Going without a Digital SLR.

Of all the Canon Spring Collection I played with the other week (see A Camera for Extreme Photography!), the one camera people keep asking me about, and that I keep coming back to is the Canon PowerShot SX200 IS.


One of the secrets to getting good at photography is to carry your camera everywhere, and that’s pretty much what I do. However, there are times where lugging around my trusty red rucksack with a full Digital SLR, a couple of lenses and a flash, just isn’t practical.

Then there’s the impact of whipping out a full sized SLR camera with a big lens. Seriously, last week at an event I pulled out my camera to take a picture of the speaker (I’d asked his permission before he started talking). I would probably have caused less disruption if I had drawn out a firearm and waved it about whilst shooting at the ceiling. Some people are nervous of cameras, and REALLY nervous of BIG cameras. Sometimes, small is good.

So, back to that Canon PowerShot SX200 IS. I ignored it at first, even though it was shiny-new-not-even-available-in-the-shops-yet. I was distracted by the small, sexy IXUS 100 IS – there was even a red one, what did you expect me to do?

Then I picked up the Powershot. I looked at the screen, which felt strangely like looking through the view finder of my DSLR. It is big, clear and fast. Then I fiddled with the very familiar dial on top and set it to Aperture priority mode. Ooo… Nice… Then I took a couple of shots. Ooo… Really nice.

It has got a 12 X optical zoom (equivalent to a 28-336 mm lens on a full frame camera, which is about the range I carry in the lens set with me when I’m using my DSLR). The sensor is 12 Megapixel with ISO up to 1600, and Canon’s DIGIC 4 chipset handling the image processing.

You can put the Powershot into auto mode and use it as a (very clever) point and click – it has face detection and scene detection with really good image stability – or you can twist the dial and go all Tv/Av/M and make like you have your DSLR with you, tweaking the settings to your heart’s content. The aperture is wide for a compact camera, so you can even get shall depth of field for arty portrait shots.

Here’s the clincher for me: it supports 720p HD Movie recording, complete with an HDMI output ready to plug into an HD screen. Something my current DSLR won’t do! This thing is ideal as a complement to my full bodied DSLR when I want something I can just slip in to my pocket. Very neat. It is also a nice step up for someone moving from the point and click world towards a full on digital SLR. I’ll be recommending it to a few folks.

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