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Home arrow Digital Camera Reviews arrow Canon > arrow PowerShot SX200 IS
Canon PowerShot SX200 IS Digital Camera Review

canon091008.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Katrina Putker


Cameras like the SX200 are the reason Canon is one of the most well-known and trusted camera brands in the Australian market.

If you’re looking for a reliable compact camera for general day-to-day use or if you’re about to head off on a holiday adventure and want a true ‘all-rounder’ unit to capture all of the thrills and spills of your travels, the SX200 may well be a serious contender for your $649.00 (RRP).

Just listen to this: 12.1 megapixels, 12x optical zoom, 28mm wide angle lens that extends to 336mm, high definition movie recording, optical image stabiliser, intelligent auto mode and scene, face, blink and motion detection.

And the reality is that for the most part the SX200 appears to perform as well as its specs promise by producing clear, sharp and correctly exposed images. That’s not to suggest it’s entirely without fault though of course, as no camera truly is.

The SX200 seems to have some occasional difficulty handling bright sunlight and images tend to lose a degree of density and contrast in these conditions.

Similarly, backlighting can also troublesome where the foreground subject remains correctly exposed at the cost of the background that in some cases blows out to almost one hundred percent white.

Noise is a general concern, as it tends to be with all compacts unfortunately, although comparatively the SX200 performs well. Lower ISOs 80, 100, 200 and 400 seem to keep noise to an overall minimum and as is trend, once you creep from 800-3200 noise levels increase considerably.

While ISO 3200 is touted as a key feature of the SX200 it isn’t really anything to be bragging about. True, yes, the camera is physically capable of working at ISO 3200 but the images produced during so are on the verge of being unusable for anything other than small web display because they are that grainy.

The autofocus function on the other hand, is as exceptionally fast as it is quiet. No annoying beep noises sound when the camera has corrected focus, instead one or more green squares appear on screen over the area that the SX200 has locked onto, visually telling the user that the camera is focussed, ready to shoot and that a given area/subject has been used as the focal point.

To add to the discreet shooting nature of the SX200, you can access the menu and activate ‘mute’ in order to disable the electronic shutter sound. Add to this the fact that the powerful and effective 12x zoom function can operate at one of two speeds (each having a distinct sound) given user preference.

The slower speed only produces a subtle whirring noise (where the faster speed produces a more audible mechanical sound) making the SX200 quite a polite little unit ideal for use during speeches, wedding services and other religious ceremonies, for capturing sleeping babies and animals or for general candid-style shooting where you may prefer the subject be unaware of your presence.

Design-wise, the SX200 is a neat unit with well-positioned buttons and dials all placed where the compact camera market seems to have (for the most part) sensibly agreed they belong: mode dial, power, shutter and zoom toggle on the top edge, control wheel and function buttons on the back.

The mode dial is packed with 13 individual modes readily available for selection including: auto, easy, movie, program, manual, aperture and shutter speed priorities along with six special scene modes: portrait, landscape, night snapshot, kids and pets, indoor and the ‘scene’ itself, which allows for selection via the menu system of one of another 12 possible options.

The additional scene modes available include: colour accent, ISO 3200, snow, foliage, aquarium, beach, fireworks, night scene, sunset, colour swap and two variations of stitch assist meaning that as a package, the SX200 offers an extensive array of automated settings to cover a host of shooting possibilities.

Along with easy mode (described to offer “worry-free shooting for beginners”), which literally reduces the SX200 to point-and-shoot operation by barring access to any functions other than flash control, zoom and shutter, users also have the option of using auto mode, which selects the best settings for the given scene without user intervention.

Automatic face detection occurs during composition in most modes and when multiple people are in the frame, users can select for themselves which of the faces the SX200 should focus on.

If one of these people should blink as the shutter is fired, a warning icon will appear on screen as an immediate indicator that the photograph should be taken again.

The right-hand side of the body has a slight curve to its design, helping boost the controlling hand’s ergonomics and adding a subtle sexiness to the SX200 unit thus enhancing its overall appeal.

The 3-inch, high resolution LCD screen protrudes out the back end approximately 4mm, which helps to create a nice divide between the control wheel, function buttons and the screen itself.

The LCD is covered with a protective layer said to help protect against scratches and fingermarks but the reality is Buy-N-Shoot are yet to have seen an LCD screen that isn’t highly susceptible to fingerprints. Unfortunately, that’s just the nature of the beast across the board and nothing a quick wipe over won’t fix.

medal-gold-r.jpgA final minor gripe is the risky design of the flash unit on the SX200. While extremely snazzy in the sense that it electronically lifts into position (top left corner) and does the reverse when powering down to seamlessly settle inside the camera body, it cannot be manually put away when not in use making it fairly vulnerable to being damaged or indeed, snapped off.

The 220g SX200 is available in a boxed kit that comes complete with a dedicated battery and charger, AV and USB cables, a wrist strap, user guide, warranty card, customer support leaflet, digital camera solution CD and an instruction manual.

It is a highly recommendable unit that would make a great travel companion or gift for somebody who enjoys compact photography (and high definition video recording) and, in this case, its ability to switch between fully automated shooting, numerous pre-programmed and specific scene settings, and more manual-based shooting all within seconds.

Appearance rating 4 stars
Functionality rating 4.5 stars
Image quality
4 stars
Lens quality
4 stars
View finder / LCD screen 3.5 stars
Value for money 4.5 stars
RRP (AUD) $649
Effective Pixels 12.1 Million mega pixels
Image Sizes 6 Sizes
Lens - zoom wide [mm] 28mm (35mm equivalent )
Lens -zoom tele [mm] 336mm (35mm equivalent )
Lens - Optical Zoom Yes, 12x
Resolution Settings From 640 x 480 to 4000 × 3000
Shooting Modes Intelligent Auto (with Scene Detection), M, AV, TV, P, Easy, Portrait, Landscape, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Sunset, NightScene, Fireworks, Beach, Aquarium, Foliage, Snow, ISO 3200, Color Accent, Color Swap, Stich Assist, Movie (Standard, Color Accent, Color Swap)
Face Detection Yes
Manual Focus No
Auto Focus Yes
Focus Range [cm] 50cm - infinity
Aperture Range f/3.4(W) - f/8.0 (T), f/5.3 - f/8.0 (T)
Aperture Priority Yes
Macro Yes
Macro Range [cm] 2cm
Shutter Speeds Auto, 15-1/3200 sec.
Shutter Priority No
ISO Auto6, ISO 80/100/200/400/800/1600
LCD Monitor 3.0 inch, Quick bright LCD (230,000 dots). Multiple coatings to prevent smudging, scratching and reflections of light
Viewfinder No
Flash Auto, on, Slow Synchro, off, FE Lock, Auto Red-Eye Correction, Red Eye Reduction, Slow Synchro, Safety FE, Auto pop-up flash, Flash output compensation, Manual flash output
Hot Shoe No
White balance Auto/Outdoors/Cloudy/Incandescent Lamp/Fluorescent Lamp/Manual Settings/Detail, White balance bracket function
Self Timer Yes, Approx. 10 sec or 2 sec delay, custom, FaceSelf-Timer
Movie Options Yes. Limited only by memory card size.
Video Out Yes
Storage Type SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card, MultiMediaCard, MMCplus card, HC MMCplus card
Storage Included [Mb] -
Image / Audio Formats JPEG and MOV
Connectivity USB 2.0 High-speed
Power Source AC adapter
Battery Options Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery NB-5L
Dimensions 103.0 (W) x 60.5 (D) x 37.6 mm (H)
Weight Approx 220g
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