As well as its dominance of the digital SLR market, Canon maintains a strong position at the top of the digital compact camera market too, with four very successful lines of cameras. The most popular are the Digital IXUS series of high-quality, premium-priced ultra-compacts, the best of which combine fashionable style with high performance and generally excellent picture quality. Alongside these are the PowerShot A-series, which range from sub-£100 budget models such as the 3x zoom A460 up to advanced models like the new 6x zoom A720 IS (review coming soon) or A650 IS costing nearly £300. On top of this there the current models in the Super-zoom PowerShot S-series and the semi-professional PowerShot G-series, both of which cost around £350.
However there is one section of the market where Canon is lagging behind somewhat, and that is the small but growing number of reasonably-priced longer-zoom compacts, as exemplified by the highly successful Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ2 and TZ3, the Fujifilm S5800, the Ricoh Caplio R7, the Casio Exilim EX-V7 and the Pentax Optio Z10. With zoom ranges from 7x to 10x these cameras offer more versatility than the typical 3x compacts that have traditionally made up a lot of Canon's range, so it's not entirely surprising that Canon has launched a new camera straight into this sector of the market, and wants to launch some more.
The new PowerShot SX100 IS is the first of a new line of Canon cameras, designed to appeal to a wide variety of users of all experience levels. Canon is describing it as a "family camera", but what it means is an 8MP camera with a high quality 10x zoom, f/2.8 - f/4.3 image-stabilised lens, a 2.5-inch wide-view monitor, with both automatic and manual exposure functions that will allow the more adventurous user to tackle more creative photography. The SX100 IS was launched in September at a recommended price of £299 exclusively through Dixons in the UK, but is already available in stores for £229. Some online retailers appear to be offering what are presumably imported models for around £200. This is around the same price as the Ricoh R7, and considerably cheaper than the 7-megapixel Panasonic TZ3 currently selling for £235. However Dixons has another exclusive at the moment: the Fujifilm S5800, an 8MP version of the excellent S5700, which sells for just £142.30, so Canon doesn't get everything its own way.