Canon Powershot SX20 IS Review

Digital Cameras with Extended Zoom Lenses

Canon Powershot SX20 IS Ease of Use 7
Features 9
Movie Mode 9
Build Quality8
Colours 9
Photo Quality 9
Style 8
Lowlight 8
Macro 9
Value for Money 8
12 Megapixels
20x Zoom
2.5 inch LCD Screen
124.0 x 88.3 x 86.9 mm


The Canon Powershot SX20 IS is a fully featured super zoom digital camera. It has 12 megapixels and a wide angle 20x optical zoom lens. The zoom lens is fast to respond and is powered by an ultrasonic motor. As you would expect with this type of camera the Powershot SX20 IS has image stabilisation been built into the lens.

Other features include manual exposure controls (manual exposure, aperture priority and shutter priority). The LCD screen pulls away from the camera body and can twist round to help you with any awkward shooting angles. You can also save your favourite settings to a custom mode. High definition movies are available too. On the top of the camera sits a hotshoe. This is compatible with a range of Canon speedlites that can boost the power of the on camera, pop up flash unit.

Why Buy The Canon Powershot SX20 IS

This is probably the most feature rich super zoom camera when it comes to exposure controls. It can take a very good picture in most situations as well.

Main Features

LCD Screen:

2.5 inches
124.0 x 88.3 x 86.9 mm

HD Movies:
Manual Controls:
Memory Cards:


Image Quality - See Sample Images Below

Outdoor Scenic Shots in Good Light

I can see a number of positive points about this shot. To start with the glare of the sun is handled well. Sharpness levels are above average. Focusing also stays sharp up to the edge of the shot. The Powershot SX20 IS also manages to show a good level of detail in areas of light shade such as around the names of the boats.

There is an issue with purple fringing in this shot. This could be a problem if you are planning to make larger prints. This can be seen along the treetops and around window edges. Compared to other digital cameras with a wide angle lens the Powershot SX20 IS produces a crisp shot.

This is a decent effort. You can see the power of the zoom lens as you are able to home in from distance on the subject.

The level of sharpness in this shot is very good indeed. It makes the brickwork really stands out and adds extra perspective to the shot. There is minimal fall off in sharpness as you move out towards the edges of the shot.


In my view this picture works well. I like the colours and focusing is sharp once again.

This is a very good effort. The light is evenly distributed and manages to reach areas that other cameras struggle with in this picture.

I have to admit this picture gives me a problem. Having tested previous cameras in this range this photo is not as good as I have produced previously. Noise levels are high. The light at the time of the year this picture was taken may not be perfect, but I am still a little disappointed. Unless lighting is very good flash will be required.

Macro, Colours and Noise

My macro shot is top drawer. With the Powershot SX20 IS being able to focus from right in front of the lens this camera is a good choice for close up shots.

I like the colours this camera produces. Contrasting scenes work very well.

As mentioned in my indoor portrait test without flash noise can be an issue when the light starts to fade. This is true of most digital cameras, but I would like to see some of the advances in Digital SLR technology transferred into the top end of the compact camera market.


On the whole I am very impressed with the picture quality offered by the Powershot SX20 IS. I would like to have seen less noise on my indoor portrait and fringing could be an issue in some shots if you are planning to make larger prints.

See sample images link arrow


Canon has based the Powershot SX20 IS on a Digital SLR.

Shutter Lag Times

Shutter Lag Rating Fast

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

0.2 seconds
12.51 seconds
0.54 seconds
13.33 seconds
2.63 seconds

Shutter Lag Table link arrow

Ease of Use

Ease of Use - Par With the range of features available it will take you a while to fully master this camera.

Points I Like

Picture quality - range of features

Where it Could Improve

Fringing issues could be a problem with large prints


The Canon Powershot SX20 IS has plenty of features for the most demanding hobby photographer. It can take very crisp photos and should be on the shortlist if you are looking for a super zoom digital camera.

Product Shots

Front View

Front View

Back View

Back View

Top View

Top View

Sample Menus

menu 1 menu 2

playback functions

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Related Pages

Canon Powershot SX20 IS Review Canon Powershot SX20 IS Specification Canon Powershot SX20 IS Sample Images Canon Powershot SX20 IS Features Canon Powershot SX20 IS vs Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ38 Canon Digital Cameras

Review Date

December 2009

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