Bridge cameras tend to play second fiddle to DSLRs and Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras (ILCs), but the Canon PowerShot SX60 HS offers the discerning photographer an enticing package.
Canon PowerShot SX60 HS: Z to the O-O-M
Facing competition from DSLRs and ILCs as they become more user-friendly, Bridge Cameras still offer one unassailable benefit to any photographer: serious range right-out-of-the-box. With interchangeable lens cameras, long telephoto lenses are expensive and heavy. Compact cameras sometimes feature big zoom ranges, but image quality may suffer from smaller sensors.
Enter the Bridge Camera, built with an expansive zoom range, DSLR-like functions, in sizes ranging from moderate to tiny.
The Canon PowerShot SX60 HS is all of this and more, featuring 65x optical zoom (equivalent to 21-1365mm focal range in 35mm or Full Frame), custom user modes, built-in WiFi, 6.5 frames per second continuous shooting, and a built-in electronic viewfinder. So with all these bells and whistles, does it perform well?
The camera handles like you expect it to: a tad bulky, but with plenty of controls at your fingertips. Feeling like an easy-to-use point and shoot, but with plenty of advanced manual controls, the Canon PowerShot SX60 HS is more than enough camera for all but the most serious of amateurs. And thanks to Canon’s easily-accessible and ultra-intuitive menus, changing functions inside the camera are a cinch as well. Zooming in and out can seem a little slow, and there is no sensor around the viewfinder to automatically turn it on when you look through it, but despite these two drawbacks, the camera operates quite well.
Compared to other bridge cameras with a long zoom range, this camera is in most respects top-of-the-line. Olympus and Panasonic (and most other brands, it seems), give you an eye sensor on the viewfinder so that it automatically turns on when you press your face up against it. The PowerShot SX60 HS it just doesn’t offer you that, and instead you find yourself hitting the “Display” button and cycling through different variations of displays on the LCD or electronic viewfinder. This probably won’t be a big deal for many shooters who prefer the LCD anyway, but for those of us who like the viewfinder, it can be a nagging pain.
Here the Canon PoweShot SX60 HS squarely beats out the competition, with some fantastic image sharpness, as well as excellent color rendering. Even the Auto White Balance is decent.
Zooming in, there’s some minimal loss of quality, but in general, you’ll see stellar results until you start using the digital modifiers at the end of the zoom range. In close areas, you may even find all that zoom a little too intense, but the quality is still there should you need it.
Automatic Mode in the camera tended to result in some clipped highlights for me, even without exposure compensation. This is the only issue, but even then, the clipping wasn’t too extreme. For those who like the best image quality possible, the Manual Mode will come in very handy in some situations.
Who It’s For
This camera is a prime candidate for anyone who is looking for the best zoom range out-of-the-box, or for someone who wants a relatively inexpensive camera that they can grow with. Portraits and landscapes will be easy pickings for this camera, and any beginner looking to get a leg up in these areas will be happy with the results out of the Canon PowerShot SX60 HS.
Who It’s Not For
People who want to photograph at night without a tripod, and those looking for a good sports-shooting experience should skip this camera. Why? Canon does a lot of things right with its bridge cameras, but the SX60 HS is lacking in ISO compared to the competition. If you want a bridge camera for night shooting, check out some offerings from Olympus or Fuji. Zooming in and out with the lens (and trying to follow action) can seem a bit difficult – for such situations, a manual zoom would be much handier (and that’s where one might consider a Mirrorless or DSLR camera).
The Canon PowerShot SX60 HS offers excellent image quality and convenient handling in an affordable package, and may offer certain photographers a welcome alternative to pricier point and shoots or heavier, more cumbersome DSLRs. However, little faults here and there may limit the appeal of this camera to old-school shooters, or people looking for the most capable of setups.
Announced earlier this year at CES, and following the innovative design of its predecessor the PowerShot N, the Canon N100 is nice enough camera with a few quirks that might need working around…or just plain understanding.
Shooting with the Canon N100
Controls and Handling
The Canon N100 looks and feels mostly like a real camera. Not that square monstrosity that predated it (the Powershot N). Gone is the weird shutter-release-on-the-lens design. Gone is the…well, not much else. But just be thankful they got rid of that lens design, sheesh.
You still get built in WiFi, but now you also have a rear-facing camera. Taking these features into account, along with creative filters (and even a film-simulation mode), one can tell this camera is meant to be fun, even if that comes at the price of performance.
Despite this relative emphasis on ease-of-use over performance, we can’t write the Canon N100 off completely: a 1/1.7” sensor puts it just a smidgen above some of the competition out there, and with some nice IS and a decent f/1.8 aperture when the lens is at its widest (a 24mm equivalent).
In other areas, the performance seems a little handicapped, with a relatively low ISO range (80-6400), no outward controls for rapidly changing shooting modes, and that weird screen that only flips up 90 degrees (Why Canon? WHY?).
The lens on this camera is does not offer a lot of zooming power. Aimed predominantly at people who want to take portraits of their friends and family, this camera doesn’t really need the zoom range that other manufacturers are putting into their products. However, if you’re looking for some zoom, the Canon N100 has 5x optical and a little digital left over (though I didn’t use it, ’cause who wants to see that eyesore?). If you’re looking to shoot distant birds, or photograph people from half a block away, there are other cameras out there that might suit you better.
ISO performance on the N100 isn’t terrible, with decent results up to ISO 800. For dimmer situations necessitating higher sensitivity, I would still try to stay at 3200 or under, as ISO 6400 does show a fair amount of grain.
Like most Canon point and shoots with built in WiFi, the N100 is easy to sync to a smartphone using the Canon Camera Window app, which allows transfer to smartphones and tablets, as well as remote shooting and geotagging. The remote shooting functions were fairly bare-bones with the N100, and silent mode is co-opted by some weird beeping that goes on with the camera when the shutter is triggered. So, the WiFi isn’t ideally suited for any sort of candid captures, but works great if you just want a basic remote or wish to share photos with smart devices.
The Canon N100 has a rear-facing camera, so you, the photographer, can still have pictures of yourself when you’re presumably photographing your friends. I don’t have any friends, but I do love Zeikos camera gear, so I shot that with me making ducklips in the corner of the frame. CLASSIC.
Like almost every point and shoot or compact camera out there these days, the Canon N100 also comes with a plethora of artsy filters. Now, normally these filters suck on small sensors. Something just seems off, whether it’s the way the image processor handles them, or some curse that befell all smaller sensors by some sort of full-frame warlock. At any rate, the 1/1.7” sensor and the Digic 6 Processor seem to work in tandem to deliver moderate results, even when using the Toy Camera filter. (These images were also shot using the camera’s macro focusing mode, which is quite nice, but not as good as some of the competition.)
Image quality on the N100 is surprising to say the least. Even though I was working with JPEGs, there was still a little room for tweaking, and I even managed to save one slightly under-exposed photograph. In general, the automated performance seems intelligent enough to do it’s job, while the hardware (and software) give you images with a teeny bit of leeway. Colors are very nice, and you won’t find a real need for the Vivid Effect unless that’s really your thing.
The Canon N100 is a decent little camera with enough features, gizmos, and doohickeys to keep younger photographers on top of their passion. Canon has pushed this camera as a “story camera” and there’s a lot going for it in that niche. The social inclination of the N100, from the rear-facing camera to the built-in WiFi, speaks to the denizens of Twitter and Facebook. However, a lack of prosumer features, and the half-implementation of some decent ideas (again, a 90 degree articulating LCD…) means this puppy isn’t going to see the audience that the SX700 will, even though both cameras sit at around the same price.
If you’re in the mood to try something new and fun, or you want to be connected while you shoot with your compact, this camera might just be the One.
New to the scene in March, the Canon PowerShot SX700 HS may seem a little pricey at $349, but the overall performance of this compact superzoom is worth every penny.
CanonPowerShot SX700 HS: Superzoom Superstar
These days, it isn’t hard to find cameras that give you a lot of zoom. However, hunt around for a point and shoot camera offering a range of 25-750mm, and you may not have very many options. One of those options, though, will be the Canon PowerShot SX700 HS, which not only delivers the range in focal length, but does so with stunning results.
Of course, there are other features at play here, and not all of them are aimed at the novice. For seasoned pros, one of the coolest pros to this little camera is a mode dial not unlike those found on DSLRs, with Manual and Auto exposure modes, as well as Aperture- and Shutter-Priority modes. There’s also a nice video recording mode (with FULL HD), and built-in WiFi (with a dedicated button for syncing to tablets and smartphones).
For newbies (and even for seasoned enthusiasts like myself), there is is a fairly entertaining “creative shot” feature that makes variations of a single shot, experimenting with filters and crops in the process.
ISO performance is tolerable, and the macro features on this camera are also worthy of note. To be fair, there are lower-priced options on the market for better macro shots, but the SX700’s big draw is that nifty zoom lens.
So who is the SX700 HS for? It’s not a beginners camera (too many manual options), and it’s not a professional’s camera (not enough pro features). Instead, the SX700 is a mid-range compact camera designed at those who don’t need the most serious of camera bodies, but would still like something to learn and grow with (without purchasing any lenses).
Because of the camera’s overall versatility, this can be accomplished pretty well, and some folks may want to consider this camera as a lightweight option for day trips or casual photography.
Conclusion: if you need a camera with a great lens and some a full range of manual overrides, seriously consider this camera. If you’re looking for something casual to grow with and learn through, again this is a prime camera. Only those looking for the most rudimentary or most professional cameras should dismiss the Canon PowerShot SX700 HS.
It’s not for everyone, and straight out of the box it will disappoint anyone who has already handled anything better.
However, you can still get some great images out of the ELPH 150 IS.
Shooting with the Canon Powershot ELPH 150 IS
Menus and “Ergonomics”
The menus are okay. You probably won’t need to read the manual if you use cameras fairly often. Personally, I think Canon has the most intuitive menus for beginners, and this camera is no exception.
I put ergonomics in quotation marks because there are no contours to this camera, really. It’s a little box that has an on/off button on top, and a shutter release with a scroll for the zoom. There are some buttons on the back and the thing isn’t as tall or wide as most smartphones, but maybe a little thicker.
Takeaway: anyone can use this camera.
The lens on the ELPH 150 IS is pretty decent, with relative sharpness at it’s widest focal length (24mm equivalent). Aperture is automatic, with f/3 at the wide end, and f/6.9 when the zoom is fully extended. Due to the mostly-automatic nature of the camera, the default ISO of 800 at its 240mm equivalent focal length leads to a fairly grainy picture, but working with decent lighting will allow you to override the ISO in Program Auto mode. Then you can set your ISO to a clean 100 and get fairly smooth shots.
Takeaway: the lens is great at the wide end, even in auto. Zooming way out to the maximum distance will leave you with grainy shots unless you adjust ISO in the menus.
A little grain is a given when using any camera. Most of us accept that. But thanks to a diminutive sensor, and the automatic tendencies of this camera to set ISO to some of the grainier extremes, it’s going to behoove most users to stick with 100 ISO if they don’t want a grainy look. Personally, I found the image quality at 400 and 800 to be workable, but I would still keep away from 1600 unless I really didn’t care about grain/noise.
Takeaway: change the camera mode to Program and adjust ISO to 100. And leave it there.
I can’t use “exposure control” because that is misleading. You’re in for a struggle when you want to change shutter speed on this camera. That’s okay – you can easily adjust exposure compensation, but finding the in-menu controls for shutter speed is tough. Very tough.
Takeaway: memorize how to get back to your exposure compensation for quick adjustment when taking photos.
Well, it’s a fairly simple point and shoot flash. It does seem to have some nice range on it, but it’s positioned to the left side of the lens.
Takeaway: good most of the time but forget using it for extreme closeups.
Probably the best thing about little point and shoot cameras these days are those stunning macro shots. In fact, it’s one of the niches that point and shoot and ultra compact cameras still excel at. The ELPH 150 IS has a close-focusing distance of 1 centimeter (or .39 inches). Decent, to say the least.
Takeaway: if you like taking macro shots, shell out $150 for this camera and have some fun.
I guess this is Canon’s attempt to cash in on the same things Fuji and Olympus are doing so well. The problem with these effects in a point and shoot body is that they wind up looking far, far, far…far far far worse than the same effects from Fuji or Olympus. Sorry Canon…but you just can’t do it in a body this small. There is a grid display that users can enable to see a rule-of-thirds guide, but nothing that will save the this camera from the pitfalls of its creative filters.
Takeaway: avoid cancer of the retina and don’t use these filters. The rule-of-thirds grid overlay (hidden in the menus) may actually be of more use to creative photographers.
It’s a compact camera with images stabilization (hence the “IS” in ELPH 150 IS), but it’s a tiny 1/2.3” sensor. And it is only HD – not FULL HD. So yeah. Video is kind of there. It’s wonderful, I guess, if you want video in your camera. Otherwise, yeah.
Takeaway: um, yeah.
All in All
Final opinion? Not a bad little camera. Clearly an automatic package for someone who just wants to “take good pictures” but might not have heard about camera phones yet.
You do get better image quality if you take the ISO down to 100 and utilize the flash a little, and macro is amazing on this camera. But since most of the people who are buying this camera probably aren’t going to know how to overcome its quirks, I don’t expect it to hear much about it or see it flying off of the store shelves.
In all honesty, it reminds me of the people who used to buy family cameras and let everyone in the family use it to take pictures. It would probably be nice for a picnic or a family reunion, but even the 10x optical zoom seems to have a hard time grabbing distant subjects with the kind of clarity most can find in marginally more expensive compacts.
It’ll be interesting to see where this camera goes, and if Canon might start making niche macro point and shoot cameras for those of us who would like something small and portable for unexpected situations.
The Canon PowerShot D20 is an excellent waterproof digital camera with a 12.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor and a 5x Image Stabilized zoom lens and a 3 inch LCD.
The Canon D20 isn’t just an underwater camera, however. It performs very, very well in low light situations. In fact, the D20 seems to best the highly acclaimed Olympus TG-2 at ISO 1600 and above.
Here is a screen shot close-up of a section of the the D20’s ISO 1600 sample image (scroll down and use the magnifying glass feature to see such details):
Notice that while there is a fair amount of noise, the text on the coin is still readable, colors are fairly accurate, and the black lines are still distinguishable.
Studio Low Light Sample Images:
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 HS is a WiFi-enabled compact digital camera that features a 10x optical zoom from 24mm to 240mm. It is built around a 12.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor and utilizes Canon’s DIGIC 5 sensor, which is typically found in Canon’s higher end cameras.
With a size-to-performance review in mind (i.e., the ELPH 330 is quite small), the Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 performs very well in low light up to ISO 1600: colors are accurate, text in the samples is readable, definition is good and noise, while noticeable at 1600, is kept in check. Not surprisingly, noise ramps up at ISO 3200 and much further at 6400, but if you’re looking to take snap-shots in those situations, the ELPH 330 does admirably well.
See below for photo parameters.
Studio Low Light Sample Images:
Photo Parameters: All photos were shot on a tripod at a 35mm equivalent of approximately 50mm and at an aperture of f/3.5. We then cropped the images by 25% and reduced the image size to 20 inches wide by approximately 13.3 inches high, maintaining a native resolution of 180 pixels / inch.
Our photography specialists took the Canon PowerShot SX280 to task in this low light image test. Notice how even at 800 ISO, there isn’t a great deal of noise considering the low lighting situation. Cameras that preform well in low light are especially good for parties, as good light is often hard to find in a restaurant, bar, club or hall.
Check out these low light image samples from the Canon PowerShot ELPH 130 IS. Notice how sharp the images are with ISO 400! The ELPH series are a great companion to a Canon DSLR for more “everyday” shooting. Its compact and light weight design make it a breeze to always have the camera with you and never miss a moment.
Here are several sample images taken with the Canon PowerShot A810. The A810 performs quite nicely through ISO 200 to 400, but degrades quickly thereafter. But for the price ($89.99!), this is a solid little performer!
See below for photo parameters. A comparison to the stellar Canon PowerShot GX1 (a $700 camera with a much larger sensor) at ISO 1600 is also provided below.