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Canon Powershot SX220 HS Digital Camera Review

We review the new pocket zoom from Canon, the SX220 HS features a 14x zoom lens and new 12mp CMOS sensor.

|  Canon Canon Powershot SX220 HS in Compact Cameras
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Canon Powershot SX220 HS

The Canon Powershot SX220 HS is an update to the Canon Powershot SX210 IS and features a new 12 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor, compared to the previous version's 14 megapixel CCD sensor. The new sensor allows high speed shooting and should lower noise in images, compared to the high noise results of the predecessor.

Canon Powershot SX220 HS

Canon Powershot SX220 HS Features

The Canon Powershot SX220 HS is one of the smallest digital cameras available with a 14x optical zoom lens and is well worth looking at if you want a camera with advanced features, and a lot of zoom. The camera includes full HD video recording with stereo sound and lets you use the optical zoom while recording. 

The camera also features a large 3 inch screen, with a 16:9 aspect ratio, and a mode dial with full P/A/S/M manual controls. A metal body and high speed shooting rounds this camera off nicely with a full set of features and controls, as well as an abundance of scene modes, and colour modes.

The Canon Powershot SX220 HS is the "little brother" to the SX230 HS - the SX230 HS is available in black, blue and pink and features GPS (logger and tagging, with map utility software), and other than these differences, the cameras are identical.

Canon Powershot SX220 HS

Key Features 
  • HS System 12.1 MP megapixel backlit CMOS sensor
  • 14x optical zoom lens, equivalent to 28 – 392 mm in 35mm equiv. f/3.1 - f/5.9
  • Compact metal body available in grey (as featured), purple
  • 28mm, 14x zoom. Optical IS
  • Full HD with optical zoom. Dynamic IS
  • 16:9 Wide-screen 3.0 inch screen with 461k pixels
  • Smart Auto (32 scenes)
  • High-speed Burst & Super Slow Motion Movie
  • Movie Digest & iFrame movie
  • Manual Control
  • ISO 100 - 3200
  • 5cm Macro mode
Canon Powershot SX220 HS

Canon Powershot SX220 HS Handling

The camera is one of the smallest cameras available with a 14x optical zoom lens, with most other cameras offering 14x zoom or more tending to be larger in the pocket. Because of this there's not a lot of grip, instead you have to use your thumb to grip onto the rear mode dial. 

The design is obviously popular at Canon, as the camera looks almost identical to the previous model. Including a pop-up flash that pops up every time the camera is switched on. This can be easily pushed down and manually raised later if needed - I found that whenever I switched the camera on my hand was on the flash and therefore it stayed down.

The buttons are large and easy to use. The mode dial is the right level of firmness so that you don't accidentally change mode, which is a good feature, especially as it's the most natural and perhaps only place to grip the back of the camera. The screen is a wide-screen model with 16:9 view meaning that the default image size of 4:3 photos will show black borders, and you get a smaller view than you would if they had used a 4:3 or 3:2 aspect ratio screen. Alternatively you can take all your photos at the 16:9 aspect ratio but then you are limited to 9Mp (4000 x 2248) images.

Menus: Canon menus are good, they are colour coded so that each mode (Photo, Playback, Setup etc) is easily recognisable. Once you are used to accessing the most popular controls using the Func button and back buttons, and the more advanced controls in the menu system, the camera becomes easy to use. They respond quickly and there is a good level of control and options so that you don't feel too limited when using the camera.

Canon Powershot SX220 HS

Battery Life: The camera's battery life is rated at approx. 210 shots according to CIPA / Canon testing. The battery is rated at 1120mAh and was able to provide around 200+ shots before going flat. This is lower than much of the competition, so it could be worth considering buying a spare battery if needed.

Speed: We tested the Canon Powershot SX220 HS, and tested the camera with the Panasonic Lumix TZ18, and Nikon Coolpix S9100, taking 6 shots and using the average to ensure consistent results.

Panasonic TZ18 Canon SX220 Nikon S9100
Shutter Reponse <0.1 <0.1 0.05
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.4 0.35 <0.2
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.4 0.35 0.6
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 1.9 1.8 1.9
Shot to Shot (without flash) 1.3 1.9 1.4
Shot to Shot with Flash 2.5 3.0 1.7-2.0
Continuous Shooting (full resolution) 0.9 2.5fps 9.5fps (5 shots)

High speed shooting helps you take a large number of shots, which is particularly useful in situations where you're not sure if you're going to get a sharp shot, such as in low light conditions. The camera generally performs quickly, with upto 3fps shooting at full resolution (although we only managed around 2.5fps), and a high speed class 6 card is recommended to take advantage of this, especially if you plan on recording Full HD videos.

Canon Powershot SX220 HS Performance

The Canon Powershot SX220 HS produces images that have good detail and excellent colour. Here are some sample photos you can enlarge.

Bird shot Chester Zoo Yellow flowers
Rhinoceros Horn-bill, Chester Zoo Yellow Flowers

ISO and Noise Performance

ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images
ISO100 ISO200 ISO400
ISO800 ISO1600  ISO3200

Noise is good, thanks to the fact that levels are low right up to ISO1600, with the results looking good. At ISO3200 noise becomes very noticeable. Using ISO100 to ISO400 noise is very low, and again at ISO800 noise is low.

Wide-angle (28mm equiv) Full 14x optical zoom (392mm equiv)
Wide angle (28mm equiv) Full optical zoom (392mm equiv)

The optical zoom provides an impressive zoom range from 28mm equivalent to 392mm equivalent, helping you zoom into distant subjects and view high levels of detail.

Some of the creative modes and photographic features are shown below:

Fisheye effect Miniature effect
Toycam effect Colour swap

The creative modes can create some artistic shots, and can make some otherwise boring shots more memorable, using the modes available: Smart Auto (32 scenes detected), Program AE, Shutter priority AE, Aperture priority AE, Manual, Easy, Movie Digest, Portrait, Landscape, Kids & Pets, Smart Shutter (Smile, Wink Self-Timer, FaceSelf-Timer), High-speed Burst (3.0MP), Best Image Selection (3.0MP), Handheld Night Scene, Low Light (3.0MP), Creative Filter (Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Colour Accent, Colour Swap), Beach, Underwater, Foliage, Snow, Fireworks, Stitch Assist

Beyond this, the camera also has a "My Colours" mode, the options are: My Colours Off, Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, Custom Colour.

White Balance Performance

Auto White Balance - Incandescent lighting Incandescent preset - Incandescent lighting
Auto White Balance - Fluorescent lighting Fluorescent preset - Fluorescent lighting

Auto white balance under incandescent lighting produced images with a yellow cast, and using the incandescent preset produced much better results. Auto white balance under fluorescent lighting produced very good results and there is very little difference between the auto white balance and the preset.

Macro Performance

Macro Watch Portrait with flash

The Canon Powershot SX220 HS allows you to be 5cm away from your subject, this produces good macro photos with high levels of detail, and good colour. The portrait shot came out well, however there is some red-eye noticeable in this photo, and better results can be produced by using the red-eye reduction flash. 

Video Mode

Canon Powershot SX220 HS Sample Video.

The video quality is very good recording Full HD videos with stereo sound, and allows the use of optical and digital zoom. The optical zoom is much slower when recording, however this means that barely any lens noise is picked up on the video.

Value for Money
The Canon Powershot SX220 HS costs £229 and is up against competitors like the Panasonic Lumix TZ18 priced at £229 with 14 megapixel sensor and 16x optical zoom lens. Also the Nikon Coolpix S9100 priced at £249 with high speed shooting, 12 megapixel sensor and 18x optical zoom lens and the new Olympus SZ-10 priced at £199, with high speed shooting, 16 megapixel sensor and 18x optical zoom lens.

Canon Powershot SX220 HS Verdict

The Canon Powershot SX220 HS improves on the previous model by introducing a new 12Mp back lit CMOS sensor, this enables better noise performance with lower noise at higher ISO settings, and quicker performance. The lens is good although there is some vignetting at full optical zoom. The screen looks great although some may find the 16:9 aspect ratio awkward for standard photos, but great for Full HD video recording. The camera is extremely compact considering it has a 14x optical zoom lens, and makes a great travel companion. Recommended!

ePHOTOzine Recommended Award
The Canon Powershot SX220 HS provides a welcome improvement over the SX210 and makes a great travel companion.
Canon Powershot SX220 HS Pros:
Good value for money
Full HD video with stereo sound and optical zoom
Compact with an excellent 14x optical zoom lens
Good image quality - excellent colour
Built in optical image stabilisation
Low noise upto ISO1600
Images look great on the high quality screen

Canon Powershot SX220 HS Cons:

Some soft corners in images
Slight vignetting at full optical zoom
Some purple fringing in extreme conditions


Canon Powershot SX220 HS Specification

Price £229
Lens 14x optical zoom (35 mm equivalent: 28 – 392 mm) f/3.1 – f/5.9
Resolution 12.1 million pixels
Sensor size 1/2.3
Sensor type Back-illuminated CMOS
Max. Image size 12mp 4000 x 3000
Aspect ratio 4:3, 16:9, 3:2, 1:1
Monitor 3.0in TFT LCD monitor, 461k pixels, 16:9 aspect ratio
Shutter speed 1 – 1/3200 sec. (factory default), 15 – 1/3200 sec. (total range – varies by shooting mode)
Focusing system Contrast detection AF TTL
Focusing modes Face Detection, 1-point AF (fixed to centre), AF Modes Single, Continuous (only available in Auto mode), Servo AF/AE¹, Tracking AF
Focus distance 5 cm (W) from front of lens in macro
File types JPEG compression, MOV [H.264 + Linear PCM (stereo)], iFrame
ISO sensitivity ISO 100 - 3200
Metering modes Evaluative (linked to Face Detection AF frame), Centre-weighted average, Spot (Centre)
Exposure compensation +/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments, Enhanced i-Contrast for automatic dynamic range correction
Continuous Approx. 3.2 shots/sec.¹, AF: Approx. 0.8 shots/sec.¹, LV: Approx. 1.0 shots/sec.¹, High-speed Burst (3.0MP): Approx. 8.1 shots/sec.¹, (until memory card becomes full)²
Image stabilisation Yes (lens shift-type), 4-stop. Dynamic IS (in Movie)
Movie mode Full HD 1920 x 1080, 24 fps, Class 6 cards recommended, (Full HD & HD 1280 x 720, 30 fps) Up to 4 GB or 29 min. 59 sec, (L and M) Up to 4 GB or 1 hour, Super Slow Motion Movie (L) 120fps, (M) 240fps
Media type SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, MMCplus, HCMMCplus
Interface Hi-Speed USB 2.0, HDMI Mini Connector (HDMI-CEC compatible) A/V output (PAL/NTSC)
Power Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-5L (battery and charger supplied)
Box Contents Canon Powershot SX220 HS Digital Camera, Software / Manual CD-ROM, Batter NB-5L, USB Cable, AV cable, Wrist strap, AC power cable, AC Battery charger.
Size 105.7 x 59.3 x 33.2 mm
Weight 215g (including battery and SD memory card)

The Canon Powershot SX220 HS costs £229 and is available from Warehouse Express here: Canon Powershot SX220 HS
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I have this Camera. I really like it, its better than my first one.

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