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Canon Powershot SX240HS review
What is it?
The Canon PowerShot SX240HS is a pocket powerhouse with a sizeable zoom lens and enough manual controls to tempt keen photography enthusiasts.
Powerful tools and sophisticated features are housed within the svelte lines of a compact.
If you're after GPS functionality then you'll have to spend an additional £30 and get the SX260HS (released at the very same time as the SX240HS).
The bottom line
With its very capable image-stabilised 20x optical zoom, zippy DIGIC 5 processor and the ability to shoot Full HD movies, this is a hugely adaptable compact that represents excellent value for money.
The Canon PowerShot SX240HS has plenty of appeal, with a 20x optical zoom lens, image stabilisation, full HD movie recording and the capacity to shoot continuously at a rate of 10.3 frames per second. Though there are plenty of sophisticated features packed inside the chassis, this is still a camera that keeps ease of use firmly at the forefront. There's a streamlined design with plenty of shortcut keys that allow fast and efficient use.
In the hand, the SX240HS has a robust feel with the metal case providing enough weight to promote steady shooting while also having the sort of durable finish that looks like it will stand the test of time. For a compact, the Canon is slightly larger than normal, but that's forgivable due to the fact that you're getting a big zoom lens packed inside the impressive overall design. What's more, the zoom inside this little beauty packs a very beefy focal range, which amounts to the equivalent of 25-500mm on a traditional 35mm camera.
That large 20x lens is thankfully stored out of harm's way when not in use, with only the front of it visible when powered down. Around the back of the camera is a three-inch LCD screen taking up the majority of the rear surface area. Alongside are some practical controls and a mode dial that offers up options right where the tip of your thumb sits; meaning adjustments to exposure modes can be done rapidly.
A four-way d-pad offers more access to control options and the directional keys allow adjustments to exposure compensation, flash, self-timer and focusing. A pop-up flash, plus stereo microphone and speaker, adds to the all-round capabilities of this compact.
While the SX240HS can be considered beginner-friendly, it also has plenty to offer more experienced shooters, with a full range of manual controls. You can also tweak ISO, white balance, metering modes, flash power and so on too, meaning that it's rather more flexible than many in its class.
A 'Live' mode delivers a clever preview of the shots you're going to take after making any adjustments to controls, thereby reducing the likelihood of duff pics. However, complete novices will also be more than happy to plump for the Easy Auto mode, that removes any need for talent as the camera does all the work, becoming a bona fide point and shoot.
The scene mode packs 11 different options, including an underwater selection (although note that you'll need to buy a waterproof housing for the camera before trying this out). Particularly noteworthy is the high-speed 'Burst HQ', which can record full-resolution images at up to 10.3 frames per second so it's an added extra for those who want to take action shots on the go.
A super-slow-motion movie option takes things in the opposite direction but is no less effective. Add on a raft of creative filters, such as fish-eye, miniature or toy camera and you've got plenty to play with.
People who love to capture movie footage will find the SX240HS also does a good job in this department, with full HD content looking crisp, clear and of the high-quality you'd expect. A 'Movie Digest' mode records four seconds or so of footage in advance as you shoot your stills then condenses it all into a mini movie of your day spent shooting.
The DIGIC 5 processor is a real asset in helping the Canon get all of its chores done, while the 12.1-megapixel backside illuminated sensor delivers rich digital images that come with minimal noise. It's therefore got pretty much everything you could want for the price, although if you fancy GPS functionality then you can have that too by opting for the SX260HS model instead.
Sensor: 1/2.3" (6.17 x 4.55 mm) BSI-CMOS
LCD: three-inch, 461,000-dots
ISO: auto, ISO 100-3200
Video: full HD, 1920 x 1080 (24 fps)
Memory cards: SD, SDHC, SDXC
Weight: 224g (including battery and card)
Dimensions: 106 x 61 x 33 mm