Apart from the 20x optical zoom the most noticeable feature of the Canon PowerShot SX1 IS is its CMOS sensor which is superior to the much more common CCD sensors that are used in most other point and shoot cameras. The 3648 x 2736 sized images from the 10Mp sensor gives plenty of room for cropping - resolution is unlikely to be a restriction.
The lens focal length starts from a wide 28mm (which is a great help in composing indoor shoots group photos) and goes on till an impressive 560mm (in 35mm film equivalent terms). Macro lovers will appreciate the Canon PowerShot SX1 IS's ability to focus on subjects so close that they may even touch the front end of the lens.
The Canon PowerShot SX1 IS is an extremely speedy unit shooting 4.2 frames per second at full resolution. The shutter lag is a minimal 0.07 second, start up time is 1.7 seconds and it takes 1.5 seconds between shots. The optical image stabilisation does an amazing job at keeping shots sharp. It of course offers the full array of manual shooting modes, as well as some scene options and face detection.
Canon PowerShot SX1 IS: performance
In all of our test shots the Canon PowerShot SX1 IS's images came out extremely crisp and clear. There is no noticeable over-sharpening and photos have excellent resolution and detail. Chromatic aberration is somewhat of an issue, but this is often the case with ultra-zoom cameras.
There is some fairly prominent haloing on high-contrast edges, but corner softening is nonexistent. Barrel distortion (straight lines at the edges looking curved), a common problem with large zoom lenses, is also not present with the Canon PowerShot SX1 IS.
The Canon PowerShot SX1 IS's colour performance is impressive. Primary colours like reds and blues are bright without being over-saturated, and the overall presentation was lively and relatively accurate. The shots may still be slightly too vivid for some purists, but they're much more balanced than most compacts and a little tweaking onboard or in post-processing will solve this.
It's not until ISO 800 that some graininess creeps in, but even these shots will be fine for most print sizes. The video footage is impressive, with minimal grain and well-balanced colours. The Canon PowerShot SX1 IS's design is exactly what you'd expect: big and chunky. Still, it is comfortable to hold and you have to make some tradeoffs for the gigantic zoom. The rotatable LCD widescreen display offers a much more flexibility while composing shots especially macros.
The £455 can buy you a DSLR with a couple of good lenses. But then, don’t make the mistake of comparing the Canon PowerShot SX1 IS (an advanced point and shoot) to an SLR – the SX1’s stupendous zoom and HD video recording cannot be got in an SLR at this price, and not to mention the SX1’s relative light weight and compactness. Nevertheless, had the SX1’s price been less steep, it would have obtained a higher score - good as it undoubtedly is.