Canon PowerShot SX10 IS Review

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor

Originally Posted: December 9, 2008

Last Updated: August 11, 2009

The PowerShot SX10 IS ($399) is the follow-up to the Canon's enormously popular PowerShot S5 ultra zoom digital camera. The SX10 retains a the basic features of the S5 (big zoom lens, rotating LCD, manual controls, nice movie mode), and expands on them (quite a bit in the case of the lens). The comparison table below gives you a good look at what's new and different on the SX10:


PowerShot S5 IS

PowerShot SX10 IS
Resolution 8.0 MP 10.0 MP
Image processor DIGIC III DIGIC 4
Optical zoom 12X 20X
Lens max. aperture F2.7 - F3.5 F2.8 - F5.7
Focal length (35 mm equiv.) 36 - 432 mm 28 - 560 mm
LCD size, style 2.5", rotating 2.5", rotating
LCD resolution 207,000 pixels 230,000 pixels
EVF size 0.33" 0.44"
EVF resolution 115,000 pixels 235,000 pixels
Shutter speed range 15 - 1/3200 sec 15 - 1/4000 sec
Flash range (Auto ISO) 0.5 - 5.2 m (W)
0.9 - 4.0 m (T)
0.5 - 5.2 m (W)
1.0 - 2.8 m (T)
Continuous shooting rate 1.5 fps 1.4 fps
Auto redeye removal No Yes
Face detect self-timer No Yes
Intelligent contrast correction No Yes
Movie mode codec M-JPEG H.264
Movie mode max resolution 640 x 480 640 x 480
Movie mode max recording time (at highest resolution) 32 mins 45 mins
Memory cards supported SD, SDHC, MMC SD, SDHC, MMC, MMCplus, HC MMCplus
Conversion lens supported? Yes No
Battery life (CIPA standard, with four 2500 mAh NiMH batteries) 450 shots 600 shots
Dimensions (W x H x D) 4.6 x 3.2 x 3.1 in. 4.9 x 3.5 x 3.4 in.
Weight 450 g 560 g

As the chart illustrates, the PowerShot SX10 is an improvement over its predecessor in almost every respect. It has way more zoom power, a better LCD and viewfinder, and dramatically improved battery life. The one real disappointment here is the lack of an HD movie mode. Outside of North America, Canon is selling a camera known as the PowerShot SX1 IS, which is quite similar to the SX10, with the main differences being a larger LCD, faster continuous shooting, a 1080p movie mode, and an HDMI port. Why this model wasn't brought over to the States is unclear.

The PowerShot S5 was easily one of the best cameras in the ultra zoom class. Will the super zoom PowerShot SX10 does just as well? Find out now in our review!

What's in the Box?

The PowerShot SX10 IS has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 10.0 effective Megapixel PowerShot SX10 IS digital camera
  • Four AA alkaline batteries
  • Lens cap
  • Lens hood
  • Neck strap
  • USB cable
  • A/V cable
  • CD-ROM featuring Canon Digital Camera Solution
  • 289 page camera manual (printed)

The PowerShot SX10 is one of the very few cameras that has neither built-in memory, nor an included memory card. In other words, you're on your own. The camera supports SD, SDHC, MMC, MMCplus, and HC MMCplus cards, though I recommend sticking with the first two. If you're going to be sticking to still photos, then a 2GB card is a good place to start. If you'll be taking a lot of videos as well, I'd spring for a 4GB card. Buying a high speed card is a good idea, though there's no need to go overboard with a Ultra VII 500X model.

Like its predecessors, the SX10 uses AA batteries for power. You'll find four alkaline batteries in the box with the camera, which will quickly end up in your recycling bin. To save money and the environment, I highly recommend picking up NiMH batteries (2500 mAh or better) plus a fast charger. Here's what kind of battery life you can expect when you're using those:

Camera Battery life, LCD on
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Canon PowerShot SX10 * 600 shots 4 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Casio Exilim EX-FH20 * 430 shots 4 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Fuji FinePix S8100fd * 500 shots 4 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Kodak EasyShare Z1015 IS */** 270 shots KLIC-8000
Nikon Coolpix P80 * 250 shots EN-EL5
Olympus SP-570UZ * 390 shots 4 x unknown NiMH
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 * 460 shots CGR-S006
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50 * 300 shots NP-BG1

* Has image stabilization
** Also supports lithium AA and CR-V3 batteries

Battery life numbers are provided by the camera manufacturers

The PowerShot SX10 got a big bump in its battery life compared to its predecessor (33% to be exact), which gives it the best numbers in the super zoom class. And, since it uses AAs, you'll spend less on batteries on the SX10 than you would for the cameras above that use proprietary lithium-ion batteries. You can also use off-the-shelf alkaline batteries in an emergency -- something you can't do with those other cameras.

Canon PowerShot SX10 in the hand

Canon includes a lens cap with the PowerShot SX10, but they seem to have forgotten to include a retaining strap! While the cap stays on securely, you can't just let it "dangle" when you take it off. You can clip it to the neck strap, or just stuff it in your pocket.

PowerShot SX10 with lens hood

Something else you'll find in the box is a lens hood (which used to be optional). You may want to use this when shooting in bright outdoor light.

The accessory list for the PowerShot SX10 is a lot smaller than the one for the PowerShot S5. The main reason for the change is that the SX10 does not support conversion lenses. Here's what accessories are available:

Accessory Model # Price * Why you want it
External flash 220EX
430EX II
580EX II

From $125
From $248
From $364

Boost flash range and reduce redeye; you can use most third party flashes as well, though these sync with the camera
Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 From $190 Lets you control two separate groups of external flashes, wirelessly
Battery/charger kit CBK4-300 From $40 Includes four 2500 mAh NiMH batteries and a charger
AC adapter CA-PS700 From $47 Power the camera without wasting your batteries
Deluxe soft case PSC-4000 From $35 Protect your camera from the elements
* Prices were accurate when review was published

That's all for accessories -- let's move on to the software bundle now.

CameraWindow in Mac OS X

Canon includes version 37.1 of their Digital Camera Solution Disk with the PowerShot SX10. The first part of the software suite that you'll probably encounter is Camera Window (pictured above), which is used to download photos from your camera.

ImageBrowser in Mac OS X

Once that's done you'll find yourself in either ImageBrowser or ZoomBrowser, which are for Mac and Windows respectively. The Browser software lets you view, organize, e-mail, and print your photos. If you categorized any photos on the camera (more on this later), then this information is transferred into the Browser software.

Editing in ImageBrowser

Double-click on a thumbnail and you'll bring up the edit window. Editing functions include trimming, redeye removal, and the ability to adjust levels, color, brightness, sharpness, and the tone curve. There's also an auto adjustment option for those who want a quick fix.

PhotoStitch in Mac OS X

The last part of the Canon software suite that I want to mention is PhotoStitch. As you can see, this allows you to combine multiple photos into a single panoramic image. It's very easy to use, and the results can be impressive. While using the SX10's Stitch Assist feature isn't required to make panoramas, it does help you line things up correctly, so there are no "seams" in the final product.

Canon includes a detailed, printed manual with the PowerShot SX10. While not as user-friendly as the manual on the PowerShot A2000 that I just reviewed, this book will answer any question that may come up about the camera. Just expect some confusing tables and fine print. There are additional manuals covering software basics and direct printing included, as well. The actual documentation for the software described above is installed on your hard drive.