Canon's new family camera is fast, powerful and versatile......
Canon’s SX series of long-zoom compacts, introduced last year with the launch of the SX100 IS, are sold as “family cameras”. They are intended to cater to a wide range of users, being easy to use for the novice while providing enough creative versatility to satisfy the more experienced photographer. The SX110 IS is one of three new models in this range, along with the 20x zoom SX1 IS and SX10 IS.
The SX110 has an impressive specification, boasting a 9.0-megapixel 1/2.3-in sensor, a 10x zoom f/2.8-4.3 lens equivalent to 36-360mm, and a wide-view 3in 230k monitor. It has a range of automatic exposure options including 12 scene modes, but also features program, aperture or shutter priority and full manual exposure. Other notable features include a pop-up flash, face detection and of course Canon’s classleading optical image-stabilisation system, essential for long-zoom telephoto shooting.
The SX110 is quite a bulky camera for a compact, measuring 110.6 x 70.4 x 44.7 mm and weighing nearly 300g including two AA batteries, so it’s a bit surprising that it only has a wrist strap. The body is made of plastic, but the build quality is very good and the camera feels sturdy and well made. The controls are large, well spaced and clearly labelled, and the shape of the camera body is comfortable and secure to hold. The SX110 would be a good choice for anyone with limited grip or finger dexterity.
The manual exposure options are well implemented, with live monitor exposure preview and on-screen match-needle metering. Adjustments to exposure settings are made via the D-pad, and are quick and easy to operate.
The PowerShot SX110 IS is a clear rival for Panasonic’s extremely popular Lumix TZ5, which also features a 10x zoom, 9 megapixels and a 3.0-in monitor. The TZ5 also has a metal body, a wider 28mm wideangle setting and is also around £10 cheaper, so for many people the deciding factor is going to be the Canon’s manual exposure capability. It’s interesting to note that the most recent cameras in Canon’s popular PowerShot A-series have lost their manual exposure options.
The SX110 has Canon’s traditionally excellent performance, starting up in just over two seconds and managing a 1.9-second shot-to-shot time in single shot mode, and just over 1fps in continuous mode. The movie mode is nothing special, shooting at 640×480 resolution at 30fps with no optical zoom, but the clip duration limit of 1 hour or 4GB is pretty generous.
The autofocus system is also well up to Canon’s usual high standard, focusing quickly and accurately in all light conditions, including total darkness thanks to a bright AF assist lamp. The monitor gain automatically adjusts to brighten dark scenes for easier framing.
The PowerShot SX110 IS also has superb image quality, thanks in no small part to the excellent lens, which has good edge-to-edge sharpness with minimal distortion or chromatic aberration. Exposure metering and colour reproduction are pretty much perfect, and even dynamic range is better than might be expected. Noise control is also very good, with printable images at ISO 400.
The Canon SX110 IS is a superb all-rounder, easy to use for the beginner but versatile enough for experts, with excellent performance and picture quality.