Canon PowerShot SX200 IS Review

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor

Originally Posted: March 14, 2009

Last Updated: August 10, 2009

The Canon PowerShot SX200 IS ($349) is a compact ultra zoom camera with a 12X wide-angle zoom lens, image stabilization, full manual controls, HD video recording, and a 3-inch LCD display. That sounds an awful lot like Panasonic's ultra-popular Lumix DMC-TZ5 -- easily the best camera in this class in 2008 -- though that camera is soon to be replaced with the even more impressive DMC-ZS3 (also known as the TZ7). Regardless, the SX200 is a pretty nice step-up from the SX110 that came before it.

Some other features of note include a "Smart Auto" (scene detection) mode, face and blink detection, automatic redeye removal, and an HDMI port.

Is the PowerShot SX200 a good choice for a go-anywhere ultra zoom camera? Find out now in our review!

What's in the Box?

The PowerShot SX200 IS has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 12.1 effective Megapixel PowerShot SX200 IS digital camera
  • NB-5L rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Battery charger
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • A/V cable
  • CD-ROM featuring Canon Digital Camera Solution
  • 168 page camera manual (printed)

Canon was one of the last camera companies to still include a memory card with their cameras. That changed in 2009: now you don't get a bundled card, or even any built-in memory. That means that you'll need to buy a memory card right away, unless you happen to have one sitting around already. The SX200 supports a plethora of memory card types, including SD, SDHC, MMC, MMCplus, and HC MMCplus -- I'd stick with the first two, though. I'd recommend a 2GB or 4GB card as a good place to start, and it's worth spending a bit more for a high speed model.

The SX200 IS uses Canon's familiar NB-5L lithium-ion battery. This battery packs 4.1 Wh of energy, which is about average. Here's how that translates into battery life:

Camera Battery life, LCD on
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Canon PowerShot SX110 IS 450 shots 2 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Canon PowerShot SX200 IS 280 shots NB-5L
Fuji FinePix S1500 500 shots 4 x unknown NiMH
Olympus Stylus 9000 250 shots LI-50B
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 300 shots DMW-BCG10
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H20 290 shots NP-BG1

Battery life numbers are provided by the manufacturer

The table above is a bit smaller than I would've liked but, unfortunately, I have no battery life numbers for the Kodak EasyShare Z915 or Samsung HZ15W. For the cameras that did make it into the table above, the SX200 is about 15% below the group average. It's also worth noting that its battery life is nearly 40% lower than its predecessor.

The old SX110 also used AA batteries, instead of the proprietary battery found on the SX200. Proprietary batteries cost more than NiMH rechargeable AAs (a spare NB-5L will set you back at least $37), and you can't use off-the-shelf batteries in an emergency.

When it's time to charge the NB-5L, just pop it into the included charger. This is my favorite type of charger -- it plugs directly into the wall. It takes just over two hours to fully charge the battery.

Canon PowerShot SX200 in the hand

The PowerShot SX200 has a built-in lens cover, so there's no clunky lens cap to deal with. As you can see, it's a pretty small camera, especially considering the fact that it packs a 12X zoom lens.

The accessory list for the PowerShot SX200 is a lot smaller than the one for the PowerShot S5. The main reason for the change is that the SX200 does not support conversion lenses. Here's what accessories are available:

Accessory Model # Price * Why you want it
External slave flash HF-DC1

From $84

Attaches via the tripod mount and fires when the onboard flash does
AC adapter ACK-DC30 From $49 Power the camera without wasting your batteries
HDMI cable HTC-100 From $38 For connecting to an HDTV; you can get a cable for a lot less elsewhere
Deluxe soft case PSC-100
From $18
Two different ways to protect your camera from the elements
* Prices were accurate when review was published

That was easy... let's move onto software now.

CameraWindow in Mac OS X

Canon includes version 46.0 (!!) of their Digital Camera Solution software suite with the camera. 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 SX200'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 manual with the PowerShot SX200 IS. It's not the most user-friendly manual out there (though it seems better than previous Canon manuals), with more fine print than I'd like, but it gets the job done. Documentation for the software bundle and for printing functions are included on the CD-ROM that comes with the camera.