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Canon Powershot S70

By: Dave Etchells

With the same wide angle lens as its predecessor, the S70 boosts resolution with its 7.1 megapixel sensor, but holds the line on image noise.

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Page 4:Viewfinder

Review First Posted: 9/30/2004


The S70 features both an eye-level optical viewfinder and a 1.8-inch LCD monitor on the back panel for image composition. The real-image optical viewfinder zooms along with the lens (except in Digital Telephoto mode, which requires the LCD monitor), and displays incomplete crosshairs (they don't actually cross) in the center of its screen. While there's no dioptric adjustment to adapt the viewfinder optics to your vision, the eyepiece does have an unusually high "eyepoint," making it well-suited to eyeglass wearers. Two LED lights next to the viewfinder report the camera's status during certain operations. For example, when you depress the Shutter button halfway, a steady orange light (on top) indicates that the camera is ready to record; a flashing green light indicates that an image is either being written to, read from, or erased from the CompactFlash card; a steady orange light (on top) indicates that the camera is ready to record; and a flashing orange light indicates a camera-shake warning (i.e. the shutter speed is too slow to handhold), or the battery is charging. The lower LED light glows yellow when the camera is set in Macro or Manual focus modes, and flashes yellow when focus cannot be achieved.

Measuring 1.8 inches diagonally, Canon's low-temperature, polycrystalline silicon, TFT, color LCD monitor automatically displays camera settings when the camera is powered on. LCD brightness can be adjusted to either of two levels via the setup menu, and the screen seemed to have better than average visibility in sunlight. The Display button controls the image and information display. One press shows the image without settings, and two presses show the image with settings. Depending on the Shooting mode, the LCD reports the flash setting, drive mode, metering mode, image size and quality, and the number of frames remaining. Additional functions are shown as they are enabled and battery status is only displayed when power is low. A third press of the Display button cancels both displays.

In Replay mode, the LCD monitor provides a full-frame display of captured images, which you can view individually by scrolling left or right with the arrow buttons on the Multicontroller. Depressing the Flash / Index button brings up a thumbnail index display of nine images at a time, which you can also scroll through with the arrow buttons. The Zoom rocker doubles as a Digital Enlargement button (marked by magnifying glasses), which allows you to enlarge an image up to 10x its normal size on the screen. Playback magnification begins at 2x, and proceeds in fairly smooth steps to the maximum of approximately 10x. This degree of enlargement is very handy, as it's sufficient to check focus accuracy and depth of field, something that's difficult to do on cameras with lower playback magnification. The arrow keys permit you to move around the enlarged image and check fine details.

By default, the LCD screen displays basic information about the captured images, including the file name, date, and time it was recorded, compression, resolution, and what number it is in the sequence of images stored on the memory card. Depressing the Display button once brings up a thumbnail view of the image with more detailed information such as the shooting mode, aperture, f/stop, exposure compensation, and metering mode. In addition, the screen shows a histogram next to the image to indicate the distribution of tonal values. Besides the histogram display (and actually much more useful), any blown-out highlights in the image will blink from white to black and back again, letting you see exactly where detail has been lost. (I particularly like this form of display, applaud Canon for including it, and hope to see even more manufacturers adopt it in the future.)

As is often the case in digicams with both optical and LCD viewfinders, the S70's viewfinder is rather tight, showing only 82 percent of the final image area, at all lens zoom settings. Thankfully though, the S70's LCD viewfinder is essentially perfect, showing exactly what the camera will ultimately capture.


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