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This review is from: Canon PowerShot SX260 HS 12.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 20x Image Stabilized Zoom 25mm Wide-Angle Lens and 1080p Full-HD Video (Black) (Electronics)I am an experienced amateur photographer and I've owned many cameras over the past 40 years. I've had some photos published but photography has always been strictly a hobby, though a serious one. I shoot with a Canon 7D, Rebel backup, various 'L' lenses, and I also use an Olympus E-P1 occasionally as well as a Canon S90 and Powershot 1100S (kept in my glovebox for 'emergencies'). I enjoy taking pictures.
I also enjoy traveling and have traveled around the states as well as visited many foreign countries. I'm sure I echo the frustrations of every photographer out there when I say that choosing which photo equipment to take on a vacation is the most agonizing process in planning a trip.
Let me share two experiences--one pleasant, another frustrating. In 2003, I visited New Zealand and took one of Canon's first digital Powershots. It was very small, fit in my pocket, and I could easily whip it out for quick photos. Even though the pictures were not pristine SLR quality, it was easy and fun using that camera and I still enjoy viewing those photos today. I had a pleasant and memorable trip. Second experience: a 10-day tour of China in 2007. I took a DSLR and 3 lenses as well as an HD camcorder, all in the same shoulder bag. It turned out to be total frustration. Instead of being able to enjoy the moment of seeing all that glorious ancient history and the people of China, I was overly concerned with 'getting the shot' -- all the time. Also, HD video was new in those days and I thought I could record the 'trip of a lifetime' with the latest technology. But switching between video and still photography simply added to my frustration. Although I got quite a few good pictures and videos, I did not enjoy that trip as much as I should have because I let my photo-taking desires get in the way of my vacation needs and cultural immersion. As a matter of fact, my wife used a point-and-shoot to get some great candid photos of people and children that totally outshone my efforts.
OK, fast forward to 2012. Like so many other photographers out there, when traveling I need a camera that's pocketable but can do everything. Impossible. It doesn't exist. But I remember the lessons learned from the experiences described above. Concessions must be made. With experience, I've learned what is a necessity, and what 'would be nice to have' when traveling. I have concluded that for me, a camera that takes 'very good' pictures, that is small and lightweight, is a NECESSITY. Anything else would be 'nice to have' but is not worth the enormous hassle.
I've had the Powershot SX260 HS for about a week now and I think I may have found the camera that will adequately meet my travel needs. I've shot a couple hundred photos and I'm surprised at the results. They are sharp, contrasty, colorful, noiseless, and good enough to use as desktop pictures on my 24-inch monitor without editing. The 20x lens is coupled to a shake-free technology that is very, very good. It's pocketable and has easy to use buttons that are logically placed. Canon has done their homework in finding the right balance between sharpness and noise, as far as I am concerned. Although it doesn't shoot RAW (that's a debate for another time), I am very happy with the JPEGs and I use the included highlight-taming technology built in to the camera and it works very well.
What I like:
1) Pocketable. Pocketable. Did I say pocketable?
2) Turns on quickly to get the shot.
3) 20x lens -- 25mm to 500mm. The 25mm shots are corrected internally for distortion and the 500mm shots are sharp thanks to the IS technology.
4) Very good noise control -- I haven't tested it at 1600 or 3200 but several other review sites reveal surprising, low noise photos at those ISO levels.
5) My copy is very sharp -- no need to sharpen the photos it produces.
6) Color accuracy is on par with my Olympus E-P1, which I consider to be the paragon of color accuracy.
7) Full manual when desired.
8) Takes very good HD video -- though that doesn't interest me so much these days. IS corrects for camera shake in video mode and zooming works well.
What I don't like:
Nothing yet, though I will update this review if anything comes up.
Does this camera take pictures comparable to my 7D? No. My E-P1? Very close. My S90? Superior to the S90 in my view.
The 20x zooming feature of this camera can't be overstated -- it's wonderful.
So many reviewers nitpick about technical matters. Sure, I could do that with any camera, including this one. But the point is--what need does the camera serve? All I know is this: If this camera had existed at the time, the SX260 would be the camera I would have taken to China.
[UPDATE: Many people have asked me about the so-called 'squeal' in video mode. When ambient sounds are low, the condenser mic (as in all cameras) boosts the gain. Most cameras will then pick up the internal motor/electronic sounds. This camera is no exception. The noise I've noticed is a very subtle high pitched ring similar to tinnitus. Am I surprised? No. It's the same sound I've heard in every video unit I've owned in the past 25 years. Medium to loud sounds will cause the mic to adjust and the tinnitus disappears. Folks, if video is important, buy a dedicated video camera. This is a PHOTO camera that has video capability, which is what I wanted.]
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Showing 1-10 of 36 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 4, 2012 5:20:28 AM PDT
Abe Donian says:
Thanks for a comprehensive review. No "high-pitched squeal" in the videos that other seem to have found?
In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2012 10:49:05 AM PDT
K. S. Bowen says:
I took one short video in my house and when it's quiet there is a very soft, very high pitched sound--not a 'squeal' but more like tinnitus. It's barely noticeable. I shot another video at the beach and the tinnitus sound was not evident. The condenser microphone in this camera, like all cameras, adjusts itself and boosts the gain so much when it's very quiet the it picks up the camera's motors/electronics. If video really matters a lot, perhaps a different camera would be best for you. In the photo samples I've seen, though, the SX260 is superior to similar models from Panasonic, Sony, Fuji and Nikon.
Posted on May 5, 2012 5:24:09 AM PDT
I think if you try other brand compact camera, like Sony or Nikon,even some other Canon models, you will not hear 'squeal' in video mode like this model has.
Did you really try the other cameras?
In reply to an earlier post on May 5, 2012 4:44:35 PM PDT
Yes, the sound is more like tinnitus. I have tried Sony and Nikon, no this sound.
In general, if no this high pitched sound, this camera is the best. I contacted with Canon, unfortunately they said it is not the problem. Obviously, it is. but just not big problem.
In reply to an earlier post on May 5, 2012 8:40:11 PM PDT
K. S. Bowen says:
If video is that important, buy a different camera! I bought this one for its superior photos. No camera can do it all perfectly.
In reply to an earlier post on May 6, 2012 10:43:09 AM PDT
It is not about video is important or not. Cannon SX260HS predecessor SX230HS does not have this problem. Obviously, it is the defect of SX260HS.
Canon needs to re-call this camera to fix the defect.
If you try Sony HX10V, you will find its superior photos as well. But it is not the topic discuss here.
The thing is SX260HS brings a new defect compare with its SX230HS.
In reply to an earlier post on May 31, 2012 3:28:20 AM PDT
31/05/12 @1123 Noise on video playback.
Recently purchased new SX240 HS and generally pleased with performance however I am far from impressed with the audio noise on video playback when recorded in a silent room, constant HISS in the background...................Similar type of noise level might be recorded at a christening
I asked a local retail outlet to tested their SX260 HS and found the same level of HISS on that unit.
So far none of the professional reviews I have read mention this problem?
Will Canon try to resolve this issue
Posted on Jun 5, 2012 2:11:53 PM PDT
Liza Goldberg says:
Really great write-up that I think you just sold me on this camera. I've been trying to decide if I should get an SLR to replace my broken PowerShot. Question for you, have you tried taking actions shots? Was wondering if it's good enough to capture my son's games.
Posted on Jun 13, 2012 11:13:24 AM PDT
Steve Newman says:
Thank you very much for the review, K. S. Bowen. A question: We have two kids, ages 2 and 6, and, like most kids, they are always in motion. Do you think that this camera would be a good option for capturing them as they move? Your review and most of the others are very positive, but one reviewer complained that she had trouble taking clear pictures of her children. Thanks for any help.
Posted on Jun 30, 2012 2:29:59 PM PDT
wild animals says:
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! I am going to Yellowstone in a month and the idea of bringing my stupid Casio makes me want to cry. This sounds like a winner! Thanks!