Features & Controls

The PowerShot SX720HS crams a 40x zoom lens (35 mm equivalent: 24 - 960 mm) with wide angle view into its compact body. The zoom is operated by the zoom ring around the shutter-release button atop the camera body.

The camera captures 20-Megapixel images on a 1/2.3-inch back-illuminated CMOS sensor.

The TTL auto focus system offers AiAF face detection and 1-point fixed AF (see AF modes list below). The lens can focus very close to the lens in macro mode. The official spec says 1 cm, which the lens was able to achieve in my testing.

You can set the ISO as high as 3200. Maximum shutter speed is 1/3200 second. There is not a bulb function for really long exposures, though you can set the shutter to stay open up to 15 seconds.

AF modes
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Servo AF/AE
  • Tracking AF
Rather than include continuous AF and servo AF in the AF Frame menu, these are listed individually further down the shooting menu. You turn these on or off, and therefore can combine them with face AF (which is listed in the AF Frame menu, along with tracking AF).

Metering Modes

  • Evaluative
  • Center-weighted average
  • Spot (center)
Canon SX720 HS-back.jpg
The 3-inch TFT screen has a high resolution of 922,000 dots. Details are very sharp and colors are vibrant. The screen is sufficiently bright to frame your shots in most situations, though in extremely bright sunlight the glare might still wish make you wish you had a viewfinder.

Canon SX720 HS-top controls.jpg
The shutter-release button is surrounded by a zoom ring on the top panel. A dedicated video record button sits next to it.

At the top of the back panel is an 11-position mode dial, which falls conveniently under a thumb while shooting. However, it's a little stiff to turn. Although this prevents accidental mode switching, while shooting one-handed it also decreased my confidence that I could turn it without dropping the camera.

Above the four-way control are playback and WiFi buttons. The four positions of the four-way control are, clockwise from top: exposure compensation/story highlights, flash, self-timer/delete, and macro/manual focus.

The Func./set button at the center of the four-way control brings up a menu on the left-hand side of the screen in both shooting and playback mode. In shooting mode, the settings the menu includes depends on the shooting mode.

At the bottom of the back panel are buttons for changing the information display and accessing the menus.

Canon SX720 HS-flash.jpg
You lift the spring-loaded flash atop the camera using the release on the side panel. It does not pop up automatically in Auto mode, though the LCD instructs you to raise it.

The flash performs pretty well at wide angle. Though it throws around a lot of light for its small size, it's not the most powerful. With a range of just 13.1 feet, you can't expect to adequately fill a medium-sized room. But it works well for portraits and close subjects.

Flash Modes:
  • Auto
  • On
  • Slow Synchro

Flash Settings:

  • Flash exposure compensation: +/-2 stops
  • Red-eye lamp: On, off
  • Safety flash exposure: On, off
Built-in Flash Range:
  • 1.6 feet - 13.1 feet (w) / 6.6 feet (T)

Canon SX720 HS-sideA-frame-assist-detail.jpg
Just below the flash on the side panel is the slide lever that releases it. Next to it is the framing assist - seek button. This novel feature is designed to help frame subjects when using a lot of the 40x zoom. When you press it in shooting mode, a white box appears on screen. Operating the zoom ring, the frame gets smaller, showing you what will be in the frame after the lens zooms in. When you let go of the framing assist - seek button, the lens actually telescopes. If you lose your subject in the frame, you can press the framing assist button and the lens with zoom back out.

I can't say I found this feature particularly helpful. As for zooming in, it adds an extra step to framing the shot. Whenever I've lost sight of a far-off subject, zooming out a bit solves the problem just fine.

Around the corner from the mode dial on the back of the camera, the mini USB/AV port and mini HDMI port sit behind a rubberized flap. No cables are included.

Canon SX720 HS-battery-card.jpg
The SX720 HS can save files to SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards. The memory card and battery sit side by side behind a hinged door on the bottom of the camera. The Li-ion battery is rated to last about 250 shots, or 355 shots in Eco mode. But I recorded more than double that at default settings (Eco mode off), snapping 670 photos and recording four short videos on a single battery charge.

The SX720HS comes with an external battery charger. You also can charge via USB cable (USB cable not included).

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