Canon PowerShot SX1 IS Review

The first model in Canon’s popular PowerShot S-series of superzoom cameras was the Canon PowerShot S1 IS, which was introduced in 2004. Since then, the PowerShot S-series has received yearly updates that add more features and megapixels, with the most recent upgrade, the PowerShot S5 IS, introduced in May of 2007.

In September of 2008, Canon announced not one but two cameras that would succeed the S5 IS. The Powershot SX10 IS the more affordable of the two models, and it has a 10-megapixel CCD sensor behind a 20-times optical zoom lens with image stabilization. The Powershot SX1 IS, on the other hand, is more expensive and includes a RAW mode, a CMOS sensor, a faster continuous shooting speed, and the ability to record HD 1080p video.

CMOS sensors have been used for quite some time in inexpensive imaging devices (such as mobile phones and no-brand ‘keychain’ digicams), but up until now, they have not made their way into mainstream compact cameras. Canon was the company that pioneered the use of CMOS sensors in digital SLRs (beginning back in 2000 with the EOS D30). The explanation for this is straightforward: they have not been good enough.

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS Build Quality

The handgrip is quite comfortable, and all of the main picture parameter settings are grouped on the camera’s right side, making it possible to operate the device with only one hand. Even though the camera is nearly entirely made of plastic, it has a sturdy feel, and the fact that the batteries are stored in the hand grip contributes to this. Even though it is one of the heaviest cameras in its category, the Canon PowerShot SX1 IS feels perfectly balanced in your palm and is pleasant to use even for extended periods.

The SX1 IS requires four regular AA batteries and the use of NiMH cells is encouraged, and we did this for our evaluation. The camera does not come with any batteries of its own. The battery door is exceedingly difficult to operate, making it more difficult to close than to open. This is similar to the battery door on the S5 IS. The SD card slot is no longer located in the same compartment, which is a positive development because it will reduce the number of times you have to open and close the door.

This is the new location for the SD card compartment; it has been moved back to the same spot it had on the S3 IS. It is possible to remove the card from the camera even when it is mounted on a tripod, and the door is spring-loaded, which makes it very simple to open and close. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) of the SX1 IS has a resolution of 148,000 pixels, a 0.4-inch screen, and a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS Controls

People who have used PowerShot cameras in the past or now will find the SX1 IS immediately recognizable since it marks another incremental step in the history of Canon’s superzoom cameras. In addition, the SX1 IS features a new optical image stabilization system. Furthermore, compared to the S5 IS, some buttons have been relocated to various camera areas, and a unique combination of a multi-controller and scroll wheel has been introduced.

At first sight, the mini-slr’s style and controls may appear intimidating; yet, all of the essential functions are straightforward to operate, and you will most likely become comfortable with the camera very soon, thanks to the large variety of auto and scene settings. In addition, external buttons on the SX1 IS provide access to most shooting functions typically utilized. Finally, you may superimpose virtually any piece of data onto the LCD or electronic viewfinder while the camera is active.

In the same vein, as the S5 IS, video recording is something that is given a great deal of importance (even more so on this model because it can record 1080p HD video), with the almost silent lens operations (zooming, focusing, and IS) keeping camera noise down. In addition, the wind filter keeps unwanted external noise to a minimum. Similar to the S5 IS, this model also records 1080p HD video.

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS Image Quality

The Canon PowerShot SX1 IS digital camera has seven different white balance settings, including an automatic mode as the default and a manual (custom) white balance option. To use the manual (custom) white balance option, point the camera at a white (or gray) subject and press the DISP button. The automatic white balance looked fine outside, but its photographs had a noticeable tint when shot in dimly lit indoor environments.

If you want your interior photos to have a more natural look, you should use one of the presets instead of manually adjusting the color settings (or custom WB). Compared to the S5, the IS WB performs somewhat worse in incandescent light but performs far better in fluorescent lighting conditions in auto and preset modes.

As we have discussed, Canon has informed us that the warm tone produced by the incandescent auto-white balance setting is purposeful and is supposed to maintain some of the “atmosphere” in the scene being photographed.

The built-in pop-up flash unit ranges from 4.0 meters when set to telephoto and 5.2 meters to wide-angle (when the ISO is set to auto). We discovered it worked well when used, with most interior flash photographs exhibiting ideal exposure.

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS in Movie mode.

Because of the improved CMOS sensor, the SX1 can capture video at 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution at 30 frames per second. This is one of the most significant distinctions between the SX10 and the SX1. In addition, the movies are recorded in Quicktime format, and the files are not heavily compressed. This ensures that the final videos are rich in detail, but it also means that the file sizes can get quite large; if you intend to record a lot of high-definition videos, you should invest in a memory card with a large capacity. 640×480 and 320×240 video resolutions are also available, with the latter having the ability to be produced at a frame rate of 60 frames per second.

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS Specifications

Sensor• 1/2.3″ Canon CMOS
• 10 million effective pixels
Image sizes• 3648 x 2736
• 2816 x 2112
• 2272 x 1704
• 1600 x 1200
• 640 x 480
• 3640 x 2160
• 1920 x 1080
Image processorDIGIC 4
Movie clips• 1920 x 1080 (HD) @ 1080p
• 640 x 480 @ 30 / 15fps
• 320 x 240 @ 60 / 30 / 15fps
• WAVE (stereo)
File formats• Still: JPEG (Exif 2.2)
• Still: RAW
• Still: RAW + JPEG Large/Fine
• DPOF 1.1
• Movie: Quicktime MOV format
Lens• 28- 560 mm equiv (aspect ratio 4:3), 29 – 580 mm (aspect ratio 16:9)
• 20x Optical zoom
• F2.8 – F5.7 (max)
• 13 elements in 11 groups (1 aspherical element, 1 UD element)
Image stabilizationYes (Lens shift-type)
Conversion lensesYes
Digital zoomup to 4x
Autofocus• TTL
• AiAF (Face Detection / 9-point)
• 1-point AF (Fixed center)
Focus modes• AF: Single, Continuous
• Manual
• Focus bracket
AF assist lampYes
Focus distanceClosest 0 cm
Metering• Evaluative (linked to Face Detection AF)
• Center-weighted average
• Spot
ISO sensitivity• Auto
• High ISO Auto
• ISO 80
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1600
Exposure compensation• +/- 2EV
• 1/3 stop increments
Exposure bracketing• 1/3-2EV
• 1/3 stop increments
Shutter speed15 – 1/3200 sec
ApertureF2.8-5.7 (max)
Modes• Auto
• Program AE
• Shutter Priority AE
• Aperture Priority AE
• Manual
• Custom
• Portrait
• Landscape
• Night Scene
• Sports
• Stitch Assist
• Movie
• Special scene
• Super Macro
Scene modes• Indoor
• Night Scene
• Foliage
• Snow
• Beach
• Fireworks
• Color Accent
• Color Swap
• Long Shutter
• Aquarium
White balance• Auto (including Face Detection WB)
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Tungsten
• Fluorescent
• Fluorescent H
• Flash
• Custom
Self-timer• 2 or 10 secs
• Custom or Face Self Timer
Continuous shootingApprox. 4.0 fps until the card fills
Image parametersMy Colors (My Colors Off, Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, Custom Color)
Flash• Auto
• Manual Flash On / Off
• Slow Synch
• Red-eye reduction
• Flash exposure lock
• Flash Exposure Compensation +/- 2EV in 1/3 stop increments
• Manual Power Adjustment
• Second Curtain Synch
• Range: 50 cm – 5.2 m (wide) / 90 cm – 4.0 m (tele)
Hot-shoe• Canon EX Speedlites (270EX, 430EXII, 580EXII and older models)
• E-TTL with EX-series Speedlites, Canon’s High Power Flash HF-DC1
Viewfinder• EVF (0.40″ type)
• 148,000 pixels
LCD monitor• Vari-angle 2.8″ TFT
• 230,000 pixels
• Adjustable Brightness
• 100% Coverage
Other features• Playback red-eye correction
• My Camera
• Sound Memo
• Image tagging
• Orientation Sensor
• Histogram
• Playback zoom
LanguagesEnglish, German, French, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Chinese (traditional), Japanese, Russian, Portuguese, Korean, Greek, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Thai, Arabic, Ukrainian, Romanian, Farsi
Connectivity• HDMI Mini Connector
• USB Hi-Speed
• AV out
Print compliance• PictBridge
• Canon SELPHY Compact Photo Printers and PIXMA Printers supporting PictBridge (ID Photo Print, Fixed Size Print, and Movie Print supported on SELPHY CP & ES printers only)
Storage• SD / SDHC / MMC / MMC Plus / HC MMC Plus compatible
Power• Compact AC power adapter CA-PS700,
• Battery Charger Kit CBK4-300
• Ni-MH Batteries NB4-300
Weight (no batt)585g (20.6 oz)
Dimensions128 x 88 x 88 mm (5 x 3.5 x 3.5″)

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS Conclusion

Let’s start with the positive things. First, the SX1 IS an attractively designed and user-friendly camera that features a zoom range that is highly beneficial and an efficient image stabilization technology. Moreover, the SX1 IS a camera that has the potential to become one of your favorite toys because this, in addition to the new interface and features that come with Digic 4, such as auto ISO, the slightly tweaked interface, and fast shot-to-shot speeds, as well as RAW mode, which is something that is rarely seen in cameras of this class.

CMOS technology has also enabled Canon to incorporate HD 1080p video recording, making it the first of a family of superzoom cameras to have this function. So on paper, the SX1 IS should be at the top of your list if you want to purchase a superzoom camera.

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS FAQs

What year did the Canon PowerShot SX1 come out?

The Canon PowerShot SX1 IS released in March 2009.

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