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Canon PowerShot SX230 HS review:

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS

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The Good Good low-light and high ISO performance. Good HD video results. Plenty of scene modes and photo options.

The Bad Fiddly GPS implementation. Ergonomics are either love-it or hate-it. Slow performance.

The Bottom Line Provided you don't need a bucket-load of features and can live with its odd ergonomics, the SX230 HS will tick most of the boxes for a travel zoom camera.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.9 Overall

Design and features

Canon has finally entered the travel zoom camera category in earnest with its first GPS-equipped camera. Stylistically, it looks near-identical to the earlier SX210, with a slightly comical exterior appearance with rounded corners and a two-tone finish.

The GPS hump is fairly obvious, and provides a comfortable notch to stop your finger from sliding down the smooth top of the camera next to the shutter button, while the flash ceremoniously pops up when the camera is switched on. Like earlier iterations, and the Fujifilm F550EXR, it's an annoyance — but one that can be banished quickly with a gentle push downwards. The power button is rather awkwardly recessed underneath the shutter button and next to the mode dial on a sloping side leading down to the screen, which makes it hard to access quickly.

Shooting options are plentiful, from full automatic and easy modes to dedicated scene modes, movie digest and, of course, PASM exposure options. Behind the 14x optical zoom lens, the SX230 shares the same 12.1-megapixel CMOS HS (or "High Sensitivity") sensor as the other IXUS and PowerShot cameras denoted with the HS tag. The lens is 28mm at its widest end, and has a maximum aperture range of f/3.1-f/5.9.

A 3-inch widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio) LCD is the other noteworthy feature on the exterior, giving away the camera's ability to shoot in either 4:3, 3:2, 1:1 or 16:9. Full HD video recording is on-board at 1080p, 24fps. There's also a mini-HDMI and mini-USB port to the side.

The SX220 HS, announced at the same time as this camera, is near-identical to the SX230, except for the GPS unit.

GPS tagging

Finding the option to activate the GPS logger is rather difficult, as Canon has put it way down the bottom of the list in the camera settings (accessible via the Menu button). Once found, the GPS options are very limited; turning the GPS on or off, as well as activating logging, which continues to search for a signal and track locations even when the camera is turned off. This option will drastically reduce battery life, and cuts down on an already thrifty juice pack.

Data collected by the GPS is limited to latitude, longitude, elevation and the camera clock — not any location names. Compared to the implementation on similar cameras, Canon's version definitely needs work for the next iteration.

Compared to

Sony HX9V Panasonic TZ20 Canon SX230 Fujifilm F550EXR
16.2-megapixel Exmor CMOS 14.1-megapixel MOS 12.1-megapixel CMOS 16-megapixel CMOS
3-inch LCD (921,000-dot) 3-inch touchscreen (460,000-dot) 3-inch LCD (460,000-dot) 3-inch LCD (460,000-dot)
16x optical zoom 16x optical zoom 14x optical zoom 15x optical zoom
24mm wide-angle 24mm wide-angle 28mm wide-angle 24mm wide-angle
GPS tagging GPS tagging GPS tagging GPS tagging
HD video (1080p) HD video (1080i) HD video (1080p) HD video (1080p)


General shooting metrics (in seconds)

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS
Fujifilm FinePix F550EXR
Panasonic Lumix TZ20
Sony Cyber-shot HX9V


Time to first shot
JPEG shot-to-shot time
Shutter lag

Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS
Fujifilm FinePix F550EXR
Panasonic Lumix TZ20
Sony Cyber-shot HX9V

The SX230 HS can take one full-resolution frame per second in continuous mode, though this speed can be increased by using the high-speed burst mode (available through the scene mode selection on the dial). This mode reduces the resolution to 3-megapixels.

Canon rates the battery for the SX230 at 210 shots.

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