Canon PowerShot SX20 IS Review

The new Canon PowerShot SX20 IS a super-zoom camera with a 20x zoom lens with a focal length range comparable to 28-560mm. The Canon SX20 IS the successor to the SX10 IS model. In addition to high-definition video (720p), it also includes a dedicated movie button that allows for rapid access to movies when the camera is in still mode, as well as instant stills shooting while the camera is recording a movie.

There is also a micro HDMI connector, which makes it simple to play back film on compatible TVs. The number of megapixels has increased from 10 to 12, and Canon has included image stabilization to help ensure that most of your shots are sharp. Additionally, technologies known as Ultrasonic Motor (USM) and Voice Coil Motor (VCM) promise quick, accurate, and quiet zooming and focusing capabilities.

The SX20’s headlining specs include complete manual control over the aperture, the shutter speed, a 2.5-inch vari-angle LCD II, an electronic viewfinder, and an external hot shoe. But first, we determine if the Canon PowerShot SX20 can compete with the industry’s leading super-zoom cameras.

Canon PowerShot SX20 IS Build Quality

When it was first released, the SX20 had the same official price in the United States as its predecessor, the SX10 model, although the price was somewhat higher in the United Kingdom and across Europe. This tiny camera resembles a DSLR with a flexible 20x image-stabilized optical zoom. In addition, it has a wide 35mm equivalent focal range of 28mm to 560mm, which places it in direct competition with cameras such as the Olympus SP-570UZ, Panasonic DMC-FZ38, and Casio EX-FH20.

The bodywork of the SX20 IS is constructed out of hard plastic, much like its predecessor, and offers a significantly larger grip than the norm. This is mainly because the four alkaline AA batteries necessary for power are slotted into the device’s base. While this does add to the total weight as well as a feeling of sturdiness (at 560g), a matt black finish provides an overall air of refinement, with the metallic silver-grey around the shutter button and the left-hand side of the handle serving as a point of differentiation (if the camera is viewed lens on).

However, if you are searching for a camera that can fit into your jacket pocket, you should go elsewhere. Because the dimensions of the SX20 IS are not significantly more compact than those of an entry-level DSLR, you will either need to attach the provided strap to carry it over your shoulder or make an investment in a dedicated camera bag to shield it from the elements and observer’s prying eyes while you are out taking pictures.

Canon PowerShot SX20 IS Image Quality

During our evaluation, the Canon PowerShot SX20 generated photographs of a far higher quality than typical. The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS’s primary shortcoming in image quality is noise; at an ISO of 400, the camera exhibits some noise, blurring details, and a small desaturation of colors. As the ISO increases, noise and loss of information become increasingly noticeable until you reach the highest possible value of 1600.

The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS handled chromatic aberrations excellently, while some purple fringing was visible in high-contrast scenes due to the camera. However, the images taken with a 12-megapixel camera came out of the camera with a default sharpening setting that was a little on the soft side. To get the ideas sharper, you will either need to sharpen them further in an application like Adobe Photoshop or you will need to increase the level of sharpening done in-camera.

The nighttime shot turned out quite well, and the fact that the maximum shutter speed was 15 seconds meant that you could catch sufficient light for almost any scenario. Even though there is a lot of lens distortion and shadows at such a short distance, the performance of the camera’s macro mode is a standout highlight, allowing you to focus as close to the subject as 0 centimeters away from the object of your photograph.

The built-in flash did a fantastic indoor job, producing images free of red-eye and with enough overall exposure. In addition, anti-shake is a feature that distinguishes this camera from its rivals and functions exceptionally well whether it is held by hand in low-light settings or when the telephoto end of the zoom range is utilized.

Canon PowerShot SX20 IS Specifications

Body typeSLR-like (bridge)
Max resolution4000 x 3000
Other resolutions3840 x 2160, 3264 x 2448, 2592 x 1944, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480, 320 x 240
Image ratio w h4:3, 16:9
Effective pixels12 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors12 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Sensor typeCCD
ProcessorDigic 4
ISOAuto, 80,100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
White balance presets6
Custom white balanceYes
Image stabilizationOptical
Uncompressed formatNo
JPEG quality levelsFine, Normal
Focal length (Equiv.)28–560 mm
Optical zoom20×
Maximum apertureF2.8–5.7
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaSingleLive View
Digital zoomYes (4x)
Manual focusYes
Macro focus range0 cm (0″)
Number of focus points9
Articulated LCDFully articulated
Screen size2.5″
Screen dots230,000
Touch screenNo
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeElectronic
Minimum shutter speed15 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/3200 sec
Aperture priorityYes
Shutter priorityYes
Manual exposure modeYes
Subject/scene modesYes
Built-in flashYes (Pop-up)
Flash Range6.80 m
External flashYes (Hot-shoe)
Flash modesAuto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Slow Sync, Fill-in
Continuous drive0.7 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 10 sec, Custom)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weighted spot
Exposure compensation±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
Resolutions1280 x 720 (30 fps) 640 x 480 (30 fps), 320 x 240 (30, 15 fps)
Storage typesSD / SDHC / MMC / MMC Plus / HC MMC Plus
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
Remote controlNo
Environmentally sealedNo
Battery description4 x AA batteries (Alkaline or NiMH)
Weight (inc. batteries)600 g (1.32 lb / 21.16 oz)
Dimensions128 x 88 x 87 mm (5.04 x 3.46 x 3.43″)
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingNo

Canon PowerShot SX20 IS Conclusion

One year after the release of the SX10 IS, the new SX20 model adds a few significant upgrades to an already appealing appearance. However, the camera still does not give nearly enough to grab the title for best super-zoom.

The only significant changes between the SX20 IS, and its predecessor includes high-definition movie recording and a purported “improvement” to 12 megapixels in the camera’s resolution. The former has been more successful than the latter has been thus far. The ability to record high-definition video with stereo sound and the capacity to use the 20x optical zoom fully entire significant selling points for this camera, as it is something that not many other cameras on the market currently provide.

When it comes to still shots, things aren’t looking so good: noise and a loss of fine detail start showing up at ISO 400, whereas, on the SX10, these problems don’t begin until ISO 800. In addition, the shift to additional megapixels appears to have caused a sacrifice in the overall image quality at higher ISO speeds, reducing this camera’s capacity to function in low-light conditions.

Canon PowerShot SX20 IS FAQs

How old is the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS?

In September 2009, Canon announced the launch of the PowerShot SX20 IS. In the year 2023, it will be approximately 14 years old.

Is the Canon PowerShot SX20 a DSLR camera?

The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS is not a DSLR camera but a bridge camera with a lens that cannot be changed.

What is the shutter speed of the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS?

Depending on the selected shooting option and other parameters, the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS offers various shutter speeds that go from 15 seconds down to 1/3200 of a second.

A “bulb” option is also available on this camera, which enables extended exposures of up to two minutes.

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