Expert Review of Canon PowerShot SX230 HS
Canon PowerShot series may well be the most popular line of Point & Shoot cameras in the world. Why? Because they provide perfection in really affordable pricesand one such example is Canon PowerShot SX230 HS, the latest avatar for Canon’s super famous pocket super zoom. Canon PowerShot SX230 HS sticks with the 14x optical zoom of its predecessor and the 3in screen, though the display resolution has been increased to 460k dots. Crucially, it adds a GPS receiver, the lack of which put its predecessor at a disadvantage compared with the earlier Sony Cyber-shot HX5 and Panasonic Lumix TZ10 / ZS7. The device runs of Canon forte DIGIC 4 processor and accompanies an HDMI port, High Speed Burst, ISO 3200, an Optical image stabiliser. Canon PowerShot SX230 HS is powered by 12.1 Megapixel high sensitivity CMOS sensor. Some additional features include PictBridge, Smart Auto and UA lens.
Design and Build Quality
The looks of PowerShot SX230 HS resemble a lot to what predeceased it with almost exactly the same size and weight. The device is available in wide variety of colors namely pink blue and black to attract a larger variety of audiences. The soap bar shape enhances the handling part with cupped silver edges acting as a cherry topping as it looks both trendy and provides better grip. The only visible and quite peculiar difference between Canon SX230 HS and its predecessor is a bulge on the top corner of the device just left to the shutter printed on which is “GPS”. The earlier “nipple experiment” of SX 210 IS abandoned here which marks the return of the conventional zoom collar surround on the shutter release. The stereo mics have been repositioned from the top to the front panel and the movie button no longer doubles a custom function button and that's the extent of the external changes. Canon PowerShot SX230 HS flaunts a pop up flash type located on the left end of the top panel. Regardless of the settings, even if it's disabled or you're in a movie exposure mode, it pops up when the camera is powered on, which is a bit of a nuisance, but it's easily pushed back into position. The problem is you then have to pop it back up manually if you want to use it - even in auto mode and I think that's simply poor design. How else would you describe a system that automatically activates when not required and vice versa? It's also something just about every review criticised on the earlier SX210 IS, so it's disappointing not to find it resolved here.
Focus and Face Detection
The focal length that ddrives this camera is 5.0 (wide) – 70.0 (tele) mm which is 35 mm film equivalent of 28 – 392 mm. 4X Digital zoom is provided alongside Normal autofocus range of 5 cm to infinity in wide mode and 1 metre to infinity in tele mode. TTL AutoFocus and Manual Focus are two options provided in Canon PoweShot SX230 to choose from.
Lens and Image Stabilization
Canon PowerShot SX230 HS sports a huge 14x stabilised optical zoom, which may be the catchiest feature of the device and is accompanied by 35 mm equivalent ranfe of 28 – 392 mm. The same lens that was sported by Canon PowerShot SX210, the SX230 HS lacks the super-wide angle field of view provided by competitor models like the Sony Cyber-shot HX9V, Panasonic Lumix TZ20 / ZS10 and Nikon COOLPIX S9100. But where the earlier SX210 could outreach its competitors at the telephoto end of the range that's no longer the case with the latest PowerShot SX230 HS, as its telephoto advantage over the HX9V and TZ20 / ZS10 is negligible and the COOLPIX S9100 outsmarts it with a 450mm telephoto. While not the best device in terms of focus, Canon PowerShot SX230 HS sure provides magnificent zoom range in a compact pocket camera format. The zoom is smooth and quiet and the two-speed zoom collar provides a good degree of control. Optical image stabilisation has four still image modes - off, continuous, Shoot only and panning. The area where this device emerges as an absolute winner is in the field of optical image stabilisation. Canon’s optical image stabilisation success is not a secret from anyone. It has proved to be effective on earlier models and the claim of four stops of stabilisation for the PowerShot SX230 HS is perfectly credible.
Screen and Menus
Canon PowerShot SX230HS flaunts a 3 inch wide screen with 16:9 as default aspect ratio. This is although ideal for shooting HD videos, best quality 4:3 still persists only on the central position on the screen. With much of the competition opting for 4:3 screens this is something that sets the SX230 HS apart and along with 1080 24p HD video will increase its appeal for film makers. The 460k dot resolution results in a crisp detailed image that's bright and easy to see from most angles though in bright sunlight, like all screens, it is a little pain. The controls, including the mode dial, dedicated movie record button playback, display and menu buttons and the control wheel are located to the right of the screen on a subtly contoured panel that looks broken but thanks to the contoured surface it doesn’t really feel so.
The NB-5L battery pack of Canon PoweShot SX230 HS provides enough power for an unimpressive and average210 shots equivalent to 1 hour of HD recording and with the optional WP-DC42 waterproof casing you can dive with the SX230 HS to a depth of 40 metres.
Canon PowerShot SX230's best video mode is 1920 x 1080p, at 24 fps an i.e. Full HD quality, a genuine improvement on the 720p resolution of its predecessor and one which will certainly please film makers who favour not just the Full HD resolution, but the 24fps frame rate. Other options include 720p, VGA and QVGA, all at 30fps.
A sensor is almost the most significant part of a camera, it converts optical images to electrical signals for the image processing system. The sensor that powers Canon PowerShot SX230HS is a 12.1 megapixel 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor which is apt for an efficient Point & Shoot.
Very good image quality
Manual exposure and focus controls
Compact for a pocket megazoom camera
Good high-speed shooting performance
Mediocre macro mode
GPS drains battery quickly