Aside from the main dial, the most commonly used shooting features are accessed via an on-screen menu, and there are plenty to choose from. It has the longest list of colour options that I’ve ever seen, including options for lighter or darker skin tones, options to increase the saturation of each primary colour, as well as a manually customisable setting. Metering options include multi-zone, centre-weighted and spot, flash output can be manually adjusted, and the ISO settings range from 80 to 800. It also has a delay timer that can be manually set for up to 30 seconds and take multiple shots.
So it can do lots of clever tricks, but how well does it work? Pretty darned well actually, although it is not without its problems.
Overall performance is always a Canon strong suit, and the A710 doesn’t disappoint. It starts up in just over a second, which is very fast by any standard. The AF system is, as usual, superb, locking on almost instantly even in very low light conditions. The camera has an AF illuminator which I found worked extremely well at ranges as high as five metres, which is well beyond the nominal flash range.
The A710’s continuous shooting performance was simply extraordinary. Even in Superfine quality mode and maximum resolution it was able to shoot at approximately two frames per second, and keep that rate up until the memory card was full. I thought that maybe the high-speed SanDisk Extreme III SD card I was using was helping, but I got the same result with an older, slower card. I can’t think of another compact I’ve seen that can match that performance.
Of course the big selling point for the A710 IS would be the IS bit, which stands for Image Stabilisation. Canon uses a moving-lens IS system, rather than the moving-sensor or purely electronic systems used by many other manufacturers, and it performs exceptionally well. I found I was able to take hand-held shots at shutter speeds as low as 1/10th of a second at wide angle or 1/60th at full zoom with virtually no movement blur, which is very impressive. This gives about three stops of extra low-light hand-held shooting.