visible in the corners, and coma distortion was minimal as well. Results were also good at full telephoto, again with only minimal blurring in the corners. The camera's 4x digital zoom does trade image quality and resolution for digital enlargement, but results are actually a little better than average, with pretty good fine detail still visible.

Macro
A tiny macro area with excellent detail and resolution. Flash exposure was uneven up close, but still usable.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Canon PowerShot A720 IS' macro setting performed very well, capturing a tiny minimum area of only 0.86 x 0.65 inches (22 x 16 millimeters). Detail and resolution were both very good, with excellent definition even on the paper fibers in the center of the dollar bill, though there's some softening in the corners. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode.) Additionally, there's a fair amount of flare around the printing details along the left side of the frame. Exposure is a little uneven, likely due to the close shooting range. Results with the built-in flash are similar, exposure-wise, with an uneven exposure and slightly dark shadows. However, results with the A720 IS' flash are much better than average for this shot.

Distortion
Moderate barrel distortion, though low pincushion.

Barrel distortion at 35mm is 0.8%
Pincushion at 210mm is less than 0.2%

The Canon PowerShot A720 IS' 0.8% barrel distortion at wide angle is about average among the cameras we've tested, although still uncomfortably high and noticeable in some images. At the telephoto end, the camera's pincushion distortion is slight, at only 0.2%. Distortion is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel -- usually at wide angle) or inward (like a pincushion -- usually at telephoto).

Chromatic aberration
High at wide angle, somewhat noticeable effect on images at edges, though not uncommon among longer zooms.

Wide: high and moderately bright,
top left @ 200%
Wide: bright,
top right @ 200%
Tele: low and less bright,
top left @200%
Tele: lower and also less bright,
top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is high at wide angle, showing bright coloration on either side of the target lines. At telephoto, the effect isn't as strong, with less pixels and more muted coloring. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) The effect is noticeable in some of our test shots, but results aren't worse than average.

Corner Sharpness
Minimal softening in the corners of the frame at wide angle. Slightly more blurring at telephoto, but mainly in the lower right corner.

Wide: Only a hint soft in the
corners (upper right)
Wide: Sharper at center
Tele: Slightly soft in the
lower right corner, but less
blurring in the other three
Tele: Sharper at center

The Canon PowerShot A720 IS produced only slightly soft corners in a few shots, and most notably at telephoto, where the strongest occurrence was in the lower right corner. At wide angle, blurring was minimal in all four corners of the frame. Very good results.

Viewfinder

Coverage
Good accuracy with LCD monitor, though the optical viewfinder is a bit tight.

35mm eq., Optical 210mm eq., Optical
35mm eq., LCD 210mm eq., LCD

The Canon PowerShot A720 IS' optical viewfinder proved a little tight in framing, showing only about 86% accuracy at wide angle, and about 77% at telephoto. However, the LCD monitor proved much more accurate, showing about 103% at wide angle (actually a little loose), and about 100% at telephoto.