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Canon Powershot SX260 HS Black (3101)
$298.001 more offer
The Canon PowerShot SX260 HS is the latest compact travel zoom from Canon. The SX260 replaces the Canon PowerShot SX230 HS and its biggest feature is its wider, more powerful zoom lens. Other things that have been improved include its image processor, image stabilization system, Smart Auto mode, and burst mode performance. The PowerShot SX260 retains the same 12.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor, 3-inch LCD, GPS receiver, and Full HD movie mode of its predecessor.
The first thing you’ll notice about the SX260 is that it’s slightly bigger and considerably heavier than your average point-and-shoot. Of course, its GPS function means it’s not your average point-and-shoot. Aside from its heft, it’s a nice looking camera with a high-quality feel and appearance. The face plate has a small grip, but it’s mostly dominated by the big, 20x optical zoom lens. Long zoom lenses sometimes feel generally loose, with too much wiggle room between the chassis and lens. It’s a trap for dust and dirt and can result in lens scratches or even constantly blurred photos. Luckily, you won’t have to worry about that with this model: The lens is completely protected and connected to the body.
The back of the camera is dominated by its 3-inch LCD display. Since it’s a bigger-bodied unit, the controls aren’t crowded off to the side. The SX260 HS has a dual-mode dial interface. One you can rotate to determine settings like Manual, Program, Live, Auto, etc. Unfortunately, this thing is a little too sturdy — rotating it required two fingers, and it has a tendency to stick. The other dial is your traditional point-and-shoot mechanism to move within the in-screen camera UI. It also has the flash, macro, exposure, and timer controls, as well as the middle function-set button. Display, menu, and playback each have their respective controls, and the Canon SX260 HS also features a dedicated video capture button. Up top is reserved for the power button as well as zoom toggle and shutter. There a pop-up flash as well. It’s a more spacious setup than most point-and-shoots, thanks in large part to its size. The dual-mode dials give you quick and easy control without having to explore the in-camera controls too deeply. Everything about this thing is a little bigger than with most point-and-shoots, which can actually be considered a positive by many users.
Nothing screams slick about this camera, but it’s sturdy and intuitive with obvious and easy-to-reach controls and a high-quality look and feel. What it lacks in flash it makes up for with consistency. The SX260 did quite well in speed tests. Superzooms generally take a little bit longer to get going than standard compacts, as there is more time required for the larger lens to extend from the body. The PowerShot SX260 HS starts up and shoots in 1.8 seconds, records a very short 0.2 second shutter lag, and can grab a photo ever 0.5 second in continuous drive mode. Using Imatest to measure the sharpness and noise of photos captured by the SX260, The camera did quite well in terms of sharpness—it scored 1,939 lines per picture height, which exceeds the 1,800 lines that denote a sharp image. High ISO shooting is where the Canon SX260 falters. It only manages to keep noise below 1.5 percent through ISO 800, and even at that setting, images start to lose detail as a result of in-camera noise reduction. This won't be a huge issue unless you're looking at photos on a high-resolution display or making prints through ISO 1600, but when you bump the ISO to its maximum setting of 3200, noise reduction kills detail—even if you're just viewing your images on a 20-inch display.
The built-in GPS works quite well. It was able to lock onto a signal after a few minutes, which can be a challenge for any camera. Results were accurate enough—looking at the photos in the map in Photoshop Lightroom it appeared as if the position was off by twenty feet or so in most cases. The camera's video capture isn't as robust as some others—it can record QuickTime video at 1080p24 and 720p30 resolution and it can zoom and refocus while recording. The sound of the lens moving in and out is audible on the soundtrack, which is fairly typical for a camera in this class. The video shot at 24 frames per second isn't as smooth as the 720p30 footage—1080p footage at a higher frame rate would have been nice. The camera supports standard SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards, and includes mini HDMI and mini USB ports to connect to HDTVs for playback and PCs for image offload. Overall, the Canon PowerShot SX260 HS is a pocket megazoom that does a lot of things and masters quite a few of them, providing excellent overall image and video quality, easy-to-use controls for both experienced photographers and novices, and shooting modes that cover a whole lot of bases. It's hard to recommend a single camera for everybody, but in the realm of long-zoom point-and-shoots, this one offers much universal appeal.