Playing The Long Game: Outdoor Photography With Telezooms

Canon PowerShot SX270 HS Review

Daniel Bell reviews the Canon PowerShot SX270 HS - it has a 20x optical zoom lens and a 12.1 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor.

| Canon PowerShot SX270 HS in Compact Cameras


Canon PowerShot SX270 HS Review: Canon Powershot SX270 Blue (4)

The Canon PowerShot SX270 HS was announced in March 2013 and is a compact camera with 20x optical zoom and a 12.1 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor. There isn't built-in Wi-Fi, but if you are keen on having this feature, it is available on the SX280 HS (along with GPS), which is otherwise the same as the SX270. The SX270 HS is available in blue and grey for £200, with the SX280 HS similarly priced at £200 (at the time of writing).

Canon PowerShot SX270 HS Review: Canon Powershot SX270 Blue (1)

Canon PowerShot SX270 HS Features

The Canon PowerShot SX270 HS has a 12.1 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor and a 20x optical zoom lens, which is a 35mm equivalent of 25-500mm. To help take the sharpest pictures possible there is optical image stabilisation and you can shoot up to ISO 6400.

To make picture taking simple, the SX270 HS has a Smart Auto mode which automatically adjusts the camera settings for the detected scene. Hybrid Auto lets you shoot using Smart Auto and captures a 4 second movie clips before each shot, which can then be combined to create a 720p HD video. You can have more control over your photography with shutter-speed priority, aperture priority and manual shooting modes.


Videos are recorded in full 1080p HD at 60 fps, with stereo sound and optical zoom. You can also capture super-slow motion videos.

Canon PowerShot SX270 HS Review: Canon Powershot Sx270 Hs (3)

Key Features



  • 12.1 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor
  • 20x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 25-500mm)
  • Optical image stabilisation
  • 3.0 inch, 461k dot LCD screen
  • Manual controls
  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • ISO 80 - 6400
  • 5cm minimum focusing distance
  • 14 fps continuous shooting
  • Available in blue and grey

Canon PowerShot SX270 HS Review: Canon Powershot Sx270 Hs (4)

Canon PowerShot SX270 HS Handling

The Canon Powershot SX270 HS is a compact pocketable camera with a metal body. There is a protruding plastic bar at the front of the camera to aid grip, although nothing at the back, apart from the mode dial to grip on to. This works fairly well as a grip, although due to the cameras general small size and lack of grip we would recommend using the wrist strap to avoid any accidents.

The camera feels very well built and is compact enough to fit in trouser pockets. There is an electronically controlled pop-up flash that will automatically pop up when the flash is switched on and automatically close when the flash is switched off. The 3.0 inch screen has a decent 461k dot resolution and replicates colours well, making it a pleasure to use when composing shots and during playback.

Built in hints and tips explains each option on the camera making it easy to use. Manual focus is available, flash compensation, and the camera gives an overlay of the most common options making it easy to choose and change settings. The menu button lets you set additional photo and setup options. In playback there are also playback and print options.

Battery life is rated at 220 shots according to CIPA test results, most users will find this plenty, but heavy users may appreciate carrying a spare. We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.


Shutter Response   0.1 secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.25 secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.4 secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   1.55 secs
Shot to Shot without Flash   1.5 secs
Shot to Shot with Flash   2.8 secs
Continuous Shooting   3.2 fps
Continuous Shooting - Flash   0.6 fps
High-speed burst HQ   13.9 fps

All of the continuous shooting modes tested record in full 12.1 megapixel resolution, but the high-speed burst HQ mode is limited to 7 shots.

Canon PowerShot SX270 HS Review: Canon Powershot Sx270 Hs (2)

Canon PowerShot SX270 HS Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Canon PowerShot SX270 HS Sample Photos

Sample PhotosThe portrait photo with flash low levels of red-eye. Colours are excellent with the camera producing pleasing images with bright saturated colours whether using the camera at the wide end or the telephoto end of the lens, and exposure is reliable.

Canon PowerShot SX270 HS Lens test images

Lens PerformanceThere are good levels of detail at both ends of the lens, as well as generally low levels of chromatic aberration or purple fringing, although this is more visible when using the full optical zoom. The lens performs well, and while there is some barrel and pincushion distortion, this is quite minimal and wasn't noticeable in everyday shots out and about. A 5cm macro focus means you can get a decent macro photo, although it's not as close as some other cameras.

Canon PowerShot SX270 HS ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance Noise is low at ISO 80, ISO 100 and ISO 200, with a slight increase of noise at ISO 400. Noise increases again at ISO 800, with a loss of detail seen at ISO 1600. ISO 3200 shows quite strong noise but results may still be usable if images are resized. ISO 6400 is best avoided due to high noise levels.

Canon PowerShot SX270 HS White-balance test images

White Balance PerformanceAuto White Balance (AWB) gives a warm image in tungsten lighting, with the tungsten preset performing much better. AWB performs well under fluorescent lighting, with the fluorescent preset giving a slightly warm image.

Canon PowerShot SX270 HS Digital filters

Digital Filters - The camera has a number of effects and scene modes that can be used to alter the appearance of photos, as well as get shots that might otherwise not be possible, including handheld nightshot. It's also possible to select from a number of colour settings, with a custom setting letting you change contrast, sharpness, saturation, red, green, blue, and skin tone. The camera doesn't feature a HDR mode as such, instead dynamic range can be improved by using the iContrast options.

Video Video recording is smooth thanks to the 60fps frame rate, and the camera records full HD with stereo sound. Optical zoom is available while recording and two speeds are available, both fast and slow, although lens noise is quite audible when using the zoom, so the slower speed is recommended.

Value For Money

The Canon PowerShot SX270 HS is currently available for around £200.00, although we did see it available nearer £150 while writing the review. Other cameras with a similar amount of zoom include the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ40 (20x optical zoom) at £206.99, Nikon Coolpix S9500 (22x optical zoom) at £189.00, Sony Cyber-Shot WX300 (20x optical zoom) at £188.00, Samsung WB800F (21x optical zoom) at £165.99 and Fujifilm FinePix F900 EXR (20x optical zoom) at £194.90. All of these cameras include Wi-Fi, if you want the SX270 HS, but also want a camera with Wi-Fi, then you need to go for the SX280 HS, which is the same as the SX270 HS, but it includes Wi-Fi and GPS for £199.99.

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.


Canon PowerShot SX270 HS Verdict

The Canon Powershot SX270 HS offers a lot of optical zoom in a compact camera body and has a number of features that the traveller will find appealing, but lacks GPS and Wi-Fi, which is found on the SX280 HS. If these features aren't important to you, then you could keep an eye out for the price of the SX270 HS dropping as we did see it available for nearer £150 while we were conducting this review.

Image quality is very good with excellent colours and good levels of detail. The 14 fps high speed shooting mode will also appeal, although it would be nice if it was available in all of the modes, and could have been used for an automatic HDR mode. It would have also been nice to see an auto-stitching panoramic mode built in. One of the biggest issues with the SX270 is the short battery life. However, if you are looking for excellent image quality in a compact camera, with a lot of zoom, the Canon Powershot SX270 HS doesn't disappoint, but you may as well purchase the 
SX280 HS.




Canon PowerShot SX270 HS Pros

12 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor means low noise
Excellent image quality
Excellent colour
Good image quality when using full zoom
Compact and pocketable
Very good build quality
14 fps continuous shooting mode

Canon PowerShot SX270 HS Cons

Lacks panoramic mode
14 fps only available in special mode
Lacks HDR mode
Short battery life
SX280 HS is currently available for a very similar price



Canon PowerShot SX270 HS Specifications

Max Aperturef/3.5 - f/6.8
35mm equivalent25mm - 500mm
Optical Zoom20x
Image Sensor
Pixels12.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4000
Pixels (H)3000
Sensor TypeBack-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)
Sensor Size1/2.3 inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution461,000 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus5cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Face Detection
  • Manual
  • AF Tracking
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/3200sec
Shutter speeds longest15sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • A
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Spot
  • Multi Pattern
  • Centre Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 3200
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting14fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPS60, 30
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeRechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-6L
Battery Life (CIPA rating)220shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data

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