Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Canon PowerShot SX100
- 10x optical zoom, crisp pictures, great colour
- Some noise issues, burst mode could be faster
The PowerShot SX100 is a solid ultra-zoom advanced camera. While there are bigger lenses on the market, the 10x optical zoom here means the unit still fits comfortably in a pocket and the images, while a little noisy, are good at low ISO sensitivities.
Price$ 449.00 (AUD)
Targeted at users who want a larger than normal zoom while maintaining a relatively compact design, Canon's PowerShot SX100 is a great advanced camera. Ideal for travellers and more enthusiastic photographers, it offers a 10x optical zoom along with manual shooting features, image stabilisation and an 8-megapixel sensor.
The PowerShot series has always been highly regarded for its image quality and unsurprisingly the SX100 continues that trend. It performed well in almost all of our tests, both using Imatest and during more subjective analysis.
Sharpness was a key strength, with this model scoring 1709 in Imatest. This is a great result and our pictures mirrored it with smooth, crisp edges and great detail. They were a little over-sharpened at times, which Imatest picked up, detecting 14.8 per cent over-sharpening; however this won't be evident in most print outs and shouldn't have too big of an impact.
Chromatic aberration was evident but not in huge quantities. Our shots showed some haloing in areas of high contrast but it was about at the level we expect from an average advanced camera. Imatest gave a score of 0.123 per cent, which is in line with what we saw in our test shots.
Colour response was fantastic as always, with the SX100 achieving an Imatest result of 6.98 in its colour checker test. The white balance presets had a tendency to leave a little too much grey in some primary colours, but the general colour reproduction was quite good. Our shots were a little less over-saturated than those captured by some other competing models, although reds were still quite strong.
Noise was the only slightly problematic area. There was some graininess evident in both our outdoor and indoor shots, particularly on block colours. It was quite fine, but will be noticeable at medium and large print magnifications. Imatest gave a score of 0.90 per cent for noise at ISO 100 which is a little higher than normal. At ISO 200 it was similar, but jumped up quite a bit at ISO 400. We'd recommend sticking to lower sensitivities if possible with this model.
Its times in our speed tests were competitive with other models on the market. It exhibited 0.07 seconds of shutter lag, 1.7 seconds shot-to-shot time and took 1.9 seconds to start up; which is quick for a model with a 10x zoom lens. Its burst mode operates at 2.5 frames per second which is adequate without being impressive.
All the standard features of the PowerShot series make a return here. Image stabilisation is a must for any large zoom camera, removing jitters and handshake and which Canon has implemented excellently. Face detect is also included for those shots of family and friends. White balance can be set via presets or a custom mode, ISO sensitivities are available up to ISO 1600 and the usual array of focus and metering modes are also present. You can shoot in automatic mode, using one of the eight scene modes, or the manual shooting options (aperture, shutter and program priority as well as full manual).
Aesthetically the SX100 is very nice. It has a smooth, curved design that helps it stand out a little, and the matte black colour scheme differentiates it from the mass of silver models on the market. It is constructed of plastic and thus isn't as sturdy as some other units, but it sits comfortably in the hand. The controls should be familiar to any Canon veteran but won't prove a hassle even for novice users.
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