Canon PowerShot SX230 HS

Provided you don't need a bucket-load of features and can live with its odd ergonomics, the SX230 HS will tick most of the boxes for a travel zoom camera.


7.9
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User Rating

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Design and features

Canon has finally entered the travel zoom camera category in earnest with its first GPS-equipped camera. Stylistically, it looks near-identical to the earlier SX210, with a slightly comical exterior appearance with rounded corners and a two-tone finish.

The GPS hump is fairly obvious, and provides a comfortable notch to stop your finger from sliding down the smooth top of the camera next to the shutter button, while the flash ceremoniously pops up when the camera is switched on. Like earlier iterations, and the Fujifilm F550EXR, it's an annoyance — but one that can be banished quickly with a gentle push downwards. The power button is rather awkwardly recessed underneath the shutter button and next to the mode dial on a sloping side leading down to the screen, which makes it hard to access quickly.

Shooting options are plentiful, from full automatic and easy modes to dedicated scene modes, movie digest and, of course, PASM exposure options. Behind the 14x optical zoom lens, the SX230 shares the same 12.1-megapixel CMOS HS (or "High Sensitivity") sensor as the other IXUS and PowerShot cameras denoted with the HS tag. The lens is 28mm at its widest end, and has a maximum aperture range of f/3.1-f/5.9.

A 3-inch widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio) LCD is the other noteworthy feature on the exterior, giving away the camera's ability to shoot in either 4:3, 3:2, 1:1 or 16:9. Full HD video recording is on-board at 1080p, 24fps. There's also a mini-HDMI and mini-USB port to the side.

The SX220 HS, announced at the same time as this camera, is near-identical to the SX230, except for the GPS unit.

GPS tagging

Finding the option to activate the GPS logger is rather difficult, as Canon has put it way down the bottom of the list in the camera settings (accessible via the Menu button). Once found, the GPS options are very limited; turning the GPS on or off, as well as activating logging, which continues to search for a signal and track locations even when the camera is turned off. This option will drastically reduce battery life, and cuts down on an already thrifty juice pack.

Data collected by the GPS is limited to latitude, longitude, elevation and the camera clock — not any location names. Compared to the implementation on similar cameras, Canon's version definitely needs work for the next iteration.

Compared to

F550EXR
Sony HX9V Panasonic TZ20 Canon SX230 Fujifilm F550EXR
16.2-megapixel Exmor CMOS 14.1-megapixel MOS 12.1-megapixel CMOS 16-megapixel CMOS
3-inch LCD (921,000-dot) 3-inch touchscreen (460,000-dot) 3-inch LCD (460,000-dot) 3-inch LCD (460,000-dot)
16x optical zoom 16x optical zoom 14x optical zoom 15x optical zoom
24mm wide-angle 24mm wide-angle 28mm wide-angle 24mm wide-angle
GPS tagging GPS tagging GPS tagging GPS tagging
HD video (1080p) HD video (1080i) HD video (1080p) HD video (1080p)

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Time to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • Canon PowerShot SX230 HS2.22.80.6
  • Fujifilm FinePix F550EXR3.51.30.2
  • Panasonic Lumix TZ202.10.90.2
  • Sony Cyber-shot HX9V2.61.60.4

Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)

  • Canon PowerShot SX230 HS1
  • Fujifilm FinePix F550EXR4
  • Panasonic Lumix TZ2010
  • Sony Cyber-shot HX9V10

The SX230 HS can take one full-resolution frame per second in continuous mode, though this speed can be increased by using the high-speed burst mode (available through the scene mode selection on the dial). This mode reduces the resolution to 3-megapixels.

Canon rates the battery for the SX230 at 210 shots.

Image quality

Overall, colours are a little less vibrant than is normally expected from a Canon compact. In automatic mode, the SX230 HS chooses good exposures, with a tendency to blow out highlights. The lens is able to resolve detail very well, and is generally throughout the telephoto range. ISO performance is very good for a camera of this class; there's only really noticeable noise at ISO 800 and above, with ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 resulting in some colour shifts. However, it is possible to produce a usable shot at reduced resolution, or with noise reduction applied.

SX230

A 100 per cent crop (inset) of a shot taken at ISO 1600.
(Credit: CBSi)

Chromatic aberration (or fringing) is quite noticeable on a lot of shots, particularly when the lens is at its widest. White balance is a little too blue in automatic when shooting indoors with artificial and natural light.

Video quality is very good, with decent image sharpness, and the sound is well-separated thanks to the stereo microphones on the front. There's a slight degree of juddering visible, though, making videos with moving subjects (or panning the camera too quickly) slightly uncomfortable to watch. You can use the optical zoom while filming, plus there are options for high-speed (120fps or 240fps) capture and iFrame, which means that video does not need to be converted to be edited in Apple editing programs.

Image samples

Exposure: 1/100, f/4, ISO 320

Exposure: 1/320, f/5, ISO 100

Exposure: 1/1000, f/5, ISO 200

Exposure: 1/400, f/4.5, ISO 100

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

Provided you don't need a bucket-load of features and can live with its odd ergonomics, the SX230 HS will tick most of the boxes for a travel zoom camera. For a camera that can quickly and accurately plot GPS data, as well as display information onscreen, we suggest checking out one of the other travel zoom offerings such as the Panasonic TZ20 or the Fujifilm F550EXR.

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sgall17
2
Rating
 

""Shocker""

sgall17 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:GPS OK. Compact. Battery life OK.

The Bad:Poor quality pictures. Slow. Image stabilisation poor/doesnt work. Menu based controls incomprehensible

I bought this because I wanted GPS (for travel photos), I wanted a compact cameria and I liked the idea of big zoom. I was a bit worried when I bought it about speed and battery life and image stabilisation.

In terms of my requirements it has fulfilled my expectations for GPS, size and battery life. Zoom is fine and is pretty easy to use, but I found I did not really like the high leves of l zoom as much as I thought I would. Speed is a problem, but the big problem is picture quality. After all that is why you buy a camera - at the end of the day you want a nice picture. Difficult controls were something I didnt expect but were a major and unexpected problem.

I wont say too much about speed . If I saw an interesting animal on my walks, for example, it was usually gone by the time the picture could be taken. However I suspect that this would be the same for all cameras of this class.

The little ring and zoom controls are actually quite nice - shame about the rest of the user interface. The 4 little buttons are not intuitive and both the menus and the selector ring change the way everything works. There is no useful prompting on the screen and even if you want to take your time you cant work out what to do without a manual (which I didnt have in the mountains of NZ). That would be OK if there was some consistency or pattern in controls but I have yet to perceive a pattern. And it matters... While some of the controls that I could use or couldnt use without trial error were fancy extras, some of them were pretty basic like focus.

About 50% of all handheld photos I took were unusable due to blur and shake. This maybe a consequence of super zoom but I would have thought that image stabilisation would be much better than that. (I tried to steady myself against trees etc).

The problem - shocking quality photos. Blur and shake is one problem but in addition to that photos were noisy and had poor resolution. The photos I took on my cheapy 4-5 year 6 mega pixel camera leave these for dead. I took some photos of an outdoor wedding (just as a guest) - three quarters of them are unusable. I have taken much better photos with a cheapy.

Summary - I am deeply disappointed and I have wasted my money. There is one important thing I want any camera to do - take pictures. It is not up to the job. I am going to have to buy another camera. I suspect that many of the problems I have had are common to this class of camera rather than this specific camera - so my advice would be to be very wary of this class of camera. Dont waste your money. Consider a $100-200 cheapy. It will probably do a much better job.

JohnT Facebook
8
Rating
 

"A Good Camera"

JohnT posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Good Pictures

The Bad:lousy jerky video and bad access to gps to turn on and off short battery life

I am very pleased with the camera I now have spare batteries and don't use the gps that much. I love the zoom and even the teleconvertor gives me good 8x10 pictures not bad at all when considering it makes the zoom either 1.5x or 2x I sometimes use a pocket tripod (gorilapod magnetic) I have put some pics on my face book page John Tonge I have not put up any videos because i find the video is not smooth at all. I will be putting up more pictures at a later date. If not for the bad video and hard to get at gps controls i would rate this camera higher it is not SLR but a very good pocket camera

 

MangaGal posted a comment   

Hi Alexandra
When do you think this camera will be launched in Australia?
Cheers

 

AlexandraS posted a reply   

Hi MangaGal, it should be available in shops over the coming weeks and we'll have a review soon.

 

Hamdinger posted a comment   

Seriously guys, why are we comparing a new Canon camera to Sony and Panny's old cameras? Line the Canon SX230 up against Sony's SC-HX9 or Panny's ZS10 and you'll illustrate just how far behind Canon has fallen in this category. Makes it difficult to put much faith in these articles.

 

AlexandraS posted a reply   

Well, at the time of writing the Panasonic TZ20 hadn't officially been announced in Australia so it's not really a fair comparison. Now it has, the article will be amended.




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User Reviews / Comments  Canon PowerShot SX230 HS

  • sgall17

    sgall17

    Rating2

    "I bought this because I wanted GPS (for travel photos), I wanted a compact cameria and I liked the idea of big zoom. I was a bit worried when I bought it about speed and battery life and image sta..."

  • JohnT

    JohnT

    Rating8

    "I am very pleased with the camera I now have spare batteries and don't use the gps that much. I love the zoom and even the teleconvertor gives me good 8x10 pictures not bad at all when considering..."

  • MangaGal

    MangaGal

    "Hi Alexandra
    When do you think this camera will be launched in Australia?
    Cheers"

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