Last year bridge cameras became overly popular because they had far reaching zooms and the DSLR look that appealed to most audiences. However, a sub-segment of cameras also started gaining popularity and this genre of cameras came to be known as travel compacts. They offered the luxury of having a large zoom lens along with the ability to be pocketable as opposed to the bridge cameras. Building up on their existing range of PowerShot compact cameras, Canon has recently taken the wraps off the SX260 HS which is a successor to the SX230 HS. The older camera had solid performances when it was put to the test in our review. Today we take a look at the SX260 which has recently arrived at our lab. Read on to know more about this model from Canon.

Design and Build Quality
The Canon PowerShot SX260 HS has received a fair transformation as compared to the SX230 HS and both look attractive in their respective shells. While the SX230 HS was available in three colours, the current version is available in either black or pink. Canon has provided us with the black option and it features a band running along the side that is finished in gunmetal. The front of the camera features the lens that protrudes slightly away from the body. Apart from this, the face of the camera features an AF assist and a grip that had not been present on the previous model.

Flash housed within the body of the camera

Flash housed within the body of the camera

Like the SX230 HS, the brand have added a 3-inch display at the back and it too features a resolution of approximately 430k dots. The right side of the display is where all the buttons lie and featured here are controls for video recording, playback, display, menu, a multifunctional jog dial, a set button and a mode dial. The build quality of the buttons at the back are good but the mode dial feels a bit rigid and it takes some effort to change the mode. The power button for the camera is located in a slight depression on the top and alongside it is the shutter release button and zoom rocker. A neat design feature here is that the GPS unit is not housed under a hump at the top. This feature did tend to take away the look of the SX230 HS. The pop up flash is also located in the body of the camera and there is no button to physically deploy it. Instead one needs to go into the menu to activate the flash.

Connectivity options for the camera are located to the side and connectors here include a mini HDMI port along with a mini USB port. As is the case with most cameras, the battery bay is located at the bottom. To open it one needs to push and slide. The bay houses the memory card as well and the flap for it is sturdy. Canon has a knack of building products that are visually as well as aesthetically pleasing and the SX260HS is no different. As for the overall build quality, the camera can be accidentally dropped a few times and still come out on top. It is slightly on the heavier side though and weighs more than the SX230 HS at 231g. However, due to its compact form factor, it is easily pocketable.

Features
The main feature of this camera is undoubtedly the 20x optical zoom in a compact body. The lens covers a focal length of 25 – 500mm in respect to a 35mm equivalent. The fact that Canon have managed to fit such a large lens on such a compact body is a huge feat. This feature dwarfs the optical zoom on the SX230 HS which was 14x. Where Canon have added to the zoom capability, they have not added to the pixel count with it featuring a similar 12.1MP CMOS sensor. However, they have changed their processing engine here and added their latest DIGIC 5 processor. With this processor, there are a fair amount of improvements such as the ability to capture images at a full resolution at a rate of 10.3fps in High-Speed Burst HQ. The camera can record images at a resolution of 4000 x 2248 which is fairly sufficient for most audiences.

A grip in the front is a good addition to this point and shoot

A grip in the front is a good addition to this point and shoot

A reason many users find Canon cameras easy to use is because the interface is well designed and first time digital camera users can get accustomed to it within a matter of minutes. There is absolutely no learning curve required to operate this option and Canon have maintained a consistency in the interface amongst all of their cameras, be it compact point and shoot or DSLR cameras. One can adjust the different modes by merely switching the mode dial to the desired option and then adjust the various settings by hitting the function switch. The interface of the camera is really fluid and one can use a combination of the multifunctional dial and the function/set button to adjust the different settings. Having manual and semi manual modes, this camera can be used to adjust the exact settings required to click pictures. The ability to have semi manual and manual modes on the camera is a great feature to have along with a high powered zoom such as this.

Video recording at full HD 1080p is possible and one can record these clips at a maximum frame rate of 24fps. Competing brands have unveiled cameras with the ability to record full HD videos at 30fps, therefore this is a bit limited in comparison. This camera comes with a range of other features as well such as Face ID, Face Detect, High Speed Burst HQ, Stitch assist and a host of other interesting scene presets allowing one to get the most of this camera. Besides these scene modes there are other effects such as fish-eye, miniature, toy camera and a range of others which can be used to be uploaded on sites such as Facebook and Instagram. Apart from that, it also comes with GPS capabilities allowing one to geotag their images using satellites. For a point and shoot camera, this camera is loaded with features that can certainly appease a casual as well as an enthusiast level photographer.

Performance
The grip at the front of the camera assists in the handling of the Canon PowerShot SX260 HS. One can find it easy to shoot with a single hand however, the mode dial at the back comes slightly in the way while shooting. Carrying it around and shooting is not difficult due to its weight but one would want to add the strap for that added bit of surety. While clicking pictures outdoors we noticed that the camera does more than a decent job of handling sunlight and the images shot while facing it had a lot of detail and the image was not washed out. The purple colour fringing is hardly noticeable while facing the sun as well making the camera stand out well when it comes to outdoor performances. In indoor shooting, the camera does a decent job of handling grain and it does well in ambient as well as fluorescent lighting. During macro photography, the SX260 HS was quick to focus on the subject and there was a sufficicient amount of depth of field seen.

ISO sensitivity test

ISO sensitivity test

ISO Sensitivity Test
The ISO of this camera ranges from 100 to 3200. As expected, the camera handles noise well at ISO 100. The noise levels are kept in check till ISO 400, however, from ISO 800 onwards the sensor does not keep the noise levels in check.

Aperture Priority
The aperture on this camera ranges from F/8 to F/ 3.5. There is not much depth of field seen at aperture priority of F/ 3.5 but at aperture F/ 8, the image appeared clear.

Aperture priority test

Aperture priority test

Zoom Test
The camera handles blur extremely well and even with the optical zoom set to full, there was a lot of detail found in the shots.

Zoom test

Zoom test


Performance Continued
The camera captures videos in full HD 1080p at 24fps. As expected the file size is quite large and for a 40 second video, it recorded a file size of 163MB. The video quality is decent as well and when reviewed on a PC we noticed that the there are no transition issues and all colours appeared natural.

Close up shot

Close up shot

The flash of the camera is quite powerful and it can easily light up an area of 12 feet. The brand bundles 1000mAh battery with the SX260 HS and they rate it at approximately 230 shots.

Large 20x zoom on a compact body

Large 20x zoom on a compact body

Verdict
The Canon PowerShot SX260 HS is available in India at an MRP of INR22,995. This camera is a solid performer and has a great build quality to match. The only real issue we had with it was that it had an unexpected amount of image noise at ISO 800 and above. This put us off to an extent as images shot in low light may not be as great as desired. The camera has an incredible zoom capability and there was no blur noticed as well. This is a big plus point for a camera that has such a small body. It is primarily designed for travelers to capture long distance shots easily but with such a compact form factor and the ability to tweak the settings, this camera can be a great option for nearly everyone looking to purchase a high end compact point and shoot.

Publish date: April 26, 2012 10:12 am| Modified date: December 18, 2013 10:07 pm

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,