Canon PowerShot SX1 IS - Canon PowerShot SX1 IS


The range of features that the SX1 offers is pretty much identical to the SX10. It has a full selection of manual exposure options, with a good shutter speed and aperture setting range, as well as a number of scene modes, including so fun creative options such as colour swap and colour accent. Main mode selection is via the big dial on the top panel, but scene mode selection is done via the rotary bezel around the D-pad. Unfortunately this control is horribly clumsy, making selection of the required scene mode frustratingly slow and fiddly as you nudge the bezel backwards and forwards trying to get it to stop on the one you want. I don’t know why Canon still insists on using these unpleasant rotary controls for things for which they are patently unsuitable when a perfectly normal menu and D-pad would do the job twice as well.

One of the differences between the SX1 and the SX10 is the LCD monitor. The SX1 has a 2.8-inch widescreen monitor, which takes up more room on the back of the camera, which means that the rear controls have had to move over to make room, but perversely this has actually helped, since the top of the D-pad is no longer right under you thumb when shooting.

The screen itself, although physically larger, has the same 230k dot resolution as the SX10, and is just as bright. The SX1 also has an electronic viewfinder, but herein lies a small mystery. The official specification of the SX10 states that it has a 235k resolution EVF, but as I mentioned in my review it appears to be very coarse, with the dots plainly visible, and far too low-res for manual focusing. The same is unfortunately true of the viewfinder on the SX1, but the published specification both on Canon’s website and in the camera manual state that the resolution is only 148k dots, which would make more sense, and makes me think that the resolution stated in the SX10’s specification is a misprint.

The SX1’s main selling pint is of course its HD video mode, and it has to be said that this really is very good. It’s probably the closest that any still camera has yet come to matching the performance of a dedicated camcorder. It can shoot in full 1920 x 1080 resolution at 30fps, with clip length limited to a second shy of half an hour or 4GB file size, and in 640 x 480 mode it can shoot for an hour. Thanks to the almost silent ultrasonic motor the zoom lens can be used while shooting, and still images can also be captured during filming. The movie quality is excellent, certainly good enough for all your home movie needs, and the sound quality too is superb. The camera has high-quality stereo microphones mounted above the lens.

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