The Canon PowerShot SX70 HS is one of those rare cameras that does everything well with only a few minor exceptions.
It has a 65X zoom range of 21-1365mm (35mm equivalent), allowing you to capture everything from landscapes and portraits to wildlife and sporting events up close. It’s small, sturdy, and one of the most comfortable cameras you can buy.
We put the PowerShot SX70 HS to the test to see if its high price tag is justified.
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Design: Built to last, great to use
Considering the zoom range it offers, the SX70 HS is a small camera, but it never felt cramped in our hands. The exterior is made of a grippy texturized plastic with a large leather grip. We never had any concerns about dropping it, and it appears to be tough enough to withstand the occasional jolt and jostle.
Every aspect of the control layout has been designed with obvious care and attention to detail, and the camera can be operated with one hand easily and intuitively. The location of the power button, which is to the left of the mode selector dial, was one of our favorite features. This keeps it within easy reach while also making it nearly impossible to turn it on or off by accident.
Every aspect of the control layout has been designed with obvious care and attention to detail.
Mini HDMI, Remote shutter, USB, and microphone ports are included, but the SX70 HS lacks a headphone jack and a hot shoe mount for audio monitoring. The port covers are sturdy and simple to use, and the 3.5mm microphone jack is in a convenient location.
Setup Process: Get charged up and you’re ready to go
We were able to quickly set up the SX70 HS and begin shooting. When you first start up, you’ll see options for language, time, and date. The included wall charger charges the battery externally, and it only takes a few hours to fully charge it from empty.
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Battery life: No worries
We had barely scratched the surface of the SX70 HS’s impressive battery life, even after extended use. After shooting dozens of photos and video clips, it was still going strong, so you won’t have to worry about running out of battery power in the middle of a trip.
Display and Viewfinder: Saturated and clear
The SX70 HS ‘s three-inch, 920,000-dot screen looks incredible—perhaps too incredible, because your photos will look better on it than on your phone or computer. The screen has full articulation and is well-made. Our only criticism is how easily it picks up smudges and how difficult it is to remove those smudges. The articulating screen has the advantage of being able to be turned face-in to avoid dirt and damage while also saving battery life.
With 2,360,000 dots, the electronic viewfinder (EVF) is bright and clear. It isn’t the best EVF we’ve ever used because it is a little small and cramped, but it does the job. When you put your eye up to it, a sensor detects it (a function that can be adjusted in the settings), so you don’t have to look for a button to turn on the EVF.
Autofocus: Blazing fast
Even in low-light situations, we were astounded by how fast and consistent the autofocus in the SX70 HS is. Focus tracking works flawlessly, and it rarely fails to lock on to your intended subject.
The autofocus on the SX70 HS is one of the camera’s most notable features; it makes it ideal for anyone who will be photographing fast and erratic subjects. Whether you’re photographing priceless family moments, sporting events, or wildlife, the SX70 HS will ensure you get the shot when it matters most.
Photo Quality: Great colors, average resolution
Canon cameras are known for their warm, natural color tones, and the SX70 HS does not disappoint. It takes vibrant photos and captures particularly nice portraits.
The SX70 HS performs admirably across its zoom range of 21-1365mm, capturing excellent images even in low-light conditions. We discovered that the SX70 HS, like most cameras with small (1/2.3″) high resolution (20.3 MP) sensors, performs poorly at high ISOs. It can go up to ISO 3200, but we wouldn’t recommend going higher than ISO 800.
JPEG images are well-rendered, and RAW files are rich and detailed.
It’s worth noting that the SX70 HS has outstanding image stabilization. It has a dual stabilization system that shifts both the lens and the sensor to compensate for unwanted movement and allow for slower shutter speeds (and smoother video). As a result, you can avoid using high ISOs while still capturing sharp images.
The SX70 HS has excellent macro photography capabilities and a zero-focus distance minimum focusing distance. This is quite impressive, and we discovered that this camera takes excellent close-up shots.
RAW files are rich and detailed, and JPEG images are well-rendered, though JPEG images do have the compression artifacts that point-and-shoot cameras are known for. The built-in flash can be manually raised and lowered and is functional but not exceptional.
Modes: Plenty to choose from (and only some are useful)
The top mode dial on the SX70 HS allows you to access the standard Auto, Program, Shutter Priority (Tv), Aperture Priority (Av), and Manual modes. There are also two video modes: one that enables more advanced video features, and the other that captures short video clips followed by a still image. That second mode is peculiar, and we discovered that it did not produce satisfactory results.
The camera also has a Panorama mode, which produces good results but is severely limited in its capabilities—it can only take horizontal panoramas in the right-hand direction. A Sports mode, a Filter mode (black and white, sepia, etc. ), and a Scene mode are also included.
Smooth Skin, which, as the name implies, smooths the appearance of skin in a very artificial way, Self Portrait (which is identical to Smooth Skin), Portrait, Fireworks, and an unusual Food mode that supposedly makes food look fresh are all available in Scene mode.
“Handheld Night Scene” is perhaps the most useful Scene mode. This option takes a series of photos and combines them to produce sharp photos in low-light situations while keeping noise to a minimum, and it does so admirably.
The images produced by all of these automated modes and scene settings are exclusively JPEG, with RAW being unavailable. Fortunately, Program mode is nearly identical to Auto, and you can use it to record RAW images.
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Video Quality: A mixed bag
When it comes to video, the SX70 HS stumbles a little. It’s not bad, but the footage isn’t anything to write home about. You can record at a resolution of up to 4K, but the camera will have to crop in to achieve this. In addition, we discovered that the footage is never particularly sharp when compared to other cameras.
On the plus side, the SX70 HS has excellent Canon color rendition, which means that even if your footage isn’t sharp, it will still look good.
In terms of video, the SX70 HS really shines in timelapse mode.
Despite the slightly disappointing video quality, the flip-out screen that allows you to see yourself while filming makes this a potentially good choice for vloggers. It’s also a nice touch to have an external microphone port.
In terms of video, the SX70 HS really shines in time-lapse mode. This mode is easily accessible via the menu system, and it offers a wide range of customizable options. For those who aren’t familiar with time-lapse video, there are three subject-based settings to choose from. Time-lapses can be recorded with a resolution of up to 4K and in extremely high quality.
Software: Lots of options
For editing, the camera comes with Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software. Canon also offers a number of free programs, such as Eos Movie Utility for video editing, which can be downloaded from the company’s website. Although Canon’s software is simple, it is adequate for basic editing.
The SX70 HS has excellent Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, which can be accessed via a dedicated button on the camera’s top. You can transfer images and remotely control the camera by connecting the camera to your phone via Canon’s app, or you can connect directly to a computer and transfer images wirelessly.
You can also connect the camera to a Canon printer and print your photos directly from the camera. These features are useful, but they are also a pain to use because the process of connecting devices to the camera is lengthy.
Price: Big brand, big price tag
The SX70 HS isn’t cheap, with an MSRP of $549 (though it can often be found for $50-$100 less () ). However, given the camera’s overall high quality, the premium price is at least partially justified.
Similar image quality can be found in much less expensive superzoom cameras, and it appears that you are paying a premium for the Canon brand name.
Competition: Dominating from the middle ground
With the SX70 HS, Canon hasn’t tried to push any boundaries. Instead, it takes the safe route and does everything exceptionally well. Panasonic and Nikon, two of its main superzoom competitors, both offer intriguing alternatives by cutting costs or introducing groundbreaking technological advances.
The Nikon COOLPIX P1000, for example, has a whopping 125x zoom range and a bewildering array of extra features. However, it has an MSRP of $999, which is twice as much as the Canon, and is not as well built. The image stabilization and autofocus on the SX70 HS are also significantly improved.
The Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80, on the other hand, has an MSRP of $399 but is usually available for under $300. Despite its lower price, it is in many ways comparable to the SX70 HS. It actually outperforms the Canon in terms of image quality. However, it has a smaller zoom range (60x) and is made much more cheaply, with a shorter battery life.
The Final Word
The Canon Powershot SX70 HS is a tough competitor for a general-purpose point-and-shoot. It has excellent build quality and lightning-fast autofocus, and despite a few minor flaws, it just about justifies its high price tag—and if you can find it on sale, it’s an even better deal.