Doing direct battle with the likes of the Nikon Coolpix S9100, Olympus SZ-20 and SZ30, Samsung WB650, Casio EX-H20 and H30, plus Panasonic TZ20 in the compact ‘travel zoom’ stakes is Canon’s latest upgrade of the year-old SX210 IS.
This second pocket sized attempt to gain a stake in the burgeoning ‘big zoom, small camera’ market comes in two varieties: the 14x optical zoom Canon PowerShot SX220 HS which we’re looking at here, plus its SX230 HS bigger brother, which adds on the Canon range first of built-in GPS.
The ‘HS’ incidentally stands for High Sensitivity and, to deliver on that promise, the Canon PowerShot SX220 HS features a backlit 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, efficiently zippy Digic 4 processor plus ISO range topping out at a maximum ISO3200 at full resolution. At this setting it’s a case of a marginally softer shot to limit the traditional gritty appearance. Dedicated night scene and low light modes complete the picture for those wanting to disable the flash and shoot in the dim, with the latter dropping to 3-megapixels to limit noise.
Canon PowerShot SX220 HS: Controls
At first glance it seems that not much has changed between the SX220 HS and its forbear; it’s still the size of a bar of luxury soap and almost as slippery to the touch, while the annoying habit of the flash automatically popping up each time you switch on the camera remains.
A look at the spec though and it is revealed that while the lens reach has remained the same at a 35mm equivalent of 28mm to 392mm, the resolution has, unusually, dropped from 14 megapixels to 12.1 megapixels. The SX220 HS is also £100 less than its similarly featured predecessor was on launch, which can make all the difference.
This PowerShot is also one of the few remaining pocket compacts to still bother with a traditionally chunky bottle top style shooting mode dial. Ranged around it are the creative quartet of program mode, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual settings – so this is one for the enthusiast as well as happy snapper who has Canon’s reliable Smart Auto mode to fall back on.
Canon PowerShot SX220 HS: Features
The Canon PowerShot SX220 HS further offers up Full HD video clips, with dedicated record button nestling beneath the shooting mode dial on the backplate, where it falls readily under the thumb. Here 1920x1080 clips are captured at 24 frames per second and in stereo, courtesy of microphones flanking the lens at the front.
Although the mechanical noise of the zoom adjusting is well disguised by a slow transitional speed as it moves through the focal range, the mikes do unavoidably pick up the noise of fingers moving about the camera’s surface – less of a problem when masked by noisier surroundings.
Canon PowerShot SX220 HS: Image quality
As we’d expect from Canon, image quality is pretty good, and if the default colour settings can sometimes appear a little drab we were able to boost these by selecting the Vivid option from the ‘My Colors’ function toolbar or one of the on-board digital effects filters. A soft shot at maximum zoom was rare and for the most part the Canon delivered nicely crisp, well-exposed results.
Good option for those who want a travel zoom that’s easy to use, has a range of creative effects and filters to stop you getting bored and must haves such as Full HD video.
For the price the camera feels fair value and if its maker could come up with a less boring design and allow the user to be able to raise the flash as and when they want to, then it might not have lost a star from our rating
Canon PowerShot SX220 launch date: Out now link Canon
Canon PowerShot SX220 price: £220-£270