Canon sx70 hs

The Canon PowerShot SX70 HS ($549.99) is a compelling argument for why bridge cameras still exist, and, for the right photographer, make a lot of sense. It makes some minor changes from the previous generation SX60 HS, keeping the same lens, but adding a higher-resolution image sensor, 4K video, and a much better viewfinder. It’s a solid option for smartphone users who crave zoom power, and for SLR owners looking for a lighter camera to grab when on the go. As with the SX60 HS that came before it, the SX70 HS earns our Editors’ Choice award.

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From Ultra-Wide to Extreme Telephoto

The SX70 HS ($499.00 at Amazon) doesn’t stray from the standard bridge camera blueprint. It’s smaller than an SLR, but shaped like one. It boasts an ample handgrip, plenty of physical controls, and an understated matte black finish. The camera measures 3.6 by 4.6 by 5.0 inches (HWD) and weighs about 1.3 pounds when loaded with a battery and card and ready to shoot.

The reason to buy the SX70 HS is its lens. It boasts a 65x zoom range, matching a full-frame 21mm lens at the wide end and zooming all the way into the 1,365mm equivalent. With a smartphone you typically get a 28mm wide-angle and a 56mm secondary lens—the SX70 HS captures views that can be much wider or tighter.

While it doesn’t have the biggest zoom reach around—Nikon has its P900 and its 83x (24-2,000mm) zoom and the P1000 with a 125x zoom (24-3,000mm)—I consider the SX70’s reach to be more than enough for most applications. The P900 and P1000 are noticeably larger and heavier—2 pounds and 3.1 pounds respectively—so you’ll have to live with a heftier camera if you find the extra reach to be imperative.

How much zoom power do you need? It depends on what you like to photograph, and how close you can get to it. The image above is an uncropped shot of a red-bellied woodpecker in a tree, captured from a distance of about 100 feet, at the camera’s maximum zoom setting.

Canon doesn’t include any sort of weather protection with the SX70 HS, so I’d caution against using it in precipitation. It came through fine on a day photographing in fog heavy enough to wet my beard, but if working under rainy or snowy skies is something you like to do, think about a bridge model with some level of dust and splash protection. Our favorites include the Sony RX10 family, which doesn’t offer as much zoom power, but delivers image quality that’s closer to an interchangeable lens model thanks to an image sensor that’s about four times the size as the one inside the SX70.

If you’re a novice you can leave the camera in Auto and snap away, but there are also enough controls available to keep shutterbugs happy. In addition to the main zoom control—located around the shutter button, angled atop the handgrip, just where you’d expect it—there’s a second zoom rocker on the left side of the lens barrel. It moves the lens out more slowly than the main control, ideal for precise adjustments or slow zooms when recording video.

The zoom rocker is joined by two buttons. The top one is an assist to help you find your subject when zoomed in—it backs the lens out a bit, but shows your original, tighter zoom position as a virtual box. Once you’ve got your subject in front of your lens, simply releasing the button returns to your original, tighter frame.

The second button activates the SX70’s subject tracking focus mode. It shows a small crosshair that will stay atop your subject as long as you half-press the shutter. The SX70 HS is not a camera I’d recommend for fast-moving targets—its autofocus system simply isn’t fast enough—but the tracking can come in handy for backyard bird-watching, especially when trying to find the right point of focus through branches, and I found it worked pretty well for subjects not moving at a blistering pace.

The top plate houses the built-in flash—it requires you to raise or lower it manually, but opens without the need to find a toggle switch or release. There’s no hot shoe, as there was with the SX60 ($270.00 at Amazon) , so you can forget about using your external Speedlites.

Top controls are located on the right side. The On/Off and Wi-Fi buttons sit between the raised hump that houses the flash and EVF and the Mode dial. The control dial is ahead of Mode, rising vertically out of the body so that it turns comfortably, and the shutter release and zoom rocker are ahead of it.

Rear controls include Record, AE-L (*), and a button to adjust your focus point, all toward the top. Info, Play, and Menu buttons are closer to the bottom, to the right of the LCD, along with a four-way directional pad. The four-way controller has buttons to set EV compensation, adjust flash settings, delete images, toggle macro focus, and, at the center, the Q/Set button.

Canon calls its on-screen settings menu Q. The concept is simple—you get access to additional options, including the metering pattern, drive mode, ISO, and white balance—in a menu that doesn’t obscure the frame. It makes it possible to make adjustments to settings, while still keeping track of what your lens is seeing.

You’ve got two ways to frame and review images. The rear LCD is one—it’s a 3-inch panel with 922k dots of resolution. It’s not the sharpest display we’ve seen, but it’s not lacking in quality either. The LCD is mounted on a hinge and can swing out from the body to face forward, up, or down, and can fold in so that the screen is hidden—useful if you prefer to use the EVF exclusively. Oddly enough, Canon opted not to put touch support into the display, so beneficial touch features like tap to focus are absent.

The EVF is very good. It is a 0.39-inch panel and while Canon doesn’t list the full-frame equivalent magnification, it’s on par with APS-C and Micro Four Thirds cameras I’ve used. The 2,736k-dot resolution is also ample given the size—you’d need a larger EVF to require more pixels for a good experience. There is an eye sensor to automatically switch between the EVF and LCD, a convenient feature missing from the SX60 HS.

Power and Connectivity

Canon includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, both of which work with a companion smartphone app. Once you download Canon CameraConnect to your Android or iOS device you’ll be able to transfer photos and videos wirelessly (so you can get them on social media with ease), or control the camera remotely.

Ports include micro USB, micro HDMI, a 2.5mm remote control connection, and a 3.5mm microphone input. The mic input is a little puzzling, as there’s no place on the camera to mount a mic, so you’ll need to find a mounting bracket or other accessory if you want to use the SX70 for any video project where strong audio quality is a must.

An external charger, with a folding, built-in AC plug, is included, to recharge the battery. It’s rated for about 325 shots when using the LCD or 255 shots using the EVF according to CIPA testing standards. I found the battery life to be quite good in practice—it got me through a big family weekend of photography, including a trip to the Crayola Experience with the niece and nephew, a couple afternoons of backyard birding, and a trip to the local wildlife preserve. In-camera charging isn’t supported, however, so you can’t easily replenish the battery when on the go. If you have a big trip coming up, consider buying a spare, just in case you need it.

Autofocus Speed and Performance

The SX70 HS takes about 1.5 seconds to power on, focus, and snap a photo—a typical result with a bridge camera, as the built-in lens has to extend before the camera is ready for use. Its autofocus isn’t as speedy as an SLR or mirrorless camera—which can lock onto subjects in almost no time—requiring about 0.2-second to lock.

There are a few different focus modes to choose from. For family snapshots, the default, wide area—with face detection—is a good choice. There is also a tracking option, which follows a subject that you identify by placing a small focusing box over them and half-pressing the shutter.

See How We Test Digital Cameras

The other focus modes—Spot and 1-Point—are essentially the same. A white square, larger in 1-Point and fairly small in Spot—show at the center of the frame. You can move them around a bit with the rear control pad—there’s no touch support, so you can’t tap the screen to set the focus point. For most shots, simply leaving the point at the center, locking focus with a half-press of the shutter, and repositioning the camera a little to get the composition you want will work too.

Burst shooting is available at a brisk 10fps rate, and the camera can keep up that pace for about 47 shots when capturing JPG images. The number of shots you can capture in a full burst drops to about 17 if you enable Raw or Raw+JPG capture.

Despite the speedy burst, the SX70 HS isn’t a good choice for capturing subjects that are moving quickly toward or away from the lens. (Side-to-side motion doesn’t stress the autofocus system.) If you want a bridge camera that can keep up with real action, consider budgeting a bit more for the Sony RX10 III or RX10 IV—both have phase detection focus, just like an interchangeable lens camera, but are also significantly more expensive.

Small Sensor, Dim Lens

The SX70 HS has a marvel of a lens when it comes to its zoom range, but it can only get there because of the size of the image sensor that sits behind it. The 20MP CMOS chip is the same size as in most phones and long-zoom point-and-shoot cameras, 1/2.3-inch.

But where modern smartphones have bright lenses, often around f/1.8, the SX70 zoom is f/3.4 at its wide-angle setting. This means it captures about 25 percent as much light as your typical phone camera—and for quick snaps in typical home lighting, an iPhone or Pixel will net better results.

The SX70 HS beats phones handily in zoom power, of course. There are alternative bridge cameras that offer a bit more versatility when working in dim light, but they tend to cost more, like the aforementioned Sony RX10 family or the $900 Panasonic FZ1000 II (we haven’t had a chance to review it yet, but it’s not that different from the now-discontinued FZ1000), all of which feature larger 1-inch image sensors and brighter zoom lenses.

Because of this, you’re going to get the best results from the SX70 HS when working in sunlight. Capturing images of crepuscular creatures—like the whitetail deer captured at great distance and maximum zoom after the sun had dipped below the horizon—is a stretch for the SX70, but it would be a technical challenge for anything shy of an interchangeable lens model with a long, bright telephoto lens.

You’ll get clearer results from the SX70 when shooting under the sun. Even on a very dull, dreary spring day I found it didn’t push far beyond ISO 200 when keeping the shutter speed at a brisk 1/800-second—short enough to eliminate handshake when shooting at maximum zoom, with the help of the optically stabilized lens.

The sensor keeps noise under control through ISO 1600 when shooting JPGs, but it does come at the cost of detail. Image quality is strongest at the lowest ISO 100 setting, and remains quite good at ISO 200. But blur starts to creep in starting at ISO 400, where it’s modest, but visible. It blurs away almost all fine detail starting at ISO 800, and continues to do so through the top ISO 3200 setting.

If you’re a more advanced photographer, you can opt to shoot in Raw format. The SX70 doesn’t apply noise reduction to Raw images, so high-ISO shots are grainier, but they do a better job retaining fine detail. I’d still recommend shooting at a lower setting when possible, but you can get decent results out of Raw files through ISO 1600.

Take a look at the side-by-side comparison of an out-of-camera JPG and Raw image above. It’s been resized for the web—this is an image taken at full zoom, not a crop—but you can see where the detail shines in an ISO 3200 Raw image (on the right) and where it’s washed away by noise reduction in the JPG (on the left).

I used software from Imatest to check the sharpness of the lens at various focal lengths. At its widest angle it puts up solid resolution (1,936 lines) averaged across the frame. It’s better than the 1,800 lines we want to see from a 20MP sensor. It maintains strong image quality through most of the frame, but there is a little bit of softness at the edges, and a little bit of barrel distortion (1.9 percent), which is not surprising given the ultra-wide 21mm coverage.

Image quality is steady at the 50mm setting. The maximum available aperture there is f/4.5, and the lens shows 2,038 lines, with resolution that’s basically even from center to edge. Distortion is gone as well.

There’s a bit of resolution loss at longer zoom settings—we see 1,860 lines at 170mm f/5.6, 1,850 lines at 265mm f/5.6, and 1,823 lines at 385mm f/5.6—all good results. The longest focal length I was able to test was around 940mm—space constraints prevent us from checking the lens at its full zoom. There’s a little bit of loss of resolution (1,748 lines), which is just shy of what we want to see in an image.

For the most part, there were no glaring issues with images from the SX70 HS. I did notice some chromatic aberration, in the form of purple color fringing, around dark phone lines set against a gray sky, as you can see in the crop above. It’s not something that you’ll see in many images—I went through other photos where the effect was likely to appear, including shots which included small tree branches—and didn’t see it. If it does show up in a shot, software like Adobe Lightroom is useful in removing the false color.

4K Is There, If You Look for It

The SX70 HS gains 4K video, absent from the older SX60 HS, but it’s not something you can use unless you really want to. The big Record button will only record video in 1080p if the camera’s Mode dial is set to anything but its Movie position. I don’t quite get Canon’s logic here—it’s understandable to make 1080p the default, as 4K editing can be out of reach of the bulk of the consumer market—but forcing owners who want to shoot in 4K to change modes is cumbersome.

Frame rate options are limited. In 4K you are locked in at 30fps, and 1080p adds faster 60fps and 120fps options for slow-motion playback, but there’s no 24fps option to be found at all. It’s a bummer if you prefer the slightly less smooth, cinematic look that 24fps provides.

Audio quality is as good as you can expect from a built-in mic. The SX70 does a good job picking up voices, but also captures a lot of ambient sound, including wind noise. There is a microphone input, but no way to mount a mic on the camera itself—you’ll need to invest in some sort of bracket if you want to use an external on-camera mic.

I was happy with the video quality. It’s crisp and colorful, and the zoom power certainly allows for some interesting shots. If you plan on using the full breadth of the zoom, consider a tripod—the optical stabilization system does a good job steadying footage at wider angles, but there’s some jitter visible at longer focal lengths.

The Sensible Bridge Option

The Canon PowerShot SX70 HS doesn’t offer head-turning superlatives. It doesn’t have the insane 125x zoom lens found on the Nikon P1000 ($996.95 at Amazon) , nor does it rattle off Raw shots at 24fps like the high-end Sony RX10 IV ($1,598.00 at Amazon) . What it does is cover a very wide breadth of angles—starting at a wider angle than most of its competition and delivering plenty of telephoto power—in a relatively compact, affordable package.

There are some definite upgrades over the SX60 HS, including a better EVF, slightly faster burst shooting, and 4K support. But it does lose the hot shoe, and Canon inexplicably left out a touch screen. The bright points outweigh these complaints, and we’re naming the SX70 HS as our Editors’ Choice, just as we did with the SX60 HS. It’s a solid choice for families, backyard wildlife watchers, vacationers, and others looking for a lightweight camera with a wide zoom range, and will net very good images—as long as you work within its technical limitations.

If you’re a bit more serious about capturing distant subjects, but not quite serious enough to consider spending thousands of dollars, think about the larger Nikon P900 or P1000 if you want as much telephoto reach as possible, or one of the better 1-inch-sensor bridge cameras, like the Sony RX10 III ($1,398.00 at Amazon) or RX10 IV, or the Panasonic FZ1000 II.

Where to Buy

MSRP $549.99

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The Essential Review

This is TechRadar’s review summary that gives you all the key information you need if you’re looking for quick buying advice in 30 seconds; our usual full, in-depth review follows.

Conventional compact cameras may have largely fallen out of style but their superzoom bridge cousins continue to be a viable alternative to DSLR and mirrorless systems. A large part of this, of course, is down to the scope of their optics, but the most recent models have far more than just humongous zoom ranges to entice keen photographers.

Canon’s latest PowerShot SX70 HS is one such model. While the main draw of its 65x optical zoom lens is (somewhat unusually) unchanged from the model it updates, it’s furnished with an impressive array of additional technology, from raw capture, 10fps burst shooting and wireless connectivity through to 4K UHD video.

While relatively small and lightweight, the camera’s deep grip allows you to get a good hold, and it’s nice to find that it doesn’t become too front-heavy when the lens is fully extended. Build quality could be better, though, and there’s no weather sealing.

The camera’s autofocus system works in good time and shot-to-shot times are very good, even when capturing raw files, although a fast memory card advised. With the familiar EOS-style menu system you have very good control over your captures too, although it’s not possible to apply different Styles (color settings) to images when shooting raw files, and post-capture raw processing is also sadly not provided.

For a camera with such a small sensor, the PowerShot SX70 HS is capable of very pleasing output. Exposures are largely fine, although the limited dynamic range does mean that highlight details can blow in high-contrast scenes, so using the Auto Lighting Optimizer is a good idea.

There’s good detail in images in the middle part of the focal range, while the image stabilisation system does well to keep captures at the telephoto extreme relatively sharp, although wide-angle results and anything captured indoors at moderate ISO settings and above are noticeably worse.

In good light, videos captured at the maximum 4K UHD resolution hold up well, and there’s a decent amount of control offered over recording – even a mic port – although it would be nice to have a built-in ND filter to help better control exposure.

While there are better superzoom options at this price point – the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 being the most obvious example – the PowerShot SX70 HS brings together a good deal of control and a massive zoom inside a compact package. Stronger wide-angle results and a better results at higher ISO settings would make it a more consistent performer, but if you’re a Canon fan and imagine you’ll be regularly shooting in the mid-telephoto range, the PowerShot SX70 HS might just be the answer.

Who’s it for and should I buy it?

As a do-it-all camera, the PowerShot SX70 HS appears to have much to recommend it, while its asking price rivals those of most entry-level interchangeable lens systems. Canon’s marketing for the camera makes its target audience clear: this is a model aimed at those who want the control of a DSLR and a massive zoom lens at their disposal in one convenient package.

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Canon PowerShot SX70 HS price

  • Current price: £519/ $549 / AU$749.95 / AED 2,499

Tiny but packed with features

  • Raw shooting, including new CR3 mode
  • ISO 100-3200
  • 4K UHD video at 30/25p

The PowerShot SX70 HS is built around a lens equivalent to 21-1365mm in 35mm terms, with a maximum aperture of f/3.4-6.5. No change from its PowerShot SX60 HS predecessor then, although the presence of the latest DIGIC 8 engine means that the camera’s image stabilisation system can provide up to five stops of correction among other things.

Also new is the sensor, a 20.3MP back-illuminated device, up from the previous camera’s 16.1MP alternative. While the scope of the lens means that it measures just 1/2.3-inch in size, the fact that its sensitivity range only stretches between 100-3200 may disappoint some. Still, with a more effective stabilisation system than before, perhaps you won’t need to reach the higher settings as frequently.

The camera captures both raw files and JPEG images, with the former now storable in Canon’s CR3 Raw format. This was introduced in the EOS M50 back in February, and its main advantage over its CR2 predecessor is that it can store smaller raw files captured at full resolution but in a smaller size.

Videos, meanwhile are recorded at up to 4K UHD resolutions, with 30p and 25p option offered here, but no 24p option. You can record at up to 60p when shooting in Full HD, which may bother some expecting the customary slow-motion output options such as 100/120p shooting. For creative users, however, the camera somewhat redeems itself with a time-lapse option that outputs results in 4K.

Canon PowerShot SX70 HS Specs

Sensor: 20.3MP, 1/2.3-inch type BSI CMOS

Lens: 21-1365mm (equiv.) f/3.4-6.5

Screen: 3-inch vari-angle, 922k dots

Burst shooting: 10fps (5.7fps with C-AF)

Autofocus: Contrast-detect AF

Video: 4K (30/25p)

Connectivity: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

Battery life: 255/325 shots

Weight: 610g (including battery and card)

Working on the contrast-detect AF principle and with just nine points that come into play in its default auto setting, the autofocusing system is somewhat underwhelming on paper, although you can move a single point around the screen to a more precise point if you need to. Furthermore, you can focus 0cm away from the subject for macro work, while manual focus with the assistance of focus peaking is also on hand. Those shooting action can capture bursts of ranges at a rate of 10fps, although this drops to 5.7fps with continuous focus.

Wi-Fi is joined by Bluetooth, and between these the camera is able to send images wirelessly and be controlled remotely from an iOS or Android device

Wi-Fi is joined by Bluetooth, and between these the camera is able to send images wirelessly and be controlled remotely from an iOS or Android device. There’s no GPS system as such, although it is possible to embed GPS data into images when using the Canon Camera Connect app.

Battery life ranges from 255 shots per change when using the LCD through to 325 when relying on the rear display, although the Eco mode boosts this to around 405 frames. A slot around the base accepts SD, SDHC and SDXC cards too, with support for UHS-I cards designed to the Class 3 standard.

Lightweight body with great handling

  • Deep grip makes handling very comfortable
  • LCD screen can be physically adjusted
  • Power control slightly awkward to access

As is now standard practice for such cameras, the PowerShot SX70 HS combines an electronic viewfinder with an articulating LCD screen. The EVF has a respectable 2.36-million dot resolution – a healthy boost over the 922k-dot LCD panel inside the SX60 HS – and so it makes perfect sense that in good light it performs to a great standard. Details are very good, as is contrast, and colors appear to be nice and accurate. It also benefits from an eye sensor to its side, which means you don’t have to worry about manually switching the feed between the LCD and EVF.

When you consider the watery, noisy viewfinders with occasional colour casts that you tend to find on such models, you appreciate just how well this one performs. That said, as soon as light levels start to dip, the slight muddiness of details makes it more difficult to see whether focus is precise, so you do place a little faith in the camera to get things right here.

The 3-inch LCD has 922k dots and can be twisted to face the front. It’s not a touchscreen, however, which may irk those used to jabbing their smartphones and tablets, but it also performs to a standard befitting such a model, with easy movement and its thick profile letting you get a good grip on it. You also get a slightly cut-down version of the EOS interface in both the LCD and EVF, and this includes a customisable My Menu tab, which will no doubt please existing Canon users already accustomed to this UI.

The lens’s 21mm-equivalent wide-angle start allows you to get lots into the frame.

While the PowerShot SX70 HS isn’t a large camera, the depth of the grip and the space on the rear for the thumb makes it a perfectly comfortable camera to hold. Handling is further helped by a mode dial that stands proud from the top plate and a shutter-release button with clear feedback between its various positions when pressed. The top plate also hides a built-in flash with a reasonable selection of control through the menu, although Canon chose to drop the hot shoe from the design of the PowerShot SX60 HS here, which means that external units can’t be mounted.

The top plate is also home to the power and Wi-Fi buttons. It’s a shame these aren’t placed the other way around from each other as the more frequently used power control is harder to reach with the forefinger. The zoom control on the camera’s lens barrel also seems a little too high for comfort, although if you have large hands you might not mind this too much. You can also zoom with the collar around the shutter-release button, so you may end up not using this secondary control at all.

Image quality

  • Effective image stabilisation system
  • Capable of pleasing 4K video quality
  • Lacklustre wide-angle performance

Cameras designed as an alternative to DSLRs and mirrorless cameras can often underwhelm when they’re compared with the standard of entry-level interchangeable-lens models, but the PowerShot SX70 HS does well to break this convention. At least in terms of operation, it’s far more pleasing to use than expected.

On top of the great handling, a lot of this is down to the camera’s autofocus system, which generally brings subjects to focus speedily. In good light it manages to do this wherever you are in the focal range, although this does dip in sub-optimum light and when shooting lower-contrast subjects, which is admittedly fairly standard on such cameras.

The metering system does well to get exposure spot on in most situations

Shot-to-shot times are also very good, even when shooting raw files, which is particular useful at the telephoto end when you might want to capture a few frames to compensate for less-than-steady framing. The image stabilisation system does a very good job to keep the feed as stable as possible, however, and it’s usually possible to get precise composition with just a handful of frames, particularly when you provide extra stability with your face as it’s pressed up to the viewfinder.

Noise reduction effects and a general loss of detail are common in indoor shots captured at moderate ISO settings and above, but this is completely expected for a camera with such a small sensor

If you want to vary the colour output you can call upon a selection of Styles such as Vivid and Neutral, although the PowerShot SX70 HS follows previous Canon models in disabling this option when capturing raw frames (or simultaneous raw and JPEG frames). This is slightly annoying, particularly if you’re used to adjusting these on a more advanced Canon camera.

On the default Auto setting, however, colors manage to have a nice punch to them while still being true to life. Exposures are generally fine too, with just minor overexposure when faced with scenes containing fewer brighter details.

Results at moderate telephoto settings are generally very good

The camera typically outputs the kind of results we should expect from a 1/2.3-inch sensor – that is to say fine when sticking to the lowest sensitivities in good light and slightly struggling elsewhere. Particularly at middle-range focal lengths, images show very good detail, and even at the telephoto end there’s just a touch of noise reduction and softness marring an otherwise very acceptable performance.

Results at the wide end of the lens, however, are noticeably weaker, particularly as you move away form the base ISO 100 setting, with a coarse texture and general loss of detail, so if you imagine you’ll be relying on this end with any frequency you may want to look elsewhere.

Only a touch of vignetting can be seen in scenes like these. In fact, it’s generally very well controlled

Optical aberrations are generally well controlled, with curvilinear distortion not being an issue at either end of the lens and vignetting only really visible in the types of scenes most troubled by it. Chromatic aberration is handled well too, although purple fringing is typically visible in areas of high contrast.

Videos captured in the maximum 4K UHD resolution are perfectly pleasing when you’re shooting in good light, particularly when you consider what other cameras with such a sensor deem to be acceptable here, although the lack of a built-in ND filter (which, admittedly, we wouldn’t expect in such a model anyway) may make capturing footage outdoors a struggle.

Focus slows a little at extreme telephoto settings but it’s still decent

Not convinced? Try these

If the PowerShot SX70 HS isn’t for you, here are three excellent alternatives to consider…

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Panasonic Lumix FZ1000

With a 1in sensor, great 4K video performance and 12fps burst shooting, the FZ1000 is a steal at its current price. It’s a little bigger and heavier than the PowerShot SX70 HS, though, and its lens finishes at a setting equivalent to just 400mm, but its image quality is excellent.

Read our in-depth Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 review

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Nikon Coolpix P900

The P900 boasts a mammoth 83x optical zoom that equates to 24-2000mmm in 35mm terms, although it fails to offer raw shooting and struggles at longer focal lengths.

Read our in-depth Nikon P900 review

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Sony HX400V

A few years old but significantly cheaper than the Canon option, the HX400V packs a 50x zoom lens with a range equivalent to 24-1200mm but there’s no raw option and neither is there a touchscreen.

Read our in-depth Sony HX400V review

  • Best bridge camera 2018: 10 cameras that pack huge zoom lenses
  • Intro
  • Quality
  • Samples
  • Verdict

Intro

The Canon PowerShot SX70 HS is a super-zoom camera with DSLR-styling, 20 Megapixel resolution and a 65x optical zoom range equivalent to 21-1365mm. Announced in September 2018, it’s the long-awaited successor to the enormously popular SX60 HS released four years earlier. The new SX70 HS shares the same body, zoom and fully articulated screen mechanism as its predecessor, but upgrades the 1 /2.3in type sensor from 16 to 20 Megapixels, couples it with the latest DIGIC 8 processor to gain 4k video, and upgrades the viewfinder size and resolution.

The core specification of any super-zoom camera is of course the lens, and with the SX70 HS, Canon’s chosen to stick with the same optics introduced on its predecessor. These equip both cameras with the same 65x / 21-1365mm equivalent range taking you from ultra-wide to super-telephoto. While this remains an enormous range, it’s now out-gunned by the Nikon P1000 which boasts a vast 125x / 24-3000mm range with the same size sensor behind it (albeit with Nikon sticking with 16 Megapixels rather than 20 and also pricing the P1000 much higher).

DIGIC 8 allows the SX70 HS to now shoot faster at up to 10fps and film in 4k video at 25 or 30p although the 4k mode applies a fairly tight 1:1 crop like the SX740 HS and other DIGIC 8 models. Like its predecessor you can film 1080 up to 60p and also shoot stills in RAW, although a new Compact RAW option is also available. Meanwhile the electronic viewfinder has been upgraded in size and resolution from a 0.71 type / 922k dot panel to a 0.39 type / 2.36 Million dot panel. As on the older SX60 HS, the new model features Wifi for transfer of images and remote shooting, but adds Bluetooth, for seamless transfer of photos in the background while you shoot – a bit like on the Nikon COOLPIX B600 with which I’ve compared it in my review. Read on to find out which is the best super-zoom for you!

The PowerShot SX70 HS has a lot in common with the earlier SX60 HS and the SLR-styled body looks very similar- it’s similarly sized but 42 grams, or about an ounce and a half lighter. The plastic body is solidly constructed and, though bigger than the Nikon COOLPIX B600, fits comfortably in your hands thanks to a generous grip. One other thing to note here – the Frame Assists buttons are joined by a zoom rocker than can be used as an alternative to the one on the shutter release.

Here’s the PowerShot SX70 HS (left) alongside the Nikon COOLPIX B600. As you can see it’s bigger all round; it’s also a little heavier at 608g compared with 500g for the B600. The payback for that extra bulk is a built-in electronic viewfinder and a versatile fold-out screen – which I’ll talk more about next.

The PowerShot SX70 HS retains the 3 inch 922k dot screen of its predecessor, which can fold out and face in any direction including forward-facing and back in on itself for protection when not in use. The big news here though is the EVF, which has been upgraded from a 0.71 type / 922k dot panel to a 0.39 type / 2.36 Million dot panel. For a camera in this class it’s bright and detailed and I found it a big advantage for framing wildlife and other subjects when zoomed in. There’s also now a sensor to automatically toggle between the screen and the viewfinder when you put your eye to it.

PowerShot SX60 HS owners looking at this will immediately spot that the older model’s flash hotshoe has been dispensed with on the SX70 HS. This is frustrating not just for those who want to mount an external flashgun, but also anyone wanting to exploit the unusual presence of a microphone input with a shotgun mic; instead you’ll need to use a bracket or simply connect a wired lav mic. At least the SX70 HS retains the built-in flash, which is activated by pulling it up from the body. As on the back, there’s been some tweaking with the buttons on the top and the programmable shortcut button has been replaced with a Wifi button.

The SX70 HS sticks with the same 65x zoom lens introduced on the previous model. It has an equivalent range of 21mm- 1365mm with a maximum f3.4 aperture that closes to f6.5 when fully zoomed in. 21mm is about as wide as it gets on a fixed lens superzoom and a little bit wider than the 24mm of the COOLPIX B600. So you’ll have no problem shooting impressive landscapes and getting the entire first, second and third eleven in the frame for your club photos.

At the other end of the zoom range, the SX70 HS will get you to an equivalent 1365mm – just a little short of the 1440mm of the COOLPIX B600. The range of the SX70 is bigger than the B60 – 65x compared with 60x – but all of that advantage is at the wide angle end. That said, 1440mm doesn’t actually get you that much closer to the action, so don’t put too much stock in the numbers, and if you really need to get closer consider the (much more expensive) 125x Nikon P1000.

For this shot I put the PowerShot SX70HS into Aperture priority mode and opened the aperture as wide as it would go to blur the background. Zoomed in to just shy of 400mm that’s f5.6 and as you can see, the background is blurred, but not massively.

Like the COOLPIX B600, the PowerShot can focus as close as 1cm in macro mode.

The upgrade to Canon’s Digic 8 processor means the SX70 HS can shoot continuously at 10fps a big improvement on the 6.5fps of the earlier SX60 HS. The 10fps speed is good for about 40 frames at the best quality JPEG setting, after which it slows to about 2fps. But that’s good enough to capture most kinds of action and it’s certainly a lot better than the COOLPIX B600 which can shoot for about a second at 7.7fps. The SX70 HS is also a lot quicker writing images to the card than the B600, so you can shoot another sequence almost immediately.

Though the PowerShot SX70 HS can’t zoom quite as far as the COOLPIX B600, it has two things that make capturing shots like this much easier. The first is the viewfinder – it provides a good clear view, even in bright sunlight and it’s easier to hold the camera steady with it pressed to your face. Both the SX70 HS and B600 have optical image stabilisation which also helps a lot, but with such long zooms, anything you can do to keep the camera steady helps. The second thing is the Framing Assist seek button, which you press to momentarily zoom out if you need to reacquire your subject, then release to zoom back to where you were. The COOLPX B600 has a similar feature.

For this moon shot I placed the SX70 HS on a tripod – it’s almost impossible to do this handheld even with the stabilisation activated. This gives you a pretty good idea of how much magnification the 65x zoom provides – you can see plenty of detail on the lunar surface. If you compare this shot with the one from my COOLPIX B600 review, you’ll see that the latter’s extra reach (1440mm vs 1365mm) doesn’t make a huge difference.

The PowerShot SX70 HS is equipped with Wifi and now Bluetooth. Like the COOLPIX B600 you can remote shoot (with a lot more control than the Nikon app provides) and transfer images to your phone over wifi. The Bluetooth connection allows you to transfer images in the background while you shoot, but it differs from the COOLPIX B600 in one crucial respect – The actual image transfer takes place over Wifi, so you have to have both Bluetooth and Wifi connections active. So it’s a bit tricker to set up and use than Nikon’s Snapbridge, but offers more functions and more control.

Switch the mode dial on the SX70 HS to the Creative Filters mode position and you have the choice of seven filters including Grainy B/W, (shown here) Soft focus, Fish-eye, Art bold, Water painting, Toy camera and Miniature.

This clip and the others below, except where stated, are recorded in the PowerShot SX70’s 1080/50p mode. It’s hard to fault, the exposure, white balance and quality are all good, the zoom doesn’t make a sound and the stabilisation is very steady when fully zoomed in. This clip is also available in 4K mode

For this clip I put the SX70 HS on a tripod and disabled the stabilisation. The fact that merely touching the camera when it’s fully zoomed causes frantic juddering shows you just how good a job the stabilisation does when it’s activated. The other thing worth noting is that the autofocus is very stable. Below you can see a 4k version of this same shot.

This 4K clip was shot from the exact same position as the 1080p one above. The SX70HS uses a 1:1 crop from the middle of the sensor for 4K video resulting in a smaller field of view. That means not such a wide angle, but the bonus is an effectively longer telephoto.

Here’s an indoor low light clip from the SX70 HS and again it’s hard to fault. The exposure and white balance are good and the mic has done a good job with the ambient noise and there’s also a socket for an external mic if you want to use one. This clip is also available in 4K mode

For this Moon clip I put the SX70 HS on a tripod and set the focus to manual – with the servo AF activated it was constantly adjusting. The SX70 HS has overexposed the Moon’s surface slightly, probably because the moon isn’t centre shot at the beginning of the clip. You could fix that by exposure compensation or switching to manual exposure.

Bridge cameras, those models that span the gap between compact and interchangeable lens cameras have enduring appeal. They combine the relative simplicity of a compact camera with some of the more advanced features and handling of a DSLR. And many also bring a wide zoom lens for extra flexibility. The Canon PowerShot SX70, for example, has a 65x optical zoom, which could make it the best Canon camera for long range photography on a tight budget.

To no small part, this monster zoom is made possible by using a sub-APS-C format sensor. In this case the 1/2.3-inch type back-illuminated CMOS chip enables the 3.8-247mm lens to produce and angle of view that’s equivalent to a 21-1365mm optic on a full-frame camera. That’s phenomenal reach and one that few DSLR photographers could ever imagine achieving with their lenses.

The SX70 HS has 20.3 megapixels, 25% more than its predecessor, the 16.1MP SX60 HS, that should produce detailed files that lend themselves well both to larger prints and to the rigours of post processing.

Sensibly, Canon has included a stabilizing element in the lens and it proves its worth. It’s not just useful for getting images sharp, it helps with framing shots of distant subjects at the telephoto end of the lens. The steadier view makes it much easier than it would be otherwise.

Features

This sensor is paired with a Digic 8 processing engine which enables a sensitivity range of ISO 100-3200 and a maximum continuous shooting rate of 10fps in One Shot AF mode (5.7fps with continuous focusing).

Although there are just 9 selectable autofocus (AF) points, the SX70 HS’s AF system is actually pretty good. In decent light it gets most subjects sharp quickly. The Tracking AF system also manages to stay with slow-moving subjects well. It’s a contrast-detection system and not surprisingly, it starts to hunt when light or contrast levels drop.

Despite its extensive zoom range, the SX70 HS is very light. It’s largely constructed from polycarbonate (aka plastic) but it has a good-quality feel while the deep grip fits comfortably in your hand.

Handling

A mode dial on the top of the camera gives the means to select aperture priority, shutter priority or manual exposure mode as well as a collection of automated shooting options. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that even at the shortest focal length, it’s only possible to adjust the aperture across 2 2/3 EV, from f/3.4 to f/8. At the longest focal length, there are just three aperture settings available, f/6.5, f/7.1 and f/8.0. That’s not unusual with a bridge camera, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re looking for a camera that provides lots of control.

Both the 0.39-inch 2.36million-dot electronic viewfinder and the 3-inch 922,000-dot screen on the back of the camera provide a good, clear view with plenty of detail visible. It’s nice that the screen is on a variable hinge as that helps with composing images from creative angles, but it’s a shame that it’s not touch sensitive. It means that you have to press a button and use the navigation pad to set the AF point, a tap on the screen would be much quicker and more intuitive.

Sample gallery

Shot at widest zoom setting Canon PowerShot SX70 HS 1/320sec at f/8. ISO100 Same view show with longest telephoto setting Canon PowerShot SX70 HS 1/640sec at f/8. ISO100 Canon PowerShot SX70 HS 1/160sec at f/6.3. ISO800 Canon PowerShot SX70 HS 1/500sec at f/8. ISO100

Performance

At low sensitivity settings and in nice light, the SX70 HS produces good results but we’d recommend staying to ISO 800 or lower if possible. With a 20Mp 1/2.3-inch sensor the images are not going to challenge an APS-C format camera for quality, but they are good for that sensor type. If you pixel-peep you’ll see that the results at the shortest focal length are a little softer and that the edges of the frame can become a bit mushy, but on the whole they look fine at normal viewing sizes.

Chromatic aberration is controlled well, only really being noticeable in extremely high contrast situations.

The video quality is also good with the continuous AF system managing to keep subjects acceptably sharp. A crop is applied to 4K video but with such a wide focal length range, that’s not much of an issue with the SX70 HS.

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Canon PowerShot SX70 HS Review

Snap Verdict

The Canon PowerShot SX70 HS is a bridge camera. That means it combines some of the features of an interchangeable lens camera with those of a compact camera. So while it is fairly compact and has a fixed zoom lens, it looks like a small SLR. The ace in the PowerShot SX70 HS’s sleeve, however, is its 65x zoom range. Its 3.8-247mm f.3.5-6.5 lens produces images that have the same framing as a 21-1365mm lens on a full-frame camera. That makes it very versatile and an attractive choice for photographing family days out. To cut to the chase, if those days out are in sunny conditions, the PowerShot SX70 HS is likely to produce attractive images that many people will be delighted with. However, it’s not so clever on dull, overcast days.

  • Read our buyers guide to the best cameras: what to look out for and what to buy

Inside the Canon PowerShot SX70 is a 1/2.3-inch type back-illuminated CMOS sensor with 20.3million effective pixels. In smartphone terms, a 1/2.3-inch sensor is pretty big, but it’s smaller than the Four Thirds and APS-C format sensors found in most interchangeable lens cameras.

However, it’s the small sensor that makes the 65x zoom lens possible. A focal length range equivalent to 21-1365mm is one that many DSLR shooters would envy. The wide end is ideal for landscape photography and shooting where space is tight while the longer end lets you frame distant subjects nice and tightly.

Camera shake can be a big problem with long lenses so it’s good to see that Canon has included an image stabilisation element in the SX70 HS’s lens.

Thanks to Canon’s DIGIC 8 processing engine, the SX70 HS has a sensitivity range of ISO 100-3200 and a maximum continuous shooting rate of 10fps in One Shot AF mode. This drops to 5.7fps with continuous focusing.


Viewfinder and Screen

As it’s a bridge camera the PowerShot SX70 HS has an electronic viewfinder. And at 0.39-inches and 2.36million-dots, it’s better than average for a camera at this level.

There’s also a 3-inch 922,000-dot screen mounted on a vari-angle hinge on the back of the camera. That’s ideal for composing images at creative angles whether you’re shooting in landscape or portrait format.

Canon has been a bit slow to embrace 4K video and although the SX70 HS is 4K enabled, there’s a crop applied to the image. However, with a 21mm wide-angle option, that’s not likely to be a huge problem for most people.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity are built-in allowing you to connect quickly to a smartphone and easily to transfer images or control the camera remotely. In addition, it’s possible to embed GPS data from the phone in the images.

  • Read our guide to Full-Frame vs APS-C cameras: what’s the real difference?

Build and Handling

The Canon PowerShot SX70 HS looks like a small DSLR. It has a fairly chunky grip on its right and the viewfinder in the middle of the top plate along with a collection of buttons and dials for making settings adjustments.

Stable View

If the SX70 HS had a full-frame or APS-C sized sensor, its 21-1365mm (equivalent) lens would be huge. But even for a 1/2.3-inch camera, the SX70 HS’s optic is impressively compact. That, the deep grip and the on-board image stabilisation system helps make it relatively easy to compose images at the longest focal length.

When I tested the Canon PowerShot SX740 HS which has a 40x zoom lens, I found it very hard to compose images at the longest point of the 24–960mm (equivalent) optic. The tiniest movement has a dramatic impact on the framing, so in many instances, I had to take several shots to get the image I wanted. However, the SX740 HS doesn’t have the SX70 HS’s lens-based stabilisation or such a big grip.

With an eye on price and portability, the Canon SX70 HS is very light. It appears to be predominantly made from polycarbonate (plastic), but it feels well made.

The 0.39-inch 2.36million-dot electronic viewfinder provides a good, clear view of the scene. A viewfinder is especially useful in bright sunlight, but to have one of such good quality is a bonus.

It’s also nice that the 3-inch 922,000-dot screen on the back of the camera the variable-type, However, it’s disappointing that it’s not touch-sensitive. It would make setting the AF point quicker and easier – especially if there was a trackpad option for use with the viewfinder. Instead, the AF point is set by pressing a button and then using the navigation pad to find the right location.

  • Read our guide to the best 360-degree cameras

Control

The mode dial on the top of the camera has settings for aperture priority, shutter priority and manual exposure mode as well as a collection of automated shooting options.

However, even at the shortest focal length, it’s only possible to adjust the aperture across 2 2/3 EV, from f/3.4 to f/8. And there are just three aperture settings available at the longest focal length, f/6.5, f/7.1 and f/8.0. That’s common with bridge cameras, but it means that you don’t have quite the level control over aperture that you might anticipate.

Canon has given the SX70 HS a similar menu arrangement to its SLRs and everything is logically arranged. It’s nice to see a My Menu screen as it allows you to quickly access the features you use most often.

You can also get to key features like the white balance and focus mode by pressing the Q button to activate the Quick Menu.

There’s no zoom ring on the lens so focal length is adjusted using either the toggle switch on the lens or the sprung lever around the shutter button. Both work well but I find my finger reaches more instinctively for the lever around the shutter button.

The Canon PowerShot SX70 HS’s contrast detection autofocus (AF) system is pretty snappy. In good light, it can even get quite fast-moving subjects sharp. It’s not the greatest at tracking them, but if the active AF point is over the target, you should get some sharp results.

If the subject is moving quite slowly, the Tracking AF is useful for keeping it sharp.

There are just 9 selectable AF points, so the coverage isn’t great, but it’s workable. However, If the light or contrast level falls, you can expect some hunting.

Image Quality

A pixel count of 20.3million is high for a 1/2.3-inch sensor. This has an impact when the sensitivity is pushed to the higher values. Noise and the impact of its removal is apparent at ISO 800 and above. That means that the PowerShot SX70 HS isn’t the best choice of camera for shooting in low light.

However, if the sun is shining, or the conditions are bright, the SX70 HS produces attractive images. Out of focus areas can look a bit mushy at high magnifications, but at normal viewing sizes they’re usually okay.

If you check images at 100% on a computer screen you may notice that images shot at the shortest focal length are a little soft at the edges of the frame, but again they usually look fine at normal viewing sizes.

Despite the huge focal length range and compact size of the lens, the SX70 HS keeps chromatic aberration under control very well. If you hunt for it at 100% on screen, you may find some fringing along very high contrast edges, but it’s not really something to worry about.

Similarly, distortion is controlled well.

Like the stills, video shot on the SX70 HS in nice light look good. The colours are attractive, there’s a good level of detail and the continuous AF system keeps subjects acceptably sharp. As I mentioned earlier, the crop that’s applied to 4K video is a bit disappointing, but it’s not a major issue because of the SX70 HS’s wide angle lens.

Sample Images

Follow the link to

Canon PowerShot SX70 HS Image Gallery

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Verdict

The Canon PowerShot SX70 HS has a good feature set and nice handling. Its high-quality viewfinder and vari-angle screen particularly impress. They help you to take creative images in a wide variety of situations. It’s just a shame that the screen isn’t touch-sensitive.

If you’re looking for a camera that can be used for days out with the family, the PowerShot SX70 HS makes a good choice provided that you’re not looking to shoot in low light on a frequent basis. It’s more of a sunny day camera. It’s at home on summer holidays and will let you photograph everything from wide landscapes to distant details – including the kids having fun in the ocean.

A competent travel and holiday camera with lots to recommend it, the PowerShot SX70 HS is a fine option for holidays in sunnier climes. If you need something that will deliver across a broader range of indoor and outdoor situations, though, it may be best to look towards a camera with a more modest zoom range and a larger sensor.

Pros

  • Easy and fast to use
  • Great handling
  • Decent autofocus performance
  • Effective image stabilisation
  • Pleasing 4K footage

Cons

  • Poor wide-angle performance
  • Build quality could be better
  • No touchscreen
  • Noisy images past lowest ISO settings
  • Auto white balance a little hit and miss

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £519.99
  • 20.3-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor
  • 65x optical zoom
  • Shoots 4K video at 30fps
  • 10fps burst mode
  • 2.36-million dot electronic viewfinder
  • 3-inch vari-angle screen

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What is the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS?

If you’re looking for the convenience of a DSLR without the bulk or expense of multiple lenses, then a bridge camera could be for you – and the PowerShot SX70 HS is Canon’s latest example.

With its all-encompassing 65x optical zoom lens, full manual exposure control and even a Raw shooting option, it provides real creative control without the need to lug around a bag of lenses.

Its most likely audience is travelling photographers who want to capture a raft of different subjects at different distances, from wide-angle landscapes with far-away details to food, portraits and everyday street shots.

The drawback is that the camera won’t provide the same standard of image quality or flexibility as a DSLR. But for those just wanting an all-in-one option for a stretch of travel, it could well be a more attractive overall proposition overall.

Canon PowerShot SX70 HS – Design and features

For a camera with such a beastly lens, the PowerShot SX70 HS is remarkably compact – and at just 610g, it’s also relatively light in weight.

Even so, Canon has fashioned it with a generously sized grip, one that’s been liberally rubbered for extra security and comfort. Even if you have larger hands, it’s unlikely that you’ll find the camera either uncomfortable in the hands or fiddly to operate.

That said, while the camera may handle much like a DSLR, it doesn’t have the same sturdy build quality that you’d get from an interchangeable lens camera.

A number of direct controls have been designed into the body, such as a handful of buttons that allow you to regulate the lens’s focal length in different ways. There’s also a tall mode dial on the top plate that helpfully rounds up all exposure options. Both this and the command dial at the top of the grip have a tactile finish that makes it easy to use, and while the buttons on the whole sit relatively flush to the body – and could do with travelling further into the body itself when pressed – all are large and clearly marked.

Alongside the centrepiece that is the lens, Canon has equipped the PowerShot SX70 HS with an image stabilisation system that promises to steady the lens where necessary. This is a critical feature on cameras like this, and its effects can be seen in both the electronic viewfinder and on the LCD.

Other notable additions here include Raw shooting, a 10fps burst mode and Wi-Fi partnered with NFC for easy image transmission and remote control from a smart device.

Canon PowerShot SX70 HS – Screen and viewfinder

Like most bridge cameras, the PowerShot SX70 HS packs both an electronic viewfinder and an LCD screen. With a very respectable resolution of 2.36million dots – good for a camera of this kind – the viewfinder presents its details very well outdoors, particularly in good light.

The effectiveness of the camera’s image stabilisation system also allows you to compose images at the longer end of the lens with greater precision that you might expect.

The LCD can be flipped out and turned to face all kinds of positions, which makes composing images and videos from awkward angles a cinch. You can also rotate it to face the front for selfies and group shots.

One slight disappointment, though, is that the screen isn’t touch sensitive, which means you can’t simply tap where you want it to focus or swipe through your masterpieces using your finger. Still, it joins the viewfinder in presenting the scene clearly, only becoming a little muddy when light levels fall.

Canon PowerShot SX70 HS – Performance

The SX70 HS powers up in less than a second and shuts down in a similar time, although the latter does depend on the position of the zoom.

You can adjust the focal range in two ways: using a collar around the shutter-release button, or a see-saw-like control on the side of the lens’ barrel. The latter is slower but better for fine control.

When you do need to zoom at speed, you can work between the extremes of the lens in just under two seconds, which is perfectly respectable considering the scope of the lens.

Autofocusing speeds are generally very good throughout the focal range. Only when capturing low-contrast subjects does the system come a little unstuck, but it still typically manages to find the subject, often with the help of the AF illuminator.

The camera averages about 13-14 Raw and JPEG frames on its fastest burst speed, and these are flushed out to the card in a matter of seconds. Pleasingly, the camera remains operational as this happens.

Switch to shooting JPEGs on their own and this increases to around 42-43 frames, which is ample for most situations. The image stabilisation system also does a noticeably good job at steadying the feed when composing images, and this translates to images with good detail.

Overall, the SX70 HS is a very competent performer in most situations. With the advantage of the familiar and comprehensive EOS interface, and virtually no lagging as you navigate the menus or adjust exposure settings, it’s refreshingly free from the quirks and limitations that we often find on bridge cameras.

Canon PowerShot SX70 HS – Image quality and video

As the PowerShot SX70 HS can capture Raw files in addition to JPEGs, images can be polished post-capture when you can take a little more time and attention.

This works well if you want to make minor changes to exposure, although there’s a limit as to how much you can polish up images from the perspective of detail. Stick to low ISO settings and you’re fine, but things start to come undone as soon as light levels dip and you need to raise the ISO.

Images captured at the widest focal length are somewhat soft.

Exposures are generally fine, although you may want to play around with the Styles (colour options) as colours can be a little flat on occasion, something that isn’t helped by a slightly unpredictable auto white balance system.

The level of detail in images very much appears to depend on what focal length you’re using. Here, the camera does better at moderate focal lengths, but still does well at the longer end of the zoom, with details relatively well defined for a camera with such a small sensor and ambitious optic.

The auto white balance system is a little cold here, but this is easily rectified.

It’s a shame that images are considerably softer when using the wider end of the lens, particularly as the 21mm-equivalent start is highly useful when capturing interiors and scenes from vantage points.

Videos can be captured in both 4K and Full HD quality, and the standard of the former is better than expected. Details are nice and crisp and both noise and other artefacts are well suppressed, although this does start to drop in poorer light.

Stability of footage is very good when moving around, with rolling shutter noticeable but well-controlled. The level of control over footage is also decent for a camera at this level, although those wanting to take video more seriously should perhaps also look at the one-inch sensor alternatives like the Panasonic FZ1000.

JPEGs straight out of the camera show no obvious distortion, with straight lines and edges appearing as expected.

Captured at ISO 800, this image lacks detail on account of heavy noise reduction.

At the widest aperture and widest focal length, sharpness is noticeable better in the centre than at the peripheries and corners of the frame.

The image stabilisation system does well to keep things relatively stable at mid-to-long focal lengths.

There’s a little oversharpening here, possibly down to the noise reduction applied as standard.

The auto white balance system has left this image a little too warm.

Why buy the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS?

With a price tag that’s on a par with an entry-level DSLR, but with a much smaller sensor, you really need to be shooting a lot at telephoto focal lengths to make the Canon SX70 HS a logical addition to your shortlist.

The zippy autofocus system and effective image stabilisation system are impressive, as is that lovely electronic viewfinder, so it’s a fine choice for holidays or for longer stretches of travelling.

Performance is compromised by a relatively weak results at the wider end of the lens, and image noise and smearing of details in anything but good light.

So, if you reckon you’ll be capturing cities from above or expansive landscapes on your travels, or you’ll be shooting indoors with any frequency, it might be best to look elsewhere.

Verdict

A competent travel and holiday camera with lots to recommend it, the PowerShot SX70 HS is a fine option for holidays in sunnier climes. If you need something that will deliver across a broader range of indoor and outdoor situations, it may be best to look towards a camera with a more modest zoom range and/or a larger sensor.

Canon PowerShot SX70 HS – The Rivals

Nikon P900
The 16MP P900 matches the SX70 HS with an articulating LCD and also packs both Wi-Fi and NFC, while its 83x optical zoom – which stretches between focal lengths equivalent to 24-2000mm in 35mm terms lens – easily outguns its rival’s 65x alternative.

That said, with video recording limited to Full HD rather than 4K, and Raw shooting also absent, it may provide a little less growing space for many users.

Panasonic FZ330
The FZ330 is showing its age somewhat, although it manages a number of advantages over the PowerShot SX70 HS. Its lens, for example, boasts a constant maximum aperture of f/2.8 for greater flexibility in terms of both creativity and low light shooting, although this only works between range equivalent to 25-600mm in 35mm terms, so you don’t get quite as much reach at the telephoto end.

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Trusted Score

Features

Megapixels (Megapixel) 20.3
Optical Zoom (Times) 65X
Image Sensor 1/2.3in type, 20.3MP CMOS
Auto focus 9 points
LCD Monitor 3-inch vari-angle LCD with 922k dots
Viewfinder 2.36-milion dot EVF

Physical Specifications

Dimensions Width (Millimeter) 127
Depth (Millimeter) 90.9
Length (Millimeter) 116.6
Weight (body only) (Kilogram) 0.610

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Uptime & Reliability

No Complaints – Limited Guarantee

WHSH4U guarantees 99% uptime for their customers. While this certainly is enough for almost every scenario, the 1% leaves just under 88 hours of downtime annually. While those hours could easily be routine downtime on low-usage hours, no details are provided. With the ever-growing number of available streaming services available and the ease of access for customers, a more stringent guarantee may be needed.

Primarily Streaming Hosting

WHSH4U offers streaming media in both ICEcast and SHOUTcast these two platforms comprise a good part of online audio content delivery formats.

The firm does a very good job at describing the services they provide and how many listeners each package supports at a time. Based on their listings, a 64kbps rate will support up to 50 listeners and 128kbps will support up to 200. On the higher end of the packages is the VPS package, which lists an unlimited number of listeners

All packages offer “unlimited bandwidth” which at first is very alluring, but customers should realize that as with any site operating as a reseller, availability is determined by the host running the services and their facilities; WHSH4U certainly has allotments dictated by their host as well. Contrary to their unlimited claim, the terms of use state that customers are given an allotment of bandwidth and accounts can be suspended after the maximum usage is reached.

Support

Nice support options with some drawbacks

Support is offered by searchable FAQ page, which appears to be very robust and should allow customers to find many tips and detailed instructions without having to resort to submitting a ticket through the online ticketing system. While no direct phone number is listed, I believe that this is hardly an issue in the technical arena; WHSH4U claims to have addressed 1500 tickets. While 24/7 service is very attractive, operating around the clock with knowledgeable staff is a very expensive undertaking and at WHSH4U’s prices, having to submit and e-ticket and be contacted by return phone call or email is certainly a reasonable procedure.

There is also a “network status” link available to determine the state of WHSH4U’s four servers for troubleshooting with uptime and other performance statistics.

Pricing

Reasonable pricing

Each account has to be formatted as either a SHOUTcast or ICEcast, price is the same for either choice.

For a single station with a 64kbps rate, without the AutoDJ management tool, the monthly charge is €2.00 ($2.18 USD) for €7.00 ($7.62 USD) customers can get the 64kps with AutoDJ and 5 GB of storage; this supports up to 25 listeners. The highest-rated package operates at 128kbps and is €16.00-€21.00 ($17.43-$22.87 USD) monthly and supports up to 200 listeners.

VPS platforms are pricier but offer the ability to have an unlimited number of listeners and higher allotments and the ability to be provisioned in 24 hours. Prices range from €25-€36.50 ($27.730-$39.75 USD)

Germany’s 19% value added tax applies to all services.

Summary

Very nice option for streaming media hosting

Overall, WHSH4U appears to offer a solid value for the money spent. With their specialization in streaming technology, they are able to keep prices down but keep numerous options open for their customers to develop their own brands.

As with any offer that lists “unlimited bandwidth” customers need to investigate the exact terms prior to starting service.

Pros:

  • Popular formats for ICE and SHOUT Casts supported
  • FAQ is searchable and very helpful
  • Great for streaming

Cons:

  • No support hours listed
  • 99% uptime guarantee is not that good

Introduction

The Canon PowerShot SX70 HS is a superzoom compact camera that boasts a huge 65x optical zoom with a 35mm-equivalent focal range of 21-1365mm.
Its new 20.1MP high-sensitivity CMOS sensor promises excellent image quality, especially as it’s paired with Canon’s latest high-end DIGIC 8 processor. This also enables up to 10ps continuous shooting and 4K video capture with stereo sound.
The camera isn’t short on other features either, with a 2.36-million electronic viewfinder with an eye-sensor, flip-out LCD display, clever Zoom Framing Assist function, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for easy image sharing and remote camera control, plus plenty of creative effects.
The Canon PowerShot SX70 HS has an official RRP of $549.99 / £519.99 / €599.99.

Ease of Use

We reviewed the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS’s predecessor, the SX60 HS, 4 years ago in 2014, and externally little has changed since then with the launch of the SX70. It’s really inside the camera where Canon have made improvements, with a new image sensor, processor, faster continuous shooting, 4K video recording, higher-resolution EVF, and Bluetooth connectivity all now on offer.

Externally the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS looks like the SX60 HS and most other high-end ultra-zoom bridge cameras too, which is to say it resembles a small DSLR camera. Considering it packs what’s currently one of the biggest zoom ranges in the business, the camera isn’t particularly large at 127 x 90.9 x 116.6mm, and at 610g it cuts 40g off the weight of the previous SX60 model. It boasts solid build quality, with a rugged plastic casing that’s free from flex or squeaks and a tactile rubber coating on the chunky hand and thumb grips.

Front of the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS

Considering the SX70 HS is such a feature-packed camera, its control layout is fairly simple and logical. Some buttons are a little more unusual though, like those positioned on side of the lens barrel.

The upper button activates Canon’s Zoom Framing Assist function. When you’re zoomed in to the max, it only takes a tiny twitch of the camera to send a distant subject flying out of frame. Finding it again can be frustrating, but by pressing and holding the Zoom Framing Assist button, the camera automatically zooms out but leaves an outline of the original frame size on screen. Position the outline around your subject, release the button and the camera automatically zooms back in.

Rear of the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS

The lower button on the lens barrel then helps prevent you losing track of your subject again, as pressing it enhances the camera’s image stabilisation to further iron out camera shake. The effect is minimal though, however the Zoom Framing Assist feature is handy and effective.

A brand new control on the SX70 HS is a second Zoom control, located just in front of the Zoom Framing Assist buttons on the lens barrel. Naturally controlled with your left-hand thumb, we found it to be useful addition, especially when holding the camera up to eye-level and using the longer end of the telephoto lens.

Tilting LCD Screen

Sadly the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS dispenses entirely with the proper flash hotshoe mount of its predecessor, so you can no longer connect a separate flashgun or remote flash triggering device to this latest version. The camera’s built-in flash still has to be manually opened by pulling it upwards, rather than using a typical button release. Next to the flash there’s a useful button for establishing a Wi-fi or Bluetooth connection, and alongside it is the On/Off power button.

Initial set-up of the Wi-fi and can be a faff, requiring you to manually connect to the camera’s wireless hotspot, especially as the camera no longer supports NFC pairing. The new Bluetooth feature is a lot easier to setup. However you connect though, the Canon Camera Connect app lets you wirelessly transfer images to a smartphone, tablet or computer, as well as print to a PictBridge-compatible printer. The app also allows you to remotely control the camera with your phone and add GPS data to your images (when connected via Bluetooth).

Top of the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS

There are also two dials on top of the SX70 HS. One is the front control dial just like you’d find on a Canon DSLR, which makes it far easier to adjust common settings like exposure compensation and aperture, rather than fiddling with buttons and menu settings. The main shooting mode dial sits behind this and provides instant selection of the camera’s auto, program auto, aperture and shutter priority modes, as well as a fully manual option, all great to see on a camera like this.

Another mode worth mentioning is Hybrid Auto, which automatically captures a couple of seconds of video with each still and compiles everything into a video digest of your day. Then if you switch to the Creative Filters mode, a further seven individual filter effects can be applied as you shoot. With so many shooting options to choose from, remembering your preferred settings can be tricky, but thankfully the C1 and C2 modes allow you to save two custom setups for quick recall. The SX70 HS also gains an automatic panorama setting mode, something that was missing from the SX60 HS.

Front of the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS

The dedicated movie mode setting is what you need to choose to be able to use the SX70 HS’ new 4K video recording feature. Thanks to its new sensor and processor, the SX70 can now record 4K video at 3840 x 2160 pixels at 30/25 fps, as well as the 1080p options that its predecessor offered.

The Canon PowerShot SX70 HS’s has both an LCD screen and EVF for image composition. Unfortunately the LCD screen still isn’t touch-sensitive, something that we complained about 4 years ago, and it also has exactly the same 922k-dot resolution, which is pretty low for a new camera in 2018. On the plus side, it does have great viewing angles which translate to accurate colour and contrast reproduction, regardless of your angle of view.

Side of the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS

The screen also benefits from being a fold-out unit, making it easy to compose high and low angle shots, as well as a good old selfie. Screen brightness is also high enough to be usable under direct sunlight, but if things get too bright, the electronic viewfinder is a useful alternative.

The EVF has been improved since the SX60, now having 2.36-million dots rather than the 922k-dot resolution of its predecessor. It also gains an eye-sensor which automatically switches from the LCD screen to the EVF when you hold the camera up to your eye, again something that the SX60 HS didn’t offer, and again directly addressing another complaint that we made about that camera.

Side of the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS

Move to the back panel and we find a one-touch video record button to the right of the EVF, and then two buttons, the top one for exposure lock and the bottom one for selecting and locking the focus point. The function of these two buttons can be switched around if you so desire.

There are also plenty of display preferences available during both live view and image playback, including RGB histograms, activated by pressing the Info button. Also on the rear of the SX70 is the usual directional dial pad that doubles as controls for exposure compensation, flash, macro/manual focus and delete options.

The Canon PowerShot SX70 HS In-hand

Navigating the SX70 HS’ menu system is easy thanks to Canon’s tried and tested design and layout. Pressing the Menu button directly underneath the rear directional pad displays a menu overlay of commonly used shooting settings, though these do change according to which mode you’re in.

When it comes to shooting with the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS, the camera will turn on and be ready to fire a shot in a pretty quick 1.5 seconds. Focusing in good light is almost instantaneous, but dimmer conditions slow things to a sluggish 1.5-2 seconds. Zooming-in to the longer focal lengths can also cause some focus hunting and general slowness, and the system is sometimes unreliable in these situations, too. Exposure metering is absolutely dependable though and isn’t fazed by high-contrast scenes. The 10fps continuous shooting rate, up from 6.5fps on the SX60, is exceptionally fast for this kind of camera.

The Canon PowerShot SX70 HS’s 325 shot battery life from its smaller 875mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery isn’t quite as good as its predecessor’s 340 shot life. By activating the SX70 HS’ Eco mode, though, the battery life can be eked out to around 405 shots through subtle power-saving measures.

Canon Powershot SX70 HS Review

Quick Verdict

The Canon Powershot SX70 HS adds a 20mp sensor and 4K video recording to the SX60, and subtle changes to the camera improve the handling, but a high price means you’re going to need to be a big Canon fan to choose this over the competition.

+ Pros

  • Good colour reproduction
  • 4K UHD video recording
  • Extra-wide 21mm equivalent lens
  • Higher resolution electronic viewfinder
  • 0cm macro focus

– Cons

  • High price
  • Focusing issues
  • No touch-screen
  • No auto HDR option

The Canon Powershot SX70 HS with a 65x optical zoom lens features 4K video recording. The 65x optical zoom lens is equivalent to 21-1365mm in 35mm equivalent terms. There’s a 20.3-megapixel sensor, and 0cm macro focus. The camera can shoot at 10fps, or 5.7fps with continuous AF. A new DIGIC 8 processor is included, and the camera will shoot panoramic images.

Canon Powershot SX70 HS Features

The ultra-zoom or bridge camera* has always been a tempting option for many, with an impressive level of optical zoom, the camera design includes styling that makes the camera look like a small or «mini» DSLR and with that it also means that there’s a large grip, an electronic viewfinder, and a large lens barrel to hold on to. This means the camera should be comfortable to hold and gives you the choice of using the rear screen or the electronic viewfinder when shooting. You’ll also find manual controls, as well as raw shooting. *The bridge camera is supposed to «bridge» the gap between a DSLR/SLR and a point-and-shoot camera.

The Canon Powershot SX70 HS updates the SX60 with:

  • 20.3mp BSI CMOS sensor
  • 4K UHD video recording
  • Side zoom control
  • Higher resolution 2.36m dot EVF
  • Panoramic shooting mode
  • No flash hot-shoe

The 65x optical zoom lens gives a very wide 21mm equivalent at the wide-angle end of the lens and zooms to 1365mm equivalent at the telephoto end of the lens. The aperture range is f/3.4-6.5, and the lens offers an impressive 0cm macro focus. Optical image stabilisation (OIS) is said to give up to 5-stops of image stabilisation. There’s also 5-axis Advanced Dynamic IS.

The camera now features a 20.3mp BSI CMOS sensor, which gives more resolution than the SX60, which has a 16mp sensor. The new sensor means the camera can shoot 4K UHD video. Other updates include a new zoom control on the left side of the lens barrel.

The camera offers multiple shooting modes including full manual controls, with P, A, S, M shooting modes, as well as Auto, scene modes, and digital filters. Raw is using Canon’s new compact-raw format (cRAW), so you will most likely need to update your raw processing software or use the software provided with the camera.

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) has been improved, and is now a 2.36million dot unit, compared to 922K dots on the SX60. There’s also an eye-detection sensor, to detect when the camera is held up to your eye so that the camera will automatically switch between the screen and the EVF. Dioptre correction is available.

The vari-angle screen is a fairly standard 3inch screen, with a resolution of 922K dots, however, the screen is not a touch-screen.

There is no hot-shoe on top of the camera, something that features on the SX60. The camera has maintained the mic socket, which can be found on the side of the camera.

Wi-Fi connectivity is included, but not NFC (something that was included on the SX60).

Key Features

  • 20.3mp 1/2.3inch BSI CMOS sensor
  • 65x optical zoom lens, 21-1365mm equivalent, f/3.4-6.5
  • Optical image stabilisation
  • 10fps continuous shooting, 5.7fps with C-AF
  • 3inch vari-angle screen, 922K dots
  • Electronic viewfinder (EVF), 2.36m dots
  • RAW (cRAW)
  • Panoramic shooting
  • 4K UHD video, 30/25fps
  • ISO100 to ISO3200
  • 0cm macro focus
  • Built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

Canon Powershot SX70 HS Handling

The camera weighs in at 610g including the battery and memory card, making the camera a substantial weight. There’s a good size hand-grip with rubber coating, providing good levels of grip when using the camera. You could even use the camera with one hand, but for best results, we’d recommend using two hands, particularly when using the longer end of the telephoto lens.

Build quality is good, although some may not like the plastic construction and finish. With this type of camera, this is pretty much the norm, and it’s been a long time since any camera of this type was made with metal – Olympus Camedia C-765/770 we’re looking at you.

The lens barrel is blank, meaning that the focal length is not marked. New to the SX70 is a new zoom control on the side of the lens barrel, giving smoother zoom control. You’ll also find the quick zoom controls here that let you quickly zoom out in case you need to find your subject once lost.

The controls are neatly arranged and fall nicely to hand. There’s a top control wheel, which can take some time to get used to, as most control wheels are where your thumb rests. The top mode dial makes it easy to change between the different modes, and there are two custom modes available: C1, and C2.

Focusing – there’s a manual focus option, which lets you manually focus, however once selected, if you then use the optical zoom, you have to re-select the manual focus option to get the focus controls back.

Using auto-focus, if you tend to pre-focus your shots (by half-pressing the shutter release button), and then fully pressing the shutter release button, the camera has an annoying habit of refocusing for you, after you’ve fully pressed the shutter release button. This appeared to be an intermittent issue, and would randomly happen some of the time, but not others. Other people in the office who tested the camera found the same issue.

The menus are similar to Canon EOS cameras, and there’s even a «MyMenu» screen where you can add your own favourite settings. The menus are easy to use, and colour coding makes it easy to see where you are within the menu system.

The screen resolution of 922K dots may not be up there with some other premium cameras, but the view is clear, colours are good, and the screen gives a good view of the scene. You can fold the screen away to protect it when not in use. The screen is not a touch-screen, which is a shame, as most cameras now feature a touch-screen, and can make cameras quicker and easier to use, particularly for selecting a focus point.

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) is small, but the addition on an eye-detection sensor makes the camera easier to use, automatically switching between the screen and EVF. Detail shown in the EVF is good, and colour reproduction is also good.

Wi-Fi features – Setting up the connection to the camera from a smartphone is quite straightforward, with Canon Camera Connect featuring a built-in guide. You can use the app on your phone to send location data to the camera so that images will have GPS tagging. With built-in Bluetooth, you can transfer images, and this will use less power than Wi-Fi.

Battery life – Battery life is rated at 325 shots when using the screen, which can be extended to 405 shots when using the ECO mode. Battery life is much shorter when using the EVF at 255 shots. Depending on how you use the camera, for example, if you primarily intend to use the EVF, then a spare battery would be a good idea, however, if you stick to the screen and use ECO mode, then you may not need a spare battery.

Speed – Focus speeds are quick when using the wide-angle end of the lens, becoming slower at the telephoto end. Continuous shooting is good at 10fps. Focus struggled at times, and this resulted in some missed shots.

PowerShot SX70 HS

Rev up your travel photography with an OLED EVF and 65x optical zoom

The PowerShot SX70 HS not only covers super telephoto lengths as far as 1365mm (up to 2730mm with ZoomPlus*), but also boasts a 21mm wide-angle end—the widest in its class. The 0cm closest focusing distance lets you capture close-ups of subjects right in front of your lens. The 2.36-million dot high-definition electronic viewfinder (EVF) and large grip are perfect for seeing and capturing beautiful images of wild birds and other faraway moving objects. With all these features, together with up to approximately 5 stops** image stabilization (IS) and a variety of Framing Assist functions to support long distance shooting, you will be all set to nail those precious holiday photo opportunities. Record those memories as 4K/30P movies if that suits your fancy.
*In 35mm film equivalent terms
**Shutter speed-equivalent stops

  • 65x optical zoom (21mm – 1365mm, 35mm equivalent) with 130x ZoomPlus
  • 0.39-inch, 2.36-million dot OLED EVF
  • DIGIC 8 image processor
  • 4K 30P movie recording
  • Wi-Fi/Bluetooth Low Energy Technology capabilities

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