Canon PowerShot SX710 HS Digital Camera Review

Even in a world where almost everyone’s carrying a camera with them at all times, the humble point-and-shoot still has a place. Even though smartphones give bargain cameras a run for their money nowadays, they don’t quite offer everything a dedicated shooter does.

One area where they fall short? Optical zoom. There’s no substitute for a good ol’ fashioned zoom lens, and when you want a camera for dance recitals, plays, sports photography, and vacations—you want a camera with heaping helping of optical zoom.

The Canon PowerShot SX710 HS (MSRP $349.99) is exactly such a camera, with an impressive 30x optical zoom in a body that can easily fit in a jacket pocket. Just like last year’s PowerShot SX700 HS, the SX710 promises all the reach you’d need in an easy-to-use, responsive camera.

Unfortunately, this isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The SX710 is indeed a fast, responsive camera, and the 30x zoom is useful if it’s what you really need. But for $350 you can quite easily find a shooter that takes higher quality images. Unless you absolutely need this much optical zoom, there are better options out there.

Design & Handling

Canon’s put the travel zoom formula on repeat.

Like most point-and-shoots these days, the Canon SX710 HS has a compact shape that resembles a squarish bar of soap. It’s a bit thicker than most, with a round protrusion where the telescoping 30x zoom lens lives. Besides that, you’ll also find a plastic hump with a leatherette insert, giving you just enough grip to keep the camera steady.

You’ll need it, because at full zoom the lens sticks several inches out from the body. You control the zoom in the usual way, with a zoom slider ringing the shutter button on top of the camera. Next to this you’ll find the power and video record buttons, as well as a pop-up flash.

On back of the camera there’s a mode dial, which is nice for advanced shooters and beginners alike; there’s a full suite of manual modes, and if you screw something up you can just pop it into the green “Auto” mode and all will be well. On the back there are also a variety of physical controls for accessing stored photos, the menu, and common controls (includng white balance, drive mode, focus mode, etc.).

The menu—as it is on most Canon point-and-shoots—is very simple and legible. If you’ve used a Canon point-and-shoot before this should instantly feel familiar. If you haven’t, there’s not much to learn. The only thing that can be a bit odd is that most of the important controls aren’t in the actual menu—which you access via the “menu” button—but are brought up on the rear LCD by pressing the center “Func. Set” button.

Mode dial

A mode dial unlocks lots of possibilities.

All in all, the SX710 HS is almost exactly the same as last year’s SX700. Canon doesn’t typically change much from year to year, because it knows what works. This camera isn’t perfect, but even if you’re replacing a Canon point-and-shoot from four or five years ago, you’ll feel right at home with the SX710 HS.

Unfortunately, these kinds of compact travel zooms have always presented something of a Catch-22. On the one hand they’re compact and can travel with you anywhere (hence the name) while providing plenty of zoom. But such a compact camera doesn’t have much room for grip, making it nearly impossible to get stable shots at full zoom without sitting the camera on a stable surface or tripod.

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