Hands on: Canon PowerShot SX70 HS review

Our first-hand verdict of Canon’s DSLR-style bridge with 4K

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Our Verdict

While Canon is focusing its firepower on the EOS R, the PowerShot SX70 HS is hard to overlook. Its DSLR design isn’t just skin deep; with a 20.3MP CMOS sensor, DIGIC 8 processor and 4K video it packs a great deal of punch, and the 65x zoom makes it a camera for every occasion.

For

  • DSLR-inspired looks and performance
  • Vlog-friendly 4K video
  • RAW and Compact RAW

Against

  • Can’t compete with entry level DSLR
  • Other bridges offer greater zooms
  • No touch screen

Much of Canon’s messaging at Photokina 2018 was built around its full frame mirrorless system. However, its dedication to the enthusiast market was underscored when Canon EMEA bigwig Alessandro Stanzani discussed the PowerShot SX70 HS in the very same breath as the EOS R. 

The bridge camera market is a crowded one, and not quite as rock and roll as the DSLR and mirrorless arena, but it’s fair to say that Canon has packed some serious punch into the SX70 HS’s compact frame.

Bridges are, by their nature, versatile ‘everyman’ cameras. The SX70 HS, though, makes a compelling case as an entry level vlogging and hybrid shooting device. Its snappy 65x zoom make it ultra convenient, but its DSLR aspirations also make it surprisingly capable.

Key features

The SX70 HS has 20.3 megapixels, 25% more than its predecessor, the 16.1MP SX60 HS, producing detailed files that lend themselves well both to larger prints and to the rigours of post processing. 

Indeed, its ability to capture images in both RAW and compact RAW format means that users looking to flex their Photoshop muscles will have plenty of information to play with. 

The SX70HS also boasts the latest image processor, the DIGIC 8 – the very same chip that powers the EOS R. As a result, the camera delivers 4K video that’s impressive for its class, including 4K time-lapse and frame grabs.

The 65x zoom is quick and snappy, even though other bridges such as the Nikon COOLPIX P1000 have it trumped in those stakes. Still, the 35mm equivalent focal range of 21-1365mm (with a variable aperture of f/3.4-6.5) is an obvious highlight of the camera. 

Combined with 10fps shooting and responsive autofocus (including 5.7fps with continuous autofocus), this camera will thrive in virtually any situation you throw at it.

Build and handling

Canon has worked hard to give the PowerShot SX70 HS the familiar stylings of its DSLR big brothers, and the body certainly looks the part. 

While it apes the lines of a DSLR, however, the pictures don’t quite prepare you for how pleasingly compact it feels in the hand. Far from being a fiddly thing, it simply reminds you that comfort and convenience when shooting are often overlooked in the bogger bodied arms race.

If you’ve picked up a PowerShot in recent years then you’ve got a fair idea of what to expect. Lightweight but sturdy, you know that it’ll take a good few knocks in your backpack and still be ready to flip out that screen and shoot a vlog on the go.

Yes, flip-out screen – the SX70 HS has a nice Vari-Angle LCD that, paired with the 4K video, make this an obvious video and vlogging camera. It’s a shame that it isn’t a touchscreen, but with the clean and concise button layout it’s not a deal breaker.

Early Verdict

At a trade show where everything seemed to be bigger and bigger, the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS was a welcome splash of water on the face. Photography shouldn’t always be about big bodies and even bigger lenses and having two or three backpacks to lug it all about. 

The SX70 HS isn’t just a convenient all-purpose camera, it’s also a very capable one. The 20.3MP sensor provides generous resolving power, the 65x zoom is as fast and responsive as the autofocus, and the ability to shoot 4K video with an articulating screen means that vloggers in particular would do well to pay attention.

From a rock concert to a road trip, if there’s one bridge to rule them all, the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS certainly has all the right moves. We look forward to finding out how it strings them all together.

Read more:
Photokina 2018: all the announcements and action
The 10 best bridge cameras right now