For just over a year now, any time anyone has asked me to recommend a good low-cost mid-range camera with manual controls, I have unhesitatingly pointed them at the Canon PowerShot A540, which I reviewed here in May of last year. However my recommendation will be changing from now on, because Canon has recently replaced the deservedly popular A540 with this, the PowerShot A570 IS.
Actually to be more accurate, the A540 was replaced by the A560 which was also launched in February, a camera which is all but identical to the A570 IS, lacking only the optical image stabilisation system. However I think that the addition of Canon’s acclaimed IS technology to an already excellent camera design is sufficient to merit a recommendation.
I usually try to compare cameras with similar models from other manufacturers, so as to give you some idea of where it stands in the market and what the other alternatives are, however with Canon’s A-series cameras that’s rather difficult. If you want a medium-sized compact camera with a larger-than-average zoom lens, an optical viewfinder, a full range of manual exposure controls and a useful range of features and options then they really are the only game in town. Despite this virtual monopoly Canon has resisted the temptation to push up the prices. The A570 IS is available from around £180, which is a very good price for this specification. By comparison the non-IS A560 is around £150, which is actually cheaper than the final price of the A540.
The A570 represents a significant advance on the specification of the A540. It has a 7.1-megapixel 1/2.5-in CCD sensor, a relatively fast f/2.6 - f/5.5 4x optical zoom lens equivalent to 35-140mm, a 2.5-in LCD monitor with 115K pixels, and Canon’s acclaimed Digic III image processor engine. It is almost the same size and shape as the A540, but at 89.5 x 64.3 x 42.8mm and 175g without batteries or card it is in fact 5g lighter and a couple of millimetres smaller. As with the other models in the A-series, the A570 runs on two AA batteries, so the total weight and the battery duration will vary depending on the type of cells used, although like other Digic III cameras I found the battery life to be very good.