Canon PowerShot SD970 IS Review

The Digital ELPH line of cameras from Canon has long been a favorite among consumers due to the fact that these pocketable versions offer amazing image quality, good color, and excellent overall performance. These tiny models have proportions that are suitable for carrying in a pocket.

The PowerShot SD970 IS is one of the more recent products to be added to the line. It features a CCD image sensor with a resolution of 12.1 megapixels, an optical zoom lens with a magnification factor of 5x, an upgraded version of the DIGIC 4 image processor, and the most recent iterations of the Face Detection, Blink Detection, and Motion Detection technologies.

Key Specs

  • 12.1 Megapixels (effective), 1/2.3′ CCD Image Sensor
  • Image processor using a Digic 4 chip
  • Optical Image Stabilization and a 5x Optical Zoom: 6.6-33.0mm focal length range f/3.2-58 (35mm film equivalent: 37-185mm)
  • Nine-point autofocus system with advanced TTL and AiAF technology
  • 3′ Purecolor II LCD
  • Auto, Program, Portrait, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Fireworks, Creative Light Effect, Aquarium, Underwater, ISO 3200, Indoor, Kids & Pets, Night Snapshot, Color Accent, Color Swap, Digital Macro, Long Shutter, Exposure Zoom, Stitch Assist, and Movie are the 18 shooting modes that are available on this camera.
  • Detection of the subject’s face using AF/AE/FE/WB technologies
  • Movie format w/sound, 1280×720 (HD), 640×480/320×240 Movie: MOV (Image format is H.264, while the audio format is Linear PCM (Monaural))
  • Approx. 1 fps (Large/Fine) Continuous ‘Burst’ capture
  • Options for evaluative metering based on the focal point, center-weighted, and spot measurements
  • Exposure compensation: 2EV in increments of 1/3 step
  • White Balance may be changed to Auto, one of five presets, or custom.
  • illuminator that helps with focusing in low light
  • 15-1/1600 seconds; the Long Shutter function provides noise reduction when the manual setting is between 1.3 and 15 seconds.
  • ISO values ranging from 80 to 1600 can be used.
  • Automatic Self-Timer with Face Detection
  • Optical Image Stabilizer
  • Detection of Blinks
  • The method of shooting known as Smart Auto
  • Correction of Contrast Based on Intelligence
  • Integrated microphone and speaker system
  • Lithium-ion Battery NB-5L provides the necessary power.
  • Printing using Exif and PictBridge compatibility
  • Connectivity at a fast speed using USB 2.0 for both PC and Mac
  • Memory Cards SD/SDHC, MultiMediaCards, MMC Plus Cards, and HC MMC Plus Cards are all options.

The Canon SD970’s zoom spans from 37 to 185 millimeters and is geared more toward telephoto performance than wide-angle capabilities (for the comparable PowerShot biased toward wide-angle, try the SD980, whose wide end starts at 24mm).

Because of its streamlined design and compact size, the Canon PowerShot SD970 is simple to conceal in a bag like a handbag, a backpack, the side pouch of a diaper bag, or just much anyplace else you may want to carry it. Its smooth contours prevent it from getting caught in pockets, and the wrist strap that comes with it offers you some additional peace of mind when you’re out and about.

The Canon SD970 IS is simple to operate thanks to the camera’s few exterior buttons, and its wide variety of clever automated settings enable you to get excellent photos even when you don’t want to or don’t have the time to fiddle with the settings manually. There are no less than 18 different shooting modes that may be selected as presets, or you have the option of letting the Smart Auto mode handle everything for you.

The Zoom Blur and Creative Light Effect modes are new additions to Canon’s usual preset scene options. These settings, which will undoubtedly provide users with some revitalizing creative capabilities, can be found in the camera’s menu.

The Canon SD970 provides its customers with a limited number of exposure settings, some of which include ISO (up to 3,200), white balance, and metering mode, amongst others. These features will be appreciated by more experienced users. The contrast mode may be found in the Playback menu of the Canon SD970, and it is responsible for making any required adjustments to the tonal distribution (you can let the camera be the judge here, or select the amount of correction you think you need).

The Canon SD970 IS comes with a number of other amazing features, such as a 3.0-inch PureColor LCD panel that has an Active Display and HD video recording capabilities that are broadcast through HDMI.

Design

The Canon PowerShot SD970 IS is the successor of the SD890 PowerShot model, and like its predecessor, it is small in size and features a point-and-shoot interface that is simple to master. In general, Canon’s Digital ELPHs are shown to be of high quality, and their control layouts and menus are logical and user-friendly; the Canon SD970 agreeably continues this trend. In addition to being an excellent tool for shooting, it is unquestionably compact and stylish, featuring soft contours and proportions that are easy to work with.

Look and feel

The SD970 IS is one of the most compact PowerShot models, and because to its streamlined design, it fits comfortably in the palm of your hand and is an excellent choice for carrying in pockets. It just weighs 6.7 ounces (189g), making it a breeze to transport, and its dimensions of 3.7 x 2.2 x 1.0 inches (95 x 57 x 26mm) are compact enough to fit into evening bags, pockets on pants, and shirt pockets.

Because the curves of the SD970 IS are so smooth, and there isn’t much of a handgrip to speak of, I strongly recommend attaching and utilizing the wrist strap for a better peace of mind when actively shooting. You can find the wrist strap in the accessory compartment. The Canon logo on the front panel is somewhat raised and textured, providing some traction for the fingers when they cradle the right side of the device; but, other than that, there is no actual grip to speak of.

Controls

The camera is turned on by pressing the teeny-tiny Power button that is located on the top panel of the Canon SD970. This button is surrounded on each side by the sliding Mode switch and the Shutter button/Zoom lever combination. Because it is so little, you have to push it very deliberately, and you won’t be able to mistake it for the shutter button very quickly.

The top three controls can all be reached with one hand without any difficulty. Your thumb is able to rest in a little recessed space on the back panel, which slightly overlaps the Print and Playback buttons. However, you still need to apply a pretty firm push in order to engage any of these buttons.

Due to the limited space on the outside of the camera, the PowerShot SD970 does not feature a large number of external controls. When shooting with one hand, most of the frequently used features may be accessed by the Multi-controller or the LCD menu, and all of the controls can be adjusted with reasonable ease.

This model from Canon does not include an optical viewfinder; instead, it makes use of a 3.0-inch PureColor LCD panel, which gives about one hundred percent accurate framing at both of the camera’s zoom settings.

An intriguing aspect of this camera is the Active Display mode of the LCD, which, when used in Playback mode, allows you to navigate through photos just by shaking the camera vigorously (be sure you have the wrist strap attached and around your wrist, because it does require quite a jolt to work).

A very small flash is located in the top left-hand corner of the camera’s front panel, and the left arrow on the Multi-controller located on the camera’s rear panel is used to regulate the flash’s operational modes.

The flash on the Canon SD970 is just powerful enough for usage within roughly 11 feet when the camera is set to Auto mode and at full wide-angle, but its capacity drops when the camera is set to telephoto mode. (We also noticed that the Canon SD970 IS required a slight increase in the ISO, all the way up to 250, in order to produce acceptable images at the distances for which it is rated.)

Lens

The 5x optical zoom of the Canon SD970 gives high quality and a zoom range that is better than normal for a digital camera of this size. The comparable focal lengths it covers range from 37 to 185mm.

When compared to many other subcompact point-and-shoot models, blurring in the corners is really fairly low on this camera, with the strongest incidence occurring at the widest possible setting for the lens. The effect does not go very far into the frame, and as a result, it is not all that evident in a good number of the wide-angle pictures produced by the Canon SD970.

The lens of the Canon SD970 utilizes Canon’s Optical Image Stabilizer technology, which allows for reasonably blur-free photos to be taken even in poor situations or when shooting at the maximum telephoto setting. The clever focusing technology of the camera has been updated to include better capabilities for Face Detection and Blink Detection, in addition to Motion Detection for subjects that are moving.

When you use the self-timer in conjunction with the camera’s Face Detection and Motion Detection features, you may take self-portraits that are sharply focused on your face. This is because the camera focuses on your face as soon as you enter the frame and locks onto it.

Modes

Only the Movie, Program, and Smart Auto shooting modes may be accessible by the sliding mode switch located on the top panel of the camera. Playback mode must be accessed through its own button located on the rear panel of the camera. The Smart Auto mode makes its choice from among the other 18 predetermined shooting modes based on a variety of factors such as the lighting, the subject contrast, faces, and so on, finally selecting the mode that it believes would manage your subject in the most effective manner.

Users who value the convenience of having a large number of automated settings at their disposal but aren’t sure when to use them will find this feature to be quite helpful. This is especially helpful if you are going on an excursion in which your surroundings are changing somewhat rapidly, such as a sightseeing trip in which you may go in and out of several buildings, and you would like the camera to keep up with you.

Ports

Mini-HDMI is on the top, while AV/USB is located below.

You have the option while shooting in Program mode, to either remain in the default Program AE shooting mode or pick one of the predefined Scene settings manually.

Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Sunset, Creative Light Effect, Fireworks, Long Shutter, Beach, Aquarium, Foliage, Snow, ISO 3,200, Digital Macro, Zoom Blur, Color Accent, Color Swap, and Stitch Assist are some of the preset settings that are available on this camera (panorama).

If the user stays in the Program AE mode, they will have control over a number of exposure choices that are significantly more complex. These options include ISO, metering, resolution, quality, white balance, and image stabilization.

The Movie mode of the Canon SD970 captures high-definition video in 720p resolution, and it features an HDMI output that is compatible with HDTVs. NTSC and PAL video outputs may also be used. The Canon SD970 IS is capable of shooting at a frame rate of 30 frames per second and delivers video resolutions that may reach up to 1,280 by 720 pixels. There is also a Continuous shooting option available, but its performance is limited to one frame per second at most, making it significantly slower than the standard rate.

Menu

The interface of the Canon SD970 is uncomplicated and easy to browse thanks to its use of a plain system of tabs and list selections. Someone who is already familiar with the standard layout of Canon’s menus will recognize the layout of the Canon SD970 menu, and anyone who is new to Canon should have no trouble locating the functions they want with only a quick scan through the handbook for reinforcement.

You have the option of going the more conventional method and utilizing the directional arrow keys, or you can use the multi-rear controller’s panel, which contains an external rotating dial that scrolls up and down through the menu options.

The Canon SD970 IS features a standard menu system in addition to a Function Menu, which can be accessed by pressing the Func./Set button in the middle of the Multi-controller. The regular menu system is located on the left side of the camera. Accessible options in this menu include “shooting mode,” “white balance,” “resolution,” “ISO,” and so forth.

Again, anyone who is already familiar with Canon’s normal PowerShot configuration will feel right at home with this camera, since very nothing has changed in the Function menu. The display of the sidebar now shifts when you scroll up or down, but other than that, the core layout is the same uncomplicated design as it was in earlier editions.

Both the storage and the battery

Images are stored on SD memory cards by the Canon PowerShot SD970 IS, with a maximum capacity of 32 gigabytes (GB) per card at the moment. That will be plenty for most purposes with this camera, and in fact, a card with a storage capacity of between 4 and 8 gigabytes should be fine unless you want to capture a significant amount of video with the PowerShot SD970 IS.

The battery that comes with the Canon SD970 is a lithium-ion unit with a 1,120 mAh capacity, 3.7 volts, and the Canon model number NB-5L. The square battery slides into position behind a sliding plastic door that has a metal hinge, and it is held there by a pressure switch that is rather tiny. A single charge allows for around 270 bullets to be fired. That’s about par for the course, so if you plan on going on longer excursions, you might want to look into purchasing an extra battery and having it handy.

Good zoom range

I thought it was really cool how the SD970 came so close. There is some lens flare on the highlights, but in this particular instance, I think it adds to the image.

Shooting

The Canon Digital ELPH series has a reputation for producing consistently high-quality images and being a joy to use, and the PowerShot SD970 IS lives up to that reputation. It is a natural companion when you are out and about due to its compact size, straightforward user interface, and comfortable control arrangement. When filming outside, the huge LCD display has a coating that helps reduce glare, which significantly helps cut down on the number of distracting reflections. In the brilliant sunlight at midday, it is also not too difficult to make out.

The zoom of the Canon SD970 is really smooth and silent, although it isn’t particularly quick. The fact that it tries to zoom in in huge chunks makes it a little bit more difficult to frame your photograph accurately, which is especially true when dealing with things that are moving. Nevertheless, performance is decent overall, and in the vast majority of scenarios, it is not even remotely sluggish enough to be a concern.

However, the requirement that you shake the camera very forcefully in order to shift between photographs when viewing them in Playback mode makes this feature a little strange. Because the Canon SD970 does not provide a grip, there is a greater chance that you may accidentally drop the camera when attempting to do this passable party trick.

Detail

The sensor of the Canon SD970 is capable of capturing a lot of amazing detail, however, the reds can appear a little too bright at times. Despite this, the image does not suffer from the fact that it is so frequent.

The Canon SD970 feels a little bulky when carried in a shirt pocket, but it fits perfectly in a bag when paired with one of Canon’s PSC-55 leather cases, which we’ve tried out for ourselves and discovered to be of high quality, preventing scratches on the cameras for years; it also carries quite well on a belt. The SD970 can be produced rapidly and is immediately ready for use. When the light levels are low, the image stabilization feature comes in quite handy, and it’s simple to shoot the camera in Program mode with Auto ISO engaged, or merely in Smart Auto for thought-free photography throughout the day.

The rear Control dial is occasionally activated by accident; however, it does nothing by default in either Program or Full Auto (unlike the Canon S90 that was just reviewed), and it has good detents that tell you clearly when the next activation will take place, whether it be a switch to a different photo, an EV adjustment, or a switch to another photo. This is in contrast to the recently reviewed Canon S90.

The huge triangle buttons don’t activate as quickly as some of the others, so they shouldn’t be a distraction when you’re trying to fire, and the rest of the controls are very easy to understand.

It is also important to point out that the new PureColor LCD found on the Canon SD970 is exceptionally bright and vivid, works well even in direct sunlight, and features a resolution that is around 461,000 dots higher than is typical.

Taking photos with the Canon SD970 is a really enjoyable experience, and the resulting images are of excellent quality.

Quality of the Canon SD970 IS Lens

Sharpness

The Canon PowerShot SD970 IS has a setting for a wide-angle lens, and when that option is used, there is rather a significant blurring in the extreme corners of the frame; nevertheless, the blurring does not extend very far inward. At telephoto, there is just a very little amount of blurring visible.

Distortion of the Geometry

When the Canon SD970 is set to its widest-angle perspective, the lens exhibits barrel distortion that is extremely evident and significantly more severe than typical (0.9 percent). When shooting at telephoto, there is a moderate degree of pincushion distortion (less than 0.2 percent), and it is just barely discernible.

Aberration of Chromatic Color

Chromatic aberration is relatively high when viewed at a wide angle, with brightly colored cyan and reddish pixels located on each side of the target lines. (It’s important to keep in mind, though, that the impact is most certainly being amplified by some blurring.) Although the distortion is considerably less obvious at telephoto, there are still certain pixels that have a vivid blue hue to them.

Macro

The Macro mode of the Canon SD970 produces a picture that is exceptionally crisp generally, with just a very slight amount of blurring occurring in the extreme corners and at the borders of the frame. The smallest area that must be covered is 1.13 inches by 0.85 inches (29 x 22 mm). When photographing at an extreme close-up, the camera focuses so precisely that the lens obstructs the flash. As a result, the best option for lighting when shooting at this distance is to make use of natural light from the environment.

Image Quality

Color: The color looks decent overall, with just a touch of oversaturation in the bright reds and blues. The colors yellow, green, and pink are fairly realistic, and the tiny boost to the reds and blues is well within the permissible range of variation. (Many consumer digital cameras actually oversaturate these hues in order to cater to the widespread desire for colors that are bright and vivid.) The hue is also very accurate, although cyans lean more toward blue and certain reds more toward orange than they should. Lighter skin tones are closer to being ideal, while darker skin tones have a little bit of an extra glow to them. Good outcomes.

ISO

Noise and Detail: Noise is well-defined between ISO 80 to 200, with some softening commencing at ISO 400. Detail is well-defined between ISO 80 and 200. Up to roughly ISO 400, chroma (color) and luminance noise are relatively effectively managed. However, as the ISO reaches 800, the camera’s internal noise suppression mechanisms take over and dramatically blur the image. When the camera’s sensitivity is set to 3,200, the maximum resolution has to be decreased in order to save part of the detail.

Flash

Even though the camera had to use an ISO setting of 250, our testing to the specifications of the manufacturer provided brilliant results at wide-angle and 11 feet. The telephoto test likewise produced pretty bright results at 6.6 feet, and the camera once again increased the ISO to 250. If you keep your subjects within the recommended distances, the flash that comes with the Canon SD970 will be adequate for the majority of circumstances.

Incandescent

In our test with tungsten illumination, the manual white balance mode performed far better than either the auto or incandescent settings. The Auto setting generates results that are quite close to realistic, but with a general hint of magenta, whereas the Incandescent setting generates results that are far too red. Although there is a very tiny blue cast to the white values when using the Manual option, the overall hue is considerably more aesthetically attractive.

Performance

The shutter latency is acceptable, clocking it at around 0.40 seconds at wide-angle and 0.45 seconds at maximum telephoto when the autofocus is fully engaged. The prefocus shutter latency is 0.078 seconds, which is a very respectable time.

The length of one cycle

The cycle time is also rather decent, as our testing showed that it captured a frame once every 1.98 seconds while it was set to single-shot mode. The continuous mode of the SD970 is rated by Canon at around one frame per second, which is considered to be on the sluggish side.

Recycle the flash

The flash on the Canon SD970 recycles in roughly 8 seconds after being discharged at full power, which is on the lower end of the spectrum.

Specifications

Body typeCompact
Max resolution4000 x 3000
Other resolutions4000 x 2248, 3264 x 2448, 2592 x 1944, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480, 320 x 140
Image ratio w:h4:3, 16:9
Effective pixels12 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Sensor typeCCD
ISOAuto, 80 ,100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
White balance presets6
Custom white balanceYes
Image stabilizationOptical
Uncompressed formatNo
JPEG quality levelsSuper-Fine, Fine, Normal
Focal length (equiv.)37–185 mm
Optical zoom
Maximum apertureF3.2–5.7
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaSingleFace DetectionLive View
Digital zoomYes (4x)
Manual focusNo
Macro focus range2 cm (0.79″)
Number of focus points9
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3″
Screen dots461,000
Touch screenNo
Live viewNo
Viewfinder typeNone
Minimum shutter speed15 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/1600 sec
Aperture priorityNo
Shutter priorityNo
Manual exposure modeNo
Subject / scene modesYes
Built-in flashYes
Flash range3.50 m
External flashNo
Flash modesAuto, Fill-in, Red-Eye reduction, Slow Sync, Off
Continuous drive1.0 fps
Self-timerYes (2, 10, Custom, Face)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpot
Exposure compensation±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
Resolutions1280 x 720 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps), 320 x 240 (30 fps)
FormatMotion JPEG
MicrophoneMono
Storage typesSD/SDHC/MMC/MMCplus/HD /MMCplus
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion NB-5L battery & charger
Weight (inc. batteries)160 g (0.35 lb / 5.64 oz)
Dimensions96 x 57 x 26 mm (3.78 x 2.24 x 1.02″)
Orientation sensorYes

Conclusion

The Canon PowerShot SD970 is yet another outstanding model in the Digital ELPH family of cameras thanks to its little size, user-friendly operation, and powerful image processing. The Canon PowerShot SD970 Digital Camera has a CCD image sensor with 12.1 megapixels, an optical zoom lens with a 5x magnification and image stabilization, and a 5x optical zoom lens. It is an excellent choice for most average shooting conditions, and it produces images with accurate exposure and color regardless of the setting.

Although the Smart Auto mode is quite helpful for combining Face, Blink, and Motion Detection technologies with the 18 preset scene modes to get the best exposure in a variety of conditions, the SD970 IS does offer a little more hands-on control within the standard Program AE mode for those who prefer that level of photography.

The Canon PowerShot SD970 is an excellent performance because its autofocus speeds are incredibly fast for a digital camera with a relatively long zoom, and its noise management is fairly good thanks to the most recent algorithms developed by Canon.

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • 461k dots LCD Resolution
  • Putting a Focus on Face Detection
  • 160 grams Light Body
Need Improvement
  • Lack of a Screen That Articulates
  • No wireless connection was established.
  • No Full HD Video
  • There is not an external flash shoe.

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