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Canon PowerShot SX280 HS review

20x zoom compact debuts Canon's Digic 6 processor

Canon's SX280 is a very appealing proposition for anybody looking for a decent travel compact camera that offers lots of control over different settings, as well as a high zoom ratio and pocket-friendly proportions.

Continuing to impress with both its IXUS and PowerShot range, Canon has another camera in the SX280 that comfortably produces excellent images and is very easy to use.

Its pictures display a good range of colour and plenty of detail, and low light performance is admirable. Keeping the pixel count down to 12.1 million pixels may seem strange in this age where most companies are pushing 16-18 million pixel sensored devices, but we think this relatively low resolution helps with the low light and low noise performance.

That said, this camera is far from perfect, which is a shame. Firstly, there's no touchscreen, which while it arguably helps to keep the cost down, is something that Panasonic has included on its TZ40, which is available for not much more than the Canon SX280's current retail price.

You're also unable to shoot in raw format, or change the autofocus point. While the former point is not uncommon for compact cameras of its ilk, the latter seems like a strange decision for a camera that offers so much manual control elsewhere.

While it's nice to have inbuilt Wi-Fi, it could be much more usefully implemented than it is here. Several companies seem to be struggling with how best to integrate Wi-Fi into cameras, but Samsung seems to be the only company to offer truly useful functionality, such as the ability to upload to Facebook and the like directly from the camera itself.

It's also a shame that you can't remotely control the camera via the downloadable smartphone app, which is something that the Panasonic TZ40 does offer.

We liked

Buying Guide
Best Canon camera
Best Canon cameras

There's plenty to like about the Canon SX280, but its standout feature has to be its excellent 20x optical zoom range accompanied by the well-performing digital zoom capability. Image stabilisation also does an excellent job of keeping images blur-free and making it easy to compose images too.

We disliked

Sadly, there's also plenty to dislike about the Canon SX280. There's still no touchscreen on this range of cameras, and it seems more than a little odd that you can't change the autofocus point. We'd also like to see a slightly better implementation of the Wi-Fi functionality.

Final verdict

A 20x optical zoom offers a great amount of flexibility and matches the TZ40's ratio. It doesn't quite offer the extra-long reach of the Sony HX50, which has a 30x zoom capability, but it's worth noting that this camera is much cheaper than the Sony. Canon's digital zoom (Zoom Plus) is also excellent, offering that bit of extra flexibility if you need it.

Several manufacturers are including digital filters on their cameras, which no doubt appeals to the legions of smartphone photographers used to the likes of Instagram. While the Canon SX280 offers some interesting options, other manufacturers, including Olympus and Panasonic, seem to do this better. It would be great to see Canon including a way of keeping a "normal" version of a shot should you decide that a digital filter was a bad idea further along the line.

Hybrid Auto is a nice feature to use, and we can see it being particularly appealing for "event" photography, such as a family holiday, party or wedding. It's a shame that the Movie Digest function can't also be used with other functions, since it's a fun accompaniment to a day's worth of still shots.

What we have here is an excellent and well performing compact camera that offers lots of flexibility both to beginner users and those looking for something a little more advanced.

It would also be a good camera for anybody looking to learn a little more about photography, since you could start on the fully automatic settings and work your way through the manual options.

Tech Specs

Product TypeCompact Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Green CompliantYes
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
TouchscreenNo
Effective Camera Resolution12.1 Megapixel
GPSYes
USBYes
Wide AngleYes
PictBridgeYes
Product FamilyPowerShot
Image StabilizationOptical
ColourRed
Optical Zoom20x
Digital Zoom4x
Brand NameCanon
FeaturesContinuous Shooting Mode, Face Detection, Live View, Scene Detection, Smile Detection, Wink Detection, Orientation Sensor
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMPEG-4 AVC, MP4, MPEG-2
Viewfinder TypeNo
Weight (Approximate)233 g
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityErP, REACH, RoHS, WEEE
Minimum Focus Distance50 mm
Maximum Image Resolution4000 x 3000
Maximum Frame Rate240 fps
Number of Batteries Supported1
Battery Built-inNo
Battery RechargeableYes
Battery IncludedYes
Display Screen TypeLCD
Image Sensor TypeCMOS
HDMIYes
HD Movie ModeYes
Battery Model SupportedNB-6L
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card
Height62.8 mm
Width106.4 mm
Depth32.6 mm
Autofocus Points1
Focal Length4.50 mm to 90 mm
Image FormatsJPEG
Audio FormatsAAC-LC
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerCanon, Inc
Product ModelSX280 HS
Product NamePowerShot SX280 HS Digital Compact Camera
Product LinePowerShot
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part Number8225B011AA
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.canon.co.uk
Marketing Information

Canon PowerShot SX280 HS
Connect with the complete travel compact

The compact PowerShot SX280 HS packs all you need to capture and share your travels: 20x optical zoom, smooth Full HD 60fps movies, GPS tagging and Wi-Fi. HS System ensures superb results in low light.

Battery Life260 Shot
Package Contents
  • PowerShot SX280 HS Digital Compact Camera
  • Battery Pack NB-6L
  • AC Cable
  • User Manual Kit
  • Wrist Strap WS-DC11
  • Battery Charger CB-2LYE
  • Interface Cable IFC-400PCU
Display Resolution461000 Pixel
Limited Warranty1 Year
Built-in DevicesSpeaker, Microphone