I 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.