Canon Powershot SX1 IS Review

Digital Cameras with Extended Zoom Lenses

Canon Powershot SX1 IS Ease of Use 7
Features 10
Movie Mode 9
Build Quality9
Colours 9
Photo Quality 9
Style 8
Lowlight 9
Macro 9
Value for Money 8
10 Megapixels
20x Zoom
2.8 inch LCD Screen
127.5 x 88.3 x 87.7mm


The Canon Powershot SX1 IS is the most advanced compact digital camera currently on the market. It has 10 megapixels and a 20x, wide angle, optical zoom lens. The amount of zoom available can be further increased when shooting at lower resolutions. The Powershot SX1 IS has a CMOS sensor allowing it to shoot at 4 frames per second. It is capable of shooting HD quality movies and offers image stabilisation. Manual exposure and focusing are also available. There is also a 2.8 inch LCD screen that pulls out from the body and twists round to an angle that suits your shooting position.

Why Buy The Canon Powershot SX1 IS

The length of lens coupled with the shooting speed make this a good choice for anyone interested in sports or wildlife photography. It also has a wide range of manual controls.

Main Features

LCD Screen:

2.8 inches
127.5 x 88.3 x 87.7mm

HD Movies:
Manual Controls:
Memory Cards:


Image Quality - See Sample Images Below

Outdoor Scenic Shots in Good Light

One of the first points I notice is that the Powershot SX1 IS does a good job of handling the glare from the sun. The sun was strong and at a low angle, so I expected it to have an impact on the amount of detail showing on the boats. Sharpness is above average with the brickwork in the centre of the photo being more or less pin sharp.

This is another example where sharpness is some way above average. This is especially true on the left hand side of the photo. Focusing only drops away at the most distant points on the right hand side. There is a small amount of purple fringing showing around the windows of the building on the left hand side of the photo. The low level of fringing means it will be hard to spot unless the photo is blown up into a large print.

With the lens zoomed in to its full capacity you can see the difference a 20x zoom can make to your photos. In this instance any purple fringing is very hard to detect. This is a big plus point over all other super zoom cameras I have tested.

In this photo the emphasis is on how well the camera is able to focus. As in the earlier test shots, focusing is some way above average. It is only as you reach the very edges of the shot that focusing starts to slip.


This is probably my most straightforward test. The camera is now a lot closer to the subject. The Powershot SX1 IS has no problems here and you should be able to take plenty of very good portrait shots. I used white balance of cloudy to warm the colours up on a cold day with the photo being taken in the shade.

There are no real problems with this photo either. Perhaps the lighting could have brightened up the hair a bit more. This would have helped to bring out more hair colour. In other areas of the face there is plenty of colour showing with natural skin tones.

Compared with other digital cameras the Powershot SX1 IS does very well. Noise is kept to a minimum and this natural light portrait is better than most digital cameras are able to manage.

Macro, Colours and Noise

Canon digital cameras take the best macro shots. There is plenty of detail showing in this macro picture and you should have no problems with close up shots.

The colours are strong throughout my test shots. Blue is particularly vivid. This can help to give an edge to any photos where there is an expanse of sky showing.

Noise levels are standard once you start to increase the ISO setting. Once you reach up to ISO 1600 noise is a serious problem and the colours begin to breakdown as well.


Overall I am very happy with the pictures produced by the Powershot SX1 IS. I couldn't find any major weaknesses and it handled most of my test situations without a problem.

See sample images link arrow


The Powershot SX1 IS is based around the design of a Digital SLR. It has a range of buttons dotted around the camera and during testing I found myself inadvertently pressing some. So it might take you a while to get fully up to speed with the layout of the controls. The upside of having the buttons available is it makes it very quick to change key settings and controls.

Shutter Lag Times

Shutter Lag Rating Fast

Single Shot
Five Shots
Single Shot With Flash
Five Shots With Flash
Turn on Time

0.25 seconds
8.12 seconds
1.62 seconds
13.11 seconds
2.63 seconds

Shutter Lag Table link arrow

Ease of Use

Ease of Use - Par Canon have produced a complex and advanced camera with the Powershot SX1 IS. Therefore in order to get the most out of it you will need to spend time gaining an understanding of its controls and how they can most benefit your photography.

Points I Like

Photo quality - HD movies - flip out and twist LCD screen - high speed shooting at 4 frames per second - optical zoom available for movies

Where it Could Improve

Shutter lag time with flash


If you want all the bells and whistles, very good picture quality and plenty of zoom power then the Canon Powershot SX1 IS is hard to beat.

Product Shots

Front View

Front View

Back View

Back View

Top View

Top View

Sample Menus

menu setup

playback functions

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Related Pages

Canon Powershot SX1 IS Review Canon Powershot SX1 IS Specification Canon Powershot SX1 IS Sample Images Canon Powershot SX1 IS Features Canon Powershot SX1 IS vs Sony Cybershot DSC HX1 Canon Digital Cameras

Review Date

January 2009

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