Canon SX200 IS

canon_sx200_isI had been looking at the Canon SX200 IS ever since it was announced. Had this camera been announced sooner, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the 18-200 IS lens for my DSLR. When I was deciding whether or not to purchase that lens, one of the factors was whether I would be happier with a compact camera since the primary purpose of the lens was for traveling. At the time, I decided that there weren’t any compact cameras available that met my needs.

Just over a month later, the SX200 IS was announced. I immediately wanted it, but was hesitant due to the fact that I already had the 18-200 IS lens for basically the same purpose. I mentioned in the write-up of our March cruise that there were a couple of issues with that lens that definitely had me thinking more seriously about the SX200 IS. However, I wanted to try it out first hand to see how I felt about the shutter lag and other hands-on issues. Soon, I saw that Costco was carrying it for a decent price, but when I went by the store, they didn’t actually have it yet. Being uncertain still, I was patient.

Then it happened. On the day Wayne and I were leaving for Santa Fe, I decided to stop by Costco again. I suddenly decided that it would be very convenient to have a compact camera for the trip, though I was still taking my DSLR and all its gear. Therefore, when Costco had the SX200 in stock, I only had to play with it for a minute or two before I decided to purchase it. Honestly, I probably would have bought it even if I hadn’t been able to try it out first, as by this time I’d been looking for it long enough that I wasn’t completely rational about it any more. Plus, Poppy got one.

That was just over two weeks ago, and since then I’ve definitely grown to love this camera. Don’t get me wrong, I love my 40D more, and I even like my 18-200 IS lens, despite its short-comings. But this SX200 IS is great. I like the HD video (720p). I like that it has custom modes for controlling shutter speed, aperture or both. I also like the Scene modes, like Sunset (image at left) and Stitch Assist (which shows a portion of the previous shot to let you line up the next one for panorama shots). I love that it has 28mm wide angle and 336mm telephoto. And I love that it fits in my pocket.

That’s not to say that it’s perfect. The multi-shot is too slow (about 1 shot per second). The flash takes too long to recharge (not sure, but I’d guess 3-4 seconds). Neither of those issues bother me very much as I can use my DSLR in situations where those things really matter. The one issue I’ve had that has bugged me is a real difficulty using Macro mode with flowers. I’m not entirely sure what the issue is. Sometimes I think it is just an issue with the focus range of the various modes, but then I seem to be able to take good Macro shots of things like bottle caps (image at right). Other times I think it is just that the camera isn’t very good at focusing on the generally low  contrast of a flower, but then I try manual focus and still can’t seem to get it right. Oh well, the close-up flower shots should really be taken with my amazing 24-70mm Canon lens on my DSLR, anyway.

One unexpected use case I’ve found is carrying both my 40D with the 18-200IS lens and my SX200 IS in HD Movie mode. Then I can take stills with the superior frame rate and other advantages of my DSLR, and then just pull the SX200 out of my pocket to take some short video.

Ever since my Olympus 2100UZ back in the early part of the decade, I’ve been addicted to ultra-zooms. I switched to DSLR several years ago, selling the Uzi shortly thereafter. I did by one non-zooming Sony compact a few years ago, but that was a mistake. Now, finally, there’s a pocketable ultra-zoom that I like. I’m glad to have it as an addition to my arsenal so that I can have a much more ever-present camera and can take it places where my 40D is simply too much trouble to carry. I’m glad that I took my DSLR to amusement parks and such when my kids were younger, but now that there in their pre-teens (or close), the SX200 will certainly be sufficient for capturing future memories.

I highly recommend the Canon SX200 IS for anyone that wants a serious zoom that fits in your pocket.


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  1. #1 by Poppy on May 9, 2009 - 8:48 pm

    I love the camera. It’s heavier than I wanted, but its quality and ease of use (mostly) outweigh that. 12x, 12megapixel!


    • #2 by Ren on May 10, 2009 - 5:16 pm

      Poppy – Hey, did you realize that this thing is 12x and 12 megapixel?!


  2. #3 by Dave2 on May 10, 2009 - 8:59 am

    After seeing yours at TequilaCon… I want one! But I just bought my D90 not too long ago, so it’ll be a while until I can put money into a camera again.


    • #4 by Ren on May 10, 2009 - 5:19 pm

      Dave2 – I understand completely. That’s the same logic that should have stopped me from buying it since I already bought the 18-200 IS lens. But it was TequilaCon, which makes everything OK. 🙂


  3. #5 by Poppy on May 10, 2009 - 11:36 am

    Ren, totally off topic, how are you enjoying The Traveler? I’m always looking for good subway reads.


    • #6 by Ren on May 10, 2009 - 5:24 pm

      Poppy – I’m enjoying it well enough, but it hasn’t completely engrossed me yet. I’m 30% through it, and it still feels like it’s setting the stage for something. Which isn’t to say that nothing has happened — there have been some exiting bits, but they have been isolated scenes where the tension is pretty much resolved right away.

      I’ll try to remember to update you if it becomes engrossing or when I finish it.


  4. #7 by martymankins on May 10, 2009 - 12:26 pm

    I admired your camera at TC09. I am looking at replacing my SD1000 (Reba has already called dibs on it to replace her Powershot A430). So far, the SD780 IS – – is in the front running position as my next point and shoot. Size wise, it will fit on the scooter well, it has an HD video mode and it takes the same batteries as my SD1000 (which means when Reba and I travel, we both will have the same batteries when out and about). Plus it’s only $250 from most places.

    But Canon cameras are very good at what they do and I’m sold on them for most point and shoot and camcorder needs.

    It’s going to be a while longer before I get my DSLR.


    • #8 by Ren on May 10, 2009 - 5:50 pm

      martymankins – If you haven’t considered it already, I think you should really check out the SD960 IS. It’s an extra $50 compared to the SD780, but I think you get a lot for that:

      4x (28-112mm) instead of 3x (33-100mm)
      f/2.8 at the wide end instead of f/3.2
      2.8″ LCD instead of 2.5″

      It still uses the same NB-4L battery and weighs less, though it’s slightly thicker and has a slightly different shape (wider and little shorter). The extra 12% zoom at the telephoto end is nice, but the real benefit is the extra ~18% field-of-view at the wide end. There are a couple of other improvements as well. Check out this side-by-side comparison at


      • #9 by martymankins on May 10, 2009 - 11:46 pm

        Thank you for sending that side by side review link.

        I’m going to have to go check out the SD960 IS now and compare it side by side in person. I do like the button layout of the SD780 IS, as it’s very similar to the SD1000 that I’ve gotten used to for the last 2 years. And I use the viewfinder for most daytime shots.

        The same battery is obviously a plus for me (i’ve got several extras that are slim and easy to carry around)


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