While the A470 may look like a cheap budget camera on the outside, in terms of overall performance it’s well up to the usual Canon standard. Start-up time is exceptionally quick at just over 1.5 seconds, and it shuts down again just as quickly. In single-shot mode at maximum image quality its shot-to-shot time is an impressive 1.5 seconds, and in continuous shooting mode it rips along at nearly two frames a second, although as you might expect it doesn’t focus between shots in this mode.
The autofocus system is also typical of Canon compacts, in that it is very quick and reliable in almost any lighting conditions, although also typically the AiAF setting tends to miss the main subject from time to time. There is a good AF assist lamp so the camera can focus in complete darkness at a range of at least a couple of metres.
Picture quality, like the rest of the camera, has both good points and bad. On the positive side the lens performs well, producing very little distortion at wide angle with good overall sharpness right into the corners of the frame. Exposure metering is also very good, coping well with high contrast, deep shadows and backlighting without a problem. Colour rendition is also generally good, although it is let down by the camera’s main flaw. For some reason the image processing involves a lot of sharpening followed by very destructive compression, resulting in visible JPEG artefacts all over the image and a significant reduction in detail definition. It also affects the appearance of very bright colours, with bright reds and yellows appearing as featureless blobs. This is a pity, because apart from this the A470 represents a real bargain, and exceptionally good value for money.
Despite its very low cost the Canon PowerShot A470 acquits itself well. The build quality could be better, the control layout has a couple of major problems and it’s a lot larger and heavier than it really needs to be, but it makes up for these faults with extremely fast performance, excellent autofocus especially in low light, and even pretty good image quality, although it does have a few problems in this area. In general though the A470 is a genuine bargain and you won’t find much better for the price.