• Price When Reviewed: 312

  • Pros: Excellent captured images; large zoom; full set of manual modes.

  • Cons: Low-resolution screen; slow zoom.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10 Best Buy We rate this 9 out of 10

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The PowerShot SX200 IS is an unusual camera. It’s Canon’s first ‘travel-zoom’ camera, a new category of cameras that put fairly long zooms onto bodies from the larger end of a company’s compact range.

The SX200 features the same appealing aesthetics are the Canon’s style-over-substance Ixus range – where even the flagship model, the Ixus 990 IS (reviewed here) lacks manual controls. Thankfully, the SX200’s performance is more in line with PowerShot models such as the G10 and SX10.

As it’s a new type of camera, the SX200 has only one real rival, Panasonic’s Lumix TZ7, which also has a 12x zoom lens.

The SX200’s ‘Auto mode’ images are clear and vibrant -- partly because this is really an auto-scene select mode in colour-boosting Landscape setting.

The SX200 is noticeably larger than most compacts (and the TZ7), being slightly larger than a cigarette packet. However, it’s lighter than it looks and is very easy to carry around.

What you get from this model that you don’t from a compact is a longer zoom lens that’s higher quality and capable of capturing outstanding images – and offers the flexibility of a 12x zoom lens with a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 28-336mm. This is narrower than the TZ7’s 25mm minimum focal length, but offers a longer zoom than the T27’s 300mm maximum.

The SX200’s lens has Canon’s great optical stabilization technology – and the results are excellent. We found it easy to get crisp shots, even at full zoom after a couple of glasses of wine.

Turn on the SX200 and the surprisingly long lens pops out, while the flash emerges in a manner that reminded us of Wall·E’s head. Oddly, the flash stays up even when it’s turned off.