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.
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.
Effective Pixel Count 20.3MP
Sensor Sensor information 1/2.3-inch type back-illuminated CMOS
Lens 3.8 – 247.0mm (21-1365mm 35mm equivalent) f.3.5-6.5
Focus Face & Tracking (9 points), Tracking, Zone, 1-point, Spot
Shutter speed 15-1/2000sec
Sensitivity ISO 100-3200
Exposure modes Shot, P, A, S, M, Sport, SCN, Creative Filters, Panorama, Hybrid Auto, Smart Auto, 2X Custom
Metering modes Evaluative, Centre-weighted average, Spot (Centre)
Flash modes Auto, Manual Flash On / Off, Slow Synchro
Connectivity USB, HDMI Micro, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Weight 610g with battery and memory card
Dimensions 127 x 90.9 x 116.6mm
Power Rechargeable Li-ion battery
Storage SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS-1 Speed Class 3 compatible)
Screen 3-inch 922,000-dot vari-angle LCD
Viewfinder 0.39-inch 2.36million-dot Electronic viewfinder
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.
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.
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.
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.
Follow the link to browse and download full-resolution images
Canon PowerShot SX70 HS Image Gallery
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.