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The Canon PowerShot A710 IS (image stabiliser) is another of Canon's 'A' series cameras, and in 2006 it was one of the better quality models available that suited everyday amateur usage. I originally chose it due to its reasonably low cost in comparison to others in the market and that it combined all the features I needed or ever would need.
+ 7.1 Megapixels
+ 6x optical zoom with optical Image Stabilizer
+ DIGIC II and iSAPS
+ 9-point AiAF and FlexiZone AF/AE
+ 20 shooting modes and My Colors
+ 2.5" LCD screen
+ Safety Zoom
+ High-speed ISO 800
+ 30fps VGA and 60fps QVGA movies
(sourced from: http://www .canon.co.uk/for_home/product_finder/cameras/ digital_camera/powershot/ powershot_a710_is/index.aspx)
With a 7.1 Megapixel lens, the A710 can provide brilliant images without any loss of quality when using the optical zoom, ensuring sharp and clear pictures can be taken. However, when using the additional digital zoom there is a severe problem of pixel degradation and so I would definitely avoid using this feature if possible. In daylight the image quality is superb on the auto setting and rarely suffers from glare in the pictures. However, in darker situations, where the camera has to rely on the built-in flash, it can struggle to focus and the flash itself is just not powerful enough to penetrate the darkness far enough. Often you'll be left with a picture that is overly bright for a few feet and pitch black from then on. This lack of depth can really ruin a picture and for this reason I would suggest the use of an external flash if you want better than sub-standard pictures. The flash also lets the camera down due to its undeniably slow recharge speed, quite often leaving you desperately pushing the shutter button in a vain attempt to take a picture you just KNOW you're going to miss now.
People often want their cameras to fulfil different roles and so a camera that is multi-functional is obviously a good idea for an amateur photographer. In this regard the A710 is certainly a good product. By combining several shooting functions, image stabilising and a sturdy build, it can serve many purposes from children's parties through to sporting events. The camera comes with many shooting modes that can be used to quickly select an appropriate mode to get the best picture possible, but it also comes with manual and programmable settings so that the user can choose and alter the cameras settings themselves to make sure its set exactly as they want.
In addition to the stills that can be taken, the A710 also has a video mode which can be set to either 30fps VGA or 60fps QVGA which, whilst being far worse than a dedicated video camera, is good enough if you quickly want to capture a special moment or event. Personally I've found that leaving the video set to 60fps is the best option as the 30fps option is just not enough to ensure a smooth playback, though if memory space is an issue then the 30fps setting is a good option for conserving what memory you have left. Unfortunately the audio recording is even worse than the video mode and you'll be lucky if you can even understand half of what you record. The audio recording is often filled with static, crackles and occasionally can drop out entirely for a second or so.
For me the most important aspect for a camera was whether it could take the usual knocks and bashes and more severe hits as, being a student, it would accompany me on many long nights out! In the many years I've now had the A710 it has been bashed, kicked, dropped on sand and being through severe weather and I'm pleased to say that it still functions absolutely brilliant. At 97.5 x 66.5 x 41.2mm the camera is sturdy, quite bulky, but definitely not too large and provides a suitably appropriate carry case of mediocre quality to ensure against accidental damage. All the buttons on the A710 are well set and recessed at the base, helping to prevent them being dislodged or accidentally caught on anything. The wheel that can be used to select the shooting functions is very well built and sturdy enough to avoid any severe damage, but not too stiff so as to be unyielding. The only button where I can see a potential problem is the shoot button itself as it is not as sturdy as any of the other buttons and can feel quite loose. Even so I haven't had any problems with it yet so it may just be me being overly pedantic.
Ease of Use
The A710 is easy to use generally, with the menu being simplistic and the manual being informative and instructive. The sturdy buttons and wheels are large enough to prevent any fiddling about or accidentally pressing something else. The battery and SD card compartment is easily accessible yet still secure, and replacing the 2 x AA batteries is simple and straightforward. The A710 also has the ability to be plugged directly into a computer for transferring or editing photos and videos and can also be plugged into a TV so that your album can be shared with family or friends quickly and easily.
For amateur photography, the Canon PowerShot A710 IS was, and still is, a very good model of camera to purchase. I can say that it you just want a multi-purpose, sturdy and reliable camera that can be used where ever you need it then the A710 is most definitely a worthy contender. Especially as it currently only would cost you about £30 from some sources, it is definitely a very good camera for any purpose for a cheap, cheap price. However, it would be unsuitable for anything more than amateur photography as the quality of image isn't high enough and the flash is just far too weak to achieve anything above standard or mediocre.
The A710, as I like to call it to prove I'm on intimate terms with the thing (er, no, not in that way!), is a very, very nice camera. Despite having been overtaken in the last couple of years in the dreaded megapixel ratings - though 7.1 is more than enough for most people with a good lens such as Canon include here - it can still produce some superb results. However, it does demand a little bit of respect, and is perhaps not the ideal camera for someone looking for an out-and-out automatic point-and-shooter.
As usual with A-series cameras, the A710 isn't going to win any awards for style, though the dark grey colour scheme is nicer than the silver many of its contemporaries offer. It's a chunky little thing that sits in my grip nicely, but may feel a bit too large for those with smaller hands. Talking of grip, the extended right-hand side (as you hold it) of the camera feels very secure, much better than the many cameras around that offer no more than a couple of raised dots for your thumb to hold on to for dear life.
The headline feature of this camera is its stabilised 6x optical zoom. Yes, there are cameras around with much larger zooms, but for everyday use 6x is enough, and you'll certainly notice the difference if you're used to a standard 3x version. It's *properly* stabilised, too, via a floating element in the lens, rather than just relying on electronic trickery to fake the effect. The result is that you can take sharp photos in quite low light without having to turn up the ISO setting so much that the picture becomes overwhelmed with noise.
As well as that zoom, the feature list is one place where this camera really shines. There are very few cameras in its class which offer quite so many settings, which again demonstrates the fact that it's aimed at those photographers who actually like that sort of thing. Personally I love having all sorts of options and buttons to play with, so it's a plus point for me, but some people may find it overwhelming. I think I might advise against choosing the A710 for a *first* camera unless you know what you're getting into.
To go into some of the aforementioned features in a little more depth: you get aperture-priority, shutter-priority and full manual modes. You get manual white balance: in difficult conditions, you can point the lens at a piece of white card, and it will automatically adjust its colour balance. You get manual focus, although this is rather fiddly to use and nowhere near as convenient as the twiddly zoom ring on an SLR. Movie mode is 30fps at 640x480, which is quite good but can't live with the newer HD models.
The camera also has a remarkable unofficial trick up its sleeve, in that it's compatible with CHDK. I could easily write a whole review on CHDK alone, but in essence it's a program that sits on a memory card (the A710, happily, takes standard SD cards) and when activated allows access to features normally only found on far more expensive models, such as super-fast shutter speeds (eg 1/10,000 second - no, that's not a typo!), RGB histograms and even the ability to write scripts to allow the camera to operate unattended. If you get one of these, search for "CHDK" and prepare to be amazed!
So, no bad points then? Well, yes, there are a few. Firstly, noise is a bit of a problem once you get above ISO 200, and at the A710's highest setting of ISO 800 it's strictly for those occasions when you can't use flash at all. The other bad point does in fact concern the flash: this camera is *not* quick to recharge between flash photos. I reckon it averages out at six or seven seconds, but that can feel like an eternity if you're trying to photograph kids or pets! Finally, the LCD is not the clearest in bright sunlight, although this is a fault shared by many, many cameras.
That said, I take most of my photos outdoors in good light, and I'm almost always very happy with the results I get: resolution is good and colours are vibrant. It is also Japanese-made, if that sways you; its successor the A720 hails from China. At any rate, I certainly don't regret having shelled out quite a bit of money for this a while back, and would heartily recommend it to anyone who is prepared to make the trade-off of paying a little attention to settings in return for obtaining some very fine results.
When I was looking for a decent camera to purchase for a reasonable price I found that the Canon Powershot A710 IS seemed to fit the bill. It was much cheaper than an SLR camera and ticked all of the boxes for what I wanted which was a camera with decent zoom ( 6 x optical ), and high pixel count (7.1 megapixel) and Image Stability thrown in too.
Ive owned this camera for a couple of years now and it takes great shots in nearly all conditions. It seems to struggle slightly in darker conditions but apart from that its great. It was fairly cheap to buy aswell and as I say it was half the price of an SLR camera. Ive taken it away on several holidays and the camera itself seems nice and robust and I havent had any issues with it. The memory cards for the camera are cheap to buy and a 2gb card will hold hundreds of photos on the highest setting. I would recommend this camera based on its price and features.
Canon Powershot A710IS is the second compact digicam that I bought. Previously I owned its predecessor Canon Powershot A700 (without the IS suffix). The main reason of my selection is that both of them are manufactured in Japan (so, it is rather 'subjective'). The second reason, the product is reasonably priced (I bought it in Jakarta for around US$ 282). The other immediate appeal is the added IS (Optical Image Stabilization) feature. The body is not as sexy as Canon's SD-series but there are plenty of features in this compact camera (preset conditions such as Landscape, Nightshot, Portrait, as well as Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, and the Manual features for those creative minds). The picture quality is excellent for outdoor activities and for the price. The indoor pictures may vary (from Good to Fair). Noise can be visible in low light situation (starting from ISO 200 and above). The LCD screen is generous but it does not have that multi-angle capability. The added feature of optical Image Stabilizer which I thought would provide a solution for a moving hand doesn't help that much. The screen is almost impossible to see under the direct sunlight (so switch to the electronic viewfinder during that condition). As with most compact camera the lag time is disappointing (I would avoid take fast moving objects). The battery also doesn't last as long as I would have hoped (I use Energizer Rechargable 2500 NiMH). My suggestion is bring enough fully-charge spare batteries if you plan to use it to capture important moments. Despite all the negatives that I experience with this compact digicam, I still love this camera for its picture quality/price ratio. In fact, I still keep this camera for family activities. So, if you can accept its limitations and live with it, then you would find it difficult not to purchase this camera.
Before I bought this camera I did a lot of research as my expectations were high. I was looking for a compact alternative to my chunky SLR, that I could carry around in my handbag and take snaps of my friends and family with but still have control over settings such as shutter speed and aperture.
I am really pleased with my purchase.
If you are interested in learning more about photography but don't want to buy a pricey SLR just yet, this camera would be suitable for you as you can start off on the automatic functions and slowly learn more about what each setting does.
The one thing I don't like about it though, is the ISO. Once you put it up past ISO200, the photo gets really noisy, but at ISO64 the photo quality is excellent! The SD memory cards aren't expensive, it's easy to add extra lenses to it (if you would like to), there are lots of automatic features & it's extremely easy to operate.