on 11 February 2009
I 'ummed' and 'arred' about buying this camera for months before I took the plunge. I am so pleased I did. The main selling points for me were the 20X zoom and the full HD movie capability, but having never experienced HD before I was a bit hesitant.
I have a G7 and a EOS 40D, and while the G7 is a perfect point and shoot camera (some of my best pictures have come from this) and the 40D is an excellent SLR when used with a Sigma 28-300, I wanted something that would do the job of both but without the weight of the EOS. And the SX1 is it!
The HD movies are astounding, both on the computer and the 32" TV. You do need a tripod to get the best picture quality, but it is well worth the time taken to set it up properly. I use a mini tripod and utilise the remote control that came with camera, it takes the button shake from the beginning and end of your movie. Likewise when taking a long exposure picture, set it up on the tripod and release the shutter with the remote.
Downsides? Well, there's always something and with this camera it's the power source. It uses 4 AA batteries. I am using 'Ultimate Lithium" batteries as they will last for about 500 still pics, and if you look around you can get them for about £4 for 4.
Another thing I'm a bit unhappy about is the fact that the camera has a plastic body. Having been used to a G7 and 40D, both metal bodied and feeling bullet-proof, I was a bit disconcerted with the feel of the SX. However, having used it a fair bit now, it's proving to be not quite as fragile as it feels.
All in all, I'm very impressed with this camera (see picture) and I'm still discovering new stuff it will do.
on 27 June 2009
20 odd years ago I used to love going all over the place snapping away with my old Olympus OM2N, but after amassing a few carrier bags full of unprocessed film just gave it up. Then about 3 years back I got an Olympus pocket compact and started getting back into snapping away but always promised myself a DSLR when I could afford.
Well, now's that time!! I thought of something like a Canon EOS450 initially but I dont really want to be lugging all the lenses etc around now, and then came across the Canon SX1 IS. I read the specs..too good to be true I thought, read the reviews, read them all again, had a few cans of beer and got the plastic out and ordered from Amazon. 2 weeks on and after a good play around with it I can't believe what a bargain this camera is!! (now £40 cheaper too..HUH!!). Initially the user guide seems a bit head busting, but taking things one step at a time all the features become apparent and really easy to use. I'd recommend this camera to anyone either looking to upgrade from a pocket compact to the serious amateur or pro photographer needing to travel light.
PROS...Too many to list, it really does what it says on the box. A bargain at the price so spend the extra money you'll save on buying a DSLR plus lenses on rechargeable batteries and chargers instead... Widescreen HD video through the telly looks great... 4 frames/second shooting makes sure you get "that" action shot....No messing about changing lenses, just zoom in.... No carrying bags of extra lenses about....I could go on forever.
CONS...The front of the lens is not threaded so not able to fit filters without an adaptor. None is available in the UK but an adaptor is available from a company called Lensmate in USA (Google it!!) $22 inc postage to UK, this will enable fitting 58mm thread filters.... 4:3 ratio video plays OK on my lowish spec laptop with VLC media player (Google it!!) BUT Widescreen HD video will need serious computing power to play the .mov file format on a PC, although there's no problems with the camera playing this through the telly.
RECOMMENDED EXTRA ACCESSORIES....8GB SDHC Card stores approx 2000 photos at highest quality setting....Lensmate SX1 58mm filer adaptor....UV filter....Circular polarizer filter....Lots of Energizer 2000 mah rechargeable batteries....Widescreen HD telly.
on 1 May 2009
I have had this camera for nearly two months and I still have loads to learn about it's capabilities. this is my second digital camera (the first being a canon A410) AND THE UPGRADE IS HUGE. the zoom is fantastic at getting close-up shots of birds etc.(from a range of about 15-20 feet) and the macro and super macro is stunning at close-in pics of flowers, moss and fungus and also bugs etc.
the 4 frames a second shooting is very usefull at doing birds in flight and the SANDISK 4GB 111 SDHC cards I use can keep up with the writing speed from camera too card quite easily. (30mb per sec read/write speed) I use two sets of 2850 re-chargeable batteries and one set of 2700, and one set of any of them, can last a couple of days, taking approx. 2000+ high-res jpg's.
I haven't used the HD video aspect of this camera yet (not important too me) so I will not comment on this aspect of it's features other than to say that it only takes one push of a button to do and seems very good, given that I only tried it for about 30 seconds or so. It does use a load of space on the card though and I think my 4GB cards are good for only about 30 minutes each.
The macro shooting is great though and will easily show the hairs on a bumble bee, butterfly, house fly etc. if that is your thing. The close-ups of moss and fungus will show fantastic detail and colours as well, especially using super-macro. The lens can touch the subject and still be in focus. Terrific.
The best results are obtained at low ISO numbers eg. 80-200. higher ISO'S can show a little bit of grain, but it all depends on how sunny it is at the time. You need a low ISO and a fast speed for best results to get birds in flight, but for feeding birds (relatively still) you can use 400-800 ISO, with a bright day, and still get resonably good results. It is all a matter of practice though and I still have a long way to go before I get anywhere near the capabilities of this camera.
The manual is over 300 pages (if you print it out) and is not as helpfull as it could be. I suspect it has been written by someone whome knows all about camera's and so expects the novice to be able to cope with the huge amount of features and combinations of shooting modes available. This camera will do "happy snaps" if you want it to, but it can also reward the new enthusiast with some fantastic results. It takes very good "inside" pictures when put on "auto" thanks too the on-board flash and makes the results of my old A410 look completely naff. The big LCD screen on the back is also very handy for macro shooting when you can't bend down close enough too the subject....bee's, butterflies, plants etc.
This camera is not for the complete beginner however, due mainly too the complex features available, but it will reward you with some brilliant pics if you are prepared to put a little effort into learning about at least some of the more commonly used features. To get one substantially better (another canon model for example) you will need to spend around £850+, and that is just for the body, with no lens attached. the lens on the SX1 is fixed.
ALSO BE AWARE THAT THE SX1 IS ONLY 8.1 MEGAPIXELS IN WIDESCREEN MODE. IT IS 10 MEGAPIXELS IN FULL SCREEN MODE ONLY. This is a feature of the camera that I have yet to see in ANY advert, so may be something you will need to think about when comparing it too other makes of camera with simmilar features. This isn't an issue for me though, as I crop picturs into widescreen anyway when doing "close-ups" of the subjects, so only loose the "extra" 2 megapixels from parts of a picture that are not neccessary. pixelation on a subject happens at the same point of zooming-in, whether you use full-screen or widescreen, so use the mode best suited too your monitor etc. I highly recommend this camera but have given it only 4 stars due too the un-helpful handbook which you either need access to a computer at all times to read, or carry the print-out version with you (it's heavy) also, the small loss of quality in pictures at very high ISO speeds and the ONLY 8.1 megapixel shooting in WIDESCREEN MODE.
I have also fitted an adapter ring too the front so as to attach a protective clear filter (made by HOYA but one by B+W is possibly better again). This adapter fits very well and I can now use any type of 67mm filter I want. As standard, you cannot fit ANY type of filter too the front of the SX1, so I highly recommend you invest in such a device. You can get one from JJC for a range of CANON camera's, but currently for half the price of a CANON original item. Please see my other reviews for my comments on the adapter.
UP DATE. I HAVE NOW OWNED THIS CAMERA FOR NEARLY 1 YEAR AND STILL HAVEN'T FOUND ONE TO REPLACE IT AS REGARDS THE QUALITY OF PHOTO'S IT TAKES, OVERALL EASE OF USE (WHEN COMPARED TOO MY BROTHERS' CANON 450D MODEL), 4 FRAMES A SECOND, THE PERFORMANCE OF THE ZOOM LENS AND THE PRICE FOR THE FEATURES YOU GET. STILL HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
on 19 January 2009
I spent a few weeks on the net researching various cameras from £300 to £1000 before deciding on this long zoom 'compact'.
My previous camera was a 12 X zoom, Dimage Z3, which I enjoyed for 4+ years, but was never totally happy with the image quality, especially for photographing wildlife/birds. But, in its day, was the longest zoom in a non-SLR digital camera, so, I was happy enough for the price.
My dilemma recently was on whether to go for a "bridge" or SLR. I have always liked Canon cameras, so my first filter to narrow down the thousands available, was to mainly concentrate on the Canon range. I'm sure you could buy just as well, if your choice was Nikon, Sony, Pentax or other respected names.
So my otions were SX10 IS, SX1 IS, EOS400D, EOS450D, EOS 50D.
If I bought an EOS (SLR) then I would also have to buy extra, long lenses and do without video. The lenses were going to be expensive for good ones. According to many reviews I read, the standard lenses are no better than the quality on the SX1 IS. You can get non IS lenses by Sigma and others for reasonable price. But to get anyhwere near the zoom range of the SX1 I was going to have to spend big bucks.
There is also the inconvenience of having to carry a big bag around with me, like I used to with film SLR's. So I went for convenience.
On a balance between quality, price and convenience, I opted for the SX1 IS, which is a big step up from my old 4 mega pixel 12 times zoom.
So far (about 3 weeks) I am happy with the picture quality, though I still can't get as near to my subjects as I would like.
The long zoom is great, and the image stabilisation.
The ability to zoom whilst videoing is also a great new feature for a digicam.
Things I don't like are
1. Lens cap is not attached to camera by a cord, so it's easy to misplace, and doesn't always get put back on the idle camera. So I am risking damage.
2. The HD video has been a big disappointment. The video quality and size are great, but when you are panning, even slowly, the picture jumps. Do have a look on Youtube, for sample videos, if this is important to you.
Also, more importantly in my case, the video and sound are not in sync. I video singer/guitarist songs to put on Youtube, and they are not even in sync on my own PC, so I would have been okay to have bought the SX10, as HD video was my reason for upgrade. The standard quality video is good. I did have to get a new faster card to handle HD video. Sandisk Extreme 3. As far as I know this card is as fast as you can get?
UPDATE 16th Feb 09 - I now believe that all my issues with the HD video were caused by my own ignorance of this format. Canon reccommend 2.6 gig duo core minimum with Vista. My processor is only 2.13Ghx 2 core. So I'm still learning how to get the best out of it.
The video experts rave about the video quality of this camera, so I would take their word for it.
The Sandisk eXtreme card is a class 6 card and is suitable.
3. There is NO SCREW THREAD ON THE LENS!!! You cannot fit filters to protect the lens, or use effects. You can't add teleconverters to extend the zoom range. Although I realise that Canon would consider the extra weight impracticable as it would put extra strain on the motor drive.
UPDATE 15th Feb 09 - A company called Lensmate now make a suitable adaptor for the SX1 which bayonets on to the lens hood fitting and accepts standard 58mm (YES 58)filters.
4. You cant select the low ISO numbers, when you shoot in auto.
To get my photos as crisp as possible I like to use ISO 80. The camera never seems to select 80 in auto, even in bright sunlight, so I have started to use program and manual settings where I can select 80.
Overall, at the moment I still really like the camera, and am very happy that I chose it.
My son is going to get the EOS 450D soon, so I will see what the comparisons are like, first hand.
I hope I'm not going to be envious.
Good luck in your hunt for your ideal camera. Tony
My issues with video lag and sound sync above have been sorted, please see comments below this review. All part of the learning process.
on 26 June 2009
I won't bother repeating all the comments below - suffice to say that after a couple of weeks, I am very impressed.
Some follow up info, though. If anyone's looking for a case for the SX1, the Lowepro Apex 100AW is a pretty much perfect fit. Went round quite a few shops trying to find one that the camera would go in, but which would also then fit into a briefcase. At 125mm high (x180L x140W), this one does - just - and will also hold a spare set of batteries.
on 24 February 2009
After much research I chose the SX1 (over SX10 or Panasonic FZ28) as a replacement for my A610.
Despite reading reviews, my first impression was that it was larger than expected... and perhaps a little heavier. Expectations are subjective of course, but this is no `pocket' camera! It's very solid (think `small DSLR' rather than `compact'), and though mainly plastic it's very well built. The lens surround is metal, and there's a metal tripod thread. It feels comfortable when held, and the weight should help avoid camera shake (as does excellent Image Stabilisation).
(Note - if you `rock' the camera gently whilst off there's a slight clunking noise, sounding like a loose item inside. You don't hear this when switched on. Apparently Canon say that it's perfectly normal. So don't be disconcerted!)
The second thing that stood out was the clarity of the display. The 2.8 inch screen is considerably larger than my A610's and very crisp and colourful. The viewfinder display is less impressive, but useable, but with the main screen so clear I'll probably use that more.
The 20x zoom lens is quite long when extended and reach is impressive. The lens cap is a pain - ideally it would be attached with a cord, but it can clip to the neck-strap. I miss an `automatic' lens cover but there you go.
If you've used another Canon compact you'll find the UI and menus familiar. There are many options to navigate, but all are accessed via a straightforward system, with `shortcut' buttons provided on the body (MF, ISO, Macro, Timer, Exposure compensation and a dedicated video record button which is really useful - no need to find video `mode' before filming). The widescreen display is used well with info neatly arranged to get the most from the space provided. In `normal' photo mode the image occupies the central area with settings shown on the right and left avoiding obscuring the image. Switch to widescreen mode for stills (and HD video) and the image then occupies the full width.
The `$6 Million' question is how good is the image quality? I'd say very good.
Overall quality of picture in terms of sharpness, focus, colour, exposure and so on, is very good. In terms of `noise', from what I've seen the SX1 delivers generally good results. Initial tests were mainly indoors in natural light - a `worst case scenario' test. Generally the SX1 coped well and shots in brighter light are obviously better! Using `Auto' at mainly 100 or 200ISO shots were clean and tidy. At normal viewing resolution no real noise is visible. Zoomed to 2, 4 or even 6 megapixels images are fine and prints at 6x4, or perhaps even A4 size, should be fine.
At 100% the 10 megapixel indoor images do exhibit some `graininess'. However, this is probably `normal' for most 8+ megapixel compacts, which are pushing the limits of what a small sensor can achieve. With good light outdoors, I'm sure the SX1 is capable of producing superb shots, and at 10 megapixels opportunities are presented for cropping and enlarging.
Outdoor shots, despite dull weather, have come out very well. The zoom allows you to get in very close to subjects. Also, the wide angle (28mm) is great for group and indoor shots.
A large attraction of the SX1 is its Full HD video (1080p). With this the SX1 is something of a pioneer.
I shot several videos and converted to WMF using WinFF on my PC for smooth playback (see comments other review). With settings of 30000bps, 30fps, 1920/1080, the WMFs played back smoothly. Quality is superb - every bit as good as hoped for. Surprisingly, though Canon recommend Class 6, video worked fine with my Class 4 card (Sandisk Ultra II, 8Gb).
Indoors video came out fine, and though the SX1 can `overexpose' in bright light it is no worse than my `normal' camcorder.
One great thing is that you can grab 2 megapixel stills from the video. This is like having 30fps `burst mode' on the camera. Just convert to .wmv and via Windows Movie Maker you can save any frame as a JPG - perfect for 6x4 prints!
HD video is all I hoped it would be. Shoots fine, looks superb, CD quality sound, easily transferred to PC (no more `capturing' from tape) and with right software excellent results are achieved. It really does give you an HD camcorder in a stills camera. You'd want a good capacity card (16GB=56mins), but 16Gb are now available from about £20. The SX1 fits less video on a card than many HD camcorders, but there's a simple reason: Most HD camcorders encode at between 15 and 24Mbs - whereas the SX1 shoots at around 43Mbs!!.... And it shows!
The SX1 is a great, all-in-one, `bridge' camera. Well built, great zoom & wide angle, feels solid, takes good pictures, and superb video. With many features, manual controls, macro, 4fps burst mode, and so on, you get a lot for your money. There's a neck strap (you'll need it), a useful remote control for photos, video and playback, a composite video lead for TV, a USB lead, and PC software for photo/video playback. Sadly the main manual is on CD and for HDTV playback you'll need an HDMI cable. The camera takes AA batteries - personally I like that - AAs are cheap, so easy to carry spares, and good rechargeables last a fair while.
The SX1 isn't a `small compact' nor a DSLR, but for high zoom, less bulk, and HD video in a stills camera the SX1 is the ideal choice. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
on 21 July 2009
I've had this camera for a few months now and on the whole I have been very impressed, but it's not without it's flaws.
The impressive bits are first and foremost the lens - it's fantastic, having something that goes from 28mm to 560mm is REALLY useful. I've got shots I would have missed, or lacked any impact otherwise. The addition of RAW is nice, and is now supported by Adobe Lightroom latest update. The SX1 feels good in the hand and about as easy to use as a camera this well specified can be. HD video is much better than I expected, sharp, well exposed, with a functioning zoom, focus and good stereo audio. Image stabilisation is excellent allowing hand held shots at very low speeds even at full zoom (1/30 at 560mm is easily achievable - see picture).
The flaws? Well noise is an issue, even with RAW files. It's not a deal breaker and on an A4 print most people would not notice - but it is there - those moving from a compact to the SX1 may not notice anything, but anyone coming from a recent DSLR may be disappointed. RAW files don't have the expose latitude you might expect either, still better than JPEG though. Choice of aperture settings is limited. Filming in HD means switching to wide screen mode, which does not support RAW when taking still pictures and it's easy to forget to switch back to 4:3 mode and RAW once you're done. Fast panning in movie mode will result in 'leaning' verticals. Some buttons a bit too easy to press by accident, and the mode wheel requires a rather delicate touch, you adapt but it can be irritating to start with. Finally the build is a little bit plasticy in places.
While I may be rather critical, I feel these are just comments on what is a pretty expensive bridge camera, especially considering the very similar SX10 (no HD video, no RAW) is about 30% cheaper. Having said all that though this is still an superb choice for those who do not wish to lug an SLR and lenses around with them and don't want to compromise too much on image quality. In spite of my moans I still recommend the SX1 - with a different (G10?) sensor it could be amazing.
on 13 February 2009
This is a beast of a camera. Be prepared to get yourself a good quality set of NiMH cells (preferably two sets) and a good charger or if you're very rich, just use Lithium cells. This is NOT a beginners camera - it is awesome! Basically you have the same control as with an SLR but without a "real" viewfinder of course - the one in the SX1 is electronic and not wonderful resolution - but zooms in on the area of focus when manually focusing so acceptable. You don't have the fuss of carrying several lenses with you everywhere and the risk of getting dust inside when swapping lenses. OK the f-stop range of the built in 20x zoom is a little limited but works fine for me.
You WILL have to read the manual twice to get even half of the features and how to use them latched into your head. I've tried the HD video and it looks great - but I don't have either a HD TV or a PC capable of playing it back properly (yet). But have made a 640x480 capture for use in work and that was excellent.
Quite a step up from my old PowerShot A70 and a very worthy replacement of my old OM10 system that fits in half the space of its body, 28mm, 50mm and 70-210 zoom and 2x converter.
on 6 June 2009
Canon PowerShot SX1 IS Digital Camera - Black (10MP, 20x Optical Zoom) 2.8" LCD
Having just had our first Baby, we decided that it was high time to get a decent camera. However, we were stuck betwen getting a decent SLR or a decent HD video camcorder.
After a modicum of research, we came to this - the Canon Powershot SX1 IS, which bridges both worlds ery nicely.
It's a ProSumer camera, so therefore has a fixed high quality Powerzoom lens - (20x optical to be precise), and lots of manual and automatic options. It also allows you to shoot 1080p HD video and use the super-quiet zooming function on the lens - just as if it were a real camcorder.
The resulting images are impressive, colourful without being over-saturated, and there is nary a hint of whiteout on brighter photos.
If there was a downside it would be that the lens cap is not tethered to the body, so you need to buy one separately (though they are only a few pence or pounds - depending where you get them from), plus you have to keep buying batteries. (get some rechargeable - I have some 2900mha AA batteries from Uniross - they last forever and with the right charger can be charged in around 15 minutes)
It has a good solid feel, with a large metal ring around th lens . Although it appears to be threaded to accept accessories, none are available and ou certainly cant add any filters without someone desinging a 3dd party add on.
Overall, I'd thoroughly reccomend this to anyone not quite ready to make the leap to full SLR - or does not want to lug about dozens of expensive lenses, but wants more than just snapshots.
on 6 July 2009
I am not a dedicated photographer, but enjoy taking photos, so I was not looking for an SLR. I have had the camera for a little over a week and I am very happy. The weather has been variable and I have had nice shots in all conditions. The Macro mode seems good in comparison to what I've seen from friends cameras and the zoom is impressive. Currently there is little to compete and so I see this as a camera I can keep for a few years without feeling frustrated from new cameras (especially with the HD video).
I have not had a canon camera before, but I am now comfortable around most of the menu and settings. However I know there is so much more available, but I havn't had the time to go through the massive elctronic user guide.
The worst thing I've had from this camera is the high ISO photos. There is definatly more noise than I expected.