Canon Powershot SX1 IS Review

By soumitra, Gaea News Network
Thursday, July 2, 2009

canonLaunched on February, the Canon Powershot SX1 IS is a 20x ultrazoom hybrid camera to capture both high res pictures of 10MP and true HD video at 1920X1080p. Looking like its predecessor SX10, this camera picks up a better sensor, a slightly larger 2.8 inch LCD monitor, and a minimally larger body weighing 0.8 ounces more. Apart from the outside specs, is it really an advanced camera to take a hold in the very competitive digital camera market? Let’s find out in our review.



The SX1 IS sports a 10 MP CMOS sensor in place of usual CCD sensor. Traditionally CMOS sensors are less sensitive to light because of the internal circuitry that takes place on the sensing chip itself. But it should not be a problem for a large sized sensor like this. Also CMOS sensor means, it is capable of faster shooting and the capability of good quality video shooting. It also has the capability to capture images at RAW format for better tweaking ability on the pictures after they have been captured.


The optically stabilized 20X Zoom lens on the SX1 covers a 35mm film equivalent focal range from 28 to 560mm. The lenses are same as the SX10 IS and has a minimum aperture of f/8. The lens can focus as close as 3.9 inches in macro mode and upto 0-3.9 inches in super macro mode. It takes about 1.5 seconds to zoom from full wide angle to full telephoto.

Shooting Modes

The camera is equipped with the latest generation Digic 4 Image processor which supports face detection, servo AF, face detection self timer and intelligent contrast correction. Normal ISO ranges from 80 to 1600 at full resolution and 3200 ISO is available at 3 MP reduced resolution. Sooting modes are divided into two categories : Image Zone and Creative Zone. Selecting the camera to the image zone takes the camera to automatic settings for the Portrait, Landscape, Night snapshot, Sports, Stitch Assist and special zone with further submenus in it. The creative mode lets you select one of the aperture, shutter speed, ISO sensitivity or all of them manually.
It records movies at 640X480 or 320X240 at 30 fps in 4:3 aspect ratio and a whopping 1920X1080 HD resolution if you choose to go for widescreen 4:3 aspect ratio. Also you can record videos for 1 hour or 4GB whichever happens earlier.


The flash ranges upto 15.7 feet at wide angle and about 8.5 feet at telephoto. There are several option for flash on/off modes with/without red-eye reduction and auto modes. However I did not like the auto ISO requirement while using the flash. It means I can’t set the 80 to 200 sensitivity which offers the best noise performance.


The camera looks like a downsized DSLR at 5.02 X 3.48 X 3.45 inches and weighing about 24.8 ounces with battery, memory card and lens hood installed. The overall build feels good with good quality composite materials. The rubberized hand-grip is well contoured for a firm grip with the shutter button falling just under the natural index finger position making it ideal for both one and two handed shooting.

Display and Viewfinder

The 2.8 inch LCD has a 230,000 pixel composition and offers 100% coverage. It can be rotated through 270 degree to swing out from the camera body. The display brightness cane set to different levels to match the ambient light. However viewing the screen under direct sunlight is really difficult which is common to all standard digcams.
The viewfinder is good and also feels to give 100% coverage. It can be tweaked to individual user’s eyesight with its diopter adjustment.


The device powers up quickly and becomes ready to acquire focus in 1.2 seconds. The shutter lag is 0.02 seconds which is quite standard for a camera like this. The continuous shooting modes are also speedy at 4.1 fps. The Auto Focus capture time is good at 0.5 seconds. The AF is slow when zooming in to telephoto are but that is reasonable and nothing to complain about.


At the end of the day it is a good camera with excellent image and color quality. The shutter lag is improved and the capability to shoot RAW images and HD movies makes it a good camera for purchase. But its not-so-good battery life and price tags closing up to some entry level DSLRs needs a second thought before purchase. Finally, if you want good quality pictures with less headache, this is a good performing camera for you.

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September 9, 2009: 10:31 pm

I was so excited to receive this camera. With a good sized CMOS censor and full HD video I was certain that it would be a killer upgrade from my 3 year old SD630. I can’t articulate how disappointed I was to find that (in my hands) it could not take a single picture that was as good as my hip shots on the SD630. At first I tried comparing old photos (in similar environments) to the new ones taken with the SX1 but after many “failures” I decided to shoot the very same shot with both cameras. What I found is inexplicable. The 6MP CCD camera consistently produced cleaner photos than the SX1. The two most glaring deficits of the SX1 were graininess and noise. I did manage to take some usable shots outside just before sunset with ISO 80 and a tripod, but even those were noticeably lower quality than photos taken on the SD630 the week before.

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