Canon PowerShot SX200 IS review:

Canon PowerShot SX200 IS

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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Effective image stabilisation; 12x zoom range; decent range of manual modes.

The Bad Pop-up flash; spinning control dial; mediocre picture quality.

The Bottom Line On paper, the Canon PowerShot SX200 IS looks great. In the flesh, it's a disappointment. It's bulky, has annoying design and control issues, and the picture quality is variable. It's still a versatile camera that can be used to take great pictures, but it promises much more than it delivers

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6.5 Overall

Canon describes the PowerShot SX200 IS as a 'super-compact wide zoom', but that's stretching it slightly. It's actually something of a monster as far as compacts go. The specs are good, though, with 12 megapixels, manual controls and a 12x wideangle zoom, but the SX200 will set you back about £280.

These compact superzooms are catching on. Regular superzooms might have a longer zoom range, but they're styled like mini SLRs and there's no way you're going to be able to shove one in your jacket pocket like you can with this camera. Besides, the 12x zoom on the SX200 still has a long enough reach for all but the most distant subjects.

The picture quality's not bad but could be better. The lens delivers barrel distortion at the wide end and chromatic aberration at the long end (click image to enlarge)

Long zooms need image stabilisers to keep the picture steady, and Canon's IS mechanism does a great job here. Canon says it offers a 4x shutter speed advantage, and it certainly steadies up long-range shots remarkably well.

At the other end of the scale, the zoom is equivalent to a 28mm wideangle, so this really is a very flexible do-it-all camera. It's a good one for learning about photography too, because, although it has idiot-proof fully automatic modes (plus new help screens), it has aperture-priority, shutter-priority and manual modes as well.

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