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Reviews > Cameras > Digital > Canon PowerShot Digital ElphSD870 IS > Owner Review by joe schaffer

Canon PowerShot Digital Elph SD870 IS
Owner Review
by Joe Schaffer

April 15, 2017

NAME: Joe Schaffer
EMAIL: never2muchstuff(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
AGE: 69
HEIGHT: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 175 lb (79.4 kg)
HOME:  Hayward, California USA

   I frequent California's central Sierras, camping every month with a goal to match my age in nights out each year; often solo. Summer trips typically last 5 to 10 days; about 5 mi (8 km) per hiking day, starting off with about 40 lb (18 kg), about half food and water related. I winter camp most often at 6,000 to 7,000 ft (1,800 to 2,000 m); 2 to 3 nights; 50 lb (23 kg); 1 to 2 mi (1.6 to 3 km) on snowshoes. I've always had a priority of comfort, which demands more creativity as the hills seem to keep getting steeper.

The Product:
        Manufacturer: Canon USA, Inc.Canon Digital Elph
        Web site:
        Product: Elph series digital camera
        Purchased: 2008
        MSRP: US $329.99

My measures:
    height: 2 3/8 in (6 cm)
    depth: 1 in (2.5 cm)
    width: 3 5/8 in (9.2 cm)
    weight: 6 3/8 oz (180g)
Comes with:
   8 GB SD card
   carry strap
   mini-USB cable

Manufacturer Specs & Features:
    3.8X optical zoom lens
    28-105 mm
    8.0 mega pixels
    8.3 mega pixel CCD (charged coupled device) sensor
    3 in (7.6  cm) 230k-pixel LCD (liquid crystal display)
    Digic III processor
    Advanced Face Detection
    Image Stabilizer
    If I remember correctly from my smoking youth, this camera is about the size of a pack of cigarettes, though much heavier. It has a telescoping lens, a flash and a zoom. There are multiple controls on the right side of the camera to make it do things that are not readily apparent. The power button is on top, about the size of a match head and located just left of the picture-taking button, which is much larger and somewhat raised. It is also surrounded by the zoom actuator, rotated slightly one way or the other. And to the left of that is a slide button for switching between movie and still modes. The camera has a very large LCD for the body size, though it has no other means to see what is to be photographed. The battery fits into a compartment next to the SD card on the bottom edge; and to the right of that is a tapped hole for attachment to a tripod. Nearly hidden in a different covered compartment next to the wrist-strap anchor are two output ports, a mini-USB and a single-pin. The overall package is quite tidy.

food beforezoomFIELD CONDITIONS:
    I've taken this camera on hundreds of days of backpacking, which is the only time I use a camera. On Mt. Shasta my first time I started with the camera on my chest strap and it got too cold to work. After an hour or so in an inside pocket it fired up again. I take pains to keep it dry in the holster, wrapping it in a plastic bag for difficult water crossings or heavy rain and not letting it stick out in the rain beyond the brim of my hat. At windy and sandy places like Pt. Reyes I only expose it for the time required to snap the pic.
    I've taken probably 40,000 pictures. Hard to know, because I take zillions and delete what I don't like. But I've got 25,000 pictures and 2,000 videos on file and most of those would be from this camera.

    I've been frustrated a few times because I couldn't make it do something I thought it should do. I almost broke down and read directions, but I didn't go to that extreme or even get rid of it. What has troubled me is closeups of flowers. Sometimes I get what I want; and sometimes the background is clear and the flower is fuzzy. I've experimented with a lot of different settings and buttons, but can't seem to figure out the secret to a consistent result. On the other hand, even after fiddling with lots of settings I don't know anything about, I've always been able to get the camera restored to taking pictures. I have another camera in my drawer for which that claim cannot be made.
    This camera is not the lightest, but it is the right size for me. I carry it in a holster on my chest strap next to my GPS. My hands once confused the GPS for the camera getting excited over mama bear coming to check on my business. I almost never drop it and can almost always manipulate the primary settings without having to take my eyes off the rattlesnake or other point of interest. I've never not been able to take a picture with it. It is hard to hold in one hand and snap off a good one, but I can when I need to hang onto a tree branch or something with one hand and go for the pic with the other.
    The LCD is large. I took a while to get used to having no other way to see what I'm framing, but now I think I don't care at all. The LCD did start misbehaving at one point, where I couldn't see anything but mush holding the camera horizontally, which is how I take most pics. Vertically it still worked. Thinking it was on the fritz I became less obsessive about caring for it and in that frame of mind I left it on my chest strap one time when taking off my pack. Hoisting the pack back on I forgot the camera was there, and kicked it like a barking dog. It sailed far into the brush, but I found it. It has since displayed a couple of dime-sized voids in the screen, but no more mushy image.
    I find that digital cameras can be slow to take a subsequent picture, and that can be annoying. I also don't like that nudging the zoom ring makes clicks that get picked up by the audio recorder in movie mode. Of course that the camera will take movies and record sound seems nothing short of miraculous to me. I carry a spare battery, partly because I won't charge one until it is fully exhausted. (Lithium, I know, but I can't help it.) I don't carry a spare card. Another amazing thing is how much video the card will hold.
    Whether the image stabilization works may be more of a guess as I don't know what would happen without it. I do know that even full-zoom movies turn out ok, and probably not because my grip is brain-surgeon steady. I like taking stills of the moon, though I haven't patience to find something to rest the camera--won't carry a tripod, either. I max out the settings and snap away, often getting one that does not look like through the bottom of a bottle of Mad Dog.
    I know the devices are sensitive to grit. Once a piece of nasty got into the lens extending apparatus and things were sticky for a while. But the camera self corrected without being kicked. That was good, because a couple more of those voids and I wouldn't be able to see anything in the screen. I'd probably rather not have all the moving parts of a telescoping lens, but that seems to go along with getting the features I like, such as zoom.
    Significant Other has given me two more cameras, but I don't seem to use them. One is too small to handle easily, and somehow I managed to press something that makes it not want to take pictures anymore. The other has a sharp edge around the lens that hangs up coming out of the holster. I seem to be happier with the Elph. It does almost everything I want without making me feel stupid.
    I'm not trying to take pictures for National Geographic. I just want to point the thing and get an image. Then when I'm old and trying to remember what life was like before diapers, I can look at decent-resolution pictures of happier times without having my desktop grunt through high-pixel images I won't be able to see well anyway.

Quick shots:
    a) compact
    b) point-and-click
    c) durable
    d) suitable-quality pictures & movies
    e) more features than I need

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Reviews > Cameras > Digital > Canon PowerShot Digital ElphSD870 IS > Owner Review by joe schaffer

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