With summer fast approaching I decided I needed a new compact camera for bringing into gigs. My previous G9 was a disappointment in that regards (400 is generally unusable, and it had a huge problem with dusts - not that this would be any different I suspect). I got this SX200 IS a couple of days ago and it is a lovely camera to use. It looks huge compared to the new generation of ultra slim digital compacts, but it is slimmer than my G9 and thus more pocketable, though it is rather heavy (thanks to the use of metal materials). The best thing about this is its ease of use.
With the G9 I had loads to do before I can make it work, but with this all I do is set to auto or tinker with the manual settings a bit and it more or less works (well most of the time anyway). I've decided that since now I have a proper DSLR, all I want from a point & shoot is just that. The ISO performance is great, for a compact and certainly far ahead the G9 (goes to show that anything newer, even if it is a lower-end model, is generally better).
I won't go into all the silly technical details that most photography review sites love to go into, but just as a summary, the SX200 IS has a 12x optical zoom (28-338mm equivalent), 720p30 video recording capability, manual control, scene detection and Canon's proprietary anti-blur processing engine (Image Stabilizer) which seems to work great even in full telephoto mode. The body is mainly made of metal (likely aluminium) and a bit of plastic and chromes. It features a conservative and yet stylish design.
The controls are sparsely laid out and the only way of doing all the manual bits and selecting ISO settings is through the menu system, which isn't the most intuitive way of doing something but at least it keeps the camera clean, and I guess, as well as the cost. I dislike the dial on the directional pad. The lens do suffer at full telephoto with a aperture of f/5.3 at 336mm (12x). Not surprising but something to think about. On the other hand, as I mentioned earlier, the anti-blue technology works really well even when the zoom is maxed. There is also a macro and super macro setting for shots from 1cm away.
I haven't tested the 720p video mode yet, but I am sure some will love this. I personally doubt I would use it much as I just am not that interested in making videos. That said I am sure I'll do the odd gig video if the bouncers are kind enough. The biggest issue with this camera is the flash. It would always pop up even if you do not wish for the flash to fire. I can imagine future issues with the pop-up mechanism. There is also no viewfinder, but to be honest who would want to see through a pinhole?
The used SX200 IS cost me just under £150, which I think is a good deal for what is still a pretty good and almost unused camera (silly former owner). So a decent enough point and shoot for the price I paid. However the cost of a new SX200 IS is just slightly below that of a new SX210 IS (with faster lens as well), so maybe it would be better to consider that instead.
Image samples (resized, but untouched):
From wide angle to full telephoto
Full telephoto and a cropped sample