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Canon throws a curve at its megazooms

Its "budget" PowerShot SX110 IS morphs into the stylish (and more expensive) SX200 IS.

Canon didn't just go nuts with its ultracompactdesigns; it's also overhauled the SX110 IS, turning its rather staid budget megazoom into a stylish compact to compete more with products like Panasonic's new ZS series. Of course, the first thing to go is the low price--it's $349.99 up from $249--but now it comes with an attractive, curvy body and in colors beyond black.

The SX200 IS is a completely different camera from its predecessor; it seems like the only thing it keeps is the 3-inch LCD. It incorporates a 12-megapixel CCD, up from 9 megapixels, and the lens range goes from a narrow angle 10X 36-360mm-equivalent to a wide-angle 28-336mm-equivalent 12X zoom. As with many of Canon's Spring models, it also adds 720p video capture capabilities.

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS
The SX1 IS supports raw and HD movie capture Canon USA

Since it's only about 6 months old, the higher-end SX10 IS doesn't get replaced, it gets a pricier buddy. The SX1 IS actually shipped last September in Europe, and I guess Canon USA finally decided we colonials were worthy of this higher-end model. Though it's 10 megapixels like the SX10, it uses a CMOS chip instead of a CCD; one of the resulting benefits of that is support for 1080p movie capture. Since the sensors are the same size, the 20X zoom lens covers the same focal range: 28-560mm-equivalent. The SX1 offers another perk over the SX10: support for simultaneous raw+JPEG capture. All that will cost you $599.99, about $200 more than the SX10.

Both cameras upgrade to Canon's Digic 4 processor with the typical accompanying enhancements to the automation features, including auto scene recognition, improved face detection and intelligent contrast correction.

The SX1 IS is slated to ship in April, while the SX200 IS will be available in March.