Customer Reviews: Canon PowerShot SX280 12.1MP Digital Camera with 20x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom with 3-Inch LCD (Black) (OLD MODEL)
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on April 25, 2013
I've had a number of PowerShot cameras. Really impressed with the picture quality of the camera and the overall speed. Colors and picture quality are quite good and the low-light performance is superior. The previous review focuses nicely on the picture quality, so I wil stick with the human factors.

Manual control and adjustment are simple to master, so you won't need to rely on the automatic settings. My only concern with the camera is hat the wifi settings are difficult to set up. I'm pretty good with wireless technologies and it took me quite awhile to figure it out. Make sure you run the set up disk. Unlike many other consumer wireless gadgets, this one requires that you run the setup software. Couldn't just turn on the camera and connect it to the router. As much as it pains me to say this, I should've read the directions prior to jumping in to try to set it up! :-)

Once it's setup, it works great. I've been transferring files to iphone, ipad, and laptop; and transferring to the Canon Image site. All directly from the camera. Even emailed my wife a link to a photo directly from the camera. Camera IS a bit of a battery hog, but I was expecting it.

Update: Since I concentrated on human factors in my review, I thought I would weigh in on flash location interfering with handhold
position. Personally, I didn't notice it until I read the other reviews. I've had other cameras with pop up flashes, so I think I just automatically adjusted to it. That said, I can see how it would annoy some people. The flash is located in the front left-hand corner of the camera, but there IS sufficient space behind the flash to place your finger. Could be a problem if you have large hands, I suppose.. Motor is also strong enough to remind me to move it when it pops up.

Update 20 May:: There is a glitch that's been widely reported that shows that the battery is drained when in video mode. This is a glitch in the indicator, not the actual battery life. Cannon has acknowledged the problem and is working on a fix. Expect the next firmware update to address the issue.
Update 5 June: New Firmware Released Today!! Details Firmware Version incorporates the following fixes and improvements:

1. Increases the duration of movie shooting by 20% in cases where the optical zoom is used compared to cameras running Firmware Version or Firmware Version through a reduction in the power consumption of the optical zoom.

*Time under default camera settings, when normal operations are performed, such as shooting, pausing, turning the camera on and off, and zooming. (based on conditions established by Canon).
-Under some shooting conditions, the recording time may be shorter than mentioned above.
-Recording time with a fully charged battery.

2. Fixes a phenomenon with cameras running firmware version, in which the low battery level warning is prematurely displayed while shooting in movie mode.

Firmware Version is for cameras with firmware Version or Version If the camera's firmware is already Version, it is not necessary to update the firmware. Please note that, once the camera is updated to the latest version, it cannot be restored to a previous

I installed it with no problems.
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on May 1, 2013
Enough said about how good this compact camera is in the other reviews. Only two quick comments: It is an excellent compact zoom camera complimentary to my SLR camera/lens collection on the road for quick shots (photo & video) without lens changing. Case Logic DCB-302 Compact Case provides good protection and a perfect fit with room for extra battery and SD card.

Update 5/8/2013: Per Canon technical support, the battery inside the camera cannot be charged via USB port like your cell phone when connecting to PC or outside USB power source.

Update 5/13/2013: When using "AUTO" on the dial as well as ""AUTO" ISO" in "P", "Tv" and "Av", the ISO is automatically selected from 80 to 1600, not to 3200 or 6400. To manually select ISO 3200 or 6400 in "P", "Tv" and "Av", you need to select "FUNC. SET" and then choose the 3200 or 6400 under the"ISO" list.

Update 5/19/2013 The flashing "low battery" warning in the video mode is indeed a design fault of the battery indicator not the battery itself. With a freshly charged battery, I can take either around 200 photos or about 30 minutes video (1080p 30fps). The low battery warning comes in about 2 minutes into the video shooting after some zooming.

Update 5/20/2013 Per Canon technical support, Canon is trying to resolve this "low battery" warning issue in the video mode. Decided to return this wonderful camera. Will buy it when the issue is resolved.

Update 6/5/2013 Canon just published a firmware update for SX280 to fix the low battery warning issue in the video mode at this web link: ([...] Click on "Drivers & Software". Select your computer's Operating System and OS Version. Click on "Firmware". Download the firmware zip file and unzip the file. Follow the instruction in the PDF file to update the firmware.

Update 6/7/2013 I repurchased a new SX280 with the hope that the low battery warning issue has been fixed by this firmware update. I updated the new camera to the new firmware from following the procedure in the PDF file. The premature low battery warning in the video mode for the updated SX280 has improved but not fixed.
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on May 11, 2013
Hi there

I've replied to a few reviews of this product before choosing to write my own, while keeping in mind everyone's opinions (especially about the battery) thus far.

Out of the way, I too noticed "problems" when shooting video on a not-fully charged battery. I put the word in quotes, because in my experience/view, it's really a software problem that can be fixed with an upcoming firmware update. It just flashes red prematurely, and you can certainly repeat steps to have that happen consistently. Also, you'll only get about 30 minutes or so of 1920/60fps HD video per charge (keep in mind the battery will likely be flashing red most of the time). But keep in mind, its really just a bug. When you power up your camera, the true charge is shown on the indicator.

I took the camera with me today to shoot a typical days worth of exciting things with my kids. I took about 35 photos, and a combined 7 minutes of full HD/1920/60fps video. I also transferred a few images wirelessly to my Android phone. After all that, my battery is still showing as fully charged and does not do the 'premature red battery' even if i take it to video. So that seems like a decent day for me, and it doesn't show a dent (and rightly so). I'll just have to remember to charge the battery fully before I take it out.

In the end, I do recommend the camera because of what I bought it for: excellent, truly best-in-class images from a camera under $400. This camera is my '2nd' camera, for times when I don't feel like dragging my DSLR around. The images aren't as good as a DSLR (no surprise) but they are by far the best images I've taken with a point-and-shoot. The 20x optical zoom is truly incredible, and the true/natural Image Stabilization (*not* digital) is fantastic: you can actually take a 20x zoomed picture without it being blurry! Not only that, the IS during video shooting makes it smooth-as-silk on playback, especially in truly stunning 60fps mode. Shutter-lag isn't as good as a DSLR (because the concept doesnt exist with mirrors), but it's miles ahead of my last 2011 P&S and also faster than my 2013 smartphone camera.

I can see why the video/battery issue is so frustrating: the video from this thing is truly amazing (stereo, Image Stabilization, and did I mention 1920 and 60fps yet??!) and you *want* to shoot a ton with it. It's also in ultra-convenient mp4 format right out-of-the-camera. And it does a superb job of focusing as you zoom on video (my older p&s wouldn't let me zoom in video mode at all). But if video is really your mojo, get a camcorder for the same price and be happy. If you're after stills, or shooting video "shorts", this is your bet. And hopefully the short-ish battery on video will make better videographers out of people by forcing them to cut down on the extra crap they shoot that nobody watches anyways :)

Touching on a few remaining things: I love that the camera has a metal body, love its hefty weight (remember when cameras felt like cameras and not TV remotes?) and dig the wireless. I'm not a GPS guy because the privacy issue freaks me out, so I don't run the GPS. As mentioned by other reviewers, the wireless is a bit tricky to set up if you want to go camera->computer wirelessly - you'll have to run the software on the CD (it retrieves the latest version from the net automatically). The easiest set-up is camera->smartphone; as long as they're on the same network, transfers are easy. If there's no wireless where you're shooting, you can actually use the camera as an access point itself and connect your smartphone/tablet to the *camera's* network. Keep in mind that the wireless transfer is *not* eye-fi: you have to *select* the images you want to send, after they've been shot (photos aren't automatically transferred wirelessly as you shoot). Believe it or not, you can actually tweet from the camera itself. That being said, I think the omission of Flickr is a drag, but perhaps that's because they are pushing their own "Canon Image Gateway" service for photo sharing/storage.

Also, I appreciate the restraint in megapixels... the filesizes and document sizes are realistic and appropriate for people who aren't blowing photos up to large dimensions. Focusing on image quality instead of megapixel count is a much welcomed approach in my opinion, and I hope the ridiculous megapixel race slows down in order to focus on the sensor quality/lenses that can be crammed into a P&S size camera.

Also, coming from DSLR world, I'm actually pretty happy with the amount of customization offered. The manual (on the CD only) is chock full of information, including how to use the self-timer in "wink" mode (wink to take the shot!!). All modes I shoot on (M/AV/TV/P) offer *center only* focus. I haven't seen that mentioned too often, but that is *exactly* what I like - in fact the first thing I do on my DSLRs/new cameras is turn off the 'smart autofocus' to use center-point only). It means you might have to take a moment to frame the shot you want (focus then frame), but to me it cuts down on silly camera "intelligent" errors when it focuses on things with contrast instead of the content that matters.

I don't find the position of the pop-up flash an issue; my finger fits behind it. Also, consider that the pop-up flash reduces red-eye quite significantly by being further away from the lens. Not only that, but this camera is *great* in low-light for a point-and-shoot - ease up on the flash and enjoy the great new processor!

This camera does exactly what I want it to do, and does it *really well*, but if I was planning on a day of really heavy shooting with video, I'd buy a spare battery. And I'm looking forward to a firmware update!
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on December 7, 2013
I have been using Canon cameras since around 2001 (this is probably the 10th Camera I have owned in the PowerShot series over that time-frame).

We purchased this camera specifically for a trip to South Africa since we planned on taking several photos of animals in the wild at far distances, but didn't want to bring along something the size of a DSLR. First of all, I must say that the photos that this camera takes are nothing short of spectacular. The focus is crystal clear for most shots and the zoom is amazing for something that fits in a pocket. In my opinion, this camera took photos nearly as good as some of the DSLR cameras that other people in our tour group had. In fact, the owners of those DSLR cameras were shocked by the quality of this camera as well and have asked me to send them some photos of animals that came out blurry on their cameras but came out perfectly on this camera.

The optics of this camera are very impressive given the wide range of zoom. Chromatic aberration is noticeable but not terrible on some images at full zoom.

One minor issue is that the flash pops up and is in a very annoying area for most people (where most people place their left hand on the camera). I personally got used to holding the camera differently to get around the annoyance, but it is still a problem for when we ask someone else to take our photo.

Now for the reason I gave this camera one star.

This camera suffers from the same issue posted by numerous other reviewers where the camera immediately shuts down due to low battery while attempting to record video and using the zoom feature simultaneously. This happens even on a full charge (tested with several different batteries including the original). This is a well documented issue (do a web search for "canon sx280 battery problems" and you will see.). Removing the battery and reinserting it causes the battery meter to show a full charge again and the camera functions just fine until attempting to take video again where the problem repeats itself.

Canon claims to have fixed the issue with a firmware patch. I performed the firmware update advised by Canon and verified that the new firmware was correctly installed however as other reviewers can confirm this still did not solve the problem. Note that the firmware update only requires a blank 32MB SD card, not an expensive 32GB SD card that other users have reported (big difference between price of an 32 MB card vs 32 GB).

I have a theory that this problem is a design flaw at the hardware level that can not be fixed with software (firmware). It appears to be a hardware problem not correctable by any firmware updates caused by the battery voltage during times of high power draw (encoding the video plus zooming). Canon is very aware of the issue and so far has not recalled the camera. I am not sure why they are trying to sweep this issue under the rug at the expense of their reputation.

Some people are reporting that the firmware update fixed the problems. Maybe that is true for cameras made after a specific date. According to the canon firmware update instructions, this problem affects cameras where the 6th digit of the serial number is lower than 3. The 6th digit on mine was a 2.

So if you have one of these where the 6th digit is a 2 or lower and experience the same problem, then please return it to Canon and don't just "live" with the problem as I almost did.

I ultimately returned the camera and will keep purchasing the same camera and returning it until I am one of the "lucky ones" with a 6th digit of a serial number greater than 2 so that I can have a fully working camera with video.
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on May 26, 2013

Overall I like this camera. It takes good photos at low ISO/bright light and solid photos as the ISO moves up. Video quality is good. Great zoom range and in a compact "fit in your pocket" camera. I have not seen the battery life issue some have mentioned (but see review).


OK, so I was looking for a camera that I could take to concerts, put in my pocket, be compact. I had previously ignored the superzoom category as they were notorious for bad pic quality. Long slow lens and small sensors. But I just didn't always want to carry my DSLR around, but was going to be in situations where I needed a long lens (I already had a couple decent 3x zoom P&S cameras).

My search landed me on a Fuji, as I like the idea of shooting RAW. But the newest model was more than I wanted to spend. I next settled on the Canon SX260HS for the good reviews. Of course I then saw the SX280HS was out with supposed better low light (something I was interested in) and Wifi (also something I have used on my bigger camera). So I went with it.

I've now taken a couple hundred photos with it including three concerts.

Overall for this type of camera, I'm very, VERY pleased. But lets not get carried away. With the slow lens and smaller sensor it cannot and does not and should not be considered a DSLR (or any larger sensor camera) replacement. However, in low ISO/bright light the pics are very good. Easily good enough to crop, and print to a reasonable size. In lower light the pic quality does drop, but is still good. And very usable.

Specific notes,

-The zoom range is fantastic. And while I started with the digital zoom off, even using it, yielded good results. Be aware at that magnification it is hard to hold the camera still. The camera does a good job of helping with image stabilization, but it can only do so much. But I've taken some nice photos even at 30x (that includes the digital zoom(. I also like that the wide angle go to an equivalent of 25mm.
-I've shot one short (about 8 minute) video on it. I'm really not a video shooter, but I gave it a try. It will be something I do more of! It turned out well. The focus didn't seem to react as quickly, but zooming was smooth.
-Size, I mainly bought so I could carry in my back pocket of jeans. OK so it is a little big for that and much bigger than other "back pocket" camera's I have. But it is doable. Worked well in concerts where most no longer allow "professional" cameras. It feels solid in your hands, though a very slightly larger grip would be helpful with such a long zoom.
-The controls are fairly intuitive. I shoot a lot in manual (especially in low light) and it was pretty easy to figure out. I've also shot in some of the auto modes and got good results. I have not tried any of the specialty settings. Focus is quick. Again not DSLR fast, but quick and reliable.
-I have not set up the Wifi yet. I realize there are some complaints with it about not being able to send pic's instantly to an iPad for example. However, I have no intention of doing that. I like the Wifi so if I'm taking pic's of friends or family and they want one, I can send to my iPhone and send it to them. I do this all the time with my larger camera w/an SD card that has the wifi in it.

A special note about the battery. After reading about battery life and figuring it would eat batteries I bought two more. However, I've yet to use them. At one concert I had shot about 50-60 photos and then shot a full song (about 8 minutes) on video. Indeed the battery light came on. However, I thought I'd see how much longer it would last. After turning off video and going back to camera the battery light went off and I bet I shot close to another 100 pic's. I also paused at times to view pic's and delete obvious bad one's. And while I didn't have Wifi on, I did have the GPS thing on. So, so far, it hasn't been as bad as I anticipated. But I'll say more testing is needed.


If you need/want a compact superzoom, this should be on your short list to consider. HOWEVER, if you really don't need a zoom of this length, there are better choices even from Canon. The superzoom category fills an almost unique niche. But don't think there aren't trade off's. You just need to decide what is needed for you. Though with camera prices dropping so much (this is an amazing camera at under $300, just a couple years ago would have been double that), you could buy this and another camera....

So I give it 4-stars. If I was rating simply in the superzoom category, it would be almost a 5. I'd like a slightly bigger grip and to shoot RAW. If rating with all other digital camera's including those with shorter lenses, probably just 3.5 due to slightly lower pic quality. But this is an inherent issue with this category, not a reflection of this particular camera. Its just not possible to pack that much, into such a small package, at that price without giving something up. I think it fair to mention the opposite of a DSLR (or other pro-type camera). If you have only been shooting with a smartphone (any of them) and were looking for something better, this would be night and day better. A huge jump in pic quality. Or if you have never shot with a DSLR and just wanted a "good" camera, this would be a good choice. It is versatile, compact and fun!!
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on October 18, 2013
Sadly we didn't purchase our camera on Amazon so we don't have the benefit of their return policy! The previously mentioned problems with shooting video make this otherwise fine camera a huge disappointment. Considering all the shinning reviews this camera gets we have to wonder if Canon isn't paying people to write this pablum, unfortunately for us we read only those reviews. There are literally tens of thousands of complaints made to Canon and it's been posted in every camera forum on the internet.

If you are interested in purchasing this camera please consider the following. Shortly after purchase our camera began having the well documented video problems, we were unable to video more than about one minute before camera shutdown (we had the GPS shut off). After contacting customer support we were instructed to do the firmware update. The support staff commented that this was the first they heard of this problem, apparently they have repeated that lie thousands of times, this too is posted all over the internet. The firmware update did not affect the length of video recording at all, no improvement. The last contact with Canon went unanswered, this too is apparently happening all over.

Canon dropped the ball on this and now has abandoned the customer, we won't purchase another Canon product.
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on May 9, 2013
I bought this camera to replace the Canon PowerShot SD990 IS I purchased nearly 5 years ago. The SD990 IS was (and still is) a great camera but as I was doing more video, I wanted full 1080p HD at 30 & 60 fps (the SD990 IS offers 640 x 480). Here's a short pro & con on the camera when compared to the SD990 IS:

-Full 1080p (vs the 640x480 from the 990IS)
-Battery life is very good (I get about 275 pictures at 12MP and I shot a 90 second video at 1080p at 60fps). In comparison, with the less featured, nearly 5 years old SD990 IS, I would get 325+ pictures at 14.7MP and be able to shoot a 3 minute video (640x480) before the battery runs down.

-12 MP (from the SX280) vs 14.7MP (from the 990IS)
-Noticeably heavier/bulkier than the SD 990IS (but I understand it is a lighter camera when compared to current models). Nevertheless, holding the camera comfortably is not an issue.

That's it for the bullet points. The numerous bells and whistles on the SX280 reminds me of how most consumers use Microsoft Word (or most any popular software). Programs like Word offer so many features and possibilities that can be done with the software. Yet users probably don't use but 20% of the program's features. Same with someone who I think will buy and use this camera (or equivalent from Nikon, Sony, etc). This camera has much to offer but for the most part, it's an excellent point and shoot camera and one that takes great video. If 1080p isn't a necessity but you like 95% of this camera's features, from all I've read the previous Canon model (SX260) is the wiser and less expensive choice. If your priority is high megapixels for print and simple 720p HD video and bells and whistles are of little concern, there are Canon cameras available at 1/2 the price that will give you the same results.

If I have one complaint (same as with the SD 990IS), pictures lack vibrant color. I know that can be compensated for with features programmed in the SX280 (and possibly the SX260). But as I always touch up the pictures using Photoshop, it's not a big deal to me. Just something to mention. And keep in mind everyone sees and interprets color differently.

Bottom line: It is a great camera. I've owned Canon cameras since the AE-1 with no regrets. Know that this camera has features that most consumers looking for a 'point and shoot' won't use (but they are there to learn and use if desired). Personally, I always buy more then I know I need...and that's exactly what the SX280 is for me. With that said, if you want to learn photography and need a pocket camera for family or social events, this (or the Canon SX260, if still available) is the right choice.

P.S. I recommend getting an additional battery and a 32GB memory card (class 10). If the camera can utilize a 64GB card (I don't know if it can), then an even better choice. And if you exhaust your battery, it took a little over 90 minutes to get a recharge.

UPDATE - JUNE 30: I've owned the camera for 7 weeks (and about 2,500 hi-res pictures and 19 long videos) and continue to remain happy with the purchase. While not excusing Canon for the small 1000mAh battery (which gives almost 30 minutes of 1080/30p video), I have switched to a 3rd party battery rated at 1200mAh (I also just purchased a battery that is 1450mAh rated). With the 1200mAh, I get between 38-40 minutes of uninterrupted video w/o shooting any stills. When only shooting stills, I've shot as many as 342 pictures with juice still left in the battery. Also, I don't have any heat issues using the stronger batter vs the Canon OEM battery (both stronger batteries purchased on Amazon for a few dollars each).

Also, there is a firmware update for the SX280HS that stops the low-level battery warning light from coming on too soon after shooting a video. For me, the firmware update works. When shooting video (using the 1200mAh battery), the battery's low level warning light doesn't come on until there is about 5-7 minutes left of charge. As for shooting only pictures on a full charge, as I said I've shot 342 pictures w/o the battery low level warning light appearing. The firmware update (available on Canon's site) is a must. It's a great camera!!
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on May 14, 2013
Canon SX280 HS- I LOVE the picture quality and range!! But the battery life is extremely short <90 photos. And the battery life indicator went from full to empty without warning. I have had the camera less than a week- should I return it and buy the Canon SX 260 HS instead????

UPDATE- after reading the Canon Forums & some of your comments I came home and tested my 2 batteries. With the canon battery put into the camera yesterday, and used a bit-- I took an additional 200 pictures (no flash, wifi or gps) and 2 movies that exceeded 30 minutes! And while taking the movies - I tried the zoom and the red battery immediately started blinking. I turned the camera off and back on and the battery was full again. When the battery eventually died after the 30 minutes- I put in my non-canon battery and with no gps or wifi, I took about 180 pictures all with flash and zoom, and I squeezed in a 8 minute movie before it died. So - the issue is not battery life- but the battery indicator. I love the pictures-I've taken- and feel much better about my purchase. Although- this should issue should not be present in a brand new purchase!
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on July 3, 2013
I purchased the camera for my wife last week knowing about the battery issue and also knowing that the firmware update "fixed" the issue. Here's my experience:

Camera Review
1) My wife wanted a simple point and shoot Canon camera. I picked this Canon camera over the Elph or one of the other canon cameras because of the DIGIC 6 processor, the superior zoom and the customer reviews saying they love the pictures from the camera.
2) The picture quality is beautiful which is why we went with this camera. The zoom and the image rendering is nothing short of amazing! Even in dark light when the display seems to pixelate, the flash kicks on and the picture is terrific. We love the momentary review option and like that we can turn that feature off or increase the time. There's almost no lag between taking several pictures in a row unlike other cameras. We couldn't be happier with the photo options on this camera.
3) Video is smooth and excellent. The slow motion feature is ok.

Setup process
1) The battery issue on our camera identified itself immediately when switching to video mode. Just switching to the video mode, the battery light would blink red and within 3 seconds (not even recording anything) would power off the camera on its own. Follow the instructions on the Canon site to upgrade the firmware to
2) After upgrading I still noticed the battery issue. I read in one of the forums to take out the battery and pull out the memory card and leave them out for at least 20 minutes after upgrading. This hard battery out power off fixed the battery issue and allowed the camera to work correctly.
3) I encountered a number of problems setting up the wifi on the camera. The camera would connect to my WPA2/PSK router, but wouldn't get an IP address. After much trial and error, I manually set the IP information on the camera instead of using the automatic setting and the camera wifi worked correctly and connected to post to facebook, link to our Apple laptop, iPhone or Android phone.
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on October 19, 2013
Canon SX-280: Likely the Best Camera that You will Soon Regret Buying

Canon currently has two truly superlative small-sensor cameras, but this isn't one of them. While the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 12MP Digital Camera with 2.8-Inch LCD (Black) and Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 12MP Digital Camera with 10x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom with 3-Inch LCD (Black) are both in the best of breed, best of class league . . . the SX-280 isn't.

The SX-280 is polluted with largely meaningless features: WiFi, GPS, Hybrid Auto / Movie Digest are all battery-sucking little monsters of dubious utility. What they do is serve to illuminate what has never been the strong suit of this line, battery life, and that includes my SX230 which also has a GPS, but 14x optical zoom.

What is worse is that some of the most-touted improved features of this camera (which IS both faster and slightly better in low-light than the 20x optical zoom SX260) are video-capability related. The reason this is so bad is that this camera, as released in April, is deeply flawed: with random video shutdowns and immediate low-battery (red light flashing) warnings in video mode. It should not have been rushed to release in this not ready for prime time condition at all, yet it was. A firmware fix was eventually cobbled together and finally released on the Canon website months later. While my example does not lock-up, the problems go well beyond what firmware can address. There are hardware systems flaws in this camera and no firmware can correct it. The firmware update is provided with the standard "it is all on you" Canon disclaimer: THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. THE ENTIRE RISK AS TO THE QUALITY AND PERFORMANCE OF THE SOFTWARE IS WITH YOU. SHOULD THE SOFTWARE PROVE DEFECTIVE, YOU (AND NOT CANON, CANON'S SUBSIDIARIES AND AFFILIATES, THEIR DISTRIBUTORS AND DEALERS) ASSUME THE ENTIRE COST OF ALL NECESSARY SERVICING, REPAIR OR CORRECTION. Few read the contracts they agree to, yes it is common language . . . but it is a long way from confidence-inspiring.

Nothing is perfect, how well we all know, and there are personal considerations such as control placement and button size that folks with smaller hands will find ideal, yet others will find unbearable to try to use. I get this, for there is no such thing as one size fits all. Nevertheless, of the SX230 / SX260 / SX280 line, the SX280 remains the only one of the three released with a blatant, serious flaw. There is no dispute about this, for Canon refers to it as one of their "high-level advisories." Under shooting conditions with good lighting, the SX260 is just as good of a camera without the headaches. Nevertheless, the speedier SX280 (although it has the same, 20x, F3.5 / F.6.8 lens array as the SX260) does do better in low light.

The SX280's retail price has dropped from its original $330, and it now is a bargain in this class at $239, or WOULD BE if it worked as promised. Already there are piles of lightly used and "as new" examples selling for $200 or less. Not a bad deal if video is totally unimportant to you, and battery life in general isn't, either. But, there are options: the Fujifilm FinePix F900EXR 16MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD (Black)that has the same zoom range, even faster autofocus, and captures RAW. In the Bargain Class, still 20X zoom: Fujifilm FinePix F850EXR 16MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD (Black) currently at $209 (less elsewhere), with a 920K LCD is hard to beat for the money. If optical zoom in this form factor is of prime importance to you, the SX280 is already outgunned by the 22x of the Nikon S9500, the 24x of the Olympus SH-50 iHS, and the whopping 30x of the Sony DSC-HX50V/B 20.4MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD Screen (Black).


IF the SX280 performed as promised and worked as described by Canon, it WOULD be a 4-1/2 star + camera at a very good price. That's exactly what it doesn't do, so there is no way I could keep it, much less recommend it. It was to be only an incremental improvement from the SX260, even if it worked flawlessly, which it does not. The case size, sensor, lens, battery, basic layout are unchanged. It is essentially the "new DIGIC 6" processor that has been added, along with Wi-Fi. The HD Movie Digest and faster video frame rates just make the already very weak battery appear much weaker, with flawed circuitry that makes video attempts short, erratic, and unreliable.

Though smaller, lighter, 10x zoom, and less money . . the ELPH 330 HS is currently Canon's best pocket camera. That one is staying here, its images are superb, that is what I want a camera to do with no hassle: take excellent images. However, if the well-known video / battery issues don't bother you, feel free to ignore this review and take your chances on a SX280. Buying used makes sense here, for there is a quickly growing pile of them.

Of the current crop of competitors, the similarly priced Olympus Stylus SH-50 iHS Digital Camera with 24x Optical Zoom and 3-Inch LCD (Black) is, in many ways, the camera that the SX280 isn't. Better battery life (300 shots), 25% more optical zoom, full-resolution picture acquisition during video (not just scaled), 3 axis stabilization (five-axis in video), and a touch screen that lets you instantly change the AF object and take the image, and a Smart Panorama mode that Canon still(!) refuses to implement.

Copyright 2013 by Randy Wakeman and Randy Wakeman Outdoors.
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