The SX10 IS is a pretty sophisticated camera, and inexperienced users may find its array of external controls somewhat daunting. For the more advanced user however it provides a welcome degree of creative control. The main mode dial includes aperture and shutter priority, program auto and full manual exposure, with shutter speeds of 15 seconds to 1/3200th sec. and aperture settings from f/2.8 to f/8 in 1/3 EV increments. The maximum aperture decreases fairly evenly with increasing focal length, until at maximum zoom there is only a one-stop difference between minimum and maximum. Aperture and shutter control are adjusted via a rotating bezel around the D-pad accompanied by a very clear display on the monitor.
More and more high-end digital still cameras are featuring integrated high-quality video recording capabilities, and this is a prominent feature of both of Canon’s new super-zoom cameras. The more expensive SX1 IS features full 1080 HD 30fps movie recording, but the SX10 retains the 4:3 aspect VGA 30fps video function of the S5 IS. It has stereo audio recording via two high-quality microphones mounted above the lens. Thanks to its whisper-quiet ultrasonic motor the zoom lens can be used while shooting video, and clip lengths can be up to one hour long or 4GB in file size. There is a separate button to start video recording, and pressing the shutter button while shooting captures a still frame. The quality of the recorded video is very good, and the sound quality is also superb, possibly the best I’ve heard from a still camera.
The SX10 IS has a 2.5-inch flip’n’twist LCD monitor with a resolution of 230,000 dots, which is average size for a recent compact. The screen is nice and bright with good contrast and colour, and its anti-glare coating means it can be used outdoors in bright daylight without a problem. It also has a wide viewing angle, but it is fully articulated so you can tilt it to any viewing angle, including pointing forwards towards the subject.
The SX10 also has an electronic viewfinder, but with a resolution of 235k dots on a 0.44-inch screen it’s not even close to being sharp enough for manual focusing. The dots are clearly visible, like looking close up at a colour TV. I’m afraid that after experiencing the ultra-sharp field-sequential EVF displays in the Fuji S100FS and especially in the Panasonic G1, anything else is looking a bit last year.