Expert Review of Canon PowerShot SX260 HS Point & Shoot Digital Camera Black
Canon PowerShot SX260 HS is an amazing replacement of the ever-popular super zoom device named Canon PowerShot SX230 HS and is featured with a built-in GPS system. The tag line feature of this device is quite obviously the optical range of the camera and because of that fact, the Point and Shoot camera now bears a 20x optical zoom with a new lens that clocks in at 35mm equivalent a range of 25-500mm. This puts the device directly at par with Panasonic Lumix LZ20 and Sony HX20V in the competitive market. The rest of the features are Canon’s forte Intelligent IS technology, 12.1 megapixels back-illuminated CMOS sensor, 3 inches LCD screen with 460k-dot resolution, DIGIC 5 image processing engine, full 1080p HD movie mode with stereo sound and an HDMI output, a smart auto mode with scene detection technology and an easy mode for beginners.
Canon PowerShot SX260 HS as mentioned above, comes tagged alongside a built-in GPS with included Map Utility software and GPS logger function, a full range of manual exposure modes for more experienced photographers, fast 10.3fps burst shooting at full 12 megapixels resolution, Face Identification, a range of creative filters and a 240fps super slow motion movie mode.
Design and Build Quality
Canon PowerShot SX260 HS for a compact device is actually a replica of Canon Powershot SX230 HS, which it replaces when it comes to dimensions. Flaunting a weight of 254 grams inclusive of a card and battery, it is actually a little heavier thanks to its longer lens. But then, obviously, a bit of an extra weight is too little a price to pay if you are getting some tremendous zoom qualities in exchange, and this definitely is a master work done by Canon designers to keep Canon PowerShot SX 260 HS as compact as its predecessor. When you compare the camera to its competitors, Panasonic Lumix ZS20 say for example, SX260 HS is a little bigger and a bit heavy, apart from being a bit on the curvier side compared to the flat Lumix finish.
Both these models are on the heavier and bigger end of Lumix and PowerShot array, but are still compact enough to fit comfortably inside the pocket of your jacket. The curves of SX260 HS are made a bit more elegantly than those of its predecessor, which kind of displayed a bit of a raised belt round the perimeter of the device. Canon PowerShot SX260 HS is actually a very elegant device, which is also very practical and highly comfortable to hold in your hand thanks to the vertical finger grip on the front panel of your device. The top panel of Canon PowerShot SX260 HS also sports a sort of curved design that helps in handling the operations of the camera in a better way.
Focus and Face Detection
Canon PowerShot SX260 HS offers a focal length of 4.5mm in the wide-angle mode and 90.0mm in the telephoto mode, that is bundled with a range of 5cm - infinity in wide angle, 1m (3.3ft.) to infinity in telephoto and macro mode. This provides you with the chance to confine wide landscapes and usual sceneries. The AF frame with Face AiAF, Tracking AF, Center AF robotically sets the focus to offer you clear and sharply concentrated images.
Lens and Image Stabilization
Canon PowerShot SX 260 HS is home to the new and improved 20x zoom lens which is optically stabilised with 4.5mm – 90mm focal range and becomes 25mm at wide angle and 500mm at telephoto in the 35mm equivalent range. The last two predecessors of this device had the same 14x optics from Canon, so this came hardly as a surprise that Canon has decided to introduce a new lens to compete with the new high end point and shoots and regain its hold in the camera world. The lens of Canon PowerShot SX 260 HS has a zoom that has been expanded at both ends, as mentioned, from the previous 230 HS wherein, the wide angle range has been enlarged from 28 to 25mm.
And at the telephoto end, it reaches a humungous 500mm at maximum telephoto, which is actually better than Panasonic Lumix ZS20 which clocks in at 24-480 mm and shares exactly the same focal range as Sony HX20V. Beyond their specifications, there are quite some other differences in the device in terms of optical specifications but they are practically worth nothing. The maximum aperture of Canon PowerShot SX 260 HS is f/3.5 to 6.8, which is a bit darker than both its competitors.
Screen and Menus
Almost the entire rear of Canon PowerShot SX260 HS is taken up by the 3 inches 461 thousand dot pixel screen, which can be distinguished from its predecessor in one very important way. Canon PowerShot SX 230 HS had a screen which had the aspect ratio of 16:9, which meant the pictures captured the entire screen when viewed on a laptop or a HDMI enabled TV set, whereas, the portion of this screen has been set to 4:3, why this has been done? The answer to this lies in the fact that it is a camera, not a camcorder and we are quite happy that Canon has decided to go with a screen that is all about shooting stills and not about video making which uses 16:9 as default.
The powerhouse of Canon PowerShot SX260 HS is the new Canon NB-6L battery pack, which generates good enough power worth 230 shots under CIPA conditions. This though, is not really significant, but is still a slight improvement from the 210 shots of its predecessor, but still not nearly in the same league as its competitors Panasonic Lumix SZ20 and Sony HX20V, which are rated at 260 shots. In actual use, we found the battery to drain at almost around 130-140 shots which means, if you are going for a trip it would be advisable to take a spare along with you. The device is compatible with SDXC, SD and SDHC cards.
A dissapointing part of Canon PowerShot SX260 HS is that even though the full HD 1080p shooting of SX 230 HS, its predecessor, has been maintained in the device, there has been no advancement in the frame rate of the camera and the best offered is 24 frames per second. Movies are recorded in the standard H.264 codec format and are saved with .mov extensions in a Quicktime player wrapper. Also, for Mac users there is an iFrame option which is able to produce files that can be easily edited in the iFrame format of the device and with that can be realised in the Superslow motion mode which can shoot at 120 frames per second in VGA or 240 frames per second in QVGA.
Other than this, there is a dedicated 720p HD video recording at VGA and QVGA - all at 30 frames per second. The maximum recording time that you can get for making HD clips is 4GB or 29 minutes 59 seconds, whichever happens first. The data rate in Full HD mode is approximately 38 Megabits per second, which is equivalent to approximately 15 minutes of footage made on a 4GB card.
Canon PowerShot SX260 HS comes packing with a 12.1MP sensor which measures a good 1 / 2.33 inches, pretty much the same that was sported on the precursor of this device, Canon PowerShot SX230 HS, but the good news here is that the Image processor has received a big upgrade to the Digic 5 processor. The sensitivity of the device ranges from a minimum of 100 to a maximum of 3200 ISO and the shutter speeds range from 15 seconds minimum to 1/3200 maximum. Images can be saved in the JPEG format at one of the two compression settings. Usually the file size ranges from 3-5MB.
Good mix of easy-to-use features and manual setting options for beginners and intermediates
20x zoom lens is great to see in such a thin camera
LCD is very bright and sharp, can be viewed easily in sunlight outdoors
Color accuracy quality is very good
Good mix of advanced features when compared to other point and shoots
Some interesting built-in special-effect features
Pop-up flash unit provides good results
Offers a very basic built-in GPS
Button controls are comfortable to use
Camera's autofocus can be a little slow in low light
Overall response times can be a little sluggish
Mode dial has a few odd choices on it
Seems like there's some redundancy in the easy-to-use modes
Battery can drain quickly with GPS activated
Experienced photographers will want more control options
Low light photos can be a bit soft when trying to make really large prints