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Lifewire / Andy Zahn
Top-notch build quality
Blazing fast autofocus
Great Canon color
Long-lasting battery life
Average video and image quality
Screen collects smudges and is difficult to clean
4K video is slightly cropped
The Canon PowerShot SX70 HS is an excellent general-purpose camera with few flaws and true superzoom range.
The Canon PowerShot SX70 HS is one of those rare cameras that seems to do everything well, with only a few minor caveats.
It has a respectable 65X zoom range from 21-1365mm (35mm equivalent), which allows you to capture everything from landscapes and portraits to close-up photos of wildlife and sporting events. It is compact, solidly built, and one of the most ergonomic cameras you can buy.
We put the PowerShot SX70 HS to the test to see if its performance justifies its premium price.
The SX70 HS is a tiny little camera considering the zoom range it packs in, yet it never felt too small in our hands. The exterior is composed of grippy texturized plastic and features a generous leather grip. We never worried about dropping it, and it feels tough enough to take the odd jolt and jostle in stride.
Obvious care and attention to detail have gone into every aspect of the control layout, and the camera can easily and intuitively be manipulated one-handed. One of the things we liked best was the location of the power button, which is situated to the left of the mode selector dial. This keeps it within easy reach but makes it almost impossible to accidentally power the camera on or off.
Obvious care and attention to detail have gone into every aspect of the control layout.
Mini HDMI, Remote shutter, USB, and microphone ports are included, though unfortunately for audio monitoring, the SX70 HS lacks a headphone jack and hot shoe mount. The port covers are durable and easy to use, and we appreciated the well-placed location of the 3.5mm microphone jack.
We found it easy enough to set up the SX70 HS and start shooting. Language, time, and date options are presented upon initial startup. The battery charges externally in an included wall charger and takes only a few hours to power up completely from empty.
Even after extended use, we had barely scratched the surface of the SX70 HS’s considerable battery life. It was still going strong after shooting dozens of photos and video clips, so you won’t have to worry about running out of battery life in the middle of a trip.
The three-inch, 920,000-dot screen on the SX70 HS looks amazing—perhaps too amazing, as your photos will look better on it than on your phone or computer. The screen is fully articulating and solidly built. Our one complaint would be how easily it picks up smudges, and how difficult those smudges are to remove. An advantage of the articulating screen is that it can be turned face-in to avoid dirt and damage and to save on battery life.
The electronic viewfinder (EVF) is bright and clear with 2,360,000 dots. It’s not the best EVF we’ve ever used as it seems slightly small and cramped, but it gets the job done. A sensor automatically detects when you put your eye up to it (a function that can be adjusted in the settings), which means you don’t have to hunt for a button to switch the EVF on.
We were shocked by how fast and consistent the autofocus is in the SX70 HS, even in low-light situations. It rarely fails to lock on to your intended subject, and focus tracking works flawlessly.
The autofocus is really one of the standout features of the SX70 HS—it makes the camera ideal for anyone who will be photographing fast and erratic subjects. Whether you’re capturing precious family moments, sporting events, or wildlife, the SX70 HS will really help ensure you get the shot when it counts the most.
We love the warm, natural color tone that Canon cameras produce, and the SX70 HS doesn’t disappoint. Its photos are vibrant and it captures particularly nice portraits.
The SX70 HS performs well throughout its zoom range of 21-1365mm and can capture good images even in low-light situations. We found that like most cameras with small (1/2.3”) high resolution (20.3 MP) sensors, the SX70 HS does not perform well at high ISOs. It goes as high as ISO 3200, but we wouldn’t recommend shooting above ISO 800.
RAW files are rich and detailed, and JPEG images are well-rendered
It is worth noting the exceptional image stabilization implemented in the SX70 HS. It utilizes a dual stabilization system where both the lens and the sensor are shifted to counter unwanted movement and allow for slower shutter speeds (and smoother video). As a result, you can avoid high ISOs and still get sharp photos.
The SX70 HS has strong macro photography capabilities and a minimum focusing distance of zero. This is very impressive, and we found that this camera delivers excellent close-up images.
RAW files are rich and detailed, and JPEG images are well-rendered, though JPEG images do show the compression artifacts typical of point-and-shoot cameras. The built-in flash raises and lowers manually and is functional if unexceptional.
The SX70 HS includes the standard Auto, Program, Shutter Priority (Tv), Aperture Priority (Av), and Manual modes, accessible via the top mode dial. Additionally, you will find two video modes: one that opens up more advanced video features, and one that shoots short video clips followed by a still photo. That second mode is quite odd, and we found that it did not produce good results.
The camera also has a Panorama mode that produces good results, but it’s severely limited in its options— it can only take horizontal panoramas in a right-hand direction. Also included are a Sports mode, a Filter mode (black and white, sepia, etc.), and a Scene mode.
Scene mode offers Smooth Skin, which, as it sounds, smooths the appearance of skin in a very artificial looking way, Self Portrait (identical to Smooth Skin), Portrait, Fireworks, and an unusual Food mode that supposedly makes food look fresh.
But perhaps the most useful Scene mode is “Handheld Night Scene.” This setting takes a series of photos and combines them together to produce sharp photos in dark conditions while keeping noise to a minimum, and it works impressively well.
A problem with all these automated modes and scene settings is that the images they produce are exclusively JPEG, with RAW being unavailable. Fortunately, Program mode is essentially the same as Auto, and you can enable RAW image recording there.
The SX70 HS fumbles a bit when it comes to video. It’s no slouch by any means, but the footage is nothing to brag about. You can record up to 4K resolution, but unfortunately, the camera has to crop in to record at this resolution. Also, we found that footage is never especially sharp compared to other cameras.
On the bright side, the SX70 HS provides excellent Canon color rendition, so even if your footage isn’t sharp, it will still look reasonably attractive.
Timelapse mode is where the SX70 HS really shines in terms of video.
Despite the slightly disappointing video quality, this is potentially a good choice for vloggers thanks to its flip-out screen that lets you view yourself while filming. The inclusion of an external microphone port is also a nice touch.
Time-lapse mode is where the SX70 HS really shines in terms of video. You can easily access this mode via the menu system, and there is a wide range of customizable options available. For those not experienced with time-lapse video, you can simply select from one of three subject-based settings. Time-lapses can be recorded at up to 4K resolution and truly excellent quality.
The camera comes with Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software for editing. Canon also has a number of free programs available for download on its website, including Eos Movie Utility for video editing. Though Canon’s software is relatively basic, it’s quite capable for basic editing.
The SX70 HS includes excellent Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity options that you can easily access via a dedicated button on top of the camera. You can connect the camera to your phone via Canon’s app to transfer images and remotely control the camera, or you can connect directly to a computer and transfer images to it wirelessly.
There is also the option to connect to a Canon printer and print your images directly from the camera. We found these features useful but also something of a hassle, since the process of connecting devices to the camera is pretty tedious.
With an MSRP of $549, the SX70 HS isn’t cheap (though you can often find it for $50-$100 less). However, considering the overall high quality of this camera, the premium price is at least somewhat justified.
You can find similar image quality in other superzoom cameras that cost much less, and it does seem that to some extent you are paying extra for the Canon brand name.
Canon hasn’t tried to push any boundaries with the SX70 HS. Instead, it plays it safe and just does everything very well. Two of its main competitors in the superzoom arena, Panasonic and Nikon, offer intriguing alternatives by either cutting costs or offering groundbreaking technological advances.
The Nikon COOLPIX P1000, for example, has an incredible 125x zoom range, as well as a staggering array of extra features. But it also comes with an MSRP of $999—twice what the Canon costs—and is not so sturdily built. The SX70 HS also boasts much better image stabilization and autofocus.
The Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80, on the other hand, has an MSRP of $399 but usually sells for less than $300. Even with this lower price point, it is in many ways the equal of the SX70 HS. In terms of image quality, it actually exceeds the Canon. But it has a shorter (60x) zoom range and is much more cheaply made, with a shorter battery life.
A tremendously fun camera that is exceedingly well-rounded if a bit pricey.
For a general-purpose point-and-shoot, the Canon Powershot SX70 HS is hard to beat. It has great build quality and lightning-fast autofocus, and despite a few minor flaws, it just about manages to justify its premium cost—if you can find it on sale, then it makes an even better buy.
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