The Canon PowerShot SX200 IS is remarkably equipped for what's ostensibly a point-and-shoot camera. Sure, the wide-angle lens with 12x zoom in a reasonably compact body is the big draw; but there's also the HD video recording abilities and the full manual control over shutter speed, aperture, and focus, in addition to a glut of other shooting controls. This is namely what separates it from its main competition, Panasonic's Lumix DMC-ZS3. Well, that, and the fact that the Canon's zoom lens is locked while shooting video.
If you're after a more pure point-and-shoot experience and want to take full advantage of the zoom range whether you're shooting stills or video, the ZS3 is probably the compact 12x megazoom to go with. Want more control over exposures? The PowerShot SX200 IS is what you'll want in your pocket.
|Key specs||Canon PowerShot SX200 IS|
|Dimensions||4.1 inches wide by 2.4 inches high by 1.5 inches deep|
|Weight (with battery and media)||8.6 ounces|
|Megapixels, image sensor size, type||12 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD|
|LCD size, resolution||3-inch LCD, 230K dots|
|Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length)||12x, f3.4-5.3, 28-336mm (35mm equivalent)|
|File format (still/video)||JPEG/MOV (H.264)|
|Highest resolution size (still/video)||4,000x3,000 pixels (4:3)/1,280x720 at 30fps (16:9)|
|Image stabilization type||Mechanical and electronic|
|Battery type, rated life||Lithium ion rechargeable, 280 shots|
The SX200 IS is attractive, if a little odd looking, because of the long, wide-angle lens in front. Available in three colors--black, blue, and red--its style is a definite improvement over Canon's previous pocket zooms, the SX100 IS and SX110 IS. Despite having a longer and wider lens than those models, the SX200 IS is more pocketable. It's not necessarily lightweight, though.
Unfortunately, it's not without its design quirks. The biggest of these being the motorized flash, which automatically rises from the top left of the chassis and can't be retracted. This makes pinch-gripping the left side a little difficult and it's not helped by the overall slipperiness of the camera's body. Second quirk: the dime-sized Mode dial on top has no fewer than 13 selections on it. Five of them are scene modes that can be eliminated by sticking them under the SCN selection. That would've allowed Canon to make the icons a more easily readable size.
Controls on back are pretty standard: four buttons and a directional pad. There's a scroll wheel around the outside of the pad for faster menu navigation as well as for working with the manual settings. But (quirk number three) the left side of the pad comes so close to the raised edge of the LCD that it prevents larger thumbs from easily pressing that side of the pad or smoothly completing a revolution of the wheel. Lastly, the camera feels fairly sturdy with the exception of the right side, which is capped by plastic with part of it being a door covering the mini HDMI and USB/AV port.
On the upside, using the SX200 IS doesn't take much effort--even if you're taking advantage of all its shooting options.