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The Canon A570 IS is an improved version of the excellent and inexpensive A550, adding Image Stabilization, a larger 2.5" LCD and a few handy extra features like totally manual exposure control, stitch assist mode and programmable function buttons.
The A570 IS is a solid little camera with great performance at a reasonably low price. Personally I prefer to pay a little more for a smaller camera like my SD700.
The biggest drawback to the A570 IS is the long lock-up time after a flash shot. It will lock up for about 10 seconds to recharge the flash. Other cameras, like my SD700 to which I will compare the A570 many times, recycles the flash in a few seconds. I don't use flash often, but if you do, this will drive you crazy.
It has Canon's superb Stitch Assist mode and panoramic stitching software included, free. This is so good I have an entire article on it at Canon Panoramic Software.
SPECIFICATIONS with comments back to top
LENS: 5.8-23.2mm f/2.8-5.5. It gives a field of view similar to what a 35-140mm lens does on a 35mm film camera.
IMAGE STABILIZATION: YES, shifting lens.
AF: 9 zone TTL.
FACE DETECTION: Yes, works great, but only for still images (not movies).
OPTICAL VIEWFINDER: Yes, about 80% coverage.
SHUTTER: 15 - 1/2,000, varies by mode. Electronic and mechanical.
EXPOSURE MODES: Program, Aperture priority, Shutter priority and Manual, as well as a slew of preset scene modes.
SENSOR: Smaller sized 1/2.5" CCD.
IMAGE SIZES: 3,072 x 2,304 pixels native. Also 3,072 x 1,728 (16:9 cropped), 2,592 x 1,944, 2,048 x 1,536, 1,600 x 1,200 and 640 x 480.
JPG DEFAULT DPI: 180 DPI, only significant because I have to set it back to 72 DPI in Photoshop to get my © notice the correct size. Otherwise it's irrelevant unless you're putting text on your images or printing from Photoshop.
FORMATS: JPG, three compression levels. File sizes vary wildly with image complexity. I always use the smallest size, "Normal." The middle, default size is called "Fine" and the largest is called "Superfine." File sizes are optimized to each image, so very detailed images may have file sizes triple the file size of a blank, flat sky image. This is good and normal.
AUDIO FORMAT: WAVE, only as 60 second clips or with video.
VIDEO: 640 x 480, 320 x 240, 160 x 120 at 60, 30 and 15 fps (not all combinations available). Sequential motion JPEG AVI (not the more efficient MPEG). Records up to 4GB or 1 hour, whichever comes first.
ISO: 80, 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1,600; AUTO and AUTO HI. Like most compact cameras, the highest ISOs look like crap. Today camera makers no longer use megapixels to sell cameras, they use overcranked ISO specs.
WB: Auto, Direct Sun, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent Warm and Cool, underwater (fish icon) and custom manual white card. No shade position, but the underwater fish setting does the same thing. Setting a custom manual WB is trivial, just as it is on all other Canon compacts.
FRAME RATE: 1.7 FPS, rated: no change in focus, exposure or anything between shots. (SD700 is rated 2.1 FPS, measures 2.05 FPS.)
METER: Evaluative, center and spot.
LONG EXPOSURE NR: Automatic if shutter speed is longer than a second.
LCD SCREEN: 2.5," 115,000 pixels (SD700 is 173,000 pixels).
STORAGE: SD and SDHC cards up to at least 2 GB.
DATA TRANSFER: USB 2.0 high-speed, 480 Mb/s peak.
VIDEO OUT: NTSC (Americas and Japan) and PAL (Europe).
MADE IN: Malaysia.
COLOR: Silver painted plastic.
POWER: Two AA cells. Use anything except the crappy "heavy duty" things sold at flea markets and swap meets. Alkalines are fine for occasional use which most people will give this camera, use rechargeable Ni-MH or throw-away lithium if you're a heavy user (if you are a heavy user, consider a camera with a built-in and included rechargeable system instead.) CR1220 for clock retention.
Canon rates per CIPA, alkalines: 120 shots w/LCD, 400 without, and 400 shots with LCD, 900 without with Ni-MH. I usually get many more shots because I rarely use flash. CIPA uses flash 50% of the time.
SIZE: 2.5 x 3.5 x 1.7" H x W x D (65 x 90 x 43 mm), rated.
WEIGHT: 7.900 oz. (223.9g), measured with Duracell AAs and memory card but no strap. Rated 6.2oz (175g) buck naked: no batteries or anything.
LA-DC52G 52mm Adapter, needed to use any of the following:
WC-DC52 0.7x Wide Converter, about $75. With this you can get a similar field of view to what a 24.5mm lens would give on a 35mm film camera.
TC-DC52A 1.75x Teleconverter, about $90. With this you can get a similar field of view to what a 245mm lens would give on a 35mm film camera.
250D 52mm close up lens, about $70.
INTRODUCED: 05 March, 2007
AVAILABLE: March, 2007
PERFORMANCE back to top
It handles a little better than most Canons, which is a little better than excellent. This is because it offers extra buttons which beget faster operation with fewer clicks.
There is a slide switch to switch between play and record.
There is a dedicated exposure compensation button.
You may program the blue print button to set either ISO or WB directly. I use WB, which is critical.
Some sillier things to which you may program the blue print button are Digital Teleconverter, a silly mode in which digital zoom of 1.5x or 1.9x is performed regardless of the optical zoom setting; grid on/off (I always leave mine on); or Display Off, to save batteries.
Response time to button presses while navigating menus is about average.
I never use these. It's a little peephole which zooms with the lens. I'm sure it works great; but I prefer the live LCD.
The LCD monitor is sharp, color-accurate and bright.
I can't figure out how to get all the printing off the LCD while shooting. It always shows me my aperture and shutter speed, exposure compensation (usually set to -2/3) and the ISO selected by the auto ISO on top of my composition.
It's like all the other Canons: superb color in my favorite Vivid mode, and a sharp lens.
Like all my other Canon point-and-shoots, I get the best results setting exposure compensation to -2/3. You do this with the FUNC SET button, click down to +-0, and two to the left to set -2/3.
TRICK: AE Lock is unmarked. Tap the ISO button with the shutter half-pressed for AE Lock. You'll see AEL on the right of the LCD. It stays locked until you tap the ISO button again, without touching the shutter.
TRICK: Flash Exposure Lock is also unmarked. It works the same way as AE lock if you have the flash ON. You'll see FEL on the right of the LCD.
Suburban Sunset, directly from A570 IS. (-2/3 compensation, Vivid mode)
Color rendition, or how the camera renders the real world, is everything. We artists spend a lot of time worrying about it. After exposure, color is everything to an image. Sharpness and the rest is irrelevant unless your exposure and colors are dead-on.
I love vivid colors, and always set my Canons to their Vivid modes. To do this, press FUNC SET, click down three to "off," and click one to the right to "Vivid." Press FUNC SET again to set it.
I love the color of the the A570, as I do from all the other Canons in their Vivid color modes. The A570 looks very similar to every other Canon compact.
Tractor, direct from A570 IS (-2/3 compensation, Vivid mode)
I've always preferred the color rendition of my Canon compacts to other brands.
Ranunculus, direct from A570 IS (-1.3 compensation, Vivid mode)
Color accuracy is irrelevant. Cameras aren't scanners. Cameras are never supposed to duplicate color charts.
Flowers, direct from A570 IS (-2/3 compensation, Vivid mode)
Auto WB (AWB)
Excellent! It's so good I have to learn to stop using the custom manual white balance in mixed artificial light. AWB usually woks better, automatically!
Unlike any SLR camera, the auto WB (AWB) of the A570 corrects perfectly under indoor household tungsten. It's not so perfect under fluorescent lighting; use the custom manual setting.
Custom Manual WB (Gray Card)
This works great, just as is does on the other Canon compacts.
It's super easy to use - much easier than on the Canon SLRs!
The adjustment range is so broad that you can get weird color filter effects by taking a custom WB from a colored object.
The sensor for the custom WB is jut a small spot out of the image. It's easy to set the custom WB from a small point. I often set it from a cloud in the sky, letting in some blue sky for a resultant warming effect. Slicker still, I shoot a custom WB off my white socks!
AF is fine. It's always fast and accurate.
Flare and Ghosts
The worst ghosts I could get.
The A570 IS has excellent glare resistance. This is looking directly into a very bright sun. Otherwise any ghosts are completely invisible.
Compact zoom cameras like the A570 only zoom in fixed steps. They can't be zoomed to every exact setting, which tends to drive me nuts when trying to frame exactly.
The A570 can be set to 8 discreet focal lengths. They are 5.8mm, 6.6mm, 7.9mm, 9.9mm, 12.7mm, 12.7mm, 16.0mm, 19.6mm and 23.2mm, as read from EXIF data.
It's great. It doesn't get softer in the corners as many more expensive cameras do. Since the A570 is bigger than more expensive cameras, the lens is bigger and the lens designers have an easier time of making it work well.
It can get just a little softer at the longest tele setting, but not enough to worry about.
I've never seen any.
It's the same as most compacts: it gets ultra-close (about an inch) at the widest setting, and only to a foot at the tele setting. Here's how close it gets at the widest setting in the macro mode:
Full image at closest macro setting, wide angle.
Unsharpened crop from above at 100%.
This is what you'd see if you printed the entire image 31" (80cm) wide! It looks great - this has had no sharpening added.
Be sure to take the A570 out of Macro mode for normal use. If you forget, it won't focus to infinity, especially at telephoto.
It has a good deal of easy-to-correct barrel distortion on the wide end, which gradually disappears and has no distortion at the tele end. This is typical of other cameras.
5.8mm (wide): Barrel, use +4.5 in CS2's lens distortion filter.
23.2mm (tele): None.
LCA (Edge Color Fringes)
I can't see any on the A570, another advantage of the bigger camera and bigger lens.
It takes about 10 long seconds, during which the A570 locks up and blinks at you. You have to wait for the flash to recharge before you can do anything else.
If you have the flash off, as I usually do, there's no problem. If you're photographing a kid's party with flash, forget it.
The A570's video performance is similar to my SD700 and other Canon compacts.
File sizes are the same: a bloated 18.5 MB for a 10s clip at 640 x 480 @ 30 FPS.
The A570 video file looks pretty good. Resampling artifacts (jaggies) and moirés aren't much of a problem.
I find the Casio cameras better if you want efficient video file sizes (good quality in small file sizes) video, and video quality is better in any DV camcorder.
I use the video in these compacts as a goof. I pull the files into iMovie and can edit and burn them to DVD with the free software already in just about every Mac ever made.
The A570 has Canon's trick panoramic stitch assist mode. It's so slick, and comes with the software for free, that I have an entire page about it at Canon Panoramic Photography.
The case is silver-painted plastic. It's good plastic; tight, solid and precise with a solid interlock on the battery door.
It's fast: USB 2.0. Images come flying out of the A570 as they should.
92 shots/96 MB fly out in 21.2 seconds to my Mac.
Battery Life and Meter
The A570 has the same overly sensitive low battery warning as the other A-series Canons I've used. It often will flash the red battery symbol or shut down, even if the batteries are fine or new. Don't believe it; keep trying and keep shooting. My 4-year-old Canon A70 has always done the same thing.
I made 300 shots on the A570 on a set of 2,100 mAh Ni-MH and they were still going when I returned the camera to my friend from my photo club.
Since I couldn't kill the battery in the short time I had it, I don't know if I'd get more than 300 shots. The battery meter was telling me I was out of juice, but the open circuit voltage of the cells was each 1.29V, which is fine for Ni-MH. It probably happier with throw-away lithium.
High ISO Noise and Grain
I put this last because most people will never see these speeds. The A570, like most cameras, never gets to these speeds unless you put it there by hand. Don't worry about these unless you shoot without flash in the dark. Too many chat-room photographers spend all their time worrying about this minor corner of the performance picture.
The A570's performance is typical for a compact, meaning much worse than any DSLR.
ISO 80: Negligible noise, but still about the same as a DSLR at ISO 800!
ISO 100: About the same as ISO 80.
ISO 200: Not bad at all.
ISO 400: Still reasonably smooth.
ISO 800: Grainy.
ISO 1,600: Awful! Don't use this speed.
It's the usual fat Canon single-language manual. I didn't read it all; there are usually quite a few neat tricks these cameras can play for those who read these.
RECOMMENDATIONS back to top
This is a nice camera, but not much less expensive than the tiny SD700 I prefer and use personally. For most people the slimmer and smaller SD700 or SD800 are better cameras because of their better batteries and flash systems. The A570 eats AA batteries if you use it much, the others include a tiny rechargeable battery that runs forever with a charger.
Get the A570 if you need to run on AA batteries.
Get an A570 to give to your kid. The knobs and buttons are big and solid.
Get one if you need manual control of shutter and aperture, which the SD700 and SD800 don't provide. Digital compact cameras offer very few aperture choices, so the only reason to want manual exposure control is to lock in the same exposure value even in changing light.
If you find this as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.
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