Canon PowerShot SX220 HS review

The PowerShot SX220 HS upgrades last year’s SX210 IS, the HS suffix indicating ‘High Sensitivity’ features promising better low-light performance. This translates as a backlit 1/2.3in CMOS sensor, optical image stabilisation, Digic 4 processor, ISO3200 at full resolution (worth having), plus a dedicated Low Light mode (at 3 megapixels).

The 14x optical zoom with 28-392mm focal range remains, while resolution has dropped from 14.1 to 12.1 megapixels. Fewer pixels on the same-sized chip means less noise/grain at higher ISOs, so this isn’t the odd move it might appear. There is a flash, which irritatingly pops up upon power up whether required or not. In terms of response times, by nudging the zoom lever surrounding the shutter release button it’s possible to power through the SX220 HS’s entire range of modes in an impressive three seconds.

The PowerShot’s design is pebble-like. A lack of handgrip, coupled with the stiff plastic feel and broader dimensions than a typical compact, means the Canon isn’t very stylish. However, it is practical, offering a one-touch record button beneath the 13-option backplate shooting mode dial, adjacent to the 3in widescreen LCD. Here 1,920 x 1,080 pixels clips are shot at 24 frames per second (fps) and there’s stereo sound, with mics flanking the lens.

Users also have the chance to create slow-motion video clips by shooting at up to 240fps at a lowly 320 x 240 pixels or 120fps at 640 x 480 pixels. More fun still is Movie Digest mode, which records a four-second clip when a photo is taken. These shorts are automatically stitched together to form a standalone video diary with a charmingly jerky quality.

For stills shooting, the Canon’s Smart Auto mode matches one of 32 presets to any given scene or subject, plus there are several fun digital filters and colour boosting effects to play with. We were very impressed with the image quality. The PowerShot managed to maintain detail at extreme wide-angle and telephoto settings shooting with consistent colour and white balance, plus it kept noise at bay at higher ISOs.

OUR VERDICT

While the SX220 HS is a little drab, it makes for a sensible mid-priced choice. If GPS is a must, however, check out the SX230 HS.