Whether you are an experienced DSLR owner (as I am) looking for a compact second camera or you are someone looking to upgrade from your old point-and-shoot digital camera, the Canon PowerShot SX100IS is a well designed compact camera that has a lot of rich features at a very reasonable price.
I've been using my Canon Digital Rebel (DSLR) for several years and am very pleased with it. However, I have become increasingly aware of how bulky it is, particularly when I want to go places where it's inconvenient to lug around - like going hiking. So I set out looking for a smaller pocket-sized camera that had as many features as I could find comparable to my DSLR.
Being a fan of Canon cameras I limited the field to the PowerShot G9, the PowerShot Pro Series S5 IS, and the PowerShot SX100IS, all Canon products. The G9 is promoted and priced as the best of Canon's non-DSLR cameras, although from the reviews I've read it is more appreciated for its look and feel than for its performance. It is an 12.1MP 6x optical image stabilized zoom camera that can shoot RAW images. In comparison, the SX100IS is an 8MP 10x image stabilized zoom camera that doesn't shoot RAW. (I've shot RAW using my DSLR and don't find it necessary to get great photos.) The SX100IS has almost all of the other features of the G9, is about the same size, but weighs a lot less.
The S5 IS is an 8.0MP 12x optical image stabilized zoom camera. It looks a lot like a DSLR but doesn't allow for swapping lenses, and it can't shoot in RAW. It has very similar features to the SX100IS but is considerably bulkier and weighs more.
Even though all 3 cameras live up to Canon's reputation for taking great shots, I chose the SX100IS over the G9 because it had a higher optical zoom capability, weighed a lot less and was about $200 cheaper. I chose SX100IS over the S5 IS because it is more compact and lighter, and is about $80 cheaper. (Also, the SX100IS' 10x optical zoom is pretty amazing in its own right.)
The SX100IS has almost as many features as the other 2 cameras at a considerably lower price. I particularly like the Macro setting (which allows me to take really close-ups shots of ferns and the like on my hikes), and I like the manual focus capability for when the situation is such that the auto focus won't work properly. Also, I find that the lack of a viewfinder isn't bothersome. In fact, in some instances like when I'm playing around with white balance, I can get a preview of how the exposure changes on the 2.5" LCD screen, which isn't available on my DSLR.
Since purchasing the SX100IS about a month ago, I find myself reaching for it more often than I do my DSLR. For my money and for most of my needs, this camera is superb.
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