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Canon PowerShot SX60 HS review: Canon comes back strong with 65x zoom PowerShot SX60 HS

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The Good The Canon PowerShot SX60 HS is an all-around excellent bridge camera with a competitive zoom range, features that make it easier to use and make use of the lens and solid photo and video quality for its class.

The Bad Like most cameras in this category, the SX60 can be slow to lock focus when fully zoomed in under certain conditions. Switching between the viewfinder and display is still frustrating and there's no proximity sensor to automatically trigger the change either. Pixel peepers likely won't be impressed with its photos, especially indoors or in low-light.

The Bottom Line Canon's PowerShot SX60 HS is one of the top bridge cameras in its class thanks to improved design, useful features, excellent photos and video and -- of course -- its really wide and really long lens.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 8.0
  • Image quality 8.0

In September 2012, Canon launched the PowerShot SX50 HS , a bridge camera with a 50x, f3.4-6.5, 24-1,200mm zoom lens -- an unheard of zoom range at the time.

The following year, just about every camera maker released a model that matched or surpassed that range while also adding a number of features that eventually made the SX50 HS look behind the times because, well, it was.

Then in September 2014, Canon came racing back in with the 65x zoom PowerShot SX60 HS.

Selling for $550 in the US and £430 and AU$570 in the UK and Australia, respectively, the camera looks nearly identical to its predecessor, but up front you'll find an f3.4-6.5 21-1,365mm lens (35mm equivalent). Like the SX50's, the SX60's lens is impressive. But if you're looking for the zoom with longest focal length, it falls short because Canon went wider and longer with this model.

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By comparison, Nikon's Coolpix P600 and the new P610 have a 60x zoom range with their f3.3-6.5, 24-1440mm lens (35mm equivalent). Those don't start as wide as the Canon, but the Nikon beats them at the telephoto end. Sony's Cyber-shot 63x zoom H400 gets you even closer with its 1,550mm telephoto.

The point to all of this is that you shouldn't shop by the magnification spec, but by the lens specifications. With that said, the SX60 HS's zoom range does deserve your attention, but so does the rest of the camera.

Features and design

The SX60 HS gets a 4-megapixel resolution bump to 16 megapixels, and its 1/2.3-inch backside-illuminated CMOS sensor is paired with a newer Digic 6 image processor for better low-light results and improved performance all around. Photos can be captured in JPEG, raw or JPEG plus raw (its 12-bit CR2 raw format is supported by Adobe Camera Raw 8.7).

Video capabilities have been beefed up. The camera can capture at up to 1080p at 60 frames per second and you can shoot in automatic or manually control exposure, and an optional external stereo mic jack has been added.

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The vari-angle display is larger at 3 inches and has a high 922K-dot resolution. The electronic viewfinder has the same high resolution, too (but remains the same rather small size). On top of the viewfinder is a hot shoe that can be used with Canon EX-series Speedlites. Speaking of accessories, the front of the lens is threaded for 67mm filters and there's a jack for connecting a wired remote release (model RS-60E3).

At first glance, the design might look unchanged from the SX50, but a closer look reveals Canon moved things around and improving usability. For example, the SX60 HS has a discrete dial for changing shutter speed and aperture located just behind the shutter release, something the SX50 just didn't have. It's joined by a programmable shortcut button that's been relocated from the other side of the camera, making it much easier to quickly change something like the light metering or white-balance settings without looking at the controls.

On back you'll find separate buttons within reach of your thumb for focus area and exposure compensation, too, and flash mode, continuous shooting options, focus mode (macro, normal and manual) and display controls are on a directional pad. In the pad's center is the Function/Set button for fast access to other important settings, and Canon lets you pick what you want in that menu.

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The Display button is what's used to move back and forth from the 3-inch rotating LCD to the small electronic viewfinder (EVF) for framing shots. That would be fine if you didn't have to cycle through different display settings to switch from one to the other: low-info LCD, detailed LCD, low-info EVF, detailed EVF. What's worse is that there are some modes that use the Display button to access secondary functions, so if you're in one of those and want to switch from the LCD or EVF, you have to leave the shooting mode you're in first.

Your other option is to flip the LCD to face into its cavity, which automatically turns on the EVF; flipping out the screen to face you automatically switches on the LCD. Regardless, it's ultimately a very frustrating design choice, and Canon should have used an LCD/EVF button placed next to the EVF like every other manufacturer and/or a proximity sensor that triggers the switch when you bring the EVF to your eye.

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Rounding out the back panel controls are a one-touch movie record button, a menu button and Canon's Mobile Device Connect button, which lets you specify a smartphone or computer in advance that you'll connect to at the push of a button.

Press it and it turns on the camera's Wi-Fi, at which point you have to open your mobile device's wireless settings and select the camera. Opening the Camera Connect app (for iOS and Android devices) completes the process.

Along with sending photos and movies directly to mobile devices for viewing, editing, and uploading, you can use the Wi-Fi to sync your mobile's GPS to geotag your photos, which is nice because this camera does not have built-in GPS. You can also wirelessly send images directly to a photo printer or back them up to a PC on the same network that the camera is connected to.

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Screenshot by Joshua Goldman/CNET

Lastly, the app can be used as a remote viewfinder and shutter release. It doesn't give you much control -- just zoom, self-timer, shutter release, and flash (assuming you've popped it up) -- but it's nice to have for shooting wildlife and group portraits. It can't be used to start and stop video, however.

Canon includes NFC on the SX60 HS for use with supported Android devices, but it isn't used for much. If you haven't installed the Camera Connect app, you can tap your smartphone against the camera and it will launch the Google Play store so you can download it. After that, it's only used to launch the app. You'll still have to turn on the camera's Wi-Fi and connect your device to the camera by selecting it in your wireless settings.

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