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Canon PowerShot SX600 HS - Good basic camera with some odd features,
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This review is from: Canon PowerShot SX600 HS 16MP Digital Camera (Black) (Electronics)
I have several other Canon digital cameras, and slowly retire old ones to replace them with new ones, all the while keeping three or four of them active. I like the consistency of Canon's user interface, since let's face it.....many digital camera have user interfaces that you will forget how to use if the manual is not handy.
I have one of the ELPH series, which is a gorgeously nice looking camera that is both small and light weight, and it takes nice pictures. But it is reluctant to focus properly in many situations, and is fond of taking photos that look OK on the LCD screen but are actually a bit soft in focus. It also will not adjust focus or exposure during the taking of videos. So, nice but still lacking in some ways.
Then I have a big S3IS which I love, but it is growing a bit long in the tooth in terms of its small LCD screen size and relatively low resolution. However, it excels are being able to take still photos while in the process of also taking videos, something I find very useful, and its ability to freeze action during sports or other 'active' scenes surpasses any other camera that I currently own.
Then there is one PowerShot that I bought a year ago because it takes two AA cells for its battery, as opposed to requiring a proprietary Canon battery, but I see Canon has discontinued that camera line.
So I was looking for a replacement for the ELPH in my lineup.....a basic point-and-shoot with good specs, pocketable size, strong optical zoom, and ability to take camcorder-quality videos including auto adjustment of focus and exposure as the subject of the video changes. The choice came down to the PowerShot SX600 HS and it's mate the SX700 HS, a price difference of about $100. The major differences are that the SX700 has a better image processor and a much stronger optical zoom (30x instead of 18x). After discussing my needs with a Canon product specialist (and Canon remains excellent for how easy they make it to reach real people for getting questions answered, and these people are not in a foreign call center reading from a script), I decided on the SX600.
After taking a few photos around the house to make sure it worked, I took it along as a backup to my S3IS camera on a recent vacation trip. Now that I am back from the trip, I have to confess that I never pulled the S3IS out of the bag, and did all stills and videos using the SX600.
The SX600 is a typical size for its class, measuring 4" wide, 2.4" tall, and 1" deep front to rear (not counting the zoom lens which sticks out quite a ways when the camera is turned on). This is a comfortable pocket size, but the weight of about 6 oz is noticeable and I would not call it exactly light weight. The camera feels substantial and sturdy.
Even though the SX600 uses a typical proprietary flat Canon rechargeable battery, the camera case sports a small bulge in front to help you keep a good grip on it while shooting with only one hand. I found that this bulge was useful, but still just a bit too small to really afford a secure one-handed grip. Still, I applaud Canon for providing anything to help in this regard. The camera case is all plastic; mine is the black finish and it is a simple matte plastic texture. The other color options appear to provide different textures, but I cannot comment further on that.
The front of the SX600 is dominated by the large lens assembly; this is a generously large optical device for a small point-and-shoot, and it is one of the main selling points for the camera. In order to get the lens 'unpacked' for use, the internal motorized mechanism has to go through a series of maneuvers, but this is automatic and quick so you hardly notice it. The same applies to stowing the lens when you turn the power off. The automatic lens cover works very well.
The rear of the SX600 is taken up with the large 3" diagonal wide-viewing-angle color LCD display and the set of buttons and selections. I will not go into detail of the user interface since the SX600 shares the conventional and well established Canon philosophy and controls layout. The only part of this that I found to be different from my other Canon's is the addition of a three-position slide switch that allows changing from normal AUTO picture taking mode to either of two specialty modes. The most notable of these modes is the so-called "Creative Shot" mode, where immediately after you take the intended still photo, the camera automatically takes several more of the same subject in quick succession, each with different 'special effects' settings applied. I found this to be a totally useless feature for anything like normal camera use....not sure who would be likely to appreciate this feature.
I like the pop-up flash. If you push it down, the flash will not fire regardless of the settings, and if you think you might want to have the flash work, you press the button that allows it to pop up, and it will then fire automatically as needed. I much prefer this to having to go into a menu somewhere to turn the flash on and off.
The image sensor is 16 megapixels, which is very good in this price range. You will not even notice this for most normal photos, but if you zoom in to the limits of the optical zoom and then keep zooming in, the extra resolution will help prevent the image from getting grainy.
While the SX600 is both a camcorder and a still camera in a single case, it does have some limitations as described below.
- You cannot shoot still photos while the camera is taking a video. However, pressing the shutter button (as if to take a still photo) will immediately stop the video and pressing the shutter a second time will take the still photo. Then press the red VIDEO button again to immediately resume shooting the video, and hopefully you only lost a couple seconds.
- Not as many ways to fine tune the resolution and JPEG compression settings to use for still photos, when compared to my other Canon cameras.....this camera will always take larger sized image files than what I desire for most casual photography.
- Focus adjusts on the fly as you pan around while shooting videos, but exposure adjustments seem to be sluggish in response (compared to the quick way the camera is able to automatically adjust otherwise).
- The SX600 has effective image stabilization for still photos while zoomed in, but it seemed to me that the image stabilization did not work very well while shooting videos (and maybe the camera does not even have this feature....the manual was not too clear about it).
- Full zoom is possible during videos.
- Unlike still photos, it seems there is no adjustment to how the videos are taken. The aspect ratio and resolution appear to be fixed as 1080p (1920 x 1280) full HD widescreen.
- Unlike still photo mode, where I never experienced a failure to focus perfectly, I encountered many times (but still a small percentage of videos I took on my vacation) when the camera simply refused to focus after I pressed the red VIDEO button. I needed to stop the video, tap the shutter button to 'wake up' the auto focus system, then press the red VIDEO button again to restart the video. No good reason that I can think of for this to happen.
- Unlike a real camcorder, the SX600 automatically creates new video files every few minutes, as opposed to making a single huge video file if you keep on recording without a break. If you edit the separate files together on to a DVD or something like that, it appears that nothing is lost. But it can be alarming to look at the video status on the display when you have been recording a video for maybe 12 minutes, and the counter shows only 2 minutes and 5 seconds, for example (because it already closed off the first 10 minutes as a separate video file).
As with all Canon cameras, you cannot recharge the battery while it is in the camera. You must pull it out and place it in the included charger. I got very long times out of the battery, lots of time with the display on and zooming going on, etc; Still, I recommend buying a second battery in case the first one runs out of power in the middle of something important. It takes a few hours to recharge each battery but I found that one charger could easily charge two batteries overnight (if I set an alarm to wake up and change the battery at 2 AM). Based on my experience, don't waste your time with generic or third-party batteries....just plop down the money for the real Canon battery if you want the same kind of battery life that the included one gives you.
The SX600 has Wi-Fi, and you can use this to send photos and videos to your smart phone or to Wi-Fi equipped printers, computers, etc. However, I have not used the Wi-Fi feature and cannot comment on it. One cute aspect of the Wi-Fi is that you can apparently use your smart phone to remotely trigger the camera to take a photo; useful for group shots and so on.
The SX600 is fairly basic in terms of special features and being able to shoot in unusual situations. It is primarily a basic point-and-shoot. However, you can get some access to basic manual controls if you are so inclined to use them.
Based on my experience so far, filling up six SD cards of 8 GB each on my vacation (lots of than being video), I have few real complaints with the SX600, and it has become my main camera for everyday and vacation photography and video.
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Initial post: Jul 28, 2014, 11:46:17 PM PDT
Max P. says:
For what it's worth, the Canon PowerShot A1400 takes two AAs. I think it's the last camera in the PowerShot line that does.
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