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Canon PowerShot SX230 HS review:

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS

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The Good Long 14x optical zoom; very effective optical image stabiliser; good low-light performance; 1080p video; large 3-inch LCD screen.

The Bad Poorly positioned pop-up flash; expensive; heavy; GPS feature drains battery quickly.

The Bottom Line The Canon PowerShot SX230 HS is an extremely versatile, capable and feature-packed compact superzoom. If you don't need the GPS feature, though, you'll be able to find a similar camera for less money.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.5 Overall

The Canon PowerShot SX230 HS is essentially the same camera as the PowerShot SX220 HS, but with the added bonus of a built-in GPS system for geotagging photos. This compact superzoom has the potential to be a very useful travel camera but, given that we thought the SX220 was expensive at around £230, the SX230 has its work cut out to justify its even higher £270 price tag.

Mass effect

Compared to one of Canon's dainty little Ixus cameras, the SX230 looks like something of a bruiser. Weighing in at 223g, it'll still fit in your pocket, but not without causing bulges, lopsidedness and other sartorial issues.

The SX230 handles colours very well, without exaggerating them. There's some purple fringing along some of the contrasting edges but nothing major (click image to enlarge).

The design isn't bad but there's nothing particularly original about it. The sturdy-feeling model we played with came dressed up in matte black, with silver edging. Rounded corners helped to prevent it looking too sombre. Metallic blue or pink options are also available.

On the rear of the SX230, you'll find a large, 3-inch LCD screen. Those hoping to swipe, jab and otherwise prod their way around the camera's interface will be disappointed -- the SX230 is firmly rooted in the realm of buttons and dials, rather than touchscreens.

The controls are conveniently placed and provide instant access to some useful functions. The busy mode dial on the rear, for example, clearly reflects the fact that this product is aimed at true photography enthusiasts.

One slightly irritating design decision that the SX230 shares with the SX220 is the position of the pop-up flash. It's placed at the exact point where your left index finger naturally rests on the top edge of the unit, which inevitably means that you accidentally close the flash almost every time it tries to pop up. You may, at some point, become accustomed to this, but, even after a fortnight of using the camera, we still kept getting caught out by the pop-up problem.

Stonking zoom

You may notice that the fixed portion of the SX230's lens housing sticks out slightly more than on some rival cameras. In fact, it's a miracle it doesn't protrude further, given that the camera offers a stonking 14x optical zoom.

The focal range of 28-392mm (in 35mm terms) opens up all types of shooting possibilities, while the optical image stabiliser, high ISO sensitivity, 12.1-megapixel resolution and 1080p high-definition video capture mean this is a very versatile camera.

The SX230 provides a wealth of automatic, manual and semi-automatic options to suit all types of users and shooting situations. Switch to the 'easy' mode and the camera's intelligent auto settings will attempt to work out the best combination of settings for your current subject.

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