The PowerShot SX600 HS continues Canon's push to give you the point-and-shoot features you want with the ease and sharing capabilities of smartphone photography.
The ultracompact $249.99 camera has an 18x f3.8-6.9 25-450mm lens and a 16-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor. But, unlike Canon's other SX models, the SX600 HS is all about automatic shooting, so you won't find manual shooting modes for controlling shutter speed and aperture.
What you do get is a revamped version of the Creative Shot mode that appeared first on last year's supersmall PowerShot N. Snap a picture of something and the camera will automatically create five different versions using different color and tone settings, crops, and styles in addition to saving the original photo.
The old version gave you no control over what types of effects were used. Now, you can choose a category of filters -- Retro, Monochrome, Special, or Natural -- for the camera to use with a total of 46 filters available.
The camera also has Canon's Hybrid Auto mode, which captures a few seconds of video before each picture you take. At the end of a day of shooting, the camera automatically gathers up all the little clips and your photos -- taken with Canon's scene-recognition Smart Auto -- and puts them into a movie. The result is basically a candid highlight movie.
Of course, once you've created these fantastic shots and movies, you'll want to share them. Again, Canon dipped into the PowerShot N features by adding a Mobile Device Connect button that, once it's set up, lets you directly connect over Wi-Fi to an iOS or Android device with a button push.
Now, to make that initial setup easier, at least for Android users, the SX600 HS has NFC. With it you'll be able to tap the camera against your smartphone and it will establish a Wi-Fi connection between the two. Using Canon's mobile app, you'll be able to view, send, and share your shots as well as remotely control the camera.
For those who are willing to sacrifice some zoom for size and price, Canon also announced the PowerShot Elph 340 HS. The $199.99 camera has all the same features as the SX600 HS, but it has a 12x f3.6-7.0 25-300mm lens. It's certainly nice to have a zoom range like that in an ultracompact camera, but, like the SX600 HS, the aperture range won't be great for use indoors or in low light.
The Canon PowerShot SX600 HS will be available in February with the Elph 340 HS following in March.