Steve's Digicams

PowerShot Pro 70

Review posted 11/20/1998
updated 9/28/00

Click to take a QuickTime virtual tour of the Canon Pro 70
Click to take a QuickTime tour of the Pro 70

The 1.6-megapixel Canon PowerShot Pro 70 is a high-end consumer digital camera that can also be called a low-end professional (prosumer) camera too. When this review was originally written the Pro 70 was retailing for around $1000, it can now be had for a fraction of that.

This camera has the look-n-feel of a regular 35mm camera. It's not small and it's not light as this is a real (metal) camera -- the build quality is excellent and leaves most other digicams looking like plastic toys. Serious photographers want their cameras to have some heft to them. Lightweight cameras are a real pain to hold steady at low shutter speeds and we don't always have a tripod handy.

Canon PS Pro 70

It may not have interchangeable lenses but the one it comes with is an excellent example of Canon optical glass. While most digicams are going for a 3x or greater power zoom lens the Canon engineers opted for a 2.5x (28-70mm) zoom with exceptional wideangle capabilities. Other 3x zooms exhibit considerable barrel distortion and almost none is seen in the Pro 70's lens. It is threaded to accept standard 37mm (camcorder) filters.

Canon PS Pro 70 zoom lens

Where other digicams have trouble seeing (focusing) in the dark, the Pro 70 has a builtin illuminator below the lens to assist the autofocus system even in total darkness.

When the 380EX Speedlite is attached the camera also makes use of the onboard infrared focus aid. If the green "focus OK" light is illuminated steadily you can bet that whatever is dead-center in the viewfinder is properly focused.

Canon PS Pro 70 Swivel LCD

The first thing you notice that differentiates the Pro 70 from other digicams is its camcorder-styled, swiveling, outboard 2" color LCD display. When it is not being used it is stored with its face inward, protected from oily noses and fingers - a very nice design!

Canon PS Pro 70

The LCD screen tilts out and away from the camera body up to 180 degrees. It also rotates 270 degrees to allow for use as a viewfinder even when taking self-portraits. The refresh rate of the LCD is a fast, 25 frames per second which is very close to realtime. Most users will probably leave the LCD folded closed against the camera body when shooting anything but closeup shots.

Canon PS Pro 70

The LCD shows almost the entire captured frame, most only show 85-90%. After receiving email from a Pro 70 user I took it back out into the bright sunlight and checked the LCD display again - I'm happy to report that the LCD *is* useable in these conditions. The viewing angle of the LCD is what I would call "narrow" so you need to make sure you are looking at from the right perspective point.

Canon PS Pro 70

The optical finder is big and bright and has a diopter control to allow it to be used even while wearing glasses. It only shows about 90% of the frame as captured though so expect some "extra" real estate in your pictures.

Canon PS Pro 70 CF slots

The Pro 70 features two CompactFlash card slots. Slot 1 is a CF Type II slot and allows the use of IBM's new MicroDrives. CF slot 2 is a regular CompactFlash Type I slot. Both slots can be occupied at the same time. You can switch between the card slots by pressing a button located on the top of the camera.

I just put the Pro 70 and the IBM Microdrive to the test - this is truly a match made in heaven. The Microdrive was *faster* than a solid state CF card at saving the CCDRaw images by a full 3 seconds!  Shown above is SanDisk's new 300MB CF2 solid state card and the brand new 1GB Microdrive.

IBM Microdrive

Due to the side-mounted positioning of the CF slots you can easily remove the flash card(s) even when the camera is on a tripod. I also liked the way the Pro 70 popped the CF card out more than far enough for even my big fingers to easily grasp it.

The number of images that can be stored varies due to image size and JPG compression. The Pro70 can save images in standard JPEG format at 1536x1024 or 768x512 pixels using three different compression settings; uncompressed (aka "Raw"), Fine, and Normal. The average filesize varies from 1.9MB for the CCD Raw format, to ~400K for large/fine, 200K for large/normal, 140K for small/fine, and 83K for small/normal.

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PowerShot Pro 70

Image Capture Device: 1.68 million pixel 1/2-inch CCD sensor
ISO (Film Speed): 100 (automatically adjusts ISO up to 400 based on resolution and lighting conditions)
Storage Media: Two CompactFlash™ card slots including one CF Type II (8MB card included)
File Format: CIFF (Camera Image File format)
Recording Format: JFIF (JPEG File Interchange Format), CRW (Canon proprietary raw data format)
Image Quality: 24-bit color (image capture at 10-bits per channel)
Resolution: 1536 x 1024 (large mode)
768 x 512 (small mode)
Image Quality Modes: Fine, Normal, CCD raw
Continuous Shooting: 4 frames per second up to 20 frames (small mode only)
Image Storage Capacity (with 8MB CF card): Large: 20 images (fine); 40 images (normal)
Small: 50 images (fine); 96 images (normal)
CCD RAW: 3 images
Built-in Microphone: WAVE format recorded during playback
Interface: Serial, CF (2 slots), video-out (NTSC)
Lens Focal Length: 6mm f/2.0 - 15mm f/2.4 (2.5x zoom)
(equivalent to 28-70mm in 35mm format)
Lens Configuration: 9 groups, 13 elements (2 aspherical)
Aperature Range: f/2.0 (wide), f/2.4 (telelphoto) - f/8.0 plus f/16
Closest Focusing Distance: 2.3 ft. from front of lens (normal)
4.7 in. from front of lens (macro mode)
Viewfinder: Optical & LCD
LCD Display: 2" TFT (low temperature polysilicon TFT with multi-angle display capability)
LCD Display Speed: 25 frames per second
Focusing System: Advanced TTL System (Canon's new TTL Phase Differential Detection)
Shutter Speeds: 1/2 - 1/500 sec. (large mode)
1/2 - 1/8,000 sec. (small mode)
Power Supply: NiMH rechargeable and AC adapter (included) or 2CR5 Lithium battery (optional)
Exposure Control: Auto-exposure, aperture priority and exposure compensation
Exposure Compensation: ± 2 EV in 1/3 step increments
Metering System: TTL intelligent light metering
White Balance: TTL auto
Flash Connection: Through accessory shoe
Canon Speedlite Compatibility: Speedlites 220EX and 380EX
Flash Range: 220EX: 3.3 - 36 ft. at all focal lengths
380EX: 3.3 - 38 ft. at 28mm, 3.3 - 54 ft. at 70mm
Dimensions: 5.7" (W) x 3.3" (H) x 5.2" (D)
Weight: 1.3 lbs. (21 oz) exlcuding battery
Included Accessories: NiMH battery, battery charger, AC adapter, 8MB CF card, serial cables for PC/Macintosh, video-out cable, camera strap
Optional Accessories: Semi-hard case, hand strap, battery pack (NiMH), remote switch
Windows Software: Adobe® Photoshop® LE
Ulead® PhotoImpact™
SlideShow Maker
Macintosh Software: Adobe Photoshop LE
Adobe PhotoShop Plug-In
Operating System: Windows® 98, Windows 95, Windows NT 4.0 and Macintosh
Warranty: 1-year limited warranty

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