Steve's Conclusion

Steve's SnapShot

  • 12.1-Megapixel Imaging Sensor
  • 3.0-Inch, 460,000 dot LCD Screen
  • 20x Optical zoom lens: 25-500mm (35mm equivalent)
  • Intelligent IS system
  • Dedicated Video Record Button
  • Live View Shooting
  • Auto mode
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • GPS
  • Wi-Fi
  • Camerawindow App
  • Li-Ion Battery
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
  • Auto shooting mode is accurate and easy in all situations
  • Dedicated Video Capture Button is always ready to record
  • Image Quality is excellent in all shooting modes
  • Movie quality is better than most digicams
  • Intelligent IS keeps images sharp in low-light
  • Nice, Bright 3.0-inch LCD
  • Decent shooting performance
  • Built-in GPS records location data to images
  • Wi-Fi allows for instant upload and viewing on smartphones and tablets
  • HDMI output
  • Competitively priced
  • Small, weak flash unit isn't very helpful unless you are very close to subject
  • Slightly more noise than expected, even at the lower ISO settings
  • Poor battery life
  • Special features (Wi-Fi and GPS) shorten the already anemic battery life
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 1.7 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 2/10 to 4/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 1.34 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 2.48 seconds
  • Sequential burst = 3.57fps
  • High Speed Burst = 14fps for 7 images
  • All tests were taken using a SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1, 8GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The Canon PowerShot SX280 HS is a powerful and compact digicam, featuring some of the latest and greatest from Canon. The powerful processor allows for the fantastic shooting modes and features to operate with ease. Full manual control gives even the most advanced photographers plenty of options.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for a powerful and versatile digicam that will satisfy any level photographer. This camera is also perfect for quick sharing and gives you more features and shooting modes than you will know what to do with.
Canon's PowerShot SX280 is one of the most versatile of the compact point-n-shoot models in the PowerShot lineup. Sporting a 20x optical zoom lens, 12.1-Megapixel HS CMOS imaging sensor and the new DIGIC VI processor, its power and image quality are just as impressive. It has shooting modes for everyone in the family, no matter how much photography experience. The Live shooting mode even allows people without a lot of photography experience to make adjustments on the fly and really push their creativity. Built-in Wi-Fi allows for easy uploading to social media sites as well as connecting to a smartphone or tablet using Canon's Camerawindow App. GPS, Full 1080p HD video capture, and a 3-inch LCD round out the other major features found on this compact powerhouse.

Featuring the Canon HS system, a combination of the High Sensitivity CMOS imaging sensor and the DGIIC VI processor which work in unison to provide outstanding image quality with lower noise levels, faster burst and continuous shooting modes and increased AF speeds over the previous PowerShot models. This allows the camera to do a better job tracking a subject with the AF Tracking option as well as allowing for better quality prints from your higher ISO images like ISO 6400. All this power also assists in shooting the Movie Digest clips, which record a small video using the Intelligent IS and Smart Auto shooting mode to capture smooth, steady movies every time you capture a still image.

Canon's Camerawindow App is a powerful tool that allows you to use the camera itself as a Wi-Fi hotspot, or to connect to an existing hotspot, which allows you to upload your images from the camera to social media websites, a smartphone or tablet on either iOS or Android, Print Wirelessly or just back up your images wirelessly to a connected computer. When connected to a smartphone or tablet, the camera allows you to view all of the images saved on the SD card, as long as the two devices are connected. Images can also be transferred off of the camera with an GPS information that is available. Both full sized images or smaller copies can be copied, giving you the option to send smaller images for email and social media upload without having to do any of the work yourself.

Handling the SX280 takes a little getting used to at first. A small grip on the front of the camera and a contoured mode dial on the back allow the camera to fit comfortably in one hand. Operation is easy with one or both hands, depending on how you prefer to shoot. Using both hands is necessary when shooting handheld at the full telephoto end, however. The large power button on the outside of the shutter release can easily be mistaken for the shutter release when you first start to use camera. It is also very easy to accidentally press the power button when taking the camera in and out of a camera bag. Other than that, the rest of the camera controls are very easy to use, including the 4-way controller with command dial. If you are familiar with Canon's menu systems, then you'll feel right at home with the new SX280. If you are not you may find it a bit overwhelming at first, as there are a lot of options and settings.

Framing and viewing your images is accomplished with the 3.0-inch, 461,000 dot LCD TFT screen. With 5 levels of adjustable brightness and a very wide viewing angle, the screen is easy to see in just about all lighting conditions, even if you are not directly behind the camera.

Looking at our outdoor image samples, we can see the camera's excellent overall image quality with pleasing exposure and realistic colors. As we see with a most compact camera's, it did struggle a little with the exposure when shooting against an overcast or cloudy sky. Shooting in both Auto and Program modes, we did not see a big difference in most of the samples, mainly just a little higher contrast from the Auto shooting mode. With the camera selecting the lower ISO settings, we were a little surprised to the see the noise in the shadow and darker areas of the images.

Composing your images is accomplished with the versatile 20x optical zoom lens. With a 35mm equivalent of 25-500mm, large group images and vast landscapes are easy to capture on the wide end, while the telephoto end will get you incredibly close to distant objects. With such a large telephoto end, Canon's Intelligent IS system is a must to keep your shots sharp when shooting without a tripod. Even with the optical image stabilization, we had to take several shots with the full telephoto end to ensure that we had a sharp image, since just the smallest amount of handshake can cause major blurring in your images.

Our indoor sample shots look to be a little sharper and show a bit less noise than we saw in the outdoor images. At the lower ISO settings, the resolution and amount of detail is wonderful. Noise in the darker and shadows areas does start to show around ISO 200, but most of the smaller details remain sharp. By ISO 800, most of the finer details within the image, such as the threads in the flag, have disappeared and the image noise has started to soften image. While the higher ISO settings (3200 and 6400) perform much better than on most point-n-shoot cameras, they are still a bit too noisy to be considered acceptable for a good looking print. Assisting with your indoor and low-light images is a small and not very powerful pop-up flash unit. With a maximum listed range of 11ft. (W), you will definitely have to stay close to you subject when using it. It can come in very handy for indoor shooting situations or as a fill if you have strong backlighting.

The Face Detection software on the SX280 is very easy to recognize and use. It is an automatic function in certain camera modes that will detect any faces that come into the frame. When a face is detected, the focus box around the detected face turns from green, which is the normal focus point for non faces, to blue. At this point the blue box will follow the face as long as it stays within the frame and facing the camera. As the camera follows the face, it is constantly adjusting the exposure settings to make sure that faces are the priority, both for exposure and focus at all times. This helps to guarantee that you capture the best portraits possible. Our sample portrait, taking advantage of everything the camera has to offer, used the flash and image stabilization to capture an image that is well exposed and evenly lit from both the natural light and flash. Even with the flash firing, we did not see any instances of redness in the subject's eyes.

With the dedicated video recording button, the SX280 is always ready to record home movies with just one touch of the button. There is also a video shooting mode, which gives you access to the entire set of movie recording mode's settings. It also changes the screen to the 16:9 aspect, showing exactly what the camera will record. Our sample movie recorded a sharp, detailed video that plays back very smoothly. The audio is also good for a compact camera, using the very sensitive built-in mic to record the audio that is near the camera. This mic will capture the sounds that are closest to the camera, not necessarily the ones that you are hoping for. Be careful where you position yourself to avoid background noises and wind, while staying close to your subjects if the sound is important.

Powering the SX280 is a 3.7V, 1000mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. With Canon's estimate of just 210 shots on a single charge, we did not expect too much, and that is what we received. With the GPS and Wi-Fi functioning just part of the time, we were only able to capture approx. 100 images before we had to recharge to complete our tests. Without using any of the extra features, it may be possible to reach the 210 images Canon claims, but you will not be going over. Eco mode allows you to squeeze a few more shots out of each charge, but this mainly just lowers the brightness of the LCD or shuts it off completely. Both things are that are easy for you to do on your own as well. With the powerful and fun features like Wi-Fi and GPS, you will want to have your charger and a spare battery or two if you plan on being out shooting for any extended periods of time, including vacations.

Bottom Line - The Canon PowerShot SX280 HS is a fantastic camera for any household, combining a powerful feature set with an incredibly easy to use design and shooting modes that let everyone who picks it up shoot with confidence. Loaded with the latest features from Canon, including a 12-Megapixel HS CMOS, DIGIC VI image processor, built-in Wi-Fi and GPS, and Intelligent IS, the SX280 is sure to compete with any other point-n-shoot digicam in its price range. With a MSRP of US $329.99, it's not the cheapest camera on the market, but you will not be disappointed once you start using it.

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