Canon PowerShot SX10 IS

Canon's SX10 is a competent camera with an enormous 20x optical zoom lens, but the viewfinder and LCD screen are just not up to scratch.


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With manual controls and a wide-angle to telephoto-length lens, the SX10 IS falls into the category affectionately termed 'superzooms'. Somewhere between a more advanced point-and-shoot and a fully fledged dSLR, superzooms generally have a limited audience because of their fairly niche calling card.

Design
Sharing a similar body to its predecessor the PowerShot S5 IS, the SX10 is a slick, sophisticated picture-taking machine. Taking it out of the box for the first time provides a much more tactile experience than a lot of other cameras. The gentle plastics sit softly against your skin, the silver tipped buttons exude an understated elegance, and the hot shoe is coated in a pleasing powder black finish.

The 2.5-inch LCD screen at the back can flip and rotate, much like a screen you would find on a camcorder. Clearly, Canon's designers have taken the time to get the aesthetics of this camera right. It's moulded in such a way as to fit as snugly in one hand, excellent news for one-handed shooters.

It's not as hefty as it looks, which is a nice surprise when you first pick it up and expect it to knock you backwards. Using AA batteries rather than a rechargeable li-ion unit, their weight counteracts the bulk of the lens nicely, providing a balanced feel.

Features
There's no need to shy away from the main drawcard of the SX10 IS — the absolutely massive 20x optical zoom lens. While we can't see it fitting in a pocket to provide some amusing quips about being happy to see someone, when we pulled it out to show people, the SX10 drew a lot of comments about how Canon managed to squash such a long lens into a relatively small package.

Thanks to the handy 35mm equivalent measurement on the lens barrel, at full extension the 20x zoom is equivalent to a 560mm telephoto lens. When retracted, the lens is a satisfyingly wide 28mm. Image stabilisation is inbuilt, and the movement of the lens itself is incredibly quiet thanks to the ultrasonic technology.

The LCD screen flips in and out from the camera body and can rotate 270 degrees, allowing it to sit facing outwards or inwards depending on whether you'll be using the viewfinder or the screen itself. The lens cap has fortunately been revamped since the S5, meaning that it no longer automatically pops off when the camera turns on. Unfortunately, the 2.5-inch screen remains the same size as on its predecessor.

Performance and Image Quality
Start up time on the SX10 was pleasing, with the camera powering on and the zoom extending to its widest angle in a reasonable 1.5 seconds. We managed to squeeze out about 164 shots on four AA batteries, which seemed to be a lot less than an equivalent 10 megapixel camera running on a li-ion battery.

Depending on the shooting conditions, the SX10 rendered pleasing colours, with the usual Canon sharpness to them. We tested the SX10 at various magnifications, and found the best results came from the zoom retracted toward the wide-angle level. Noise levels were reasonable for a camera of this class.

The SX10 IS displayed acceptable noise levels. Click for larger.
(Credit: CNET.com.au)

Despite image stabilisation being built into the lens, it's nearly impossible to take a clear, blur-free shot at the 20x magnification mark. That's because such an extended zoom will amplify any hand shake when shooting without a tripod. So while the huge zoom may be a novelty, in the long run — just like shooting with telephoto SLR lenses — a tripod really is necessary to achieve the best results.

Surprisingly, the SX10 tended to overexpose shots, particularly on bright, glary days. Overcast skies were washed out and bereft of detail, and highlights were blown out as well.

One of the main gripes we had with the SX10 was the electronic viewfinder (EVF). In high glare situations, where the viewfinder would normally be de rigueur in terms of framing a shot, the EVF struggled with representing any sort of detail. Together with the LCD screen, it's more a case of point-and-hope than point-and-shoot in these sorts of conditions. Also, we never thought we would miss a battery indicator on a camera, but we do, because there's no way to tell the SX10 is running low on battery until it's too late.

Conclusion
The SX10 IS is a competent superzoom camera, though it does have a lot of downsides. With a difficult electronic viewfinder and relatively low-resolution LCD screen, it's not ideal for all shooting situations. Also, don't expect HD video recording on the SX10 — for that, be prepared to fork out much more for the PowerShot SX1 IS. However, if you are determined to stay away from a dSLR system and the flexibility of having interchangeable lenses, the SX10 is a good compromise. It may not be as robust as a dSLR but its compact size and good looks will appeal to many.

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Post comment as
camerafreak
10
Rating
 

"great camera - a perfect alternative for SLR"

camerafreak posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Zoom; picture quality

The Bad:bulky

Great camera for any camera enthusiast, but can't afford an SLR

everyone sucks 12345678910987654321
1
Rating
 

everyone sucks 12345678910987654321 posted a review   

The Good:nothing, this camera sucks I hate it

The Bad:everything I could sit here and tell you but I've got boring time being wasted.

I hate it, its the worst camera I've ever heard of. If you want a crappy camera then buy this.

 

ELbrendo posted a comment   

The Good:100% is totally AWSOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Bad:Nothing at all, not 1 bit

great battery life also zooms fantasticly. I recomend this camera to anyone looking for a good quality camera.

Stacexox
10
Rating
 

Stacexox posted a review   

The Good:The zoom, video function, iso

The Bad:The battery life

I love this camera. I go to a lot of concerts & I'm surprised the SX10is has been allowed in. It's the closest thing I've ever had to a SLR. I absolutely love the zoom. I've never needed a tripod when I've had it at the max. I even got some amazing moon shots without any shake.

Vickyvale
10
Rating
 

Vickyvale posted a review   

The Good:Sharp clear pictures, great color - true to life, great zoom, easy to use

The Bad:LCD screen hard to see in daylight

I love this camera. I only use it in manual mode so that I can control every situation and get the best results. I have a pretty steady hand and I continually take sharp pictures at 20x zoom (without a tripod). I've even taken pics fully zoomed to 80x digital, with quite pleasing results. With the right settings in manual mode; I've been taking great photos in low light situations without a flash. Love the feel of this camera too; nice to hold and not heavy or bulky. Have had a lot of cameras but this is by far my favourite. My best advice is learn to use this camera in manual mode and practice a lot; you'll soon learn the best settings for different situations; and you'll end up with brilliant photos.

Capt Mayhem
9
Rating
 

Capt Mayhem posted a review   

The Good:Nice wide angle, hot shoe, auto focus grid on LCD,

The Bad:Right thumb buttons can be touched easily accidentally ( big thumbs)

I use it for work, and battery life is great. I take 250 indoor images a week, a third with flash, and only have to recharge once a week. I love the zoomed in focus lock feature.
Haven't used full lens zoom as yet, but can imagine it would be a problem for any camera at that focal lenghth. I haven't used my a100 Sony since getting this baby.

 

Amirk posted a comment   

The Good:Great P&S, Hot shoe, Long Zoom, batteries

The Bad:Slow lense

Rechargeables AA nimh last 600 pictures. Best among all super-zooms

Rich
9
Rating
 

Rich posted a review   

The Good:Great pictures from 20x zoom to super macro

The Bad:Quirky - and seems to be trying hard to get it all right in the Auto Mode

Multiple Lens Errors

mr.t
9
Rating
 

mr.t posted a review   
Australia

The Good:99% of it

The Bad:the batteries

i have only had it for three days, and so far,i have enjoyed taking pictures with it,comparing it to my old kodak p880, and at $499.00,i cannot complain.

erikthered
9
Rating
 

erikthered posted a review   

Great camera. fantastic features and good quality photos.


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User Reviews / Comments  Canon PowerShot SX10 IS

  • camerafreak

    camerafreak

    Rating10

    "Great camera for any camera enthusiast, but can't afford an SLR"

  • everyone sucks 12345678910987654321

    everyone sucks 12345678910987654321

    Rating1

    "I hate it, its the worst camera I've ever heard of. If you want a crappy camera then buy this."

  • ELbrendo

    ELbrendo

    "great battery life also zooms fantasticly. I recomend this camera to anyone looking for a good quality camera."

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