Canon Powershot SD870 IS Brief Review


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  • 8 megapixels
  • 3.8x optical zoom / 4x digital zoom, 28mm wide-angle lens
  • Movie mode with sound
  • JPEG file format
  • Lens-shift image stabilization
  • Auto focus
  • Auto exposure
  • ISO 80-1600
  • 3.0-inch LCD display
  • Secure Digital memory (32MB card included)
  • Lithium-ion battery
  • Release Date: 2007-10-15
  • Final Grade: 79 3.95 Star Rating: Recommended

Canon SD870 IS - Digital Camera Review
See what we thought of Canon's all-new stylish ultracompact, the Canon Powershot SD870 IS. We've given it a once over so you can see how it performs.
By , Last updated on: 8/21/2014

Specifications: 8 megapixels; 3.8x optical zoom / 4x digital zoom, 28mm wide-angle lens; Movie mode with sound; JPEG file format; Lens-shift image stabilization; Auto focus; Auto exposure; ISO 80-1600; 3.0-inch LCD display; Secure Digital memory (32MB card included); Lithium-ion battery

Retail Price: $399, Price Through Our Merchants:

Great Image Quality

I took the Canon SD870 IS out for a spin, and generally I was impressed with what I saw. The images were vibrant and colorful, and the 8-megapixel sensor allowed for an excellent level of detail. The mantra of this camera seems to be to make everything about it as easy and approachable as possible. For more advanced users who want to mess around with manual controls, this could be frustrating.

The SD870's "Manual" mode only allows you to adjust a few minor aspects of the shot, such as ISO sensitivity. This is a simple, point-and-shoot camera in an ultracompact's body, and for a lot of people that's going to be a major selling point.

As you can see from the sample photos on the right hand side of the screen, the SD870 IS is a very capable camera, and in my opinion, definitely satisfies when it comes to straightforward, easy operation. The camera's start-up time is blindingly fast, and the lag between shots is very short.

Right out of the box, this camera is ready to provide excellent photographs with minimal fuss.

Image Stabilization and 3.8x Optical Zoom

Like all of Canon's newer models, the SD870 IS features Image Stabilization, and it's about time. For years, Panasonic had been well ahead of the curve in making their Mega O.I.S. a standard feature on almost all their cameras.

Image Stabilization is important, especially in ultracompacts like the SD870 IS, because their small size makes them more susceptible to tiny twitches and tremors in your hand. While you may not notice them when you're taking a picture, the blurring will be apparent in your final photo.

The SD870's Image Stabilization performs well, and definitely takes the edge off of the images, especially when the 3.8x optical zoom is engaged. The 3.8x optical zoom is a little extra boost than the average magnification available in a camera of this size. It's also a wide-angle zoom, capturing wider and more inclusive long-range shots.

3.0-inch LCD Display

Some reviewers feel that the lack of an optical viewfinder is a flaw in really tiny ultracompact cameras, but that's not something I can agree with. Having used small cameras that do have viewfinders, I've found them unhelpful and frustrating. I can see why they would be good to have if your camera's LCD was only 1 or 2 inches big, but we're at least two years past that point now. 2.5 to 3-inches is the standard these days.

If you're one of those people who isn't convinced that the optical viewfinder is obsolete, the SD870 IS is a camera that could change your mind. The large, 3-inch LCD is a pleasure to use, and serves well even in bright-light situations. Canon increasingly relies on the LCD as a means to modify the camera's settings (which the next section will discuss), and by "virtualizing" the controls instead of relying on knobs and dials, cameras can be smaller and more efficient.

The SD870 IS is a great example of how larger LCDs are becoming not only standard, but essential in modern digital photography.

Modern Controls and Menus

Canon has put great effort into the camera's controls and menu system, introducing more modern, less clunky interfaces. The round navigation wheel on the back is both a four-direction pad and a touch-sensitive scroll wheel, similar to the controls of an iPod. When you move your finger to each of the four directions, a virtual navigation wheel appears on the LCD, highlighting the button which your finger is hovering on. That's helpful for people who have to struggle to discern the tiny icons and their meanings on the back of the camera.

When it's time to change modes, say from 'auto' to 'panoramic stitch assist,' that's when the user can sweep their finger around the wheel like an iPod, and the virtual mode selector appears on the screen. It's a big improvement from clunky knobs that cluttered up the camera, and makes the most of the camera's excellent LCD display.

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LG Reviews

Top quality optics, dependability, and convenience of use are just some of the reasons that customers choose Canon digital cameras. One of the top makers of digital cameras in the world today, Canon has attained a reputation for creating some of the best digital cameras and digital SLRs available on the market. Canon cameras are inevitably on the camera wish list of any consumer that desires a high quality camera.

Canon is not generally a cheap brand by any means. In spite of this, Canon digital cameras have achieved the best buy status. This proves that you get great value for the extra money. In the past few years, Canon has begun releasing several types that are more inexpensive, without cutting quality.

Canon cameras come in two main types—the smallest is the Powershot line, compact, point-and-shoot cameras that still maintain a reasonable level of image quality. Canon Powershot cameras range from budget point-and-shoots like the ELPH 115 to an advanced compact with a 1.5” sensor, the G1X Mark II. Typically, if you are going to buy a point-and-shoot on nothing but the reputation of the brand, Canon is a pretty safe bet.

The second type of Canon camera is the EOS line—the DSLRs. The EOS line has a solid reputation as well for performance across the board, including video. Canon has a wide range of options available too, from top of the line full frame professional models to small, entry-level DSLRs.

While other manufacturers are concentrating on mirrorless models and packing more power into smaller cameras, Canon doesn't seem to be following that trend exactly. They've released some smaller DSLRs like the SL1, but haven't been putting time into mirrorless models. Whether this is good or bad is a matter of personal opinion, but the models that are out there are, more often than not, solid performers.

We here at Digital Camera HQ offer unbiased, informative reviews and recommendations to guide you to the right camera. We're not an actual store; we're just here to help you find the perfect camera at the best price possible by using our camera grades. Let us know if you have any problems or questions, we're happy to help.