By Elias Plastiras | on November 04, 2009
Pros: 20x zoom; f/2.8 aperture; excellent low-light performance; very good video quality; excellent macro shooting.
Cons: Zoom is too jumpy; zoom lever is small; screen pops out toward the left; some chromatic aberration and lens distortion.
It’s easy for the current torrent of advanced compact digital cameras to blur into one – but as soon as we switched on the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS, we had a hunch that this one would be real fun. And we were right.
The PowerShot SX20 IS has a 12.1-megapixel sensor and uses the DiGIC4 image processor, which also appears in Canon’s high-end digital camera products. In our tests, it produced excellent images across a wide variety of environments, from bright to dimly-lit. It also managed to capture great detail in macro and fully zoomed shots.
The key feature of the PowerShot SX20 IS is its 20x zoom lens, which has a wide angle of 28mm and can zoom in to 560mm. It really lets you get close to your subject, and because the camera has built-in optical image stabilisation, you can take handheld photos at 20x zoom without getting a blurry image. Of course, this depends on the light you have at your disposal, as dim lighting and maximum zoom will still result in some blurriness unless you’re using a tripod.
When you switch on the camera for the first time and the lens pops out, you notice the focal length written on the barrel of the lens. This can be useful for getting to a predetermined zoom point if you know the focal length you want to use.
For example, if you always take portraits in your studio from the same distance you can easily set this by simply looking at the lens barrel and manipulating the zoom lever. Unfortunately, the zoom lever is small and the zoom function is jumpy. There are only approximately 20 points that it will jump to, so you don’t get a fine control over the zoom motor.
For framing shots, there’s an electronic viewfinder (which comes in handy when taking photos in bright sunlight) and
an LCD screen, which pops out and swivels.