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Customer Review

1,120 of 1,138 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SX20 IS Great Hybrid Camera For Video And Stills, September 6, 2009
This review is from: Canon PowerShot SX20IS 12.1MP Digital Camera with 20x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.5-Inch Articulating LCD (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Camera)
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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Showing 1-10 of 65 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 8, 2009 11:31:01 AM PDT
photoaddict says:
So does the camera come with a USB cord to transfer directly from the camera to the PC? Have they changed this? I have the SX10 and this is the easiest way to get photos on the computer. The orientation can be set to automatically rotate the images. Did the SX20 remove this feature? I would think this is something that they wouldn't remove. Even if it doesn't auto rotate them, you could still do it manually in Windows Live Photo Gallery. I am on my third canon Powershot and all of them you could do a simple direct transfer from the camera to the PC with the provided USB cord.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 8, 2009 5:44:50 PM PDT
Yes, the camera comes with a USB. Yes, images can be rotated and imported.

Posted on Sep 10, 2009 11:55:44 AM PDT
beachedbiker says:
i found that the click during video zooming comes from your finger snapping off the zoom trigger. if you gently release your finger from zooming, the click is no longer an issue!

Posted on Sep 10, 2009 4:31:23 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 10, 2009 4:32:25 PM PDT
J. Choi says:
Just so you know you can use mov type file for pana 35 also. It is a option between which you choose the AVCHD or the mov type. just found that out few days ago when i was playing around with my pana fz35.

Posted on Sep 10, 2009 7:12:44 PM PDT
Andrea says:
Can you tell me if there is a delay when taking pictures? (How fast does the camera take the picture from when you push the button?) Don't know the technical term, but basically I don't want a delay when I go to take a picture...want it to be instantaneous.)

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2009 7:30:31 PM PDT
Thanks for the insight J. Choi.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2009 7:48:54 PM PDT
It does very well. It's pretty close to instantaneous. As I'm sure you are aware, the SX20 IS is the new model, which replaced the SX10 IS. Regarding the SX10 IS, stated: "..It performs very well, with very short next-shot delay and short first-shot delay." The SX10 IS camera tied a few other cameras for the highest awarded mark first-shot delay, amongst the tested, super-zoom cameras (while the DMC-FZ28 tied some other cameras in receiving the lowest awarded mark). I'm anxiously awaiting consumer reports' review of the SX20 IS. As with all decent cameras, the shutter is designed to be pressed half-way in order to focus on the subject. Then once pressed the 2nd time (after the half-way mark), the shutter sound is heard immediately and the picture is taken/processed immediately.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2009 8:02:02 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 13, 2009 2:05:41 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 7, 2009 9:04:07 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 7, 2009 12:25:37 PM PDT]

Posted on Oct 19, 2009 6:52:23 PM PDT
Ohmagine says:
The clicking noise is real and comes from the lens going in and out. It is noticeable. The microphones are right by the lens so it easily picks up the noise. The microphones are very good.
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