Steve's Digicams

PowerShot Pro 70


Canon PS Pro 70 top LCD

Here's the heart of the user controls, located on top of the camera and very easy to get to and to figure out what button does what for most of the normal operations. The CF button lets you switch back and forth between the #1 and #2 CompactFlash card.

The button on the right allows you to add voice annotations to your pictures via a microphone built into the top of the camera. You take a picture and then press the "microphone" button and record your comments which is then saved as a standard Windows WAV audio file.

Canon PS Pro 70 Command Dial

This is the main Command Dial to turn the camera on/off, enter Automatic or Aperture-Priority record mode, Playback or Connect to PC mode.

Canon PS Pro 70 I/O ports

Here's the Pro 70's I/O ports that are located on the left side of the camera. Desides the usual RS-232 "digital" output and NTSC video out, the Pro 70 can also be used with a Canon wireless remote control shutter release system (Remote Switch RS-80N3 for the EOS Series).

Canon PS Pro 70 flash hot shoe

This is what seperates the wannabes from the semi-pro digicams!

A dedicated hot shoe flash connection for the Canon 220EX, 380EX or 550EX Speedlites. I used a 380EX with the Pro 70 and was thrilled to see complete TTL operations. A series of LEDs on the back of the flash even tell you what focal length the zoom lens is set at. The camera completely controls the flash, even turns it on and puts it to sleep.

Using the aperture priority mode you can also use other automatic strobe units. You can lock in an f/8 aperture setting and then set the flash's auto setting for f/8 and let the flash unit control the light output.

Canon PS Pro 70 with 380EX Speedlight

Canon PS Pro 70 with 380EX Speedlite

Bounce flash pictures I took looked marvelous, in fact most of them don't even look like flash pictures. No harsh shadows, no blown out highlights, just even fill-in lighting and properly exposed pictures, everytime.

Canon PS Pro 70 bounce flash with 380EX Speedlight
Click to see the 600K big picture!

The 380EX Speedlite is not cheap, it retails for around $175 and it's worth every penny! You can also use the less-expensive Canon 220EX Speedlite or the *very* expensive 550EX Speedlite. If you plan on using the Pro 70 indoors you need to buy one of these Speedlites as the camera has no builtin flash whatsoever.

Canon PS Pro 70 play menu

Here's the Playback mode menu of options including a thumbnail of the last image stored on the CF card. Notice the greyed-out "Copy" option. When two CF cards are in the camera you can copy from one to the other.

Canon PS Pro 70 battery pack

While other digicams make you use whimpy little AA-cell batteries, the Pro 70 comes complete with a 1400mAh NiMH battery pack, rapid charger and AC power supply. A fully charged battery pack will let you shoot up to 400 pictures with the LCD turned off. And if you're out in the field and your NiMH battery pack goes dead you can also use a readily available 2CR5 lithium battery from your local camera store.

Steve's Pro 70 Sample Pics

Steve's Conclusion

The PowerShot Pro 70 is a great camera but it's not for everyone. For the average consumer it's far too expensive at $1099, the magic consumer number for digicams in general is more like $495. And don't forget that you need a flash, that's another $100 to $175 depending on which of Canon's Speedlites you purchase.

Today's buyers seem totally fixated on pixel count and the Pro 70 is only (did I say only?) a 1.6 megapixel camera with 1536 x 1024 resolution. It is fast becoming a 2.11 and 2.3 megapixel market but there's a lot more to great pictures than simply the number of pixels it contains!

The Pro 70 consistently turns out properly white balanced pictures. Even under extreme flourescent lighting conditions it got the colors "right" time after time--white was always white. The lens is the thing and this camera has got a great lens. Realtors and other professionals that need as little barrel distortion as possible in the widest focal length setting will really appreciate this lens.

The rechargeable battery pack is great, all manufacturers should follow Sony, Canon, Fuji and Toshiba's lead and include a lithium pack. I easily got 300+ pictures and did a lot of reviewing on the LCD too. The charger is small, portable and fast, with the included battery eliminator you can run the camera all day and all night on AC power.

The Pro 70 is the *only* camera on the market that holds two CF cards or one Type II CF device. The soon to be released 340MB IBM MicroDrive will be the first Type II storage device on the market. Kudos to Canon for being the first to impliment the new CF Type II memory slot!

The PowerShot Pro 70 coupled with the Canon 380EX Speedlite will do for any serious photographer wanting to go digital on a budget. Other cameras promise true TTL flash operation but the Pro 70 delivers on it. Fully automatic flash illumination from 2 to 36 feet and no red-eye when used in bounce mode. It doesn't offer all the manual control of a Nikon 950 but it does have a nearly flawless automatic mode and an excellent aperture-priority mode too. This is one great camera!

One of the things that most impresses me is that the Pro 70's pictures have a real film-like appearance to them. It's something that I have a hard time putting into words that others will understand but most digicams generate pictures that look like digital pictures. This isn't a bad thing but it's a fact that most digital pictures lack the depth and the tonal range common to good film pictures. The available light pictures from the Pro 70 look as good as anything I ever did with my 35mm camera.

I tried both a new SanDisk 80MB and a Lexar Pro Series 8x 80MB CF card in the Pro 70 and I'm sorry to report that there was no difference in the image store and retrieve times. Hopefully Canon will incorporate the necessary code in future models to take advantage of the speed of the Lexar Pro Series 8x cards.

The only negative thing I have to say about the Pro 70 is that it does not generate a video out signal during recording. It will send a video signal to its internal LCD monitor but not to the video out jack. This would make the camera ideal for a Glamour Shots type operation where you want the preview image shown on a large screen TV or other external monitor.

Things Canon should add to the Pro 70's successor are:

  • User-selectable metering modes; matrix, center-weighted and spot would be just what the doctor ordered

  • A large internal RAM buffer so the camera can do rapid sequence shooting even at its highest resolution

  • More controls - this is a "pro" digicam so give us "pro" features like complete shutter speed and aperture control as well as manual focus presets

  • Enable video out during recording so an external monitor can be used for preview

  • I'd like to see the shutter speed, aperture setting, pictures remaining, metering mode, battery level and other info in the viewfinder

  • Minor complaint but please include a lens cap "keeper" or else that big nose cap is easy to lose.

  More Pro 70 Info ...

Canon Japan PowerShot Pro 70 Pages

Canon USA PowerShot Pro 70 Page

The Imaging-Resource Canon PS Pro 70 Review Pro 70 Lab Test

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