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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 8:Operation & User Interface

Review First Posted: 9/30/2004

Operation and User Interface

The PowerShot S70's user interface is straightforward and should present a relatively short learning curve if you read over the Camera User Guide. (Although there are a lot of features here, so I'd imagine that novice users could easily spend a couple of hours learning them all. Experienced digicam users should be able to come up to speed on the major functions in under an hour though.) I generally prefer to see external access to as many exposure controls as possible, and the S70 does provide a fair amount of control without resorting to the LCD menu system. The Function menu offers access to most of the common settings quite easily, and is accessed via the FUNC button (though it does still use the LCD monitor). Instead of successively cycling through a series of Function and Effects menus, the Function menu displays all of its options at once, meaning you only have to scroll down to the desired option. Also, the Function menu offers image resolution and quality settings, making them slightly faster to access than as if you had to fish through the main Record menu as on cameras from some other manufacturers. The S70's control buttons are somewhat spread out, so you'll likely have to operate the camera with two hands when adjusting settings or using the Manual Focus, although the Zoom and Multicontroller buttons are directly adjacent to the Shutter button, so you can easily shoot one-handed in most situations.

Shutter Button: Located on the right side of the camera's top panel, when the Shutter button is halfway depressed, it sets focus and exposure, and when fully depressed, it trips the shutter release. In Self-Timer mode, fully depressing the Shutter button triggers a two- or 10-second countdown before the shutter is released.

Mode Dial: To the left of the Shutter button, this notched dial is used to select the camera's shooting modes. Canon divides these functions into three categories: Auto, Image Zone, and Creative Zone. The options are as follows:

Auto: The camera controls everything about the exposure, except for Flash and Macro modes, and image size and quality settings.

"Creative Zone"

  • 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 (Tv): 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.
  • Aperture-Priority Av (Av): Allows you to control the shutter speed settings from 1/1,500 to 15 seconds, while the camera controls the aperture. All other exposure settings are available.
  • Manual (M): Provides complete control over all exposure settings, including shutter speed and lens aperture.
  • Custom (C): Accesses a set of previously-saved exposure settings.

"Image Zone"

  • 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 help keep both the background and foreground in focus.
  • Night Scene: Uses slower shutter speeds and flash for more balanced nighttime exposures. The slow shutter speed allows more ambient light to be recorded in the background, while the flash illuminates and freezes the subject. The Red-Eye Reduction mode can be used with this exposure mode to eliminate redeye in night portraits.
  • Fast Shutter: Uses fast shutter speeds to stop action and maintain sharp focus on moving subjects.
  • Slow Shutter: Uses slow shutter speeds to deliberately blur fast-moving subjects.
  • Stitch-Assist: Allows you to record a series of images, either horizontally, vertically, or in a clockwise, four-quadrant pattern, to be "stitched" together into one large image or panorama on a computer.
  • Movie: Records as much as three minutes of moving images with sound, at approximately 15 frames per second.

Zoom Lever: Now moved to the back behind the shutter button, the Zoom rocker extends the lens to maximum telephoto range when pushed to the right, and returns the lens to maximum wide-angle when pushed to the left. When Digital Zoom is engaged, pushing the Zoom Lever past maximum telephoto activates the Digital Zoom function. In Replay mode, the Zoom rocker magnifies the on-screen image when pushed to the right and returns it to normal magnification when pushed to the left.

Replay Button: Right of the LCD, the Playback button automatically puts the camera in Playback mode from any Shooting position. When the lens cover is closed, pushing the Replay button to the right turns on the camera in Replay mode. Pushing the button a second time turns off the Replay function.

Omni Selector: Located directly right of the LCD, the Omni Selector replaces the old Multicontroller from past S-series cameras because some users found the earlier design too difficult to use. The Omni Selector is more like other digital cameras and PDAs, with a four way rocker disk on the outside and the Set button in the middle to confirm menu choices. The arrow keys navigate through menu options, while the Set button confirms menu selections. The combination is becoming universal and is easy to understand, and the S70's implementation is one of the better ones I've seen. The four arrow directions are easy to actuate, and I never had a problem with the camera being confused as to which arrow direction I was pressing. Likewise, the separate Set button in the center is cleanly separated from the arrow controls, so there's little chance of accidental interaction between them.

Pressing the Set button without an on-screen menu active lets you adjust the AF area, using the arrow keys to move the AF target frame freely around an area covering roughly 60 percent of the frame.

Menu Button: To the bottom right of the Omni Selector is the Menu button, which calls up the Record, Setup, My Camera, and Replay menus on the LCD display in all camera modes. A second press of the Menu button cancels the menu display.

Display Button: Bottom left of the Omni Selector is the Display button, which controls the LCD monitor's display mode. In Record mode, this button turns on the image display with the first press, activates the information display with the second press, and cancels both with the third press. In Playback mode, the button cycles through the captured image information displays.

Macro / Jump Button: Left of the optical viewfinder is the Macro / Jump button, which accesses the Macro function when the camera is in Record mode. In Replay mode, it calls up the "jump bar." When the jump bar is displayed, the right and left arrow buttons jump nine images forward or backward at a time, letting you quickly scan through the images on the memory card.

Flash / Index Display Button: Positioned in the very top left corner of the back panel, this button cycles through the Red-Eye Reduction (Auto), Auto, Red-Eye Reduction (Flash On), Flash On, and Flash Off flash modes. In playback mode, this button displays up to nine images at a time, in a thumbnail index format, on the LCD screen.

Exposure Compensation (EV)/White Balance (WB) / FUNC. Button: The top button on the left of the LCD menu, this button activates the on-screen Function menu. You can scroll between the menu items by pressing the up or down arrows on the Omni Selector, and select options for each with the left and right arrow buttons. Here's the list of options that can be controlled from here:

  • Exposure Compensation: Increases or decreases the exposure from -2 to +2 EV in one-third-step increments.
  • White Balance: Sets the white balance value to Automatic, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Flash, or Custom, with an option to save two different Custom settings for later use.
  • Drive: Accesses Single, Continuous, or High-Speed Continuous shooting modes, as well as the two- and 10-second Self-Timer modes.
  • ISO: Sets the camera's light sensitivity to Auto, or 50, 100, 200, or 400 ISO equivalents.
  • Effects: Enables several image effects, including Vivid Color, Neutral Color, Low Sharpening, Sepia, Black and White, or Custom. The Custom option lets you adjust Contrast, Sharpness, or Saturation, by pressing the Metering button while Custom is selected.
  • Bracketing: Activates the Auto Exposure Bracketing or Focus Bracketing modes. When either mode is selected, pressing the Metering button accesses the exposure/focus parameters.
  • Flash Exposure Compensation: This option lets you adjust the flash exposure compensation from -2 to +2 EV in one-third-step increments. Or, if the Flash Adjust option of the Record menu is set to Manual, you can adjust the flash power to 1/3, 2/3, or Full output.
  • Resolution and Quality: This setting adjusts the image resolution, with options of L (3,072 x 2,304 pixels), M1 (2,592 x 1944), M2 (2,048 x 1,536), M3 (1,600 x 1,200 pixels), S (640 x 480 pixels), or RAW. Pressing the Metering button changes the setting to image quality, with options of Superfine, Fine, and Normal.

Manual Focus / Delete Button: Located beneath the FUNC. button, the Manual Focus / Delete button activates the Manual Focus if held down in Record mode, while the up or down arrow on the Multicontroller is actuated. In Replay mode, this button brings up the Delete menu on the LCD monitor.

Metering / Audio Button: Just below the Manual Focus / Delete Button , this control places the camera in Evaluative Light Metering, Center-Weighted Averaging, and Spot AE Point metering modes when the camera is in Record mode. The Metering button also accesses secondary menu options in the Function menu, when indicated on the LCD display. Pressing this button in Replay mode allows you to record up to 60 seconds of sound with individual images.


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