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Zip, zap zoom

This superzoom is a fast performer that does it all, but its heavy price may slow it down. Gagan Gupta on the features of Canon’s latest offering: SX10 IS...

tech reviews Updated: Feb 24, 2009 20:27 IST

Zoom levels in consumer cameras are getting ridiculously high these days and I couldn’t be happier. While anything that supports 10X optical zoom and above can be technically classified as a superzoom camera, manufacturers are pushing the envelope with 15X and 18X.

Now Canon’s gone one step further by offering 20X — the SX10 IS (28- 560 mm) optical zoom. By adding the IS (Image Stabilisation) in the name of the camera itself, Canon is sending out a clear message to buyers: images at full zoom levels will not end up a blurry mess.

Build quality

Even though the SX10 IS has a completely plastic body, it feels quite sturdy and is also a bit on the heavier side at 600 g (with 4 AA batteries). The body’s almost as big as an entry-level DSLR camera at 128 x 88 x 87 mm. It’s a camera that makes it clear that you’re serious about your photography.

The tilt-n-swivel screen is great, and so is the 2.5-inch display screen, which can adjust to any tricky angle you want to shoot in. Navigation is easy too with perfectly marked buttons and a jog-dial that works like a charm.

Specifications

Dimensions: 128 x 88 x 87 mm
Weight: 600 g
Type: Superzoom
Connectivity: USB/Composite
Storage: SD/SDHC/MMC card
Battery type: 4 x AA
LCD type: 2.5”, 230,000 px,

Tilt-N’-Swivel

Effective pixels: 10.0 Megapixels
ISO sensitivity: Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
Optical zoom: 20X (28mm - 560 mm)
Digital zoom: Yes, 4x
Shutter speed: 15-1/3200 sec
Aperture range: F2.8 - F5.7
Format: JPEG
White balance: Six positions and manual preset
Flash: Auto, Fill-in, Red-Eye reduction, Slow Sync, Off
Video format: Mov
Sound: Yes, stereo
Street price: Rs 25,000

Features
The camera features 20X optical zoom, which is an industry first in superzooms. Of course, all that high zoom would be useless without excellent image stabilisation, and luckily, the SX10 IS has just that. The camera manages to prevent quite a bit of image blurring from hand-held shots taken with full zoom.

Considering the high zoom level, a 10 megapixel resolution isn’t a compromise. High ISO performance was not too bad either. The camera did produce a considerable amount of noise at ISO 1600 but the images were quite usable once compressed to smaller sizes. For prints though, do not shoot over ISO 400, as that’s where the noise gets visible. The video records at a modest resolution of 640x480 (30 fps) and records sound in true stereo. The audio channel separation was quite noticeable in our tests, which was refreshing.

Performance
The SX10 IS captured the finer details in our test shots really well. Weirdly enough, the Night Snapshot preset used the lowest ISO sensitivity (ISO 80) and used a slow shutter speed to compensate.
The camera is a fast performer with just a little over a second in start-up time and a little under two seconds to shut-down. Picture clarity in video mode too is very clear though the camera takes a while to get the right focus in low-light conditions.

Conclusion
Rs 25,000 seems a bit too high for a non-DLSR digital camera, but considering that this is one camera that does it all, you do get your money’s worth. Excellent image quality, fast performance, and features that give you a major advantage in your photography are good enough reasons to get this camera.

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