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Old Oct 7, 2007, 5:06 AM   #1
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The Canon PowerShot SX100 IS is a new, 8 megapixel, compact superzoom debuting this month (October 2007). The SX100 delivers good image quality at 200 ISO or lower, average shot-to-shot performance, poor burst speed and is ultimately let down by embarrassingly bad video quality.

Despite its very significant flaws, the SX100 is the best of the current crop of compact superzooms, the newest genre of digital cameras started less than two years ago by the Panasonic TZ1.

The 10x zoom lens is fast at f/2.8(W)-f4.3(T), stopping down in both cases to f/8.0. However, the Canon lens exhibits noticeable purple fringing at telephoto ranges. The lens is also not very wide at only 36mm.

At ISO 80-100, pictures exhibit Canon's trademark buttery smoothness, but noise can be quite noticeable even at ISO 200 under low light conditions. At ISO800, pictures are barely usable and image noise is significantly worse than that produced by the similarly priced Kodak Z812.

The Canon SX800 has full manual photographic controls, which is a big advantage over the Panasonic TZ1 and TZ3. However, unlike the TZ1, the SX800 cannot zoom while recording video and does not autofocus once recording has started. The image quality of the VGA movies is also poor compared with the TZ1's output.

In fact, it is not an overstatement to call the Canon PowerShot SX100 IS video capabilities atrocious. Canon should be embarrassed by hamstringing an otherwise decent camera with such awful, rudimentary video.

Canon has long lagged behind other digital camera manufacturers in offering real-time histograms while snapping pictures. The SX100 is no exception and lacks this very useful feature.

It is often handy to extract photographs directly from the SD memory card, rather than connecting the camera to a computer. Unfortunately, Canon has created a real headache by placing the SD card under the same door as the two AA batteries. This makes it annoyingly easy to dump the unsecured batteries on the floor almost every time the SD card is removed.

The camera is constructed entirely of plastic. Build quality is average. Out of the box, our camera's self retracting lens cover was covered in gunk, but fortunately the lens was not affected and the foreign material cleaned off with alcohol.

The camera features a pop-up flash which helps reduce red eye.

The 2.5" LCD monitor is bright and clear with an acceptable resolution of 172,000 pixels. Unfortunately, it does not swivel and stowaway like those on many other Canon cameras.

Start up is fast at under two seconds, but shutting down the camera is sometimes very slow, ranging up to five seconds.

The SX100 IS has average responsiveness with shot to shot times usually between one and two seconds. Autofocus is generally quick and accurate. Face recognition is fast and surprisingly handy. Burst mode is poor at barely over one frame per second. Auto white balance is not very accurate under most household lights, casting most pictures in a deep orange-yellow hue.

The SX100 IS features effective optical image stabilization. Unfortunately, the camera defaults to the less effective continuous mode, but it is easy enough to switch to the better "shoot only" mode through Canon's intuitive menu system.

Like most Canon cameras, the SX100 has a control layout that most enthusiast photographers can appreciate. Additionally, the SX100 menu system is simple and easy to navigate while offering many broad ranging functions.

The Canon PowerShot SX100 IS excels in terms of manual photographic feature flexibility and easily leads the current, nascent genre of compact superzooms in this regard.

There is no escaping the fact that the Canon PowerShot SX100 is a flawed camera. If the SX100 were simply a superzoom with optical image stabilization, it would be overpriced and outclassed by cameras like the Kodak Z812 or the cheaper Panasonic FZ8 which is equipped with a much nicer Leica lens. The SX100 is put to shame by newer, only slightly more expensive cameras like the Panasonic FZ18 and even Canon's own S5 IS which is rapidly tumbling downwards in price due to stiff competition from Panasonic, Kodak, Fuji, Olympus and Sony.

However, if portability is an issue, the only competitors for the SX100 are the two Panasonic cameras, already mentioned, and the new Sony DSC-H3.

If video recording is even remotely important to you, forget the Canon SX100 IS because its video capabilities are simply lousy. The much cheaper Panasonic TZ1 is light years ahead of the Canon SX100 in terms of video quality and video recording features.

However, despite its many and significant shortcomings, the Canon SX100 gets the nod over both the Panasonic TZ1 and TZ3 due to superior image quality, despite being saddled with a lens that is inferior to either of the Pansonic's and suffering from significantly lower build quality.

Just as importantly, the SX100 offers a full host of manual controls making it far more flexible than either Panasonic camera for picture taking.

The Sony DSC-H3 has similar image quality as the SX100 at low ISO settings, while suffering similarly at ISOs above 200. However, the Canon SX100 offers both shutter speed and aperture priority exposure modes, which the Sony lacks.

The Canon lens is faster than the Sony's and the SX100's maximum shutter speed is slightly faster. The Canon SX100 IS also has a better LCD monitor and is equipped with an automatic lens cover, which the H3 lacks.

The Canon uses cheap, AA batteries and has very good battery life with a decent pair of NiMH AAs. Its Sony and Panasonic competitors all use expensive, proprietary lithium ion batteries. Sony also insists on foisting its proprietary flash card formats on its customers rather than using the ubiquitous and cheap SD/SD-HC or CompactFlash standards.

In Sony's favor, the DSC-HS has better build quality and has much more attractive styling compared with the homely Canon PowerShot SX100 IS.

All things considered, the Canon PowerShot SX100 barely edges out its Panasonic and Sony compact ultrazoom rivals, but only if video recording quality and video features are of no value to you. And if the compact form factor of the SX100 is not vitally important to you, then your money would be more wisely spent on one the many fine and inexpensive ultrazooms that are currently on the market.
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Old Oct 9, 2007, 5:48 AM   #2
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With all respect with your opinion about the quality of
video files... Are you SX100 user ? Do you campare it with other Canon's cameras ? I ask becasuse as far as I remember Canon's cameras are famous for its high quality
video files ( one of the best in this class ). I had S2, S3 and I remember the video quality was suberb !
So what happened to SX100 ?
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Old Oct 9, 2007, 12:58 PM   #3
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Number of posts = 1. Always a yellow flag sign. No offense Ernet. :-)
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Old Oct 9, 2007, 2:12 PM   #4
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Given its Canon S-series pedigree, it would be easy to assume that the Canon PowerShot SX100 IS would share similar ground breaking video capabilities, but, alas, this is painfully not the case.

Not only is optical zooming not available, but the SX100 IS must be prefocused prior to recording a video and does not autofocus during video recording at all. This makes the camera nearly useless if the subject is moving towards or away from the camera.

Additionally, video quality is poor compared to what is obtainable from other compact ultrazooms like the Panasonic TZ1.

The Canon PowerShot SX100 IS has such disappointing video quality that I, an uber-enthusiast, would return the camera if I did not have to swallow a substantial restocking fee.

All of the current compact ultrazooms are flawed, often from poor design decisions driven by marketing. There is no reason to withhold live histograms from the SX100, just as it is indefensible to not provide full manual exposure controls on the Panasonic and Sony cameras.

Market pressures will eventually result in high quality compact superzooms. We are just not there yet, and the Canon PowerShot SX100 IS is (very, very barely) the best in a small, imperfect crowd.


Ernet wrote:
Quote:
With all respect with your opinion about the quality of
video files... Are you SX100 user ? Do you campare it with other Canon's cameras ? I ask becasuse as far as I remember Canon's cameras are famous for its high quality
video files ( one of the best in this class ). I had S2, S3 and I remember the video quality was suberb !
So what happened to SX100 ?
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Old Oct 9, 2007, 2:17 PM   #5
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Good info overall. Note though that the zooming is no different on the G7 and G9-admittedly video not being a primary feature of a still camera.
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Old Oct 9, 2007, 4:26 PM   #6
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dequardo wrote:
Quote:
Number of posts = 1.* Always a yellow flag sign.* No offense Ernet. :-)
ha, ha, ha. Yep, right. You made my day
Well, in my defence see the date when I registered for
the first time ;-) Well, there are so many forums around
the Web that there is no time to put all of them in.
Anywayno offence at all. Your input here made me laugh
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Old Oct 9, 2007, 4:42 PM   #7
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Sorry, send by mistake
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Old Oct 9, 2007, 4:43 PM   #8
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Nathan, Now I know what you ment. I was thinking about SX100 for my 9 yrs son but ( thanks to your fuller explanation )
I give up untill sth. similar ( with better video zooming settings )reach the market. Anyway its very important that Canon give manual sttings ( A/S prioryty ) almost to evry camera in opposite to Sony e.g.
BTW What I expect of the camera for him....
- about 10 optical zoom ( with optical movie zooming all the range )
- small size ( just like SX100)
- A/S prioryty as the MUST
- Image stabilization
- 2.5" LCD or more
- live histogram would be nice
Believe me he knows what to do with camera ( avoiding AUTO always ). Now he has Canon 610. What a great camera !

See my gallery here. " Men at work " is highl recommended.
http://picasaweb.google.com/Ernett
DSC-H5 ( instead of H9 ) + 4 GB MS Pro Duo + Hoya UV on
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Old Oct 9, 2007, 5:23 PM   #9
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OfficeMax has the S3 on sale now for $250 w/ a 1GB SD card (although the monitor is small, it articulates, as you know). The Kodak Z712 and Z812 are decent cameras that appear to meet you requirements (other than size, perhaps). All three would be good cameras for children learning photography.

The Panasonic FZ8 is a great bargain right now, but its movie mode is limited.

Ernet wrote:
Quote:
Nathan, Now I know what you ment. I was thinking about SX100 for my 9 yrs son but ( thanks to your fuller explanation )
I give up untill sth. similar ( with better video zooming settings )reach the market. Anyway its very important that Canon give manual sttings ( A/S prioryty ) almost to evry camera in opposite to Sony e.g.
BTW What I expect of the camera for him....
- about 10 optical zoom ( with optical movie zooming all the range )
- small size ( just like SX100)
- A/S prioryty as the MUST
- Image stabilization
- 2.5" LCD or more
- live histogram would be nice
Believe me he knows what to do with camera ( avoiding AUTO always ). Now he has Canon 610. What a great camera !

See my gallery here. " Men at work " is highl recommended.
http://picasaweb.google.com/Ernett
DSC-H5 ( instead of H9 ) + 4 GB MS Pro Duo + Hoya UV on
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Old Oct 9, 2007, 5:43 PM   #10
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Highly agree on the FZ8. ONLY if video is a real need should the S3 get picked over this one. IMO
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