CNET First Look
Canon PowerShot SX20 ISThe Canon PowerShot SX20 IS is a solid, but not standout, megazoom option for the money.
[ Background music ] >> Lori Grunin: Hi I'm Lori Grunin Senior Editor for CNET and this is the Canon Powershot SX20IS. The SX10IS wasn't a great mega zoom but it was one of the better ones. So it's kind of sad to see its replacement, the SX20 take a couple of steps backwards. It's slower with inferior photo quality simply in exchange for an extra couple of megapixels. The jump goes from 10-12. On the bright side it does add 720P video plus a mini HDMI connector for playing your movies on an HD TV. The body's almost identical to the SX10 with the same 20X zoom lens and its narrow maximum aperture. It's comfortable to hold and shoot and retains perks like the articulated LCD and 4 AAA powered operation. It's heavy which makes it feel like a digital SLR but the big grip gives you plenty of holding room. There's a deep indented thumb rest on the back joined by playback exposure compensation and focus area selection buttons. Because of the darker accent plastic the labels are much easier to read than on the previous model. As with the SX10 I generally like the controls but the dial feels too mushy. It doesn't respond appropriately and it feels like it needs to spin too far or not as far for any given operation resulting in frequent overshooting of settings. It needs better tactile feedback. The zoom switch still doesn't feel terribly exact either a common problem with step zooms. Of course the flip and twistable LCD remains a user favorite but the tradeoff is it's quite small. It's only 2.5 inches compared to the more common 3 inches. The electronic view finder seems a bit improved over the so so version in its predecessor. It still looks pretty course but I didn't experience the slow refresh issues I had with that one. Unfortunately it's still annoying. The camera lacks a dedicated toggle between the LCD and the EDF. You still have to cycle through with the display button. A couple aspects of the camera's performance are the same or a hair faster than the SX10 but overall shots shot performance is significantly slower. The SX 20 photos aren't bad but they no longer stand out from the rest of the pack either. Even photo shot at ISO80 looks soft and noisy except when viewed scaled down. It looks like the poor detail resolution typical of point and shoot cameras since super macro close-ups tend to look the best of the lot. While the exposure and color look very good the slow lens can get frustrating when shooting at the telephoto end cause there never seems to be enough light. The HD movies look relatively good though they're still soft like the stills. However the ability to zoom through the entire zoom range from video is really nice. The lens zooms quietly too. It's as solid if one spectacular mega zoom for the money. [ Background music ] >> Lori Grunin: I'm Lori Grunin and this is the Canon Powershot SX20IS