Canon Powershot SX1 IS Review

Features & Controls

The SX1 IS features a 20X optical (28-560mm in the 35mm format) f/2.8-5.7 all-glass aspherical zoom lens, with Canon's true 'Lens-Shift' Optical Image Stabilization system. Unlike electronic image stabilizer systems that typically cause degradation of image quality, Canon's Lens Shift Optical IS system is based on the advancements made in the development and refinement of Canon's EF and video lenses. Reduced in size to fit this model, this Image Stabilizer provides up to three stops of camera shake correction in shutter speed equivalent.

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS

The SX1 is equipped with a single-point TTL AF system that achieves sharp focus quickly, and is aided in low-light conditions with a built-in AF assist lamp. You can move the AF frame to the area desired by pressing the AF Point Selection button on the back of the camera and using the 4-way controller as well as choose the AF frame size (Normal or Small). It also features manual focus override as well as a Focus Bracketing function and Canon's Face Detection AF/AE/FE/WB technology. This allows the camera to detect, lock on and track up to nine human faces in a scene simply by pressing the shutter button halfway. The face detection algorithm automatically prioritizes and selects the optimum subject and not simply the closest face (based on Canon's Intelligent Scene Analysis/iSAPS technology). It will then optimize the focus, exposure, and white balance to ensure the best possible results for easy picture taking moments.

The focusing range is:

  • Normal: 1.6 ft./50cm-infinity (W), 3.3 ft./1m-infinity (T)
  • Macro: 3.9 in.-1.6 ft. (10-50 cm) Wide
  • Super macro: 0-3.9 in. (0-10cm) Wide

In low light conditions the focus-assist lamp helps to illuminate the subject for accurate focusing.

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS

The built in flash offers Auto, Manual, Red-eye Reduction, Auto Red-eye Correction, Flash On, Flash Off; FE Lock, Safety FE, and Slow Synchro modes. You can also adjust the Flash output compensation (�2.0 stops in 1/3-stop increments). Canon quotes a recycle time of 7 sec. or less. Flash range at ISO Auto is:

1.6-15.7 ft./50cm-4.8m (W), 3.3-8.5 ft./1-2.6m (T) (when sensitivity is set to ISO Auto)

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS

The hot shoe allows you to use optional flash units like Canon's 220EX, 380EX, 430EX II or 580EX II Speedlites.

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS

On the front of the camera located above the lens are two microphones that record stereo audio to be included with your movies, sound memos, etc.

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS

You can frame your pictures with the color LCD or the high-quality EVF (Electronic ViewFinder). This viewfinder is a tiny 0.40-inch LCD (148k dots) in a magnified eyepiece. Like the LCD on the back of the camera, this display offers 100% frame coverage as well as Dioptric adjustment (-6.0 to +2.0 m-1).

Canon PowerShot SX1 ISCanon PowerShot SX1 IS

Controls on top: on the left is the Flash mode button, which also acts as the Sound Memo button in playback mode. To the right of the hot shoe is the Mode dial with positions for Auto, Program, Shutter priority (Tv), Aperture priority (Av), Manual, Custom, Movie, Stitch Assist, SCN, Sports, Night Scene, Landscape, and Portrait. Next is the shutter release with the zoom lens control mounted around it, in playback mode the zoom lever functions as the index and magnified image control. Last but not least is the On/Off power button. You can also see the wireless remote control sensor on the front, right above the camera name.

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS

On the back is a 230,000 pixel 2.8-inch 'Vari-angle' color LCD monitor. It offers a wide viewing angle and can be tilted and rotated up to 270�.

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS

Controls on the back: to the left of the EVF you can see the Print/Share and Aspect Ratio buttons. To the right you can see the dedicated Movie record button as well as the Play, Exposure value (Rotate), and Focus point selector (Delete) buttons. The 4-way controller lets you navigate menus and select images during playback, the FUNC/SET button accepts menu selections. It also gives you access to the Function shortcut menu, which has many settings (white balance, Color effects, Bracketing, Flash output compensation, Metering, Movie/Still Image quality and Image size, etc.) In record mode you press 'Up' to use Manual focus, 'Right' to toggle the sensitivity, 'Down' to change the Drive mode, and 'Left' to enable Macro focus mode. Mounted around the 4-way controller is the Control dial. This handy dial allows you to quickly navigate the menu, set aperture and shutter speed values, etc. The DISPlay toggles the amount of information displayed on the LCD and EVF as well as switched between the two. The MENU button calls up and dismisses the menu screens. You can also see the Movie mode Record button in the upper left hand corner.

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS

The I/O ports are located on the right hand side of the camera, protected under two small doors. At the top is the DC IN port for connecting the optional CA-PS700 Compact Power Adapter and Audio/Video Output (NTSC or PAL format) for viewing images and movie files on your TV. The Digital USB 2.0 (high-speed) port handles both transferring images to your computer as well as Direct printing to any PictBridge compatible printer. Lastly we have the HDMI output port for connecting the SX1 to your HDTV.

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS

The PowerShot SX1 IS is equipped with a card slot that supports use of SD/MMC/MMC+ cards up to 2GB or SDHC/HC MMC+ cards up to 8GB. Unlike past models, Canon does not include a card with the camera. Shown here with a speedy SanDisk Extreme III 1GB SD card - see the tables below for the approximate storage capacity.

Number of Recordable Images

Large (L)Medium 1 (M1)Medium 2 (M2)
File Size (KB)4,3322,5651,2262,7201,6207802,0021,116556

Medium 3 (M3)Small (S)Large Widescreen (LW)
File Size (KB)1,002558278249150843,6002,1321,019

Small Widescreen (SW)RAW
File Size (KB)1,09560430013,50016,065

Time of Recordable Movies

Full HDStandard Definition
1,920 x 1,080640 x 480320 x 240
30 fps30 fps30 fps
Movie size (KB/sec.)5,2961,402480
2GB6 min. 07 sec.22 min. 45 sec.1 hr. 4 min. 1 sec.
8GB24 min. 30 sec.1 hr. 30 min. 57 sec.4 hr. 15 min. 51 sec.

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS

Powering the SX1 IS are four standard AA type batteries. While Canon supplies alkaline type cells, we recommend high-capacity NiMH rechargeable AA batteries. Rechargeable batteries will save you money and can be reused hundreds of times. Using CIPA testing standards, Canon estimates that the approx. battery life with alkalines is 160 shots and a total of 720 minutes of playback time. Using NiMH batteries you can expect approx. 420 shots or 840 minutes of playback time.

Please help support our site and visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability.

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.