Tuesday, May 19, 2009

HARDWARE REVIEW: Canon PowerShot SX200 IS

Canon PowerShot SX200 IS - Frot/OpenThe Short Version: I love this camera. While it has a few clear weaknesses, it more than makes up for them in quality, ability, and manual controls.

Canon PowerShot SX200 IS Side/OpenBackground: I am a photography enthusiast. Not the kind who stalks around taking random pictures of strangers, or who wanders the forest looking for interesting plants. The kind who enjoys taking pictures at events: quiz meets, softball games, weddings, etc. to share with friends. I own a Canon EOS 50D (digital SLR) but also like to have a smaller point-and-shoot for travel or situations where the "snap-click" noise of an SLR is unacceptable. My last point-and-shoot had proved bad for the lower-light situations where I tend to shoot, and a wedding was coming up that I wanted to cover. In the past, I had always gone for ultra-compacts but this time around I wanted something that could handle both low-light and long zooms while still being pocketable. I tried an Olympus Stylus 9000 (returned due to impossibility of focusing reliably and blur indoors) and researched the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3. But in the end, I chose the Canon Powershot SX200 IS and purchased it from Amazon.Com.

Canon PowerShot SX200 IS Front/ClosedThe Good: This camera is a joy to use. It has an automatic mode, a "super-easy" mode, 5 scene modes, a dedicated "special scenes" mode with less-used options, video, full manual, aperture priority, shutter priority, and Program mode, like an SLR. Unlike the competition, the camera has nearly as much customizability as an SLR and the controls are fairly easy to use due to a new menu structure for Canon camera. The pictures are clear, crisp, and has relatively low noise even down to 1600 and 3200, when compared to other point-and-shoot models. The SDHC card slot will accommodate even the largest 32 GB models of memory card (yes, I tested with one those those) and saving to card is quick. The 3.0" LCD on the back is also clear and crisp. And I love the "selective desaturization" mode in the camera. And how do you beat 12x zoom (28 to 300mm equivalent lens) in this size package?!

Canon PowerShot SX200 IS RearThe Bad: The camera is not perfect. First, while very pocketable, it is not an ultra-compact - it is about as long as an iPhone but 4 to 5 times as thick and it is has definite heft in your hand and pocket. Second, time from shot to shot is not quick, even in "burst" mode, sometimes taking a full second or 2 to recycle between shots. Third, battery is life is only moderate - over the course of a wedding and reception (about 8 hours) I went through 3 fully-charged batteries, and the batteries themselves take over 2 hours to recharge. Finally, when zoomed to the extreme, the camera often finds it hard to find a focal point and may vacillate between two of them, forcing you to let go of the shutter and recompose the shot. This lead me to lose a few really critical photographs.

The Bottom Line: This camera is a keeper, but you'll want to keep your SLR for the most important or challenging occasions. The 12x zoom is great for getting in close or finding a good wide-angle option. It is pocketable, has a plethora of manual options to allow you to get the best shot, has several really fun auto options, and comes in at under $400 even at the expensive shops. How much did I like this camera? Let's just say that I am now one of 3 friends who all own the Canon PowerShot SX200 IS.

5 comments:

"Nick" said...

It should be noted that Nomad shot over 600 pictures at the ceremony alone.

I say this because I used the same camera and still had what it told me was a mostly charged battery at the end of the night! I shot maybe 80 pictures or so.

So battery longevity is linked to your usage!

Nomad said...

Yeah. I took about 1600 total for the day.

shadowmom1 said...

Gotta love that 32 GB card!

Rapee said...

Canon SX200 is full feature with 12MP. I like it. Thank you for review.

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