Canon PowerShotSX10 IS
by Andrew Alexander, Mike Tomkins, and Shawn Barnett
Review Posted: 04/15/09
The Canon PowerShot SX10 IS sports a long zoom lens ranging from 28 to 560mm, which amounts to a 20x zoom that starts at f/2.8. Other vitals on the Canon SX10 include a 10-megapixel sensor, a 2.5-inch articulating LCD, and video recording on demand.
Canon SX10 IS Features
Canon’s PowerShot SX10 IS digital camera replaces the company’s previous PowerShot S5 IS model, and indeed both cameras share very similar styling cues. The Canon SX10 has grown a third of an inch or more larger than the S5 in all directions. The Canon SX10’s rear-panel controls have been totally overhauled, and the separate AF-assist lamp has been dropped from the camera’s front panel. On the inside, the Canon SX10 uses a slightly larger 1/2.3-inch CCD image sensor, and simultaneously boosts resolution from eight to ten megapixels, along with upgrading the previous model’s DIGIC III processor to a DIGIC 4 type that allows for servo AF tracking.
At the same time the zoom lens gains a lot of reach, being boosted from “just” a 12x optical zoom in the S5 to a whopping 20x zoom in the PowerShot SX10 IS. The added range can be found on both ends, with a useful 28mm wide-angle and a powerful 560mm telephoto. Thankfully, the Canon SX10 IS includes true optical image stabilization, a must-have for a camera with a lens this powerful. Maximum aperture is f/2.8 to f/5.7 across the zoom range. As well as the previously mentioned AF tracking, the Canon SX10 IS’s autofocus system now has improved face detection capability. Canon says the Canon SX10 will now recognize faces at most angles, and has included a Face Detection self timer which automatically takes a photo two seconds after an additional face enters the scene. The Canon PowerShot SX10 IS’s LCD display retains the previous 2.5-inch diagonal size, but its resolution increases slightly from 207,000 dots to 230,000 dots.
The standard ISO sensitivity range offered by the Canon SX10 is unchanged from the S5, with a minimum of ISO 80 through to a maximum of ISO 1,600. A new high-sensitivity scene mode allows this to be boosted to a maximum of ISO 3,200, however. Available Canon SX10 IS shutter speeds are unchanged, ranging from 1/3,200 to 15 seconds. Metering modes are unchanged, evaluative, center-weighted, and spot all included. Likewise, exposure modes are unchanged with the Canon SX10 including program, aperture- or shutter-priority, or a fully manual mode. Flash range when set to Auto ISO is rated at 1 – 17′ (30 cm – 5.2 m) at wide angle, and 3.3 – 9.2′ (1 – 2.8 m) at telephoto. And the Canon SX10’s hot shoe allows connection of most modern Canon flashes for much greater range. There are seventeen scene modes, and the SX10 also offers a new Intelligent Contrast Correction function.
Where the Canon S5 offered Motion JPEG AVI movies, the Canon SX10 IS opts for H.264 MOV instead, a newer format which generally offers significantly improved compression (and hence smaller file sizes) for equivalent video quality. As with the previous camera, sound is recorded along with movie clips. The Canon PowerShot SX10 is unchanged from its predecessor in storing its images and movies on Secure Digital cards, and offering both NTSC / PAL video and USB 2.0 High Speed computer connectivity. Power is likewise unchanged, coming from four AA batteries with alkaline disposables in the product bundle.
Canon SX10 IS Pricing and Availability
The Canon PowerShot SX10 IS ships in the USA from October 2008, priced at US$400 or lower.
Canon SX10 IS User Report
by Andrew Alexander
The Canon PowerShot SX10 IS doesn’t depart much from the feature set that has been common to Canon’s megazoom PowerShot line. In a nutshell: a new sensor, a new lens, a redesign of the control set, and no RAW mode. But let’s dig a little deeper.
The Canon SX10 IS maintains its SLR-style design and mentality; if you’re comfortable shooting with a digital Rebel, you’ll find that working with the SX10 IS is very familiar. While improved, the performance and image quality still don’t match those of a digital SLR. The Canon SX10 IS makes an excellent bridge camera, with a wide array of features that will appeal to beginners and advanced amateurs alike.
Look and feel. Like most superzooms, the Canon PowerShot SX10 IS has the look and feel of a digital SLR. Canon provides a sizeable right-hand grip with plenty of grasping space for your fingers; this grip houses the four AA batteries that power the camera. The Canon SX10, while slightly larger than the previous PowerShot S5, is actually 1/2 ounce (14g) lighter.
Controls. Most buttons are quite well placed for easy access and a good grip.
Canon has redesigned the control features of the SX10 IS. The S5 experimented with a lever and recessed switch borrowed from the Canon G-series cameras to turn the camera on and off and switch modes; clearly, this system wasn’t popular, as Canon went back to the drawing board.
The Canon SX10 features a conventional On/Off button, located just out of reach of a thumb or forefinger, on the top right-hand side of the camera. The button is slightly recessed so there’s little danger of it being pressed accidentally. Modes are switched by a conventional dial that looks like it came off a digital Rebel. Image playback is now accessed by another conventional button, located just beneath the On/Off button. It’s possible to enter playback mode without turning on the camera and extending the lens.
Users coming from the S5 will also encounter a redesigned layout of rear buttons; gone is the four-way controller by the thumb, and new to the Canon SX10 IS is a four-way directional pad beside the LCD screen. A rotatable ring surrounding the pad could be an homage to Canon’s pro-series of cameras, which allow the user to control a number of features by rotating the dial rather than pressing a button. The 2.5-inch LCD screen remains comfortably large, sweeping out 180 degrees and then rotating through a 270-degree axis to allow great flexibility in composing images and doing self-portraits.
The Direct Print/Shortcut button remains on left side of the viewfinder and can be customized for one-touch access to a number of different functions such as White Balance, Custom White Balance, Light Metering, AE Lock or AF Lock, among others. I found the Custom White balance setting most useful. The Canon SX10 maintains the Function button system, with the button in the center of the four-way directional pad. The button provides access to a menu of most frequently changed settings, is extremely convenient, and streamlines camera operation, eliminating multiple trips to the Canon SX10’s more extensive menu system. Canon’s tabbed menus are easy to understand and navigate, although the icons at the top of each tab can be a little cryptic.
Same old cap. The SX10 IS’s lens cap maintains the spring-loaded buttons, but the cap still doesn’t stay on well. A clip in the center slides onto the camera strap for storage.
The port covers for the memory card slot, USB port and AV ports have been slightly redesigned, using harder covers that match the metallic grey finish of the camera. The port covers have a semicircular indent for you to tug at with a fingernail, while the memory card slot has slightly raised bumps to help you slide the cover out. The battery cover is still a slightly complicated affair, requiring you to slide it away from the camera and back, and is located somewhat close to the tripod mount. You may be able to change both card and batteries while the camera is mounted on a tripod, depending on the tripod design and your dexterity.
Display/Viewfinder. Like all superzoom cameras, the Canon PowerShot SX10 IS is equipped with both an LCD and an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF). The Canon SX10’s LCD is articulated, which means you can flip it against the camera body to protect the screen, which automatically switches to the EVF when the camera is powered on. You can also swing out the LCD and rotate it to grab overhead and very low-angle shots without putting a strain on your neck, back, or knees. Or, if you prefer a more conventional viewing option, the Canon SX10’s LCD can be rotated and flipped up against the camera body with the screen facing outward.
The Canon SX10’s LCD hasn’t grown from that of the S5 IS; it’s still a 2.5-inch screen, but it has 230,000 pixels instead of the previous 207,000, which should make photos look just a little crisper. The screen itself is bright, clear, and easily viewed in bright sunlight. Tilting the screen also helps when you’re shooting outdoors at high noon.
The Canon SX10 IS maintains its flexibility in terms of what information can be shown on the display. The “Custom Display” menu allows the user to fine-tune the items that can be displayed, with two banks of settings for each of the EVF and LCD screens. Each press of the DISP. button brings you through to the next set of display settings, alternating between EVF and LCD. With these settings, you can make the displays as spartan or cluttered as you desire, filling the screen with items such as shooting information, grid lines, a 3:2 guide and a live histogram.
The EVF is useful, but no match for the articulated LCD screen. I didn’t end up using it very much, given that the LCD screen was very capable even under extreme light conditions. The viewfinder is equipped with a diopter for eyeglass wearers, and it was easy to adjust the EVF to my eyes.