Canon Powershot SX260 HS Review

Mid Zoom Digital Cameras

12 Megapixels    20x Zoom

Dimensions: 106.3 x 61.0 x 32.7mm    Weight: 231g

Good Points: Picture quality, features, value for money, GPS, stereo sound, Full High Definition Movies, iFrame movies

Bad Points: Slow shutter response times with flash


Canon Powershot SX260 HS Shutter Lag Rating slow Ease of Use par Camera Name Rating

Overview

The Canon Powershot SX260 HS is aimed at someone looking for lots of features packed into a small camera. The 20x zoom lens is the stand out feature. Comparing the specification of the Powershot SX260 HS against other similar sized digital cameras with long lenses the emphasis has been placed more on traditional photography features such as manual exposure controls then more recently introduced features such as 3D photos and 360 degree panoramas. This suggest the camera is likely to be of greater interest to you if you are looking for a digital camera that allows you to concentrate on the task of good old fashioned picture taking.

That is not to say Canon have ignored all the latest features as you do get access to a very advanced movie mode and GPS tracking too.

Compared with other similar digital cameras at this price point the Powershot SX260 HS has the following:

Plus Points

  • 20x Zoom
  • Manual Exposure Controls
  • GPS
  • Full High Definition Movies
  • Stereo Sound
  • iFrame Movies
  • Slow Motion Movies
  • Advanced Flash Control
  • 10.3 Frames Per Second Burst Mode
  • Image Stabilisation for Movies and Still Photos

Negative Points

  • No 3D Mode
  • No 360 Degree Panoramas

Why Buy the Canon Powershot SX260 HS

The Powershot SX260 HS is a high quality digital camera. It has the edge over most of its direct rivals when it comes to picture quality. If you are looking for a digital camera to produce 2D pictures then the features on offer are hard to beat in this price bracket.

Features

Megapixels and Zoom

The Powershot SX260 HS has 12 megapixels and a 20x zoom lens. The lens has a focal length equivalent to 25 - 500mm in 35mm format.

Memory Cards

You can use SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards.

Batteries

Power is supplied by a lithium ion battery. Canon supplies a battery and a charger with the camera. They estimate you should be able to take in the region of 230 shots in between charges.

Movie Mode

The movie mode is one of the most impressive you will find on this type of camera. To start with you can record Full High Definition Movies with a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels at a top speed of 24 frames per second. You can record stereo sound.< br>
Canon have built in Image Stabilisation for movies as well as for still images. This can help to give your movie clips a smoother look.

Other movie options include being able to shoot movies for slow motion playback and being able to shoot movies in iFrame format.

LCD Screen

The LCD screen is a standard 3 inches in size.

Shooting Modes

Canon have built in a large number of pre defined scene modes. These are Portrait, Smooth Skin, Smart Shutter (Smile, Wink Self-Timer, FaceSelf-Timer), High-speed Burst HQ, Handheld Night Scene, Low Light (3.0MP), Underwater, Snow, Fireworks, Stitch Assist), Creative Filter (Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Soft Focus, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Color Accent, Color Swap) and Discreet.

Macro Mode

For close up work you can focus from 5cm away from your subject.

Manual Exposure Modes

You have access to Fully Manual, Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority. These modes give you extra control over the way your final images will look. Shutter speeds can be set between 15 and 1/3200 seconds. The maximum aperture is f/3.5 (wide) and f/6.8 (tele).

GPS

The GPS feature means that you will know exactly where you were in the world when you took a picture.

High Speed Burst Mode

To help you capture fast moving subjects Canon have added a burst mode. It is able to capture shots at a speed of 10.3 frames per second.

Flash Modes

Canon tends to offer a few extra features when it comes to flash. These include flash exposure compensation, flash exposure lock, 2nd curtain synchronisation and the ability to adjust the power of the flash. You can also buy an external flash unit.

Advanced Features

For further fine tuning you have access to ISO (auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200), white balance (Auto (including Face Detection WB), Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Underwater, Custom. Multi-area WB correction available in Smart Auto), metering (Evaluative (linked to Face Detection AF frame), Centre-weighted average, Spot (Centre)) and exposure compensation (+/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments).

Image Quality

Picture Quality Summary

The Powershot SX260 HS was tested alongside two cameras from other brands with similar features. When it came to picture quality it was this camera that came out on top. The differences in quality may be quite subtle, but there two or three area where this camera certainly performed better. It was able to show more detail in shady areas, the shots held superior levels of sharpness up to the edge and extra definition showed in areas where there was little contrast. If you are looking for a compact camera with a longer lens and picture quality is one of your key buying criteria this camera is hard to beat.

Outdoor Scenic Shot 1

With plenty of contrast in this scene the Powershot SX260 is able to show more detail in the shady areas of the shot compared to some other cameras I tested at the same time. It is also able to show a good level of detail in the lightest areas of the shot. As with other Canon digital cameras the overall sharpness of the shot is impressive.

Outdoor Scenic Shot 2

This is a tough test shot and the Powershot SX260 HS rises to the challenge. The main strength is the sharpness of the photo, but it can also be said that there is extra detail showing in areas where there is little contrast. Examples of this are the trees and the river water.

Outdoor Scenic Shot 3

The Powershot SX260 HS beats rival cameras when it comes to the absolute clarity of this shot. As in the previous picture there is that bit more detail on show. This may not make that much difference if you are only planning to make small prints or to share your photos on an Internet site, but if picture quality is of great importance to you this camera has an edge over its rivals.

Outdoor Building

When only a percentage of the zoom range is used the Powershot SX260 HS performs very well. This underlines the amount of zoom on offer as with a lot of digital cameras the lens would be more or less fully extended for this shot.

Outdoor Portrait

The outdoor portrait test is the one shot taken with this camera that looks a little flat. The colours lack a bit of zing. This makes the shot look a bit dull compared to pictures taken with the Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ30

Indoor Portrait With Flash

Comparing this test shot to those taken with rival digital cameras there are two things that the camera does particularly well. First it manages to retain a lot of colour in the skin tones that other cameras simply do not manage. Other cameras tend to produce a more washed out look. The second point is the level of detail showing in darker areas such as the hair.

Indoor Portrait Without Flash

There is a slight blue tint to this picture where the camera's automatic white balance setting has not quite got to grips with the artificial light. If you adjust the white balance setting you may well lose the blue tint. Other than that the detail and resolution showing in the shot is extremely impressive and is better than most cameras produce in these conditions.

Macro

Canon digital cameras tend to take good macro shots. Sharpness is good and despite the camera being close in there is plenty of brightness too.

Colours

Canon colours have extra pep to them compared to some other brands. This is particularly true of blue skies. Canon also manage to pack in some added brightness.

Noise

Noise levels are kept as well under control as you are likely to see from this type of camera. As is always the case noise will show if you increase ISO levels over 800 and if you are using your camera in lowlight conditions.

Top Rated Cameras in this Category

Nikon Coolpix S9300 Rating 86/100

For a camera that is small enough to take anywhere the Nikon Coolpix S9300 has a lot of features packed into it. If you are planning to take a holiday GPS tracking will tell you where you were when a picture was taken. The length of the zoom lens also gives you plenty of scope when it comes to picture opportunities. Although there is plenty of completion in this category the picture quality on offer here combined with the features makes this camera very attractive indeed. Recommended.

Read Review: Nikon Coolpix S9300 Review

Canon Powershot SX260 HS Rating 86/100

The Canon Powershot SX260 HS is one of the very best digital cameras in this category. In fact if you are happy to miss out on features such as 3D photography and 360 degree panoramas it is very hard to beat. It has a great set of features packed into its relatively compact body size and picture quality helps to make it stand out from the competition. Although it is one of the more expensive cameras in this field it still offers good value for money.

Read Review: Canon Powershot SX260 HS Review

Panasonic DMC SZ1 Rating 84/100

If you are looking for a simple, pocket camera that gives you some extra zoom and takes high quality snapshots the Panasonic Lumix DMC SZ1 is a very good choice. Compared to other cameras with similar features available at around the same price this camera has the edge when it comes to picture quality. It takes sharp, colourful photos and offers excellent value for money. Recommended.

Read Review: Panasonic DMC SZ1 Review

Related Pages

Canon Powershot SX260 HS Specification

Canon Powershot SX260 HS Sample Images

Digital Camera Reviews

Canon Digital Cameras

Review Date

Review Date: May 2012

Verdict

The Canon Powershot SX260 HS is one of the very best digital cameras in this category. In fact if you are happy to miss out on features such as 3D photography and 360 degree panoramas it is very hard to beat. It has a great set of features packed into its relatively compact body size and picture quality helps to make it stand out from the competition. Although it is one of the more expensive cameras in this field it still offers good value for money.

Ratings

Ease of Use:
Features:
Movie Mode:
Build Quality:
Colours:

7
9
9
9
9

Photo Quality:
Style:
Indoors:
Macro:
Value for Money:

Total:

9
8
9
8
9

86

Main Features

Megapixels:
Zoom:
LCD Screen:
Dimensions:
Weight:
Macro:
HD Movies:
Manual Controls:
Batteries:
Memory Cards:

12
20x
3 inches
106.3 x 61.0 x 32.7mm
231g
5cm
Yes
Yes
Lithium-ion Rechargeable
SD, SDHC, SDXC

Shutter Lag Times

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

0.51 seconds
8.23 seconds
1.88 seconds
20.11 seconds
2.48 seconds

Shutter Lag Table

Handling

General Handling

The Powershot SX260 HS is a good size for holding onto and a good size for carrying around. It lacks the bulk of the Digital SLR style cameras, but the larger size compared to a true pocket camera means that there is extra room for fingers and thumbs.

Flash Positioning

Canon have placed the flash unit so that it pops up in the top corner. This positioning means that there is still room to squeeze a finger along the top of the camera to get a good grip when flash is being used.

LCD Screen Quality

The LCD screen is one of the better screens for viewing. Even in quite bright conditions you should be able to view the screen quite easily.

Turn on Time and Shutter Delay

If there was an area where this camera could improve it is with its shutter response times. It is a little slower than standard when flash is not being used. Turning on flash slows the camera down considerably.

Design, Build Quality and Finish

As with other Canon digital cameras build quality appears to be very good. Surveys of camera users have put Canon on top when it comes to reliability.

Camera Controls

On the top of the camera is the on / off button, plus the shutter button and a ring for zooming in and out. At the top on the back is the main control dial. You use this to select the shooting mode. Further down there are four buttons. These are for shooting a movie, reviewing an image, changing the LCD display and accessing the menu system. There is a also a standard circular control area. This area gives you access to exposure compensation, setting flash, activating the self timer, placing the camera in macro mode or turning on manual focus, accessing main functions and confirming a setting. There is a wheel that runs round the outside of this area that speeds up the process of selecting settings.

Product Shots

Front View

Canon Powershot SX260 HS Front View

Back View

Canon Powershot SX260 HS Back View

Top View

Canon Powershot SX260 HS Top View

Sample Menus

menu 1 menu 2

menu 3 menu 4