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Canon Powershot SX280 HS Review

Wi-Fi, GPS, high speed shooting, and a 20x optical zoom lens? Sounds like the perfect pocket camera?

|  Canon PowerShot SX280 HS in Compact Cameras
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Canon Powershot Sx280hs Black (2)

The Canon Powershot SX280 HS is the latest travel zoom camera from Canon, in its long running series of travel zoom cameras, updating the SX260. The camera features a 20x optical zoom, high speed shooting, built in GPS, and Wi-Fi to share images from where-ever you are.

Canon Powershot SX280 HS Features

Canon Powershot Sx280hs Black (3)

A wide-angle 20x optical zoom lens is the equivalent of 25mm to 500mm and features optical image stabilisation. The 12 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor allows high speed full HD video recording at 60fps for smooth videos, and 14fps continuous shooting.

GPS and Wi-Fi is built into the camera, or alternatively a version of this camera is available without GPS and Wi-Fi, the Canon Powershot SX270 HS available in blue and grey. The rear features a 3inch screen with 461k dots.

Canon Powershot Sx280hs Black (4)

Key Features

  • 12.1 megapixel B.S.I CMOS sensor
  • 20x optical zoom lens, equivalent to 25 - 500mm
  • Optical image stabilisation (approx 2.5 stop)
  • 3inch screen, 461k dot resolution
  • Wi-Fi, GPS built in
  • Full HD video at 60fps, with stereo sound
  • ISO80 - ISO6400
  • 5-axis image stabilisation
  • 5cm Macro Focus
  • Manual modes, Manual focus
  • Available in red, and black

Canon Powershot SX280 HS Handling

Canon Powershot Sx280hs Black (5)

Handling - The Canon Powershot SX280 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.

Canon Powershot Sx280hs Black (1)

Menus – 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.

Canon Camera Window1 Canon Camera Window2 Canon Camera Window3

Wi-Fi - You can connect the camera to an existing Wi-Fi network, or create an ad-hoc Wi-Fi network, then connect the camera to your phone. Using the Canon Camera Window app on iOS or Android, you can view images and transfer them to your smartphone or share them, as well use the smartphone as GPS logger (for other cameras that don't have built in GPS), or if you prefer to use your smartphone rather than the camera.

Canon Powershot Sx280hs Black (6)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 210 shots according to Canon / CIPA test results, as the camera has built in GPS and Wi-Fi, the battery life is expected to be much less when using these features so a spare battery is definitely recommended.

Speed - 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.

  Canon Powershot SX280 HS
Shutter Response <0.05
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.2
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.3
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 1.5
Shot to Shot without Flash 1.4
Shot to Shot with Flash 2.6
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
3fps Normal modes
14fps (7 shots) High Speed mode
Continuous Shooting - Flash 1.7s

Focus and shutter response is good, although flash recharge time is a little slow.

Canon Powershot SX280 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 SX280 HS Sample Photos

Sample Photos - The portrait photo with flash had quite noticeable red-eye - although this didn't appear to be an issue with other subjects. 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 SX280 HS Lens test images

Lens Performance - A 5cm macro focus means you can get a decent macro photo, although it's not as close as some other cameras. There 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.

Canon PowerShot SX280 HS ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - ISO Range ISO80 - ISO6400 - this is extended since the previous version of this camera. Noise is low at ISO80, ISO100, and ISO200, with a slight increase of noise at ISO400. Noise increases again at ISO800, with a loss of detail seen at ISO1600. ISO3200 shows quite strong noise but results may still be usable if images are resized. ISO6400 is probably best avoided due to high noise levels.

Canon PowerShot SX280 HS White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto 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 SX280 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 SX280 HS is available for £250 which makes it reasonable value for money priced just a bit higher than similar cameras from Nikon and Panasonic, and is up against the following cameras, shown below, with the latest price information:

Fujifilm FinePix F770EXR, 20x, GPS, £179
Fujifilm FinePix F800EXR, 20x, Wi-Fi, £235
Nikon Coolpix S9500, 22x, Wi-Fi, GPS, £240
Panasonic Lumix TZ40, 20x, Wi-Fi, GPS, £240
Sony Cyber-shot HX50, 30x, Wi-Fi, £329

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 SX280 HS Verdict

The Canon Powershot SX280 HS offers a lot of optical zoom in a compact camera body and has a number of features that the traveller will find appealing including both GPS and Wi-Fi. Image quality is very good with excellent colours and good levels of detail. The 14fps 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 SX280 is the very short battery life, which will be even shorter when using GPS and Wi-Fi. However, if you are looking for excellent image quality in a compact camera, with a lot of zoom, then the Canon Powershot SX280 HS is recommended.

  The Canon Powershot SX280 HS delivers impressive image quality thanks to a 12 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor.

Canon Powershot SX280 HS Pros

12mp BSI CMOS sensor means low noise
GPS and Wi-Fi built in
Excellent image quality
Excellent colour
Good image quality when using full zoom
Compact and pocketable
Very good build quality
14fps continuous shooting mode

Canon Powershot SX280 HS Cons

Lacks panoramic mode
14fps only available in special mode
Lacks HDR mode
Short battery life


Canon PowerShot SX280 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 FPS30
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)210shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsDigital Camera PowerShot SX280 HS, Wrist Strap WS-DC11, Battery Pack NB-6L, Battery Charger CB-2LYE, AC Cable, Interface Cable IFC-400PCU, User Manual Kit

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Photographs taken using the Canon PowerShot SX280 HS

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