It seems Canon found a perfect formula for best selling compact ultra zoom camera. Powershot SX260HS is currently best selling digital camera on Amazon and has 4.5 out of 5 stars rating from 670 customer reviews. But it’s one year old and that’s a usual product life for a compact digicam, so Canon recently announced two new models: Powershot SX270HS and SX280HS and I used them for the last week.
These cameras have actually completely identical specifications: 20x optical zoom, 12MP sensor and Full HD video, making the addition of GPS and Wi-Fi the only detail to differentiate SX280 from its cheaper sibling, the SX270. Canon already did something similar with its full-frame EOS 6D and i think it’s a smart move. GPS and Wi-Fi are functions that can be regarded as essential for some users but completely irrelevant to others. In this way, you can save a penny buying a cheaper model without it.
- Announced: 2013.
- Type: Compact ultrazoom
- Dimensions: 106 x 63 x 33 mm
- Weight: 233 g
- Sensor: BSI-CMOS 12MP (4000 x 3000 pixels)
- Lens: 4.5 – 90mm (25-500 in 35mm), F/3.5-6.8, optical image stabilization
- ISO range: 80 – 6,400
- Dust and moisture protection: No
- Flash: Pop-up flash
- LCD screen: 3″, 461,000 dots, fixed
- Memory card: SDHC
- Battery: Li-Ion NB-6L
- Video: 1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720, 640 x 480 (all @30fps)
- Connectors: USB 2.0, mini HDMI
CONSTRUCTION AND HANDLING
The design is modern, but I wouldn’t call these cameras especially pretty. Both cameras are available in several colors. Build quality is excellent. There are no creaks and body materials look nice. All the buttons feel solid. Mode dial has a firm feel when rotated which will prevent unwanted accidental mode change.
LCD unit has a 3 inch diagonal and 461,000 dots. It is sharp with vibrant and pleasing colors. Viewing angles are excellent; amongst the best I’ve seen in a compact camera and allow framing at almost 180 degrees. LCD doesn’t have tilt option nor is touch-capable.
MENU AND DISPLAYS
Menu system is similar to other Powershot cameras; relatively easy to navigate, but not as nice or logical like the one on EOS models. Basically, once you set up the camera after buying it, there will be no reason to enter main menu because all of the major settings are adjusted via quick menu followed by “Func.Set.” button press.
There is no live histogram in recording mode, but it’s available in playback.
Canon SX270 and SX280 have rather pleasing evaluative light metering mode (the one most used). Under direct sunlight bright parts of the image can appear overexposed but that can be avoided simply by using EV compensation at -2/3 or -1 at extreme cases or by switching to center or spot metering for very bright subjects (like the swan pic in samples at the end of the review).
CANON SX 270 & SX280 FLASH
A small pop-up flash with range of only 3.5m is present – good enough for family use.
CANON SX 270 & SX280 LENS
The lens has a big 20x optical zoom (25-500 in 35mm equivalent). The camera is only 3cm thick (barely above an inch) so this is pretty impressive result. Optically, it’s surprisingly good – sharp at all zoom settings and with a strong resistance to chromatic abberations (something that’s often a problem on similar ultra zoom lenses).
The lens has a two-speed zoom, but the zoom lever has no distinctive feel which speed is used so it requires a little practice to master gradual zoom tehnique.
Below are the examples of viewing angles at minimum and maximum optical zoom.
SENSOR AND IMAGE QUALITY
The BSI-CMOS (Back Side Illuminated CMOS) sensor has 12 megapixels and native 4:3 shooting ratio (4000 x 3000 pixels). Other shooting ratios are also available in quick menu – 16:9: 3:2 and 1:1. I am especially happy Canon kept the MP count at conservative 12 megapixels what helps to keep noise at normal level. Other manafacturers (Sony lol) still try to keep megapixel race alive and offer 18-20 megapixel models in compact camera niche what results in lower image quality.
Images are really excellent al low ISO settings. Colors can be very vibrant and nice when using some of the “My colors” options. I especially like “Positive film” which made shooting flowers around the town quite a pleasing experience. But most of everything, I was surprised of the level of details at base ISO 80. You can almost count all the spears in the grass in some images – this is not something i expected from a consumer compact ultra zoom camera.
Sadly, as the ISO goes up, so does the noise (reduction). Already at ISO 400, you can see the NR blurring effect, so I recommend to keep ISO below that for ultimate image quality. The good thing is that SX270 and SX280 still have rather usable higher ISO’s. Yes, there is NR blur and artifacts, but it’s better than most similar competitors. I took a few shots even at ISO 3200 which could be quite usable for Facebook or small prints. They are still far from any basic DSLR or mirrorless, but are quite good for such a small sensor.
Also, the irritating bug (feature?) found on some other Powershot models like S110 or G15 is present on these two models. Any time you choose exposure longer than a second, ISO is fixed at ISO 80 what might be a limit for night photography.