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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Canon PowerShot SD700 IS

Canon Digital Cameras


Canon PowerShot SD700 IS Review

Review Date: Jul 1, 2006

Category: Point-and-Shoot

Canon PowerShot SD700 IS

Photoxels Editor's Choice 2006 DIWA Awards: Canon PowerShot SD700 IS / Digital IXUS 800 IS Wins Gold!


The Canon PowerShot SD700 IS is light and ultra-compact, and beautifully crafted. It can be easily carried in a jeans pocket or fashion purse. As most compact digital cameras do now, the Canon SD700 IS also uses the Secure Digital (SD) memory card.

The Canon SD700 IS is attractive in its metallic silver body with chrome accents and new is a black paint coat around the optical viewfinder and 2.5-in. LCD monitor. The black colour is practical since it cuts off undesirable reflections. A raised "Canon" lettering gives some friction to help provide somewhat of a secure grip [use of the wrist strap is highly recommended]. When retracted, the lens is flush with the body.

Startup and shot to shot times are fast at about 1 sec., and there is no practical shutter lag. Autofocus is fast and precise.

- Colours: overall silver with chrome accents, and black around the viewfinder and LCD monitor
- Looks: sleek, fashionable
- Comfortable to hold and operate
- Controls & FUNC. menu are intuitive to use
- Ultra Compact: fits in a jeans pocket or small fashion purse
- Dimensions: 90.4 x 56.5 x 26.4mm /
3.56 x 2.22 x 1.04 in.
- Weight: 170 g / 6 oz.
- Takes 1 rechargeable Li-ion battery NB-5L 3.7V 1120mAh
- Startup with lens extending about 3.0 cm (1.1 in.) and LCD turning on in about 1 sec.
- Shot to shot time less than 1 sec.
- No practical shutter lag

Included in the box is a rechargeable Li-ion battery that can take about 240 shots with LCD on (CIPA standard) on a fresh charge and a Battery Charger CB-2LX that plugs directly into a wall electrical outlet and will recharge a new battery in approx. 2 hrs 5 mins.

There is an optical viewfinder which is quite small but is a real-image zoom. It is not meant to replace the LCD but will serve in a pinch when the LCD might not be usable or when you are running low on battery. Switch off the LCD monitor to conserve energy and, according to Canon, the battery can then take about 700 shots with LCD off (on a fresh battery).

The Terminal compartment is on the right side of the camera (viewed from the back).

The flash has a range of 1.6-11.5 ft./50cm - 3.5m, which is adequate only for close range. It is physically placed close to the top edge, so be careful your left fingers do not get in the way when using flash. You can set the flash to Off, Slow Synchro, Auto, Auto Red-Eye Reduction, or On. If you need more flash power, an optional HF-DC1 external flash can be attached to double the flash range.


The top of the camera has the shutter release button with the Zoom Lever around it on the right side. The speaker is at the left. It takes about 2 sec. to zoom from wide-angle to telephoto (I counted 8 steps).

The Power ON/OFF button has moved from the traditional top of the camera to just right of the viewfinder. It's a black button, so you might not see it at first, and it takes some getting used to in its new position

The Mode Dial is also not on top, but on the back of the camera and has Playback, AUTO, Manual, SCN (9 scene modes + 2 Color Accents), and Movie. Canon engineers have cleverly placed the Mode Dial "inside" the body with only a thumb-activated portion visible. This effectively provides a large enough unemcumbered area for the thumb to rest on the back.

Almost all the functions are accessible through the Canon standard FUNC. button, placed in the middle of the 4-Way Arrows. For those with large hands and fingers, note that the DISP and MENU buttons are too close to the DOWN ARROW and those 3 buttons tend to get in each other's way.

You can record movies with sound (1GB clips until the memory card is full -- when using a super high-speed memory card) at either 640 x 480 or 320x240 pixels at 30fps or 15fps, or 1 min. clips of 320 x 240 at 60 fps. You can preset optical zoom before any movie mode recording, and use digital zoom during Standard movie recording. Other movie options are Fast Frame Rate at 60fps, Compact and My Colors. Sound is recorded for all movie modes.

Video Storage Capacity
(min. sec.)


Color Accent

Color Swap

16' 56"
33' 20"
46' 58"
86' 07"
Fast Frame Rate
24' 01"
1' 40"
206' 43"

Note that while Standard movie has no clip length (but a max size of 1GB), the maximum movie clip length for Fast Frame Rate and for Compact are 1 min. and 3 min., respectively.

A 16MB SD (Secure Digital) card comes with the camera. You can select to save images as Superfine (S), Fine (F) or Normal (N) Image Quality, and Large (L), M1, M2 and Small (S) Image Size. In addition, there is a Postcard size and new is a Widescreen size.

SD Memory Card Storage Capacity (approx. # images)
Quality Pixels 16MB 256MB 512MB 2GB
S-L 2816x2112 4 89 180 720
S-M1 2272x1704 6 121 243 968
S-M2 1600x1200 13 240 483 1878
S-S 640x480 52 907 1820 6890
F-L 2816x2112 8 149 299 1192
F-M1 2272x1704 12 216 435 1722
F-M2 1600x1200 24 428 859 3263
F-S 640x480 81 1402 2813 9999
N-L 2816x2112 17 308 618 2384
N-M1 2272x1704 24 428 859 3263
N-M2 1600x1200 47 811 1628 6201
N-S 640x480 128 2203 4421 9999
Postcard 1600x1200 24 428 859 3263
Widescreen 2816x1584 S=6 / F=11 / N=23 S=120 / F=199 / N=405 S=241 / F=401 / N=813 S=953 / F=1589 / N=3100

As the above chart shows, at S-L, only 4 images can be saved on the supplied 16MB SD card. We recomend that you purchase either a 512MB, 1GB or 2GB SD card, depending on the number of images you normally shoot in one session. With a 2GB SD card, you may never need to change card ever again.

Canon SD700 Back View

FUNCTIONS ACCESSIBLE BY CONTROL BUTTONS (clockwise starting from the Mode Dial)
- Mode Dial: Playback, AUTO, Manual, SCN (Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids&Pets, Indoor, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Underwater, Color Accent, Color Swap), Movie (Standard, Fast Frame Rate, Compact, Color Accent, Color Swap)
- Print/Share (with direct printing to any PictBridge-enabled printer)
- 4 Way Arrows (ISO, Flash, Drive/Erase, Macro (and Infinity)
- DISPLAY (LCD Off, No info, Info)

Press the LEFT ARROW key to select MACRO.


Press the LEFT ARROW key again to select INFINITY; useful when shooting thru windows, and when subject is from 3m (9.8 ft.) to infinity

- The camera records successive images as long as the shutter release button is depressed. Recording ceases when the shutter button is released or the memory card is full. It is billed to be 2fps but I counted 14 shots in 10 sec. in Large/Superfine mode for a brightly lit subject (no flash). Of course, if it's quite dark or if the flash is needed, you will get much slower frame rate.
- Besides the 2 sec. and 10 sec. self-timer, there is also a very interesting Custom Delay self-timer where you can set both the delay (0-30 sec.) and the number of images (1 - 10) to take after that delay. You set this in MENU and then can quickly access your Custom self-timer selection by simply pressing the DOWN ARROW key. Unfortunately you cannot access the 10 sec. and 2 sec. self-timer using the arrow key anymore; you've got to go back into MENU to do that.
- The drive mode resets to Single when the camera is turned off and on again.
- Exposure compensation is accessed thru the FUNC. button.
- Once set, the Exposure Compensation Indicator conveniently stays displayed on screen until it is reset to "0"
- Range: -2 EV to +2 EV (1/3 EV increments)
- The screen brightness will increase or decrease to reflect the value you use
- Note: the exposure compensation value selected is retained even when the camera is turned off (so remember to reset to "0" after using it or the next time you turn the camera on, your shots may be over- or under-exposed.)
- A Histogram is available but displays only in Playback mode.
- To access shutter speeds from 1 to 15 sec., you need to first go into Exposure Compensation [FUNC. - Exp. Comp.].
- Then press MENU to switch to Long Shutter. Use the LEFT and RIGHT ARROW keys to select one of the following shutter speeds: 1, 1.3, 1.6, 2, 2.5, 3.2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15 sec.
- Long Shutter is available only in Manual mode.
- IS Mode is set in MENU - IS Mode
- Available options: Off, Continuous, Shoot Only, Panning
- Only Continuous is available in Movie Mode.

At the bottom of the camera, the tripod mount thread is metal, which is so much better than the easily damaged plastic threads used in most P&S digital cameras. There is a very nice Battery/Card door and the battery has a latch to keep it from accidentally falling. You won't be able to change battery or card when the camera is on a tripod.

LCD & Menus

There is an optical viewfinder as well as an extra large 2.5 in. LCD monitor with a relatively high 173,000 pixels resolution. The LCD has a fast enough refresh rate for a smooth display in good light, but is just a bit choppy in low light. The LCD monitor's brightness can be adjusted in MENU/SETUP. Press the DISP button for more than 1 sec. and the Quick-bright function kicks in and sets the LCD to its brightest setting. The LCD also gains up well in low-light, though the image on the LCD can look grainy (which is to be expected).

There is a very effective AF-assist Illuminator and I've found auto focusing to be quite fast and precise in low-light situations.

You can also display a framing grid [MENU - Grid Lines = On] of horizontal and vertical lines, which is very useful when you need to align vertical and horizontal lines precisely. The lines are fine and grey and do not interfere with the composition -- the way we like them.

While the FUNC. button gives access to all shooting settings, the MENU button gives access to the Menu, Setup and My Theme settings.

If you need to tell the time in a hurry, you can hold the FUNC key down while powering on the camera, or if the camera is already on, hold the FUNC key down until the numbers slide and rotate into view.

Many readers write asking if a digital camera can embed the date into the picture. We usually do not recommend doing so since the date is available in the EXIF info and can be printed out on the print, if desired (Direct Print User Guide, pg 13). But if you do insist in embedding the date, you can do so using the Postcard size only.

MENU 1 of 2

- AiAF: On, Off
- Self-timer: 10, 2, Custom
- AF-assist Beam: On, Off
- Digital Zoom: On, Off
- Review: 2-10 sec., Hold, Off
- Grid Lines: On, Off

MENU 2 of 2

- IS Mode: On, Off
- Date Stamp: Off, Date, Date&Time
- You can only imprint date when using the Postcard image size (though date and time are always saved as part of the EXIF info a picture)
- Long Shutter: On, Off (When turned On, you access it via Exposure Compensation)

SETUP 1 of 3

- Mute: On, Off
- Volume: Start-up Vol., Operation Vol., Selftimer Vol., Shutter Volume, Playback Vol.
- LCD Brightness
- Power Saving: Auto Power Down: On, Off; Display Off: 10 sec., 20 sec., 30 sec., 1 min., 2 min., 3 min.
- Time Zone
- Date/Time

SETUP 2 of 3

- Clock Display: 0-10 sec., 20 sec., 30 sec., 1-3 min.
- Format: Low Level Format possible
- File Numbering: Continuous, Auto Reset
- Create Folder
- Auto Rotate: On, Off
- Lens Retract: 0 sec., 1 min.

SETUP 3 of 3

- Language...: 23 languages to choose from
- Video System: NTSC, PAL
Print Method: Auto, PictBridge
- Reset ALL...




- Press the UP ARROW key to cycle thru available ISO settings
- 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, AUTO, HI
- Note that when in movie mode, pressing UP ARROW key allows you to set exposure compensation


- Press the RIGHT ARROW key to cycle thru available Flash settings
- Auto, Auto Red-Eye Reduction, On, Off, Slow Synchro


- Press the DOWN ARROW key to cycle thru available Drive settings
- Single Shot, Continuous, Self-timer (2 sec. or 10 sec. or Custome Delay)


- Press the LEFT ARROW key to cycle thru Macro OFF, Macro ON, Infinity


- Manual, Digital Macro, Stitch Assist (Left -> Right), Stitch Assist (Right -> Left)
- The Stitch Assist (Panorama) mode displays a portion of previous shot but is not semi-transparent


- +/-2 EV, 1/3 EV increments


- While in Exposure Compensation, press MENU to being up the Long Shutter screen where you can select a shutter speed from 1 to 15 sec. (1, 1.3, 1.6, 2, 2.5, 3.2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15 sec.)


- AWB, Day Light, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom


- My Colors Off, Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, B/W, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darket Skin Tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, Custom Color
- Custom Color: Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation, Red, Green, Blue, Skin Tone


- Evaluative, Center Weighted Avg., Spot


- Superfine (718 *)
- Fine (1187 *)
- Normal (2376 *)

*: approx. # of images at Large size on a 2GB SD memory card


- Large (2816x2112)
- Medium 1 (2272x1704)
- Medium 2 (1600x1200)
- Small (640x480)
- Postcard (1600x1200)
- Widescreen (2816x1584)


- M=Manual, ISO 100, Custom Delay Selftimer, Macro ON, Flash ON, space for 711 images, IS Mode ON, Image Size Large, Image Quality Superfine, Evaluative metering mode, Vivid, WB=Fluorescent, Exp. Comp.=+2/3EV
- Notice the subtle framing grid lines
- Note: shutter speed and aperture are not displayed...


- ... unless the Camera Shake Warning displays
- The shutter speed then displays alongside


- Standard, Fast Frame Rate, Compact, Color Accent, Color Swap


- Histogram is displayed only in Playback mode
- There is no delay going from one image to another

Note: Some of the screens have been "blackened" to permit a clearer view of the settings.

The Canon PowerShot SD700 IS is elegant in design, tough in construction, and with an unmistakable feeling of quality build. Controls are logically placed and intuitive in use. Ultracompact and light, it's a perfect take-anywhere digital camera for the point-and-shoot photographer in your family, and more advanced photographers will also find just enough exposure controls to satisfy them. The addition of the image stabilizer helps eliminate camera shake at the long end of the zoom and with the use of slow shutter speeds. Optional accessories include a Waterproof Case WP-DC5 and High Power Flash HF-DC1.

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