Steve's Conclusion

Steve's SnapShot
  • 20.2MP CMOS image sensor
  • DIGIC 4+ image processor
  • 18x optical zoom lens
    • 25-450mm
  • Auto-Zoom functionality
  • 3.0-inch LCD display (922K pixels)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • NFC
  • Pros
    • 18x optical zoom lens in thin camera
    • Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity
    • Very easy to operate
    • Shutter lag performance is very good in normal lighting conditions
    • Full HD video recording
    • 20MP of resolution
    • Variety of special effect photos are fun to use
    • Automatic zoom follows a moving subject
    • LCD is of a good quality
    • Image quality could be better
    • Small 1/2.3-inch image sensor
    • Plenty of noise in images shot at mid-ISO range
    • Continuous shot modes are slow
    • Shutter lag with flash is poor
    • No aperture priority or manual control options
    • Control buttons on back of camera are too small and too tightly set to camera to be used comfortably
    • Minimum lens aperture of f/3.8 isn't fast enough
    • Battery life could be better
    • Camera's continuous shot performance could be faster
    • Camera's suggested price seems a bit high
    Timing Test Results
    • Power up to first image captured (with start-up image enabled) = 2.0 seconds
    • Power up to first image captured (with start-up image disabled) = 2.0 seconds
    • Shutter lag when prefocused = less than 0.1 seconds
    • Shutter lag with autofocus = 0.2 seconds
    • Shot to shot delay without flash = 2.7 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 2.4 seconds with review Off
    • Shot to shot delay with flash = 5.6 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 5.1 seconds with review Off
    • Continuous Mode = 10 frames in 5.1 seconds @ 20M
    • High-Speed Continuous Mode = 10 frames in 2.0 seconds @ 5M
    All tests were taken using a SanDisk Class 10, 16 GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, Flash off, Review on, ISO Auto and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
    Bottom Line
    The Canon PowerShot SX610 HS is the latest basic point-n-shoot model from Canon, but there just isn't much in this camera that will make you take notice of it. The SX610 offers 20.2-megapixels of resolution, but its image quality simply isn't where it should be for a camera with that much resolution and an MSRP of $249. Even under nearly perfect lighting conditions, the PowerShot SX610's image quality isn't good enough to make mid-to-large-sized prints. This model has no manual control features. Burst modes have poor performance with the SX610, although its shutter lag performance in good lighting conditions is above average. The camera slows significantly when you're using the flash. The camera does offer an 18x optical zoom, which is pretty good for a camera that measures 1.05 inches in thickness, but that's not enough to make the Canon PowerShot SX610 a highly recommended model.
    Pick This Up If...
    You need a mid-range zoom lens in a camera that will fit in a pocket, you only want to share photos via social networks, you don't rely on burst modes much, and you need good shutter lag performance in a point-n-shoot model.
    People looking for a good travel camera typically will want at least a mid-range zoom lens in a camera that fits easily in a pocket. If you don't own a DSLR and a lot of high-end camera gear that you're planning to take with you, a thin ultra-zoom model can give you some nice advantages while traveling.

    The Canon PowerShot SX610 HS camera would appear to be a pretty decent travel camera, offering an 18x optical zoom lens and 20-megapixels of resolution. It measures only 1.05 inches in thickness, so it'll fit easily in a pocket.

    Canon even gave this model a few different wireless connectivity options, including Wi-Fi and NFC technologies. Such options can be handy while traveling, as you can upload photos while shooting them to create a back-up copy or to share your photos on social networks.

    But the one area where every camera needs to excel, whether it's a travel camera or not, is in image quality, and the PowerShot SX610 doesn't quite meet its peers in that arena. When viewed at large sizes, this camera's images look overprocessed even in good lighting conditions. In low light the SX610's images contain quite a bit of noise, especially if you're bumping the ISO setting to 800 or beyond.

    For a camera with a suggested starting price of $249, the image quality needs to be better than what the PowerShot SX610 HS provides.

    If you don't plan to make mid-sized or large prints with the PowerShot SX610, this camera can provide adequate results. If you're just going to share the SX610's photos with friends via social networking, this camera's photos will look all right on a computer, tablet, or smartphone screen.

    The PowerShot SX610's performance speed is a mixed bag. First, the good news. This model's start up time is above average versus its peers, requiring about 2 seconds to record the first photo after pressing the power button.

    Shutter lag is not really noticeable in the SX610 HS when the lighting conditions are good, even when you're shooting at the full 18x zoom. This is a very good performance for a point-n-shoot camera.

    However if you are using the camera's flash, this model's performance slows considerably. Shutter lag on a flash photo is about 1.5 seconds. And shot to shot delays on flash photos are poor, as the SX610 requires more than 5 seconds between photos when using the flash. A young child or a pet can move completely out of frame in 1.5 seconds and can be in another portion of the house in 5 seconds.

    Continuous shot mode is very poor with this model too. In full resolution (20MP) continuous shot mode, you'll be able to record the first two photos in about 0.5 seconds. Then the camera slows to about 0.6 seconds between photos after that.

    Canon does offer a high-speed burst mode with the PowerShot SX610 HS, but you're limited to 5-megapixels per image. And even this limited-resolution, high-speed burst mode isn't all that fast, allowing for 10 photos in about 2 seconds. The flash is not available in this mode.

    The mixed bag with the SX610 doesn't stop with the performance levels or image quality. This camera's physical design has a number of pluses and minuses too.

    I do like the size of this model, as it offers a nice 18x optical zoom lens in a camera that measures just over 1 inch in thickness. The camera is easy to hold and operate one-handed, and the camera body has a sturdy feel with a mix of metal and plastic in the camera's design.

    The PowerShot SX610 HS's LCD screen is of an outstanding quality versus other point-n-shoot models, offering more than 900,000 pixels of resolution in a 3.0-inch display. Unfortunately it's not a touch-screen display. The display really doesn't suffer from glare when shooting photos in direct sunlight, which is a nice feature.

    Canon gave the SX610 both Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, which is nice, but both of these features will drain the battery pretty quickly. And this PowerShot model's thin battery doesn't have great performance in standard shooting conditions, so if you plan to use the camera's wireless connectivity options, you'll probably want to purchase a second battery. My tests showed the camera's battery is good for about 225-250 shots per charge.

    While this model is very easy to operate, thanks to a lack of manual control options and a very limited number of buttons, the included buttons are far too small to be used comfortably. The four-way button on the back of the camera is especially poorly designed, as it's far too small and set too tightly to the camera's body to be used effectively. If you're someone who likes to change settings on the camera quite often or who wants to review photos stored on the memory card, this four-way button's design will frustrate you after a short period of operation.

    There is no manual control option with the SX610; no aperture priority or shutter priority mode. When shooting in Program Auto mode you can adjust the ISO or white balance, but you have no control over shutter speed or aperture.

    Canon did give the SX610 a variety of special effect modes, including Creative Shot and Hybrid Auto, which are fun to use and are very appropriate to find in this type of extremely basic point-n-shoot model. Another handy option for beginning photographers is the Auto Zoom mode, where the camera will keep the subject's face at a constant size as it moves back and forth in the frame by adjusting the optical zoom setting automatically.

    Movie quality is about average with this camera. You can shoot at full HD resolution, but you are limited to 30 frames per second, rather than the 60 fps that is found on many modern still image cameras. The full 18x optical zoom range is available when shooting movies, but the zoom advances slowly, requiring nearly 8 seconds to go through the full range. Canon did give the SX610 an HDMI port, which is handy for syncing your movies on a TV screen, but the manufacturer did not include an HDMI cable in the camera's box.

    Bottom Line - Canon's PowerShot SX610 HS is a nice thin zoom camera with some good features, but it has almost an equal number of drawbacks that make it tough to recommend it as a travel camera. While its image quality is good enough to share via e-mail and social networks, you won't be able to make large prints because of images that seem overprocessed. Mid-range to high ISO settings introduce quite a bit of undesirable noise into photos. The camera's lack of shutter lag in normal shooting conditions is great to see in a point-n-shoot model, but the camera's burst mode performance is poor, even when stacked against its beginner-level peers. Shot to shot delays and shutter lag are well below average when you begin using the camera's popup flash, which is very disappointing. Canon gave the SX610 an above average LCD, as it remains sharp and bright even when using the camera in direct sunlight. Unfortunately, the camera's control buttons are far too small and set too tightly to the camera's body to be used comfortably. The PowerShot SX610's four-way button is especially poorly designed, making it difficult to review photos stored on the memory card or to use the camera's on-screen menus. While it's nice to have an 18x optical zoom lens in a camera that measures only 1.05 inches in thickness, this point-n-shoot model has quite a few drawbacks that make it difficult to recommend at an MSRP of $249. If this camera had a reduced price, it'd be easier to consider it as a good travel camera option. Still, this isn't an awful camera by any stretch, and if you can find it at a bargain, it will work in certain circumstances for the right person, as long as you understand the drawbacks you're going to encounter and you can live with them.

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