Canon PowerShot SX280 HS Review

Despite the fact that overall sales of compact cameras are on the decline, the trip camera subcategory of the market continues to do exceptionally well. These cameras have the potential to deliver substantially more than the typical capabilities of tiny cameras, particularly in terms of their zoom capabilities.

The Canon SX260 has been succeeded by the Canon PowerShot SX280 HS, sometimes known as the Canon SX280 for short. There are really two different models of the same camera. One of them is the Canon SX270, and it has pretty much all of the same qualities as its more costly brother. However, it does not have built-in Wi-Fi or GPS like its sibling which is slightly more expensive.

The primary selling point of this camera is its 20x optical zoom lens, which is accompanied by a CMOS sensor that has a high sensitivity of 12.1 million pixels. The Canon SX280’s lens has the potential to attain a quite remarkable 500 millimeters in focal length, with a focal length equivalent beginning at 25 millimeters.

You can even push it further to 80x by combining ZoomPlus with the camera’s digital teleconverter, giving you a rather amazing 2000mm reach. ZoomPlus technology raises it up to 40x, which is comparable to 1000mm. The image quality is likely to decrease at the 80x equivalent length, especially due to the fact that it will be a crop of the full resolution image; yet, it may be useful on occasion.

The lens has a maximum aperture of f/3.5 when it is set to its widest possible angle, which, while not exceptionally brilliant in comparison to some of the high-end cameras that are currently available on the market, is about average for a camera that has such a high zoom ratio.

The fact that the Canon SX280 is the first Canon camera of any sort to have the most recent Digic 6 processor is perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of this particular model. The most recent generation of Canon’s processors is frequently introduced first in the company’s tiny cameras before being made available in the company’s other models.

The performance of the noise performance and the capabilities of video recording are both expected to increase with the upgrade of the CPU. As a result, the Canon SX280 is able to film at a frame rate of 60 frames per second, which results in extremely smooth movie footage.

The top end of Canon’s PowerShot series often provides more advanced settings, such as complete manual control, in comparison to the IXUS range of cameras that Canon offers. You have the option of shooting in completely automatic, semi-automatic modes (aperture priority, and shutter priority), or fully manual modes with the Canon SX280 since it is equipped with a variety of shooting settings. Unfortunately, there is no raw format shooting capabilities available.

Scene modes, digital filter effect modes, and the intriguing Hybrid Auto mode are some of the beginner-friendly modes available in addition to the more complex modes. These modes may be found alongside the more complicated modes. This simply makes a brief video clip before you snap every photo, and at the conclusion of each day, all of the clips are combined into a movie digest to accompany your photographs.

The information that the camera gets while it is shooting the movie clip is also used to decide the optimal settings to utilize for the still image that is being captured.

The Fish-eye Effect, the Toy Camera Effect, and the ever-present Miniature Effect are three examples of the digital filters that are now standard on most cameras in an effort to attract users of Instagram.

The Canon SX280 is the latest addition to the ever-growing lineup of Canon’s tiny cameras that come equipped with built-in Wi-Fi and GPS. The Wi-Fi capability is meant to make it quicker and easier to share photographs with other people. There is an application that can be downloaded for free on iOS and Android devices that allows users to transfer photographs from their camera to their smartphone or tablet. However, as of right now, there is no functionality for remote control.

GPS not only allows you to maintain a diary of your travel, but it also gives you the option to geotag your photographs with the spot they were taken.

There are a few competitors to the Canon SX280 HS, which has a list price of £259.99, AU$299.95, or US$329.99. The Panasonic TZ40 is perhaps the most formidable of these rivals because it also boasts a 20x optical zoom lens, as well as built-in Wi-Fi and GPS.

Another contender is the Nikon Coolpix S9500, which features a capable optical zoom of 22 times and a GPS system. Even though it is substantially more costly and has a 30x optical zoom, Sony’s Cyber-shot HX50, which was only released later, is another possible competition.

The Build Quality as well as the Handling

The Canon SX280 is very thin for such a tiny camera, and its ability to fit into a pocket, whether it be a pair of jeans or a coat, is a testament to the camera’s 20x optical zoom.

One-handed shooting is made easier by the presence of a narrow strip on the front of the camera that may be used as a finger grip; nevertheless, this feature does give the camera an unusual appearance because it doesn’t take up too much space.

Because every one of the camera’s buttons is clustered along the right-hand side, your thumb will have an easy time reaching for any one of them. On the top of the camera is where you’ll find the on/off switch, as well as the zoom switch and the release button for the shutter.

It is convenient that this switch has a solid feel to it and is not overly fragile, given the likelihood that you will be utilizing the zoom function rather frequently. The actual motion of zooming is quite fluid and seamless, which enables you to easily transition from the wide-angle end of the lens to the telephoto end of the lens.

When it reaches the 40x digital zoom region, the zoom function pauses, making it simple to prevent inadvertent transitions into the digital mode even if you don’t want to use it. If you want to push the zoom all the way up to the 80x maximum, which is a lovely feature, you will need to remove the zoom and then zoom in again.

On the rear of the camera, in the top-right corner, there is a mode dial that allows you to easily choose between the several shooting modes that are available. These shooting modes include completely automatic, semi-automatic (aperture priority, and shutter priority), and fully manual. In addition, the scene mode, digital filters, and the Hybrid Auto mode may all be found in this menu.

It is helpful to have this dial since it eliminates the need to navigate the primary menu in order to select the shooting mode that you wish to employ, which is a time-consuming process. Unfortunately, in contrast to the Panasonic TZ40, there is no space for groups of custom settings on this camera, which is a bit of a letdown.

In addition to it, there is the standard control pad for navigation that has four directions and is encircled by a scrolling dial. This dial is used, depending on the model that you’re shooting in, to set either the aperture or the shutter speed of the camera. If you are currently operating in the completely manual mode, using the up directional key will give you the ability to toggle between the two. When you switch to one of the other shooting modes, you may use this button to adjust the exposure adjustment.

The four-way pad provides access to additional settings like as the timer, flash (on/off), and macro, normal, and manual focusing modes. When you press the function button that is located in the middle of the pad, a kind of fast menu will appear. This menu provides you with simple access to frequently used settings, such as the white balance, picture ratio, and sensitivity.

If you hit the button labeled “Menu,” you can have access to a more comprehensive menu, although it’s likely that you won’t find yourself using this feature very often.

The autofocus mode that is selected by default is Face AiAF. This gives faces priority, but it might create difficulties if you’re attempting to concentrate and refocus on other sorts of issues at the same time.

We would suggest selecting Center Frame AF for the bulk of your shooting subjects because it makes it much simpler to both foci and recomposes the shot. It is a huge disappointment because, in contrast to the Panasonic TZ40, you are unable to select alternative AF points manually, since this would provide greater versatility.

When you make a change to one of the camera’s settings, the screen does not immediately reflect how that change will manifest itself in the final image. This is one of the camera’s more peculiar quirks. For instance, if you are shooting in aperture priority and set the exposure compensation to +2, the screen will show you how the exposure of the final image will be adjusted while you are making the change.

However, as soon as you close the dialog box for exposure adjustment, the picture will return to its regular state. Because of this, accurately assessing the settings that you need to apply might be challenging.

The Wi-Fi features of the camera are not difficult to use, although there are a few quirks that can be annoying at times. Since the only capability available at the moment is to transfer photographs between devices, it can only be used when images are being played back.

You may access the Wi-Fi settings by pressing the up button on the four-way control pad. Once you’ve already paired a device (such as a smartphone) with the camera, the camera will save the pairing information for faster access in the future.

Additionally, you are able to link the camera to other Wi-Fi-enabled devices, like PCs and printers. It’s a shame that there isn’t a means to immediately share photographs via social networking sites and email like there is with Samsung’s line of smart cameras, but unfortunately, there isn’t.

Instead, in order to share a photograph while you are out and about, you will need to connect your phone to the camera, transfer the image, and then reconnect your phone to a Wi-Fi or mobile data network in order to submit the images. If you enjoy that sort of thing, having this feature could be worth the effort, despite the fact that it is a somewhat laborious procedure.


We continue to be impressed with Canon’s line of IXUS and PowerShot cameras, and as a result, we had high hopes for the Canon SX280, which boasts exceptional zoom capabilities in addition to a number of features that are sure to appeal to consumers.

We are relieved to say that the visual quality has not left us wanting more. The colors are strong and lively without being garish or garishly bright. The skies and the brightest whites are both depicted accurately. Additionally, it works nicely with a variety of skin tones.

Even at lower sensitivities, there is evidence of some image smoothing when we zoom into the photographs to 100%; nonetheless, the camera puts in a fairly similar performance in this regard to what is likely its closest competition, the Panasonic TZ40. Because smoothing is not very evident at these lower ISOs at regular printing and web sizes, the general user does not need to be concerned about it.

When looking at photographs with areas of high contrast with great attention, one may see a tiny bit of purple fringing around the edges of the image, which is not unusual for compact cameras. However, it is rather well regulated, and when photographs are seen at regular sizes, it is not especially obvious.

In spite of the fact that the lens of the Canon SX280 has a maximum aperture of f/3.5, it is still possible to obtain some pleasant shallow depth of field effects, particularly when capturing macro shots. These photographs have extremely good drop-offs in focus and nice bokeh in the parts that are out of focus; overall, the out-of-focus portions are depicted quite well.

When it comes to producing colors that are true to life, the automated white balance system does an adequate job in the vast majority of scenarios. However, there are situations when, while working with artificial illumination, the camera will produce pictures that are somewhat warmer than we would like them to be. You have the option of either adjusting the white balance setting on your camera to one that is more suitable or developing a white balance that is unique to your camera.

The general-purpose metering on Canon cameras, which is often referred to as evaluative metering, performs a good job at producing balanced exposures in the majority of different lighting settings. When shooting in an environment with a very high contrast ratio, the camera may experience some difficulty, but you have the option of switching to spot or partial metering to try to compensate for this. You also have the option of recomposing the shot after you have focused the camera, which will cause it to take a reading from a new portion of the scene.

Since the optical zoom lens is likely the most important component of this camera, it is fair to anticipate that it will deliver satisfactory results. The images captured with the telephoto optic at its maximum extension are of high quality, retaining a great deal of the original detail.

You have the option of shooting with image stabilization turned on, which is helpful if you do not have access to a tripod or other solid surface to place the camera on while you take pictures. However, it does have a very minor impact on the quality of the final image that is produced, particularly when the zoom level is set to one hundred percent, so it is important to keep this in mind. Even without picture stabilization, handheld photography may provide surprisingly blur-free images, especially when the lighting is adequate.

Thankfully, the digital zoom of the Canon SX280 is also capable of producing quality results. ZoomPlus increases the capabilities all the way up to 40x, and it does so while preserving a respectable degree of clarity. Additionally, it provides a great deal of versatility.

Because the picture is essentially chopped when using the 80x zoom feature, you won’t be able to generate huge prints from any of the photographs that were taken at this (equivalent) focal length. This is something that you could anticipate to happen when utilizing the function. Having said that, the capability to fire at such a distance is a useful function to have, even if it is likely that it won’t be utilized quite as frequently as the others.

The introduction of the brand-new Digic 6 processor carries with it the promise of enhanced performance in low light. In the signal-to-noise ratio test that was conducted in our labs, the Canon SX280 turned in a result that was somewhat better than the one that its predecessor, the Canon SX260 HS, had turned in.

However, when the sensitivity was increased to higher levels, such as ISO 1600, the results were so similar that it was difficult to differentiate between them.

For a camera that has a sensor that is this tiny (1/2.3-inch), the Canon SX280 puts in an excellent performance when the sensitivity is increased to higher levels such as ISO 1600. Even though there is noise in the image at this point, it is not too distracting, but it is important to note that part of the detail has been lost.

When you approach even higher sensitivities, such as ISO 3200, there is an even greater loss of detail as well as an increase in the amount of noise. Having said that, photographs are more than useable at typical printing and online sizes, and they are unquestionably preferable to the alternative of being unable to acquire the shot at all.

The autofocus speeds are often quite fast, which enables you to acquire the photo you need even under time pressure. When employing macro focusing, the camera may require a little bit more time to obtain focus on the subject, but it is extremely uncommon for a false confirmation of focus to show.

The Canon SX280 comes with a variety of digital filters, ranging from Toy Camera to Miniature to Super Vivid, among others. It is nevertheless worthwhile to play with what the camera has to offer, despite the fact that it does not provide as wide of a variety of options as other cameras, such as the Olympus XZ-2.

The screen included on the Canon SX280 is not a touchscreen and does not have a very high resolution. Additionally, this screen does not have a particularly high resolution. In spite of this, it does not appear to be too affected by glare or reflections in any lighting condition other than the most intense sunshine, and it provides a view that is both clear and well-lit of the subject being taken. The images that are played back seem sharp and colorful.


When not utilizing GPS technology, the battery life is reasonable, allowing for a few solid hours of shooting time. This means that if you use it pretty little while on vacation, it should be good. However, if you believe that you will be using the device somewhat frequently, you might consider purchasing an additional battery just in case.

Quality of the Image

The Canon PowerShot SX280 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 has more noticeable noise and a loss of color, it is still completely acceptable, and even the quicker option of ISO 3200 does not suffer too terribly. However, we do not recommend utilizing the fastest speed of ISO 6400.

The Canon PowerShot SX280 HS performed quite well when it came to handling chromatic aberrations. The camera produced very little purple fringing effects, however, these effects only appeared in high contrast conditions and often at the frame’s corners. The built-in flash did a fantastic job indoors, producing images free of red-eye and with enough exposure overall. The night snapshot came 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 SX280 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 in the camera. Your photos may be given a more interesting look by utilizing the many Creative Filters and My Color mode options.


Body typeCompact
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 6
ISOAuto 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400
White balance presets6
Custom white balanceYes (1)
Image stabilizationOptical
Uncompressed formatNo
JPEG quality levelsSuperfine, Fine
Focal length (equiv.)25–500 mm
Optical zoom20×
Maximum apertureF3.5–6.8
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaCenterTrackingSingleContinuousFace Detection
Digital zoomYes (4x)
Manual focusYes
Macro focus range5 cm (1.97″)
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3″
Screen dots461,000
Touch screenNo
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeNone
Minimum shutter speed15 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/3200 sec
Aperture priorityYes
Shutter priorityYes
Manual exposure modeYes
Built-in flashYes
Flash range3.50 m
External flashYes (optional HF-DC2)
Flash modesAuto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Slow Sync
Continuous drive3.8 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 10 sec, Custom)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpot
Exposure compensation±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
WB BracketingNo
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (60, 30 fps), 1280 x 720 (30 fps) 640 x 480 (30, 120 fps), 320 x 240 (240 fps)
FormatMPEG-4, H.264
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes (Mini)
Remote controlNo
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion NB-6L rechargeable battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)210
Weight (inc. batteries)233 g (0.51 lb / 8.22 oz)
Dimensions106 x 63 x 33 mm (4.17 x 2.48 x 1.3″)
Timelapse recordingNo
GPS notesA-GPS (Assisted GPS) supported. GPS tagging, GPS Logger, automatic time update

Final Verdict

A ratio that is identical to that of the TZ40 is maintained by a 20x optical zoom, which provides a great deal of versatility. It does not quite provide the extra-long reach that can be achieved with the Sony HX50, which is equipped with a 30x zoom capacity; nevertheless, it is important to note that this camera is far more affordable than the Sony. The digital zoom that Canon offers (called Zoom Plus) is also quite good and gives you a little bit of more versatility if you require it.

The inclusion of digital filters in cameras by a number of different manufacturers is sure to be appealing to the millions of smartphone photographers who are accustomed to using applications such as Instagram. Other manufacturers, such as Olympus and Panasonic, appear to do a better job with this than Canon does, despite the fact that the Canon SX280 has some unique customization choices. It would be fantastic if Canon included a mechanism to save a “normal” version of a photo in the event that you later decided that applying a digital filter was not the best option.

We can imagine Hybrid Auto being particularly tempting for “events” photography, such as photographing a family vacation, party, or wedding. It is a wonderful function to utilize, and we can see it being particularly appealing for “event” photos. It is a shame that the Movie Digest function cannot be used in conjunction with any of the other capabilities since it is a delightful addition to a collection of still photos taken during the day.

This particular model is an outstanding and high-performing tiny camera that provides a great deal of versatility to users of all skill levels, from those just starting out to those seeking for something a bit more sophisticated.

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Sharp lens.
  • 20x zoom range.
  • Speedy performer.
  • GPS.
Need Improvement
  • Not the sharpest LCD.
  • Narrow aperture.
  • Smudged details at high ISOs.

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