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Canon PowerShot SX20IS with 20x Optical Zoom

Canon PowerShot SX20IS camera front

August 19th, 2009

Canon has today announced a number of new PowerShot digital cameras, among them the full featured yet compact 12.1 megapixel Canon PowerShot SX20 IS, a successor to the popular Canon PowerShot SX10 IS (2008).

Updated Nov 2nd, 2009: We have now posted a number of sample test images taken with the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS. See how the camera performed in our Canon SX20 IS Sample Image Gallery.


The Powershot SX20 IS now features HD video (720p) movie recording at 30 frames per second, while keeping the same stereo microphone found on the SX10 IS.

The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS features a 2.5 inch vari-angle PureColor LCD display coupled with the full manual controls that allows photographers an even greater range of creative options.

The PowerShot SX20 IS features a 20x wide-angle (28mm) optical zoom with a focal range from 28mm to 560mm in 35mm terms offering great versatility with composition.

The lens features both an Ultrasonic Motor (USM) and a Voice Coil Motor (VCM) for fast, silent focus and zooming. Combined with a wide-angle view the camera is ideal for shooting wildlife photography or sports events.

Canon SX20IS back view

Canon PowerShot SX20IS Digital Camera Major Features

• 12.1 MP sensor offers higher resolution for larger size prints or cropping into an image while maintaining detail

• The PowerShot SX20IS is equipped with a 20x Optical Zoom lens with a focal length of 5.0 - 100mm (35mm equivalent: 28 - 560mm) that allows you to shoot scenes from wide-angle to telephoto. The camera uses a VCM (Voice Coil Motor) for high-speed, quiet, energy-efficient lens movement with precise control. Focal length is conveniently indicated on the lens barrel.

The lens is optimized to fully exploit its zoom length and wide shooting angle in combination with the camera's high 12.1 Megapixel resolution. UD glass effectively suppresses chromatic aberration, while enhanced negative refractive power ensures that distortion at the wide-angle is also corrected.

• The PowerShot SX20IS is equipped with Canon's acclaimed Optical Image Stabilizer Technology that automatically detects and corrects camera shake - one of the leading causes of fuzzy or blurred shots. (Up to 4 stops compensation)

• The Canon SX20IS lets you record video in high definition (1280 x 720 pixels). The SX20IS also makes it easy to enjoy HD movies (and still photos) on your HDTV with a mini-HDMI connector for direct connection to a high-definition monitor. You'll enjoy the HD experience with no degradation of image or audio in the signal, plus the ability to display up to 130 thumbnails at once.

• Smart Auto and Shooting Modes: Smart Auto mode analyses subject brightness, contrast, distance, hue and movement. Intelligent Scene Detection Technology then selects from 22 scene types, applying the best settings for optimum output. The Canon PowerShot SX20IS offers creative exposure control modes including Manual, Aperture and Shutter Priority and Program.

• iSAPS Technology is an entirely original scene-recognition technology developed for digital cameras by Canon. Using an internal database of thousands of different photos, iSAPS works with the advanced DIGIC 4 Image Processor to improve focus speed and accuracy, as well as exposure and white balance.

SX20IS front side

• 2.5-inch Vari-angle LCD (230K dots) offers a crisp, clear picture to make shooting, playback and using the camera's menu functions especially convenient. Clear and bright, it also features Night Display for easy viewing in low light.

The Canon PowerShot SX20IS also features an electronic viewfinder that provides sharp images when you shoot close-up with Super Macro shooting mode.

• Intelligent technologies: A new Face Self-Timer automatically detects an increase in the number of faces and makes the appropriate adjustments. For instance, to include a photographer's face in a group shot, there's no need to rush in. Just put the camera on a stand or tripod, select the Face Self-Timer, and the camera will wait for the photographer's face to get on-camera before it takes the shot.

Motion Detection on the Canon SX20IS now tracks moving subjects in a much larger range, and the new Servo AF retains focus on a moving subject after the shutter button is pressed halfway - allowing you to wait for the perfect shot without refocusing. Also, Face Detection and Motion Detection are markedly improved according to Canon.

Canon PowerShot SX20IS top view

• The PowerShot SX20IS has a built-in hot shoe that enables it to be used with a range of optional accessories including Speedlite EX flashes (including 270EX, 220EX, 430EX II, 580EX II) as well as the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 and Off-Camera Shoe Cord OC-E3.

• Users will also benefit from the help guide incorporated within the user interface. Short descriptions of functions simplify the interaction with the camera and encourage the user to explore the features - thereby taking better shots.

• The Canon SX20IS uses 4 standard AA size batteries. The camera comes supplied with a set of 4 disposable Alkaline batteries. Rechargeable AA batteries and a charger are recommended accessories.

The SX20IS will provide approximately 340 shots with the supplied batteries and approximately 600 shots with optional Canon NB4-300 rechargeable batteries.

The SX20IS uses 4AA batteries
The PowerShot SX20IS uses SD type memory cards

• The Canon PowerShot SX20IS is compatible with Secure Digital (SD) format memory cards. SD, SDHC, MMC, MMCplus, HC MMCplus cards can be used.

• The SX20IS offers a broad ISO sensitivity range for most applications. Available settings include: AUTO, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 ISO. Image size is fixed at 1600 x 1200 in ISO 3200 Mode and at 1824 x 1368 in Low Light Mode.

• i-Contrast: In shooting or playback, enhanced I-Contrast optimises dynamic range according to the scene- retaining detail in shadows and preventing overexposure of highlights. The result is natural images with the best possible contrast.

Scheduled to be available in September, the Canon PowerShot SX20IS is expected to retail in Canada for an estimated price of $499.99 (CAN). The retail price in the US is expected to be $399.99 (US). See the latest Canadian Street Prices on the Powershot SX20 IS, or if from the US see here for the latest deal on the SX20 IS.

Canon PowerShot SX20 IS Camera Image Sample Gallery

Click on images below to see larger size

Canon PowerShot SX20IS Digital Camera Specifications
Sensor Type 1/2.3” CCD
Effective Pixels Approx.12.1M
Colour Filter Type Primary Colour
Processor DIGIC 4 with iSAPS technology
Focal Length 5.0 - 100.0 mm (35mm equivalent: 28-560mm)
Zoom Optical 20x. Digital approx. 4x (with Digital Tele-Converter approx. 1.5x or 2.0x and Safety Zoom¹)². Combined approx. 80x
Maximum f/number f/2.8-f/5.7
Construction 13 elements in 11 groups (1 UD and 1 single-sided UA element)
Image Stabilization Yes (shift-type)
Ultrasonic Motor (USM) Yes, zoom
AF System/ Points Face Detection, 1-point AF (Any position is available, fixed to centre or Face Select and Track)
AF Modes Single, Continuous, Servo AF/AE
AF Point Selection Manual selection using FlexiZone AF/AE, Size (Normal, Small)
AF Lock On/Off Selectable
AF Assist Beam Yes
Manual Focus Yes
Focus Bracketing Yes
Metering modes Evaluative (linked to Face Detection AF frame), Centre-weighted average, Spot (centre or linked to Face Detection AF or FlexiZone AF frame)
AE Lock Yes
Exposure Compensation +/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments
Enhanced i-Contrast for automatic dynamic range correction
AEB 1/3 - 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments
ISO sensitivity AUTO, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 ¹ Recording pixels fixed at 1600 x 1200 (ISO 3200 Mode) and 1824 x 1368 (Low Light Mode).
Shutter Speed 1 - 1/3200 sec (factory default)
15 - 1/3200 sec (total range - varies by shooting mode)
White Balance Auto (including Face Detection WB), Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Flash, Custom
Viewfinder EVF (0.44" type), approx. 235,000 dots
LCD monitor Vari-angle 2.5” PureColor VA (TFT), approx. 230,000 dots. Adjustable to one of five levels. Quick-bright LCD
Built-in flash Auto, Manual Flash On / Off, Red Eye Reduction
Flash sync Fastest speed 1/500 sec
Flash exposure compensation +/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments. Face Detection FE. Safety FE.
Flash Exposure Lock Yes
Manual Power Adjustment 3 levels with internal flash (up to 19 levels with external EX Speedlites 270EX and 430EX II. 22 levels with 580EX II¹)
Second Curtain Synchronisation Yes
Flash range 50cm-6.8m (W) / 1.0m-3.7m (T)
External Flash E-TTL with EX series Speedlites¹, Canon High Power Flash HF-DC1
Modes Auto*, Program AE, Shutter priority AE, Aperture priority AE, Manual, Portrait, Landscape, Night Snapshot, Sports, SCN (Indoor, Sunset, Night Scene, Fireworks, Beach, Aquarium, Foliage, Snow, ISO 3200¹, Color Accent, Color Swap), Stitch Assist, Movie
*with Scene Detection Technology and Motion Detection Technology
Photo Effects My Colors (My Colors Off, Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, Custom Color)
Drive modes Single, Continuous, Self-Timer, FaceSelf-Timer
Continuous Shooting Approx. 1.0 shots/sec.¹, AF: Approx. 0.7 shots/sec.¹, LV: Approx. 0.7 shots/sec.¹ (until memory card becomes full)²
Image Size (L) 4000 x 3000, (M1) 3264 x 2448, (M2) 2592 x 1944, (M3) 1600 x 1200, (S) 640 x 480, (W) 3840 x 2160. Resize in playback (M3, S, 320 x 240)
Compression Fine, Normal
Movies (HD) 1280 x 720, 30fps, (L)640 x 480, 30fps, (M)320 x 240, 30fps
Movie Length Up to 4GB or 29 min. 59 sec (HD)¹
Up to 4GB or 1 hour (L, M)²
Still image JPEG compression, (Exif 2.2 [Exif Print] compliant) / Design rule for Camera File system, Digital Print Order Format [DPOF] Version 1.1 compliant
Direct Print Canon SELPHY Compact Photo Printers and Canon Inkjet Printers supporting PictBridge (ID Photo Print, Fixed Size Print and Movie Print supported on SELPHY CP & ES printers only)
Histogram Yes, live histogram
Self Timer Approx. 2 or 10 sec., Custom or FaceSelf-Timer
Languages English, German, French, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Chinese (traditional), Japanese, Russian, Portuguese, Korean, Greek, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Thai, Arabic, Ukrainian, Romanian, Farsi
Connections Hi-Speed USB, HDMI Mini Connector. A/V output (PAL/NTSC)
Memory card SD, SDHC, MMC, MMCplus, HC MMCplus.
Batteries 4x Size-AA Alkaline or NiMH Batteries (NB4-300) Alkalines supplied
Battery life Approx. 340 shots (with supplied batteries)
Approx. 600 shots (with optional Canon NB4-300 batteries)
Approx. 720 min. playback (with supplied batteries)
Approx. 840 min. playback (with Canon NB4-300 batteries)
Battery Chargers Optional, Power adapter CA-PS700
Optional Accessories Canon Speedlites (including 270EX, 430EX II, 580EX, 580EX II¹), Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2, Off-Camera Shoe Cord OC-E3
High Power Flash HF-DC1Canon HDMI Cable HTC-100
Software ZoomBrowser EX / ImageBrowser, Photo Stitch
124.0 x 88.3 x 86.9 mm
Weight Approx. 560g

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