Canon A570 IS Review

 
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Canon PowerShot A570 IS Exposure


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Overall very good color, with good hue accuracy. Some slight oversaturation in reds, blues, and greens, but still quite good results.

In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located towards the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center.

Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life. The Canon PowerShot A570 IS does oversaturate strong red tones, and some blues and greens a little, but the results are still quite pleasing, rarely appearing overdone or unnatural.

Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc. Here, the A570 IS did render skin tones slightly on the warm side in most cases, but many users find slightly warm skin tones more pleasing than cooler ones.

The other important part of color rendition is hue accuracy. Hue is "what color" the color is. Here, the A570 IS again performed well, though it pushed cyan tones toward blue (a common occurrence among many digital cameras, apparently a tactic aimed at producing pleasing sky colors), and some reds toward orange. Still, very good results.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Good color with the Incandescent and Manual white balance settings, just a hint warm. Average positive exposure compensation required.

Auto WB +1.0 EV

Incandescent WB +1.0 EV

Manual WB +1.0 EV

Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was somewhat warm with the Auto white balance setting, both the Manual and Incandescent options produced much more accurate results. While the Incandescent setting held a bit of the warm cast of the original lighting, I chose the slightly more neutral (and more natural-looking to my eyes) Manual setting. The Canon A570 IS required an average amount of positive exposure compensation here, at +1.0 EV. Despite the slight warm cast, overall color with the Manual white balance setting is excellent, without the strong purple tints in the blue flowers we often see here. (Many digital cameras reproduce these flowers with a dark, purplish tint, so the A570 IS did very well here.) Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.

 

Outdoors, daylight
Good color and exposure, though slightly high contrast with the default settings.

Auto White Balance,
Default Exposure
Auto White Balance,
Auto Exposure

Outdoors, the Canon PowerShot A570 IS performed pretty well, with only slight overexposure in the outdoor wide shot. The camera required no positive exposure compensation on the portrait shot, an unusual occurrence. Default contrast is on the high side, though the camera's contrast adjustment did a pretty good job of taming the exposure without weakening the color in the process. (See the version of the portrait shot with the A570's lowest contrast setting.) The A570 IS captured good color outdoors, without too much of a warm cast. Overall, pretty good results here.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
High resolution, 1,500 ~ 1,600 lines of strong detail.

Strong detail to
1,500 lines horizontal
Strong detail to
1,600 lines vertical

Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,500 lines per picture height horizontally, and about 1,600 lines vertically. Extinction didn't really occur horizontally, though lines began to merge around 1,900-2,000 vertically. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Sharp images overall, very slight edge-enhancement artifacts on high-contrast subjects. Moderate noise suppression limits detail in the shadows.

Good definition of high-contrast
elements, though with visible
edge enhancement.
Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur
detail in areas of subtle contrast,
as in the darker parts of
Marti's hair here.

The Canon PowerShot A570 IS captures sharp images with good detail definition, though some minor edge enhancement artifacts are visible on high-contrast subjects such as the crop above left. (Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone. In extreme cases, it produces "halos" around high-contrast edges.)

Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears. The crop above right shows this, as the darker areas of Marti's hair show limited detail.

ISO & Noise Performance
Low to moderate noise at the normal sensitivity settings, but a big jump in noise with strong blurring at the higher settings.

ISO 80 ISO 100 ISO 200
 
ISO 400 ISO 800 ISO 1,600

Noise levels are low to moderate at the Canon A570 IS's lower sensitivity settings, with much higher noise at ISO 400 and higher (as you'd expect). Yellow/blue blotches are noticeable at the higher settings, which throws off the color balance a bit, and the camera's attempts at noise suppression eliminate some of the finer details. Still, it's not bad, retaining a surprising amount of detail up to ISO 800. (Even ISO 1600 shots are usable for 4x6 inch prints, if you don't mind some visible noise and lower color saturation.)

Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High resolution with strong overall detail, but slightly high contrast and limited shadow detail. Excellent low-light performance, capable of capturing bright images in near darkness, but focus can be problematic.

Default Exposure +0.3 EV +0.7 EV

Sunlight:
Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)

The Canon PowerShot A570 IS produced fairly high contrast with deep shadows under the harsh lighting of the test above. However, the camera's contrast adjustment handled this problem fairly well, without strongly affecting color balance or tonal gradations. Detail is limited in the shadow areas, with some noise suppression visible. (See the version of the portrait shot with the A570's lowest contrast setting.) Though some areas look a little dark at the default exposure, I preferred it to the image at +0.3 EV, which had too many blown highlights for my preference. (In "real life" though, be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown above; it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.)

  1 fc
11 lux
1/2 fc
5.5 lux
1/4 fc
2.7 lux
1/8 fc
1.3 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
ISO
80
Click to see A570ISLL00803.JPG
1.6 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL00804.JPG
3.2 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL00805.JPG
6.3 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL00806.JPG
16 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL00807.JPG
16 sec
f2.7
ISO
100
Click to see A570ISLL01003.JPG
1.2 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL01004.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL01005.JPG
5 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL01006.JPG
9.9 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL01007.JPG
16 sec
f2.7
ISO
200
Click to see A570ISLL02003.JPG
0.6 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL02004.JPG
1.2 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL02005.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL02006.JPG
5 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL02007.JPG
9.9 sec
f2.7
ISO
400
Click to see A570ISLL04003.JPG
0.3 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL04004.JPG
0.6 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL04005.JPG
1.2 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL04006.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL04007.JPG
5 sec
f2.7
ISO
800
Click to see A570ISLL08003.JPG
1/6 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL08004.JPG
0.3 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL08005.JPG
0.6 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL08006.JPG
1.2 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL08007.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.7
ISO
1600
Click to see A570ISLL16003.JPG
1/13 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL16004.JPG
1/6 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL16005.JPG
0.3 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL16006.JPG
0.6 sec
f2.7
Click to see A570ISLL16007.JPG
1.2 sec
f2.7

Low light:
The Canon PowerShot A570 IS captured bright images down to the 1/16 foot-candle light level (about 1/16 as bright as average city street lighting at night). At ISO 80, the image at this lowest light level is a bit dim, but really still usable. The camera's autofocus system was able to focus on the subject down to just below the 1/4 foot-candle light level without the AF assist light, so you'll need to make sure it's enabled for darker conditions. (Even though the camera indicated that it was focusing in the shots above with the AF assist light though, many of the shots here appear to be slightly out of focus.) Do keep in mind though, that the very long shutter times necessary here absolutely demand the use of a tripod or other camera support to get sharp photos. (A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) For such applications, you may have better luck with a digital SLR camera, but even there, you'll likely need to set the focus manually. For information and reviews on digital SLRs, refer to our SLR review index page.

Flash

Coverage and Range
Slightly dim exposures at the default flash exposure setting, but the camera required less-than-average exposure compensation for flash exposures. Typical range.

35mm equivalent 140mm equivalent
Normal Flash +0.7 EV Slow-Sync Flash (Night Scene)

Flash coverage was uneven at wide angle; and though it was more even at telephoto, the range and exposure decreased due to the lens' much smaller aperture there. Indoors, under incandescent background lighting, the Canon A570 IS's flash underexposed our subject a little at its default setting, requiring a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment to get bright results. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode (here, using Night Scene mode) coverage is more even, though with a noticeable orange cast.

Flash Range: Wide Angle
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft
Click to see A570ISFL06W.JPG
1/64 sec
f2.7
ISO 100
Click to see A570ISFL07W.JPG
1/64 sec
f2.7
ISO 100
Click to see A570ISFL08W.JPG
1/64 sec
f2.7
ISO 100
Click to see A570ISFL09W.JPG
1/64 sec
f2.7
ISO 100
Click to see A570ISFL10W.JPG
1/64 sec
f2.7
ISO 100
Click to see A570ISFL11W.JPG
1/64 sec
f2.7
ISO 100
12 ft 13 ft 14 ft 15 ft 16 ft
Click to see A570ISFL12W.JPG
1/64 sec
f2.7
ISO 100
Click to see A570ISFL13W.JPG
1/64 sec
f2.7
ISO 100
Click to see A570ISFL14W.JPG
1/64 sec
f2.7
ISO 100
Click to see A570ISFL15W.JPG
1/64 sec
f2.7
ISO 100
Click to see A570ISFL16W.JPG
1/64 sec
f2.7
ISO 100

Flash Range: Telephoto
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft
Click to see A570ISFL06T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100
Click to see A570ISFL07T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100
Click to see A570ISFL08T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100
Click to see A570ISFL09T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100
Click to see A570ISFL10T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100
Click to see A570ISFL11T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100
12 ft 13 ft 14 ft 15 ft 16 ft
Click to see A570ISFL12T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100
Click to see A570ISFL13T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100
Click to see A570ISFL14T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100
Click to see A570ISFL15T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100
Click to see A570ISFL16T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100

At wide angle, shots at ISO 100 are bright out to a distance of about 11 feet, decreasing in brightness from that point on. At full telephoto and ISO 100, even the 6-foot shot is a little dim, and the images darken from there. A typical result for compact models.



Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range
Wide Angle Telephoto
Click to see A570ISFL_MFR110WA0200.JPG
11.0 feet
Auto ISO 200
Click to see A570ISFL_MFR072TA0200.JPG
7.2 feet
Auto ISO 200

Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 100, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims. In the shots above, the A570 IS seems to perform exactly as Canon says it will, producing good exposures at the rated distances with its ISO set to Auto.

Output Quality

Print Quality
Good print quality, very good color, nice-looking 13x19 inch prints, very sharp 8x10s. ISO 400 images are soft but usable at 8x10, ISO 800 shots are good to 5x7, ISO 1600 ones to 4x6 inches.

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon i9900 studio printer, and on the Canon iP5200 here in the office. (See the Canon i9900 review for details on that model.)

The Canon PowerShot A570 IS had enough resolution to make very nice-looking 13x19 inch prints, and very crisp 8x10s. Its ISO 400 images were a little soft but usable for making 8x10 inch prints. As you go to higher ISO settings, the images soften quite a bit: ISO 800 images are OK at 5x7 inches, ISO 1600 shots are really only usable at 4x6 inches, and do still show some noise at that size. Still, we think most consumers would find 4x6 prints from ISO 1600 acceptable, certainly better than not getting the shot at all, or getting one that was too blurred to be usable. Overall, a nice performance from an affordable camera.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Canon PowerShot A570 IS Photo Gallery.

Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!

Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Canon PowerShot A570 IS with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

Canon A570 IS

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