Canon PowerShot SX260 HS Review

The PowerShot SX260 HS, which retails for $349, is Canon’s most recent offering in the category of compact travel zoom cameras. The SX260 is the successor to the SX230, which was one of my go-to travel zooms from the previous year. Its most notable improvement is a zoom lens that is both broader and more powerful. A number of other aspects of the camera, including as its image processor, image stabilization system, Smart Auto mode, and burst mode performance, have also been enhanced. The SX260 is identical to its predecessor in terms of its 12.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor, 3-inch LCD, GPS receiver, and Full HD video mode.

What Can You Find in the Box?

  • The Canon PowerShot SX260 HS digital camera has an effective resolution of 12.1 megapixels.
  • Rechargeable lithium-ion battery of the type NB-6L
  • Charger for a battery
  • Strap for the wrist
  • USB cable
  • CD-ROM with the Canon Digital Camera Solution software
  • 34-page printed Quick Start Guide in addition to the entire handbook on CD-ROM.

As is the case with all of Canon’s most recent cameras, the company does not incorporate memory within its cameras, nor does it offer a memory card in the packaging for its cameras. Therefore, if you do not currently own an SD, SDHC, or SDXC card (which is most likely), you will need to go out and purchase one as soon as possible. You’re going to want a memory card with at least 4 gigabytes of storage space, and preferably more if you intend to record a lot of films in full high definition. For the greatest performance, it is advised that you use a card with a high speed (Class 6 or higher).

Canon’s software bundle is consistently regarded as among the industry’s most impressive offerings. You will initially run into CameraWindow, which is the application that will download photographs from the camera onto your own computer or Mac. On Windows computers, the primary picture organizing suite is known as ZoomBrowser, and on Macs, it is known as ImageBrowser.

The program gives you the ability to edit images, as well as e-mail or print them, submit films to YouTube, and do some basic editing. Some of the functions that are available for editing photos are cropping, removing red-eye, adjusting the level and tone curve, and color tuning. Some of the tools for editing movies that are included in Image/ZoomBrowser include trimming and frame captures.

In addition to the PowerShot SX260 HS camera, Canon includes PhotoStitch and Map Utility in the retail packaging for this model. Using the camera’s built-in Stitch Assist function, you may line up multiple shots to be stitched together into a single panoramic image with the help of the PhotoStitch program. Map Utility will point up exactly where on a Google Map photographs that have integrated GPS data are located. You will also be able to view the path that you traveled if you have the logging feature enabled when you were traveling.

The user manual for the SX260 is identical to that which is provided for all other Canon PowerShot models. A pamphlet that will help you get up and running may be found inside the package. You’ll need to open the whole manual, which is included on a CD-ROM in a PDF format for your convenience, in order to access any more information. Despite the fact that this manual is not the most user-pleasant reference available, it will answer any and all questions that you may have regarding the SX260. Your Mac or PC will be provided with instructions for the software that was packaged with the product.

Body And Design

The predecessor, the PowerShot SX230, has been succeeded by the PowerShot SX260 HS, which is a more streamlined version of the SX230. The camera is nearly entirely constructed of metal, and the construction of the device gives the impression that it is highly sturdy. Even though there is not a lot of area for your thumb on the back of the camera, it is still comfortable to grip due to its small size. My thumb often rests on the button that records movies. The buttons on the back of the camera are flush with the body, making it impossible to know what you are pushing unless you glance at the screen first. This is another thing that bothers me about the camera.

The stereo microphones, speaker, and flash are all located on the very top of the Canon PowerShot SX260. As a result of the GPS being integrated into the body of the SX260, the “hump” that was present on its predecessor has been eliminated. On the rear of the SX260, you will see that it does not have the widescreen LCD that its forerunner did (this is something that I consider to be a positive change), and the buttons have been redesigned to have the flush design that I stated before. The power button used to be located on the rear of the SX230, but it has been moved to the top of the SX260. This is another significant change.

The SX260 has a three-inch LCD display, which is the most notable characteristic on the rear of the camera. Instead of having a widescreen aspect ratio like the one on the SX230, the LCD now has the more conventional 4:3 aspect ratio. This is fantastic news for photographers who take stills, as arranging photographs on a 16:9 monitor may be challenging. The LCD has a resolution of 461,000 pixels, which is the same as its predecessor, and it has excellent visibility even when used outside. When there is not a lot of light, the screen will brighten up wonderfully, making it easier for you to view the subject of the shot you are attempting to snap.

Body Elements

The new 20X lens is the most significant upgrade to the SX260 since it was first released. You shouldn’t expect this F3.5-6.8 lens to do miracles in low light because it isn’t really a “quick” lens, particularly at the telephoto end. The focal length ranges from 4.5 to 90.0 millimeters, which translates to 25 to 500 millimeters. Because the lens does not have a threaded barrel, it is not possible to attach conversion lenses or filters to it. The pop-up flash of the camera may be found to the top left of the lens; it is raised and lowered electrically (depending on the flash setting). The flash has a working range of 0.5 to 3.5 meters when used at wide-angle and 1.0 to 2.0 meters when used at telephoto (both at Auto ISO).

Consider purchasing the slave flash that I mentioned previously. It has a range of up to 30 feet and can provide you with more flash power if you so like. In addition, the AF-assist bulb is located on the front of the camera, and it doubles as a visual countdown for the self-timer as well. The mode dial, which can be found in the top-right corner, features a plethora of different settings. On the following page of this evaluation, I’ll go into further detail regarding those many possibilities. Below that, we have a total of four buttons, in addition to the combination four-way controller and scroll wheel.

It is very easy to deduce what each of the four buttons is intended to achieve, and as you can see, the four-way controller is capable of a great deal more than just navigating menus. Adjusting the manual settings and browsing the menu system may both be done with the scroll dial that is located around the four-way controller. Moving farther to the right, we get to the shutter release button, which has the zoom controller around it.

In only one minute and ninety-nine hundredths of a second, the controller changes the lens’s focal length from wide-angle to telephoto. In the 20X zoom range of the SX260, I counted a little over twenty steps, which does not allow for a great deal of precision.

The power button for the SX260 may be found all the way to the right.

You’ll find the slots for an SD memory card and the slimline NB-6L lithium-ion battery that comes with the camera on the bottom of the SX260 HS. Both of these components are included with the camera.

The I/O ports of the SX260 are located on the right side of the device and are shielded by a rubber cover there. The ports that are available here include USB as well as A/V and mini-HDMI. The battery compartment door features a “hole” that serves as an access point for the optional AC adaptor. The battery compartment and the memory card slot are both located on the underside of the PowerShot SX260, which also features a metal tripod mount. The door that covers this compartment is of a quality that is about ordinary. Bear in mind that when the camera is mounted on a tripod, you won’t be able to access the contents of the device.

Features

OptionFunction
Movie modeMore on this later
Discreet modeTurns off the flash and all camera lights and sounds.
Creative Filters modeTake photos with special effects, which include fisheye, miniature effect, toy camera, soft focus, monochrome, super vivid, poster effect, Color Accent (selective color), and Color Swap.
Special Scene modePick the situation and the camera uses the appropriate settings. Choose from portrait, smooth skin, Smart Shutter, High-speed Burst HQ, Handheld Night Scene, low light, beach, underwater, snow, fireworks, and Stitch Assist.
Movie Digest modeThe camera records a 2-4 second video clip before each still photo is taken. At the end of the day, these clips are combined into a single, 720p movie showing the days events. Operation is strictly point-and-shoot.
Easy modeCompletely automatic, with no menus at all.
Smart Auto modePoint-and-shoot, with automatic scene selection. Some menu items are locked up.
Live View Control modeAnother point-and-shoot mode, with sliders to adjust the brightness, color saturation, and white balance.
Program modeAutomatic shooting, but with full access to menu options. A Program Shift feature can be activated by halfway-pressing the shutter release button and then pressing “up” on the four-way controller (AE lock). After that you can use the scroll wheel to move through various shutter speed/aperture combinations.
Shutter priority (Tv) modeYou choose shutter speed and the camera picks the aperture. Shutter speed range is 15 – 1/3200 sec. Note that the ISO sensitivity is locked at 100 when the shutter speed goes below 1 second.
Aperture priority (Av) modeYou choose the aperture and the camera picks an appropriate shutter speed. Range is F3.5 – F8.0.
Full manual (M) modeChoose both the shutter speed and aperture yourself, with the same ranges and restrictions as above

The SX260 features at least four different point-and-shoot modes, and this does not include the Scene or Creative Filter modes that are also available. There is a setting called Smart Auto that is intended for general usage and automatically chooses one of 58 different scene choices for you (plus the proper image stabilization mode). The SX260 is so advanced that it can detect whether you are using a tripod and adjust its behavior appropriately. Try out the new Live View Control option if you are looking for a means to change exposure compensation, color saturation, and white balance without needing to be familiar with any of those technical words. Try out the Movie Digest mode if you wish to take a few seconds of video before each still shot that you take. Last but not least, there is a setting designated as Easy that just has the ability to switch the flash on and off.

The SX260 features an abundance of scene options in addition to special effects. I’d like to draw your attention to a few of the scene styles that require more elaboration:

  • Smart Shutter allows you to pick between a cool wink and face self-timer, as well as smile detection; smile detection waits until someone in your photo smiles before beginning to take images; wink detection waits until someone in your photo winks before beginning to take photos; Two seconds after someone in the frame winks at the camera, the wink self-timer will snap a photo; the face self-timer will take a shot two seconds after a new person (probably the photographer) enters the frame.
  • High-speed Burst HQ means that the camera will take eight images in a row at a rate of 10.3 frames per second (these are Canon’s statistics; you can see mine later on). It is important to know that the LCD will go black while the camera is shooting.
  • Scene Captured Handheld in the Dark: The camera captures many exposures and blends them into a single photograph, which the photographer hopes is crisp.
  • Stitch Assist is a feature that assists you in aligning photographs side-by-side so that they may be stitched together into a single panorama (using the bundled software)

The manual controls available on the SX260 are quite a few in number. You have the ability to manually modify the focus, white balance, shutter speed, and aperture to achieve the desired results. Regrettably, there is no support for the RAW format, the bracketing capability, or the ability to fine-tune the white balance (save for when shooting underwater). When the shutter speed is less than one second, the ISO remains fixed at 100, which is another issue that irritated me. Although doing so will lower the level of noise, this limitation is unnecessary.

iContrast Mode

Even while the SX260 does not have the HDR and DR Correction capabilities that are found on its more costly siblings, its i-Contrast function is still able to tone down highlights and bring out the details in shadows. The one and the only significant drawback is that in order for the camera to work its magic, the ISO setting might have to be increased to 200. The following is an illustration of how i-Contrast works:

You can see that i-Contrast does not eliminate highlight clipping entirely, but it does significantly cut down on it, as can be seen on the left side of the tile floor. Additionally, shadows are made a little brighter. Because of this, the ISO sensitivity went up to 200 when I turned this function on, which caused a little increase in the amount of noise.

GPS

Regarding the SX260’s built-in GPS functionality, there is not a great deal that can be shared with you. It is a basic system that only logs your position and does not include any other features (sorry, landmark database fans). If you want to follow your path, all you have to do is activate the logging feature; however, keep in mind that this will place a significant burden on your battery. The acquisition times for satellites are not particularly miraculous. It took the camera around one minute to figure out where I was while I was at a location with a lot of open space. Things are significantly more challenging in the city, as is typical, given the setting. Do not anticipate the camera to locate your location beneath the tall buildings unless you have a very good chance of doing so.

Image Stabilization

With an extreme zoom camera, you absolutely want an image stabilization system, and the SX260 is equipped with one of the lens-shift sort. This will make your still photographs less prone to blur, and it will also smooth out the motion in your videos. It contains a “dynamic mode” for taking movies, which has additional shaking reduction, as well as an Intelligent IS function, which determines the appropriate IS mode for the scenario. Both of these features may be used in conjunction with one another.

Movie Mode

The movie mode of the PowerShot SX260 is, for all intents and purposes, identical to the one found on its predecessor, the PowerShot SX230. Up to the point where the file size exceeds 4 gigabytes, you are able to record Full HD video (1920 x 1080) at 24 frames per second with stereo sound (which takes about 14.5 minutes). The standard person would think that a film with a frame rate of 24 frames per second seems a little bit jagged, but filmmakers tend to like this frame rate. Additionally, the SX260 is capable of recording in a resolution of 640 x 480 in addition to 1280 x 720 at a rate of 30 frames per second. Alternately, you may utilize Apple’s iFrame codec, which was designed by Apple and is rumored to be simpler to edit (not that dealing with H.264 is particularly difficult).

You may utilize the optical zoom (complete with continuous AF) and the image stabilizer even when you’re making a video with this hybrid camera, as you would expect from a camera of this type. However, there are no manual controls available, unless you regard the wind filter as one of them.

High frame rates and the tiny effect may both be utilized while recording motion pictures at 720p resolution. These so-called “super slow motion movies” are captured at frame rates of 120 or 240 frames per second, with concomitant dimensions of 640 × 480 and 320 x 240. The videos that were shot at high frame rates give the impression that they are moving in slow motion when they are played back at regular speed, as their name suggests. If you feel that the usual color simply isn’t doing it for you, you may utilize several of the additional Creative Filters when shooting in movie mode.

The capabilities of the microphone that is integrated right in.

Ensuring that there is a clear distinction between the sound of the water in the fountain and the other noises in the background. In the center of the SX260 HS’s zoom range, a clip was recorded, and the impact of the camera’s optical image stabilization technology, which has preserved the footage pleasant and stable, and free from camera shake.

Quality of the Image

The Canon PowerShot SX260 HS is capable of producing photographs of exceptionally high quality. At ISO 100, 200, and 400, it captured photographs with no noise; however, at ISO 800, it captured images with considerable noise and a minor loss of color saturation. Even while ISO 1600 exhibits more noticeable noise and a loss of color, the setting is still completely acceptable, and even the highest possible level of ISO 3200 does not suffer too severely from the effect.

Chromatic aberrations were handled competently by the Canon PowerShot SX260 HS, with the camera displaying just a little amount of purple fringing effects in high-contrast conditions and typically towards the frame’s borders. The built-in flash did a fantastic job indoors, producing images free of red-eye and with enough exposure overall. The night snapshot turned out wonderfully, and the maximum shutter speed of 15 seconds was more than adequate for the majority of the shots taken after dark.

When shooting in low-light settings with the camera held by hand or when utilizing the telephoto end of the zoom range, anti-shake performs really well. The macro performance is rather strong, letting you focus on the topic from a distance as near as 5 centimeters.

The photographs were a touch soft right out of the Canon PowerShot SX260 HS when the default sharpening level was used. For the best results, you should do further sharpening in an application such as Adobe Photoshop; alternatively, you may modify the setting directly within the camera.

Specifications

Body typeCompact
Sensor
Max resolution4000 x 3000
Other resolutions4000 x 3000, 4000 x 2248, 4000 x 2664, 2992 x 2992, 2816 x 2112, 2816 x 1880, 2816 x 1584, 2112 x 2112, 1920 x 1080, 1600 x 1200, 1600 x 1064, 1200 x 1200, 640 x 480, 640 x 424, 640 x 360, 480 x 480
Image ratio w:h1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels12 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Sensor typeBSI-CMOS
ProcessorDigic 5
Color filter arrayPrimary color filter
Image
ISOAuto 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
White balance presets6
Custom white balanceYes (1)
Image stabilizationOptical
Uncompressed formatNo
JPEG quality levelsFine, Normal
File formatJPEG (Exif 2.3)
Optics & Focus
Focal length (equiv.)25–500 mm
Optical zoom20×
Maximum apertureF3.5–6.8
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaCenterTrackingSingleContinuousFace Detection
Autofocus assist lampYes
Digital zoomYes (4x)
Manual focusYes
Macro focus range5 cm (1.97″)
Number of focus points9
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3″
Screen dots461,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typePureColor II TFT LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeNone
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed15 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/3200 sec
Exposure modesSmart AutoProgramShutter priorityAperture priorityManualLive View ControlEasyMovie DigestSCN
Scene modesPortraitSmooth SkinSmart Shutter (Smile, Wink Self-Timer, FaceSelf-Timer)High- speed Burst HQHandheld Night SceneLow Light (3.0MP)UnderwaterSnowFireworksStitch Assist
Built-in flashYes
Flash range3.50 m
External flashYes (optional HF-DC2)
Flash modesAuto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Slow Sync
Drive modesSingleAuto driveContinuousContinuous with AFSelf-Timer
Continuous drive2.4 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 10 sec, Custom)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpot
Exposure compensation±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
WB BracketingNo
Videography features
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (24 fps), 1280 x 720 (30 fps) 640 x 480 (30, 120 fps), 320 x 240 (240 fps)
FormatH.264
Videography notesMiniature Effect (HD, L) 6fps, 3fps, 1.5 fps iFrame Movie (HD)
MicrophoneStereo
SpeakerMono
Storage
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC
Connectivity
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes (Mini)
Remote controlNo
Physical
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion NB-6L rechargeable battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)230
Weight (inc. batteries)231 g (0.51 lb / 8.15 oz)
Dimensions106 x 61 x 33 mm (4.17 x 2.4 x 1.3″)
Other features
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingNo
GPSBuilt-in

Conclusion

The Canon PowerShot SX260 is a travel zoom camera that is both sleek and small, and it features a lens that has a magnification factor of 20 times. With an amazing focal length range of 25–500 mm, the lens is likely the most stunning component of the camera. The lens is quite sluggish, especially when it is set to its maximum telephoto, which is typical for cameras in this class.

Obviously, the SX260 possesses an optical image stabilization system, which comes replete with a dynamic model for use while recording movies and a powered mode for use when taking telephoto photographs. Your camera will automatically select the most appropriate IS mode for the shooting conditions, allowing you to concentrate on your subject rather than fiddling with the camera settings. The LCD screen measures a typical 3 inches and is located on the rear of the camera.

The display has a pixel count of 461,000, making it a very crisp device that is also readable in bright sunlight and dim environments. Although the built-in flash on the SX260 isn’t particularly strong, Canon does provide an external slave flash as an accessory that you may use instead if you don’t mind bringing it along with you. Underwater housing is the only additional accessory of importance that may be purchased separately.

In spite of the fact that the PowerShot SX260 includes both automatic and manual modes, there are a few aspects of the camera that may disappoint photography aficionados. My memory fails me, but I feel like the SX260 offers more point-and-shoot options than any other camera I’ve used. Do you want a shooting experience that is locked down and foolproof?

Then switch to the Easy mode. Use the Smart Auto option if you want the camera to choose from among its 58 different scene settings automatically. Movie Digest mode is available for users who want a small video clip to be shot before each still image, while Creative Filters mode is available for users who wish to experiment with different special effects.

And it doesn’t even take into account all of the scene modes the camera has! The SX260 comes equipped with a respectable number of manual settings, including those for adjusting the exposure, the white balance, and the focus of the image. Regrettably, the SX260 does not support the RAW format, any type of bracketing, or white balance fine-tuning. It also does not have a built-in flash. When the shutter speed is reduced to less than one second, it also locks the ISO setting at 100, which might be bothersome. The SX260 is capable of recording video in Full HD with stereo sound, in addition to letting users make advantage of the optical zoom and image stabilizer.

The frame rate is 24 frames per second, which some people, like me, may experience as being choppy. There are no manual controls anywhere on the SX260, therefore video recording must be done entirely through the use of the point-and-shoot interface. And let’s not forget the built-in GPS that comes standard on the SX260. It doesn’t have any fancy features (like being able to tell what famous monument you’re standing in front of), but it gets the job done, at least when you’re not in a major city.

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Numerous types of scenes and creative filters are available.
  • Even though it doesn’t have a lot of other features, the built-in GPS nevertheless manages to get the job done.
  • A solid array of hand-operated controls
  • There are lots of different point-and-shoot modes to select from in addition to Smart Auto mode, which automatically selects one of 58 scenario choices for you.
Need Improvement
  • A few missing highlights and purple fringing here and there (try using i-Contrast to reduce the former)
  • Autofocus performance lags below that of the competitors; at times, the camera had trouble focusing when there was little available light.
  • Redeye an issue (though it can be removed in playback mode)
  • There is a little deficiency in the critical image quality at 100 percent.

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