Canon A710 IS Review

 
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Canon A710 IS Operation

While the Canon A710's user interface may seem a little strange at first approach, it's easy to master. Things you set once (like sounds or instant review) are accessed by pressing the Menu button in the lower right corner. Settings that might change for a particular outing (like image size, ISO settings, etc.) are accessed by pressing the Function button in the center of the navigator. Options you might change from shot to shot have their own buttons, like EV, Flash mode, Macro mode. The Left and Right arrow buttons are reserved for changing the value of a setting. There's a mode switch to toggle Record and Playback and a Mode dial to select among Record modes. It's very efficient, once you learn your way around. Give yourself an hour to do that and you'll be fine without the manual.

Record Mode LCD Display: In Record mode, the Canon A710's LCD reports various exposure settings, including camera modes, the resolution and quality settings, number of available images, etc. Half-pressing the Shutter button reports the aperture and shutter speed settings, in all modes except Manual. (Aperture and shutter speed are displayed continuously in Manual mode, whether the Shutter button is pressed or not.) Pressing the Display button cycles through the available display modes, including the image with information, no display at all, and the image only. Through the menu system, you can enable a gridline display, or a 3:2 ratio guideline.

Playback Mode LCD Display: In Playback mode, the LCD reports the image sequence number on the card, resolution and quality setting, file name, and the date and time of image capture. Pressing the Display button once calls up an enhanced information display, with a histogram for checking the exposure. The detailed information display also includes a blinking highlight function, which blinks any overexposed portions of the frame. A third press cancels the information overlay entirely. The telephoto side of the zoom toggle lets you zoom in on a portion of the image, while the wide-angle side backs you out again, and lets you step out to an "index" view of captured images, displayed as nine thumbnails at a time. Zooming out one step past the point at which the index display appears adds a "jump" bar to the bottom of the screen, letting you jump forward or back nine images at a time, rather than scrolling from each image to the next individually.

 

Canon A710 IS Modes and Menus

Record Mode: Marked on the Mode switch with the red camera icon, this mode sets up the camera for capturing still and moving images. The following exposure modes are available:

  • Auto: The camera controls everything about the exposure, except for Flash and Macro modes, and image size and quality settings.
  • Program AE (P): Places the camera in control of shutter speed and lens aperture, while you maintain control over everything else (i.e., white balance, ISO, metering, exposure compensation, flash, etc.).
  • Shutter-Speed Priority AE (Tv): Allows you to control the shutter speed settings from 1/2,000 to 15 seconds, while the camera controls the aperture. All other exposure settings are available.
  • Aperture Priority AE (Av): Allows you to set the lens aperture from f/2.8 to f/8.0 (depending on the zoom setting), while the camera controls the shutter speed. In this mode, you maintain control over all other exposure variables.
  • Manual (M): Provides complete control over all exposure settings, including shutter speed and lens aperture (available shutter speeds depend on the aperture and lens zoom settings).
  • Portrait: Uses a large aperture setting to blur the background and keep the primary subject in sharp focus.
  • Landscape: Employs a small aperture setting to keep both the background and foreground in focus.
  • Night Scene: Uses slower shutter speeds and flash to even out nighttime exposures. The slow shutter speed allows more ambient light to be recorded in the low-light areas, while the flash fully exposes the subject.
  • Scene: Accesses the remaining preset Scene modes, including Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Underwater, Color Accent, and Color Swap.
  • Stitch-Assist: Allows you to record a series of images, either horizontally or vertically, to be "stitched" together into one large image or panorama on a computer.
  • Movie: Records up to 640 x 480 pixels at 30 or 15 frames per second while space remains on the memory card, movie length hits one hour, or movie size hits 1GB.

Record Menu: Pressing the Menu button in Record mode pulls up the following options (not all options are available in all modes):

  • AF Frame: Selects between AiAF (intelligent autofocus) system , Center, or FlexiZone. In AiAF mode, the camera judges focus based on the subject's proximity to nine focus areas arrayed in the center of the image. FlexiZone mode lets you select a specific focusing area by pressing the +/- button a couple of times, and then using the arrow directions of the multi-controller to position the focus zone anywhere within approximately 60% of the central portion of the frame. Finally, as you might expect, Center AF mode bases focus on the very center of the frame.
  • Digital Zoom: Disables digital zoom or sets it to Standard (up to 4x), 1.5x, or 1.9x mode, the latter two permitting faster shutter speeds.
  • Flash Sync: Sets flash sync to either 1st-curtain (when the shutter opens) or 2nd-curtain (just before it closes) to handle the effects of ambient light.
  • Slow Synchro: Turns flash slow synchro on to capture more of the ambient light, or disables it.
  • Flash Adjust:You can set the flash so that it fires without any automatic adjustments in any of the automatic exposure modes. Options here are Auto and Manual.
  • Red-Eye Reduction: Turns the Red-Eye Reduction pre-flash on or off, which works with all flash modes.
  • Spot AE Point: If set to Center, the spot AE point frame appears at the center of the LCD monitor. If set to AF Point, it appears inside the selected AF frame.
  • MF-Point Zoom: Turns the MF Point zoom option on or off. If on, the center of the frame is enlarged on the LCD display for better viewing while adjusting the manual focus.
  • AF Assist Beam: Turns the AF Assist light on or off. If on, the light automatically illuminates in dark shooting conditions.
  • Review: Turns the instant image review function on or off, with available image display times from two to 10 seconds in one second steps, and a Hold option.
  • Save Original: When shootingin Color Swap or Color Accent modes, you can opt to save an original copy of the recorded image in addition to the edited color version. Choices here are On or Off.
  • Display Overlay: Turns on or off a display of either or both a 3:2 mask and a set of grid lines to align subjects in Record mode.
  • IS Mode: Sets the image stabilization mode to Continuous, Shoot Only, Panning or Off. The Continuous setting displays the effect of image stabilization at all times in the LCD monitor, while Shoot Only enables IS only when the Shutter button is half pressed. Panning mode employs image stabilization only for up and down movements.
  • Converter: Lets you inform the camera which, if any, lens converter you've attached.
  • Date Stamp: Enables or disables a date and/or time stamp on Postcard size images.

Playback Mode: This mode lets you review captured images and movies on the memory card, as well as erase them, protect them, or tag them for printing and transfer. The traditional green Playback symbol denotes this mode on the Mode switch. Pressing the Menu button displays the following options:

  • Auto Play: Automatically plays all captured images in a slide show. (The user has no control over the timing of the slide show, nor of the specific images displayed.)
  • My Colors: Adds current My Colors effects to a captured image.
  • Sound Memo: Records a short sound clip to accompany a captured image.
  • Protect: Marks the current image for write-protection, or removes write-protection. Protected images cannot be deleted or manipulated, except through card formatting, which erases all files.
  • Rotate: Rotates the current image 90 degrees clockwise or anti-clockwise.
  • Erase All: Erases all files on the memory card, except protected ones.
  • Transfer Order: Marks images on the memory card to be transferred to a computer later.

Print Menu: This menu is available in Playback mode, simply by pressing the Menu button and selecting the Print tab. The bottom line of the display shows how many images are selected for printing and the print method that is active.

  • Print: Sends images tagged for printing to the printer.
  • Select Images & Quantity: Allows you select images for printing and set the number of prints for each image selected.
  • Select All Images: Selects all images on the memory card for printing.
  • Clear All Selections: Clears all print selections.
  • Print Settings: Brings up a menu of these options:
    • Print Type: You can specify whether to print one image per page, an index of the images, or both.
    • Date: Set printing of the date and time on or off.
    • File No.: Set printing of the file number on or off.
    • Clear DPOF data: Set the option to clear the DPOF tag on or off.

Setup Menu: This menu is available in all exposure modes, simply by pressing the Menu button and selecting the Setup tab.

  • Mute: Turns the camera's start-up, operation, self-time, shutter and playback sounds on and off.
  • Volume: Displays the volume settings for the camera's start-up, operation, self-timer, shutter, and playback sounds. (Disabled if Mute option is active.)
  • Power Saving: Accesses the camera's Auto Power Down and Display Off settings. Auto Power Down can be enabled or disabled, and Display Off can be set to 10, 20, or 30 seconds, or 1, 2, or 3 minutes.
  • Date/Time: Sets the camera's internal calendar and clock.
  • Format: Formats the SD/MMC card, erasing all files (even those marked for write-protection).
  • File Numbering: Specifies whether to reset file numbering with each new SD/MMC card or continue numbering in sequence, regardless of memory card.
  • Create Folder: Specifies whether to capture new images in a new folder or to create a new folder for new images after a certain time.
  • Auto Rotate: Specifies whether images appear vertically in the LCD monitor when the camera is held vertically.
  • Distance Units: Sets the manual focus indicator to Meters/Centimeters or Feet/Inches.
  • Lens Retract: Specifies whether or not to retract the lens after one minute.
  • Language: Sets the camera's menu language to one of 25 choices. English is the default setting.
  • Video System: Designates the camera's video-out signal as NTSC or PAL.
  • Print Method: Specify either Auto or PictBridge as the print method.
  • Reset All: Restores factory default settings.

My Camera Menu: This is the last menu tab on the menu screen, and appears in every mode.

  • Startup Image: Sets whether to display the Canon logo startup image when you turn on the camera.
  • Startup Sound: Sets whether to play the startup sound when you turn on the camera.
  • Operation Sound: Sets whether to play a sound when any control or switch is use (except the Shutter button).
  • Self-Timer Sound: Sets whether to lay a sound that signals you when the shutter release is two seconds away.
  • Shutter Sound: Sets whether to play the shutter sound when you depress the Shutter button (there is no shutter sound in Movie mode).

 

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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