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1,114 of 1,132 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2009
Let me start off by saying that I'm not a professional photographer. My decision to purchase the SX20 IS was based on a desire to get an excellent still shot camera, with high capacity zoom, that also had HD Video (720p) capabilities. So, I began my research and spent many hours scouring the web to make an informed decision. I had narrowed my choice to the Canon SX20 IS and the Panasonic DMC-FZ35.

Here are some of the key specs of each camera:

Optical Zoom (Canon: 20, Pana: 18)
Still image files (Canon: Not Raw, Pana: Raw)
Articulating LCD (Canon: Yes, Pana: No)
720p HD video per 2 GB (Canon: 10 min 33 sec, Pana: 15 min)
Video file format (Canon: .mov, Pana: AVCHD Lite)
Battery Type: (Canon: 4 AA, Pana: Li-ion rechargeable)
Stereo Audio (Both)
SD Card Storage (Both)

[...].

In the end I decided to go with Canon for a few key reasons:

#1. The articulating LCD (pull out, tilt/move) was a key factor, as I wanted to be able to shoot from many different angles. It came in handy very soon--the second time I used the camera--I was able to whip out the LCD and get some decent shots at a football game when I had to raise the camera high over my head to shoot over the folks standing in front of me.

#2. The ability to easily share video files. The .mov file format is a more widely accepted format, which can easily be shared (without processing/conversion). The files are accepted on sites such as You Tube. The files can be played with Quicktime and other media players (e.g. VLC). Although the Panasonic camera uses a format which is more compressed and allows more data to be stored on an SD card, the file format is not as wide spread and not as easy to share with others, without converting the file.

#3. Consumer Reports rankings for last year's model: Canon #1, Pana #5 (SX10 IS & Pana DMC-FZ28). I suspect the SX20 IS will follow the same trend this year when Consumer Reports releases their test results for 2009.

#4. Canon takes AA batteries. This makes the camera slightly heavier, but you'll always be able to get economical batteries in a pinch, without the need for buying a proprietary lithium ion battery. May I recommend Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries. I bought some new on Amazon. They are excellent. I haven't charged them yet and I've taken 120 pictures and 40 minutes plus of 720p video. I've also played back the pictures and movies on my TV/Projector and transferred all files to my computer, using the same batteries, without charging them. And they are "..still going..."

Here are some sample pictures taken with the SX20 IS. Keep in mind that Flickr doesn't display the full, original picture which was taken in maximum resolution (in auto mode). [...].

I've taken some great up-close family shots and macro shots. They look great and are very detailed. I took some night/action pics (with the flash) and adjusted the shutter speed and ISO settings and the pictures looked great, given the conditions.

[...].

I apologize for the camera jitter in advance as I didn't have a tri-pod and I was in a tight area in the Stadium when I took the shots.

I must admit that I am thoroughly impressed with the video quality/resolution. I shot sample video from my 1 year old camcorder (Panasonic SDR-H40, a standard definition hard drive camcorder) and shot the same footage with the SX20 IS. The difference in quality was amazing. Not only was the Canon much sharper, but the richness and vibrance of the colors was so much better. I sold my SDR-H40 on Ebay within two days. I now will have only one camera to shoot stills and 720p HD video--the Canon SX20 IS. The videos from the SX20 IS looked awesome--on both my 32 inch 720p LCD and my 100+ inch screen via a 720p DLP projector. I connected the camera with an HDMI cable and bam, I was ready to watch great video and view still shots "on the big screen." See the above referenced links for video footage yourself. If I were given the opportunity to watch a football game shot in standard definition by ESPN or an HD version of the same game, shot with the SX20 IS (on a tripod, without my hand jitter), I'd pick the latter in a heart beat.

No buyer's remorse here! If you are looking for an SLR type camera, that does awesome stills and great 720p HD video (both zoomable at 20x optical), you'd be hard pressed to get more bang for your buck then the SX20 IS on Amazon.

One minor issue I've noticed is that when zooming in/out while shooting video, you can here a slight "click" when you initiate the zoom and when you stop the zoom. There is NO noise heard while the lens is zooming/telescoping in/out; the "click" is only heard when the zoom is initiated and when the zoom is stopped. The "click" is not that noticeable. I had to shoot footage in silence, after the kids had gone to bed, in order to distinguish the "click." In most shooting environments I don't expect it to be much of an issue.

Best of luck with your purchase decision.

P.S. By the way, the owner manual states that you must use the Canon software to transfer images/movies from the camera to a PC, else movies will not transfer (frames will be dropped) correctly and images shot vertically may be transferred in the horizontal orientation. So, don't just do a copy/paste of the files them self from the SD card. Keep this in mind as you view sample video on the web.
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508 of 520 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2009
I shoot all kinds of stuff with all kinds of cameras. I am a working photographer who shoots for advertising and corporate client as well as to make images for my own books about photography. Over the last two years I've been using small cameras like the Canon G10 and the SX10 for more and more of my work. In the studio, shooting set up shots or small products these cameras shine by dint of their easy to use Live View and increased depth of field. When I bought the SX 10 it was for the long range of the zoom lens which meant I could shoot anything from a construction site to tight shots of the cabins at the top of the construction cranes. I've done some portraits with studio lights and an SX10 and they were also very usable. I wish the SX 10 and SX 20 had raw file capability but they don't. That just means I have to be a bit more careful about WB and exposure. I've used the SX10 at outdoor swim meets and found that the lens performs better than expected right out to the end.

So, why the SX 20? Recently I've been asked to do more and more little video snippets for clients and for my publisher and while I like the results from the SX10 I wanted real HD video for the times that a medical practice has asked for video clips for both their website AND for power point and other uses. I wanted the extra detail for the times that they use the clips in projected presentations. The price point works.

I've spent a couple days testing the SX 10 and the results are very, very good. The front mounted microphones are of very high quality and the sound for most applications is very acceptable. Would I like a mike input? You bet! Does that sour the deal? Not in the least.

The image quality of the stills is just as good as the SX 10 at low ISO's and about 1/2 a stop better at 200 and 400. I'll chalk that up to the new digic processor.

All in all the build quality and the easy operation make the camera a winner for me. These days clients are more interested in using images and video in a wide range of multimedia and the SX 20 is a great tool for anything that's headed to the web. I still own traditional DLSR cameras and use them but left to my own devices I find the smaller sensor cameras to be highly competent and very usable.

With an SX20 and a G10 I feel like I can handle just about anything except shots that call for narrow depth of field. Traditional photographers may not want to hear that video is becoming a required skill but that won't make it go away. This camera is a cost effective way to get your feet wet, find your way around and get your feet wet. I like it.
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151 of 154 people found the following review helpful
Years ago I carried and VHS video camera with separate recorder as well as an SLR. Even after video went to the 8mm tape and camera were much smaller I gave up the video and concentrated on stills. I went through the 640 x 480 digital cameras and found the images horrible, digital would never replace film. I've since packed away my film cameras and concentrated on DSLRs. I carry a pocket digital camera for convenince but turn to the DSLR when I plan on taking photos.

Recently I was viewing photos taken by a friend on his SX10 IS. I was intrigued by the features, the quality of the photos, and the video capability. When I went to Amazon.com to check on the price of this camera I saw the SX20 IS slated for release. After viewing the features I decided to wait for this camera. I'm glad I did.

I received this camera on the day I left for a trip to Walt Disney World. While I took the DSLR with me I thought this would be a great opportunity to learn about the SX20 IS. Since I have many Disney World photos I left the DSLR behind most of the time and carried just the SX20 IS.

Recently I took photos with the SX20 IS and my Canon XSi DSLR and compared the photos side by side. The results were consistent with the reviews I've read.

In bright daylight the photos are comparable. As the lighting deteriorates the XS20 IS tends to show more noise. It's not unacceptable to me, just not as good. Also, the DSLR focuses more quickly and accurately most of the time. However, to get the focal length on the lens I'd have to carry more equipment for the DSLR and I still wouldn't be able to take video.

I'm not a video expert but I think the quality on this camera is excellent. It is much sharper than that footage from my old video cameras. Being able to use the zoom while shooting is great. Being able to snap a still while shooting the video is also a big plus in my opinion.

The articulating LCD really proved beneficial. When behind a crowd or in a tight situation it's nice to be able to move the camera and still be able to compose the shot without guessing. It's also helpful when just trying to change a perspective on a subject without having to stnad on something or lie on the ground. Self-portraits are also easier, just make sure you look at the camera, not the LCD, when you finally push the shutter.

Will this camera replace my DSLR? Not for situations where I consider the quality of the photo or quick focus critical. However, for situations where I just want to enjoy an outing without carrying an entire camera bag this is a great choice. The still photo remains my preference but I can see me shooting video much more frequently. Now all I need is some extra batteries (the NiMH variety seem to work fine) and spare SD cards. The external flash from the DSLR works on the SX20 IS and helps the noise issue. However, I usually leave it behind to cut down on the bulk.

I got what I expected with this camera. As I learn more about its different functions I'm sure I'll appreciate it more.

One piece of advice. When storing the camera or carrying it in a backpack, etc. use the articulating feature to face the LCD toward the camera body. It protects the LCD screen. I was in sich a hurry to use the camera I forgot to do this and now have a minor scratch on the LCD, a situation I could have avoided.
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111 of 113 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2009
I too am a working photographer. I grew weary of dragging that heavy gadget bag on vacations so I purchased the SX10is a year ago. What a joy to use! All that focal length at your fingertips! The image quality was also fine for pro use.

As time went on, I needed HD video for a client. It was a clear choice for me to purchase the SX20is for the purpose. Why learn yet another camera? And wow, a even better SX10? Well, not quite.

I won't rehash all that Kirk Tuck and others have said before me. I will say though ... don't upgrade from the SX10is for the 2 megapixels. If you are interested in mainly still images, STICK WITH THE SX10. The rest of the camera is very similar. The new menus are more colorful, controls are marginally different in the menus and all else is pretty much the same. Most of the changes are "fluff". If you don't NEED the HD video I would NOT switch. To me, the SX10 delivers a noticeably snappier still image.

What I like about the SX camera series:

1. That fabulous zoom lens! To have all that zoom in such a small package. Sweet!
2. Uses AA batteries. You'll never run out of power. Available everywhere.
3. Thoughtful design & shape and feeling of solid quality.
4. Excellent eyepiece diopter adjustment (at least for me)
5. SD card access door is separate from all other access panels. Real easy to get to,
even while on a tripod.
5. Metal tripod mount
6. Reasonable price for all the features included.
7. Oh yeah .. the swiveling LCD screen too. Very useful!
8. The fact you also get nice HD video in one package is a bonus.

What I'm not so crazy about:

1. Buttons or right rear a bit crowded. Sometimes I press something I don't want.
2. No filter threads ...geez Canon, come on ....
3. Battery indicator is not on all the time
4. Wish I could "customize" the "AUTO" function
5. Manual as PDF (what a pain). I'll take mine paper, thank you.
You might as well print it out right away. You're gonna need it!
6. Selection of "spot" meter defaults back to "center" at power down.
7. Electronic ViewFinder (Not just this one either. They all leave me wanting.)
8. Somewhat less crisp still images compared to the SX10 that I also own.

A fine RGB file at 4000 x 3000 yields a 34 MB file in Photoshop! Oddly, more pixels don't translate into better image quality. SX20is images don't have quite the "snap" to my eye as the SX10.

Is it perfect? Heck no. Are any of them? Even the $5,000 ones?

Perhaps if Canon changed the firmware to include "Superfine" compression, this camera could then become a stellar performer??

Do I miss RAW mode? Not really. If you need it buy a DSLR.
What do I miss most when switching from my NIKON? That bright, super clear viewfinder.
Will it clip highlights? Sure, if you don't set it up right. So does the SX10is (and my Nikon). High dynamic range is not usually a feature on most consumer cameras.

Pros take note... I was on the fence as to whether this cameras image quality is good enough to satisfy my professional needs. If you are obsessed with tack sharp images, pass on this one. You probably won't be happy. If "good" is good enough, go for it.

After shooting and experimenting for 10 days I wasn't happy. The still images were just too darn soft. What a pity. This potentially GREAT camera hamstrung by a mediocre sensor. It appears to me the the sensor size was adjusted to accommodate the Hi Def video at the sacrifice of still image quality. I expected more from 12 megapixels and didn't get it. I had to return it.

Don't get me wrong, it's a very good still camera ... just not a great one. If video is your main interest and your still picture needs are secondary, you'll probably like it.

[...].

Note that YouTube Reduces file size to increase playability over the internet so what you see is only fraction of the video detail

Newbies purchasing this ... make no mistake, this is a complex little piece of gear. Sure, you can use it on AUTO if you want, but what a waste. You have to LEARN this camera to get the most out of it. And don't expect to learn it in a day or even a week. Used properly it will yield beautiful ( if not super sharp) images. Buy it and shoot, shoot, shoot and you'll get the hang of it. Why not? The "film" is cheap!

By the way, purchase a Class 6 SD card right away. That way if you want to play with the HD movie function you can. Some cheap SD cards can't write fast enough for HD video use. If you have a hi def TV you'll love it.

Beware though, HD video files get HUGE fast! Uploads to YouTube (or anywhere else) can take quite awhile. A 1 minute, 36 sec. clip equals 491 MB and over 4 hrs to upload via DSL.

If you get serious about HD video, or enjoy doing critical focus photography, PLEASE, buy a decent tripod and USE it.
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90 of 92 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2009
I reviewed the PowerShot SX200 IS a short while ago on Canon's and Amazon's website and rated it very highly. Nonetheless, I decided to return it in exchange for the PowerShot SX20 IS.

This camera offers the following additional advantages: a viewfinder; HD video recording with optical zoom throughout the zoom range plus stereo sound; a form factor much more like that of an SLR: it is on the heavy side, but easy to hold and the viewfinder allows you to hold the camera against your body which adds extra stability, and thus better focus, especially when zooming in; diapter adjustability means I don't have to wear glasses when using the EVF; the LCD display can be closed so it faces the camera - no need to worry about smudging or scratching it.

Those who are considering the purchase of an SLR need to keep in mind that you'll need at least three different lenses to get a comparable zoom range. You'd be lugging around quite a bit of weight, and faced with the delay in changing lenses depending upon what you want to take a picture of.

Some question the quality of the pictures it takes. Keep in mind that this is not a camera designed for amateurs who insist on fully automatic features. In other words, the best possible pictures may only be obtained when you make needed adjustments ranging from setting the scene yourself to fully manual ones, or else by using a photo editor.

So far, I have taken perhaps one hundred test pictures and ten minutes of video. Unless you intend to print or view the pictures beyond 11" x 14", I doubt that you will notice any difference between the results this camera produces and an SLR. I've owned the Olympus e-510, and can say that you'd have to magnify or crop to a degree that most users simply don't in order to notice a difference. The quality of the videos is much better than that of my standard definition Canon DC230 mini-DVD camera. The downside is the weight of this camera, which makes extended filming somewhat difficult (for me, at least).

I highly recommend the camera for those who are looking for the characteristics I have highlighted. It is probably one of the best, if not the best, super-zooms on the market today.
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570 of 614 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2009
Pros:
1) features
2) Super macro worked up to 2 inches in average light
3) ISO 100-3200
4) Aquarium anti reflection mode...worth trying for glass cases in museums.
5) Decent movies and easy to use and work
6) Good long range telephoto...not great but usable without carrying extra lens.
7) image quality average
8) tricky menus until understood and then works well...in viewfinder is nice...fast menu display.
9) Many options but are laid out well, dont clutter each other up...rotate selection works fast and well for P mode. AEB works fine but is slow. ISO 3200 works really well but as one would expect has noise, but the images are usable if you like to Photoshop your images...marginally acceptable but better than nothing if you cant use a flash or carry a tripod to art museums or Cathedrals
10) Zoom and digital zoom....the ability to have that compact zoom range, is better than having to lug around a lot of gear for the casual person...this is a people camera, not a photographers camera...this is not an SLR,$600 dollar lens, raw image camera, so dont have that expectation.

Cons:
1) Canon tightwads do not include a detailed robust manual like previous cameras, what do they expect you to do, download and print it out...or carry a laptop.
This is fairly stupid on Canons part, they could have at least created a one page cheat sheet like there is for the SX10 from third parties.

2) Unless you have hard surfaces and a lot of light, this camera has some serious focus issues in Auto mode....SCN mode seems to be ok and so are movies, but auto mode is misrable.....this is not a low light camera unless you have rock stable hands, the image stabilize does not seem to be that good, unless there is light.
G10 was an easier camera to use, but did not have the focal length. No problems with Macro that worked well and so did super Macro. The indoor setting was average but worked.

3) Jpg vs raw....this is a jpg camera, and what you get is average jpg images, so lower your expectation if you are looking for a wonderful jpg or really need the detail and color or raw.

4) Camera is ok sizewise but has an awkward balance, kind of stubby in the width, it is accetable but the camera does not balance well, a little tight and cramped, this is not a showstopper the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Believe what you read in all the reviews, when it takes a good picture it is really nice, but when it is bad it is really bad, seems to be the usually Canon issue, Canons like bright light....if that isnt there, they get noise.

You will really need to experiment with the focus options, and since cheap Canon, not unlike AGI, Enron, and other companies out to stab the consumer does not provide a decent portable manual, you will need to experiment, and spend time on your laptop to review the documentation.....having to have a laptop to study a portable camera...kind of perverted for a camera company to do this.

All in all it is an ok, Swiss army knife kind of camera, and if you can get into the "does it all, but doesnt do it all .....really great" Then you will be ok.

I dont think I will send it back yet, need to experiment a little more.

Do not think that the reviews about bad images are false, for a camera that has an auto mode, the images just are not that great for "AUTO". This camera does have some focus quirks.

In general so far the good and bad are balanced, it is a picture takers camera, not a photographers camera...this is the keep it simple and provide a lot tourist travel camera
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156 of 165 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2009
I received the camera a few days ago. I wanted a good quality camera for all-around, basic shooting. The main features that attracted me were the wide angle/zoom lens and the video option.

I am not an expert, or even an experienced amateur. I just want to be able to point, shoot, and take decent pics and some occassional vidoe.

In my opinion, the best eye-pleasing pictures are those that show the vibrant colors and color variations - all other things being equal. I've experimented with various settings and taken the same shots with those various settings, and compared shots taken with Auto, Landscape, Portrait, etc. against the Foilage setting [SCN/Foilage], and the Foilage setting is by far the best for bringing out the colors (which it is meant to do anyway). Compared to those pics taken using the Foilage setting, the ones taken in the other settings are dull - not that they aren't decent pictures in the other settings, just compared to the Foilage pictures they are dull(er). So for basic shots, I will probably use the Foilage setting most of the time for all-around shooting - the pictures are beautiful. One problem I expect with this, is to get to the Foilage setting, you must use the top dial set to SCN, then using the free-spinning dial on the back, select foilage. Problem is, after taking shots and letting the camera hang against your body, the free-spinning dial may be prone to be moved to select another setting...

One of the issues I do have, is not being able to choose to set the Auto-Focus frame to the center of the screen for many settings - such as Auto... I'm not crazy about the "smart focus" which chooses which subject(s) that it thinks is the main subject(s) - in my case of shooting mostly non-people so far, this "smart-focus" has been wrong. I think most of us non-pro photographers usually center our subject anyway, and even if we don't, we should still have the option of keeping the AF frame in the center... One other thing that hasn't worked for me is connecting it to HDMI on my TV. I'm going to take it to Best Buy and try it there. If it still isn't working, I hate to send it back because it is a good camera, but I would like the HDMI feature to work to see my videos in true HD.

In summary, the wide-to-zoom feature is great, takes very good pictures (especially in Foilage), takes excellent video. The video option is excellent - you can take pics while filming, and you can simply press the video button in the back to start taking video even if you're in a picture-taking setting - very nice feature.

If you're not a pro photographer and want to have a great all-around camera, this is definitely a good buy. I hope I can get my HDMI/TV feature to work so I can keep my camera...
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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2009
Having tried over a dozen digital cameras I've found the features and picture quality of the SX20 IS to be the best yet in this size and weight. Naturally everyone wants better low light performance and while this could still be better, its the best I've seen in cameras other than digital SLRs. Feature set is unmatched by Olympus or Nikon as neither have video or picture quality as good. Stereo audio quality really does sound like the CD sound Canon advertises. I was amazed as usually those small microphones overemphasize the high frequencies. People's voices, birds and even the background rumbling noise that is typical of a large city were very accurately reproduced. This camera takes good photos with its default settings, but by learning a little about it's features most people will quickly be taking professional quality photos.
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83 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2009
I take a lot of video for promoting my friends band the Peacheaters and this camera has what it takes to bring HD with such wonderful quality. Often some of the clubs are dark even with stage lights and the drummers don't often get seen but with this camera the natural adjustments to the surroundings make you able to see them. I will be getting a lot of use out of this for sure. I went ahead and ordered the canon rechargeable batteries and I always buy transcend 16GB SDHC class 6. You get so much more time for video this way. About 84 min or so.
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2009
I do a lot of web searches for reviews on anything I tend to purchase. I almost purchased the SX10IS which is selling for $370 until I found out that this camera was being released just days ago. I got it yesterday for $400, just $30 more than the SX10IS with more features and so far am very happy with my decision. I played around with it last evening and was very impressed with the features and picture quality. I have a smaller PowerShot that I bought 2 years ago so I am familiar with Canon already. For $400 you cannot go wrong for what you are getting. The only thing that may trun some off is that it is a large "SLR like" camera which cannot be put into your pocket. Since I have a smaller one it wasn't a concern. I highly recommend this camera for those that want a little more quality in photo taking since the lense is larger than the smaller cameras which is beneficial in lower lighting conditions. It also has a mount for an external flash. My Minolta flash I bought in 1988 works with it.
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