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Customer Review

150 of 151 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best do-everything camera, but not totally intuitive, April 30, 2009
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This review is from: Canon PowerShot SX1IS 10 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 20x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.8-inch LCD (Electronics)
Quick summary:

1. I really like this camera, especially being able to take HD video and optically zoom while recording. I also really like taking 4 fps of continuous shooting.

2. You really need to read (at least skim) through the instructions. Some of the ease of use benefits of a point-and-shoot were compromised to give you some of the versatility of a digital SLR. I'm not too crazy about the "Control Dial" to select menu options. Over all, the software seems a bit less intuitive than other Powershots I've used in the past.

3. Using Quicktime on Windows to view the HD video might result in jerky motion. HD video is smooth in Quicktime on a Mac. This is a Quicktime/Windows issue, not a camera problem.

4. The camera is solidly built, but it's a bit heavy. It's not ergonomically designed for extended video recording.

5. Consider reading and viewing a video demo by a professional at [...]

Long version:

I was very eagerly anticipating this camera. The key feature in the Canon SX1IS is the CMOS sensor used in the SLR product lines. I got really excited about a single camera with HD video, 20x optical zoom, 4 frames per second of continuous shooting, articulated screen, and standard AA batteries. I've owned several Canon Powershot models, and I've been very satisfied with them. I'm also an experienced 35mm SLR person. I thought that the SX1IS was going to be my perfect camera... or actually the perfect gift for my wife.

I am an amateur photographer whose primary subjects are my children playing sports. Since I work a lot, my wife actually ends up taking a majority of the photos. I was planning to get a digital SLR for her when I came upon the specs for the SX1IS. It seems as if Canon product managers have listened to everything I wanted in a digital camera. The biggest deals for me were

1. HD video with optical zoom enabled while you're filming
2. 4 frames per second of continuous shooting
3. 20x optical zoom
4. Ease of use of a point-and-shoot

Here are my series of reactions:

1. After the first set of photos and videos, I couldn't help but feel as if Canon has under-delivered on the promise of a nearly perfect camera for amateurs or perhaps my camera was defective. This was my review of the first batch of photos and videos: (please read on to the next section since my initial disappointment resulted more from ignorance and unfair expectations)

a. I wasn't getting anywhere near 4 frames per second.

b. In the AUTO mode, the photos seem to come out at a lower quality than my much cheaper Powershot A710 in AUTO mode. By lower quality, I mean that the color, contrast, and details appear not as good.

c. It is very cool to be able to zoom in and out while you are taking video, but the HD video footages came out jerky enough to be really annoying.

2. This didn't seem right, so I actually read the instructions and spent a few minutes googling for info. It quickly became clear that you really have to read the manual to use this camera effectively. The manual is not written especially well, but it contains the info you need. (FYI, I've NEVER read instructions on any of my other digital point-and-shoot cameras before, and I have been very happy with the thousands of photos I've taken.)

a. Getting 4 frames per second: I learned that you cannot shoot 4 frames per second in AUTO mode or SPORTS mode. SPORTS mode can only take continuous AutoFocus photos which is about 1 frame per second. Most of the other modes support fast 4 frames per second continuous shooting. In the 4 fps continuous shooting, only the first shoot will be in focus, the others will be out of focus if the subject moves towards or away from your camera.

b. Comparing photos from SX1IS with A710: I realized that I was taking photos at high zoom that the Powershot A710 was not even able to get, so this was not a fair comparison. For apples-to-apples outdoor photos, SX1IS does take superior photos, but indoor photos does seem grainier at similar zoom levels. However, the difference is really minor, and there are many many adjustments on the SX1IS that can more than compensate.

c. Jerky HD video playback: This is a really a problem with Quicktime on my Windows Vista (on 2.5GHz Quadcore CPU with 4GB of RAM & ATI Radeon 512MB graphics card, so not a hardware issue). I saw similar jerky playback with Quicktime on Windows XP. However, the videos play smooth and perfectly in Quicktime on a Mac OS X. By reading this review, I hope you don't get upset when your first HD video looks really bad because of the jerky motion. I'm sure that this is a temporary problem: either Apple will improve Quicktime playback on Windows, a better MOV player will be available, or software will be available to convert the MOV to another format that works better on Windows.

d. Further note: To make changes to a bunch of settings via the menu options, you have to use this ring on the function button (called the "Control Dial"). It's the knurled outermost concentric ring surrounding the FUNC. SET button. You rotate this to select the menu options you want. Well, maybe I'll get used to it, but right now, this ring sucks. It's easy to miss the your menu item because you rotate this ring with just enough force, but if you press a bit too much, you end up with different options. This will probably suck to another plateau when I'm in bright sunlight looking through the viewfinder.

Here are 3 other things you might want to consider before purchasing this camera:

1. The camera feels very solid, but this also means that it is a bit heavy.

2. The form factor is for taking photographs, so if you plan to use this primarily for the HD video, your hands/arms will tire out. It is a bit awkward to keep the camera steady for extended video. HD camcorder will probably be better for you if your primary motivation is to take HD videos.

3. See a professional review with a video demo at [...]

I'm now having a great time taking lots of photos and videos with this camera. The 20x zoom, HD video, and 4 fps is worth the cost premium.
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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 30, 2009, 8:27:50 PM PST
Robert D. says:
Nice review. You covered it all. It helped me in making a decision. Thank you.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2009, 11:20:06 AM PST
You also helped me decide to stick with my S5-IS and not make a purchase of the SX1-IS until Canon straightens it out.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 31, 2009, 1:14:18 PM PST
Are you able to discern weather the SX1 IS MOV mode will play back on a computer with a Windows Media Player (11). Most of us don't want to pay for QuictTime Pro.

Posted on Jan 25, 2010, 10:04:46 PM PST
does this camera record audio when filming HD video

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2010, 3:24:04 PM PST
I. Kanski says:
The basic QuickTime player is free. You don't need to pay for QuickTime Pro unless you want to edit the MOV files or do other more advanced things with them.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2010, 9:19:58 PM PDT
SERENDIPITY says:
Can you please tell me what size lense filters this takes? is it 58mm??
Thanks

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 7, 2010, 9:57:37 PM PDT
I stop pondering over the SX1-IS knowing the Fujifilm FinePix HS10 was on the horizon. It blows this Canon away. Pardon the pun. 10fps and much more. The issue I have with the HS10 is that the 30X zoom is not motor driven. It's manual for G-d sakes. I'll wait for the next version of this one as well. I may go to a local retail camera shop to try it out anyway. I don't know about everyone else, but I am sure tired of being played. What ever happened to companies wanting to retain customers by producing the best product with the best technology available.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2010, 8:30:22 AM PDT
SERENDIPITY says:
Yes, I have the fuji hs10. The manual zoom DOES take getting used to. It is superior to motor driven, because you can have complete control over the zoom ratio, so it's not 'stepped' as they say. BUT, I hear ya, the motor driven is SO much easier!!!! Also the hs10 is a great camera, but it is NOT a simple point and shoot. It is really for the person who wants to play around with the settings, aka P,A,S, M settings. It's not too difficult to pull off some good shots in aperture mode, but I am NOT please with so many of the auto modes. So I am still confused as to weather the is the camera for me. The zoom is awesome though. Macro for me has sucked.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2010, 12:30:49 PM PDT
How long have you had this camera? It just hit the States less than 3 weeks ago. I am a camera buff and understand what settings to use and when, but I agree, too many auto settings may not be the best way to go. But for me, the more settings the better. I'm going to a photo shop tomorrow to take a closer look and try one out. BTW... Fuji released the HS11 in China several months ago. It appears to be the same as the HS10. However, I wonder if IT has a motorized zoom because I can't tell from the photos I have of the HS11 camera? In the past, before I took up digital, the only Macro that has worked well for me has been SLR's like Nikon, Canon and Pentex. I still own the last film Nikon and Pentex SLR's I purchased.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2010, 8:22:15 AM PDT
SERENDIPITY says:
I can get some macro, but it isn't easy for me and the clarity isn't good on things like...bugs. But print blows my mind it is so good. I can zoom in on a tiny print set from a bottle of pills and it is crystal clear. I mean TINY print. Yet give me a darn BUG and it is a blurry mess. I do have some problems with 'noise' and smearing, and god help me barrel distortion when no zoom is used. So 24mm equivelant? UGH. I don't have photoshop, so can't fix it. Indoor shots arent as good as outdoor. But I am being picky, and I do know this. At $5oo I have to. Especially when I could get the Nikon D5000 for a few hundred more OR a reburbished for 25 dollars more. But then...no good zoom shots. That lense is a fortune...and huge. Tell me what you think of the HS10. It is a good camera, just not sure if it is good enough! Or my 'perfect' choice.
No, none of these have power zoom. This and the s200exr are manual. ;) Oh yeah. I recieved the camera on Tuesday morning. 6th
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