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As DSLRs do not seem to be shrinking in size there still seems to be room in the kit bag — or pocket! — for a highly featured compact that can handle much of the shooting you need. And besides, could you really afford a 14x zoom for a DSLR?
Canon’s PowerShot SX230 HS is a trim little model, packed with features that set it above many of its peers.
The lens travels through a zoom range equivalent (in 35 SLR terms) of 28-392mm.
Its 12.1 megapixel CMOS sensor can capture a maximum 4000×3000 pixels, enabling a final 34x25cm print.
Shoot Motion JPEG movies and you can capture at 1920×1080 pixel resolution and 24fps. You can also shoot slow motion video, from 120 to 240fps at smaller resolutions (640×480 or 320×240 respectively).
You record movies by pushing the now-familiar little red button on the back of the camera. Auto focus and exposure is continuous but you can’t shoot stills while recording video. Tough!
Continuous shooting? A range of speeds, from 0.8 to 3.2 shots/second, varying with the focus options chosen. For example, you can bang away at 3.2 shots/second if you are happy with the focus point chosen when you depress the shutter button.
In exposure options, you can enjoy auto, Program AE, shutter or aperture priority and manual. These are useful choices if you know how to use them to catch interesting pictures. For instance: in shutter priority you can capture dreamy, blurred motions shots of subjects such as waves breaking over rocks.
For the less techy, there are 32 scene modes that ease the choices of shooting monochrome, panoramas, etc.
There’s also built in GPS tagging, which is always on, even when the power is switched off. The GPS feature identifies and logs location information in the image’s data that you can read, using the supplied Map Utility application.
The PowerShot SX230 HS is available in black and red.
The shots appeared to be clean of noise and colour artefacts right up to ISO 1600; only when we reached ISO 3200 did any problems arise, and even then they were not major problems. A very good performance.
At the wide end of the zoom there was some evidence of barrel distortion but at the tele end no sign of any problems.
The camera was quick to start up, taking only two seconds before you could fire the first shot. Follow-on shots came in at a slower speed, a little more than a second apart.
I liked the camera because of its small size and easy operational scheme. I liked the longish zoom and Full HD movie capability … I am a great fan of these compacts that can shoot high quality home movies and stills. Bring them on!
I did however, find the rear control dial a little confusing in its operating manner. Maybe I needed more time with it!
Quality: for its size, this has to be one of then best performers around.
Why you would buy it: small, decent length of zoom.
Why you wouldn’t: you will need time to suss out the controls.
Unlike all too many compacts, the mode dial on this camera is not subject to accidental shifts: roll it to a setting and it stays there! Got me!
But I hated the tiny black power button. Hard to find in a hurry!
Image Sensor: 12.1 million effective pixels.
Metering: Evaluative, centre-weighted, spot.
Sensor Size: 11mm CMOS.
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, manual.
Shutter Speed: 15 to 1/3200 second.
Burst Speed: 0.8, 1.0, 3.2 fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC, MMC, MMCplus, HC MMCplus cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4000×3000 to 480×480. Movies: 1920×1080, 1280×720, 640×480, 320×240 at 30fps.
Viewfinder: 7.5cm LCD screen (461,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, QuickTime Motion JPEG.
Colour Space: sRGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 3200.
Interface: USB 2.0, AV, HDMI mini, DC input.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, AC adaptor.
Dimensions: 105.7×61.6×33.2 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 223g (inc battery and card).
Price: Get a price on the Canon PowerShot SX230HS at Amazon.