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Canon PowerShot SX60 HS

Canon SX60 HS review

Ben Pitt
30 Oct 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
449
inc VAT

The massive zoom is just one of the Canon SX60 HS's strengths, but it struggles in low light.

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Specifications

Sensor resolution: 16 megapixels, Sensor size: 1/2.3in, Viewfinder: Electronic (922,000 dots), LCD screen: 3in (922,000 dots), Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): 65x (21-1365mm), 35mm-equivalent aperture: f/19-36, Weight: 663g, Size (HxWxD): 93x128x121mm

Canon SX60 HS Image and video quality

The video mode has been significantly overhauled with 1080p capture at a choice of 30fps or 60fps, the option of manual exposure control and a microphone input. Comparing studio test footage with the SX50 HS and the Panasonic FZ200, details looked more refined and natural, picking out individual strands of hair without any blocky artefacts. The optical stabilisation did a superb job of steadying handheld videos at the full zoom extension, although it often took a couple of seconds to settle down at the start of a clip. It wasn't so impressive in low light, with soft details and blotchy noise. Sound quality was merely OK, with thin-sounding dialogue and lots of wind noise in a moderate breeze. Using an external microphone with a proper wind shield would remedy both issues.

^ Crisp details, (mostly) excellent stabilisation and that enormous zoom add up to a superb video mode.

It produced some excellent results in our photo tests, too. The wide-angle end of the zoom was impressively sharp, and JPEGs were vibrant. There was a slight hint of noise even in brightly lit shots, but we had to go looking for it.

^ We love the rich autumnal colours in this shot, and the automatic exposure has handled the cloudy sky perfectly. (1/800s, f/4, ISO 200, 39mm equivalent)

^ The 21mm equivalent focal length captures an extremely wide view. There's a little colour fringing but details are still impressively sharp into the corners of the frame. (1/200s, f/4, ISO 100, 21mm equivalent)

^ Skin and hair textures aren't at all bad in this ISO 100 shot. (1/100s, f/4, ISO 100, 38mm equivalent)

Zooming in placed higher demands on the lens and sensor. There was evidence of blooming around highlights and chromatic aberrations that manifested themselves as discoloration around high-contrast edges. Autofocus was sometimes a bit temperamental, too. None of these issues was too severe, though. The chromatic aberrations that plagued the SX50 HS's telephoto photos were much less noticeable this time around.

It struggled most for telephoto shots in shady conditions. The Auto ISO mode's tendency to choose slow ISO and shutter speeds meant quite a few shots were blurry. However, upping the ISO and shutter speeds inevitably pushed noise levels up. Heavy noise reduction was applied at fast ISO speeds, so photos at ISO 1600 didn't look particularly noisy but had a soft-focus sheen to them. It wasn't until we'd reduced photos to around 1 megapixel that ISO 100 and ISO 1600 shots were largely indistinguishable. This is where the Panasonic FZ200 and FZ1000 have a big advantage with their brighter lenses and the FZ1000's much bigger sensor.

^ The SX60 HS is just the thing to have in your bag when a family of green woodpeckers turns up. However, the relatively slow 1/160s shutter speed meant most of these shots were a little blurry. Overcast conditions have pushed the ISO speed (and noise) up too. It's not terrible but it limits how much we'd be willing to crop this photo. (1/160s, f/6.5, ISO 500, 1365mm equivalent)

^ Telephoto shooting in bright light is less of a challenge, although the camera has still chosen a relatively slow 1/160s shutter to keep noise down. Details aren't razor sharp and there's some evidence of colour fringing, but overall is a solid result. (1/160s, f/6.5, ISO 125, 1365mm equivalent)

^ Setting the Auto ISO mode's Rate of Change setting to Fast pushes the ISO and shutter speeds up, which reduces the chances of blur but also softens details due to noise reduction. (1/1,000s, f/6.5, ISO 640, 1365mm equivalent)

^ This brightly lit telephoto shot shouldn't have been much of a challenge, but the camera failed to nail focus in six attempts, and chromatic aberrations are quite noticeable. (1/1,000s, f/6.5, ISO 250, 1365mm equivalent)

^ Shooting at ISO 800 hasn't been too detrimental to this shot. There's probably a fair amount of fine detail lost but it still looks presentable. (1/50s, f/5, ISO 800, 135mm equivalent)

^ We took lots of telephoto shots of this shady spot, but this was the sharpest it managed on automatic settings. (1/80s, f/6.5, ISO 800, 1365mm equivalent)

^ Setting the Auto ISO mode's Rate of Change to Fast produced a shot that's noisier but no sharper. (1/400s, f/6.5, ISO 3200, 1365mm equivalent)

Canon SX60 HS Conclusion

The battle of the bridge cameras used to be a two-horse race between the Canon SX50 HS's huge zoom and the Panasonic FZ200's constant f/2.8 aperture. However, with the Canon's focus deteriorating at the long end of its zoom, the Panasonic took a clear lead overall with its superior performance and video quality.

This time it's harder to pick a winner. The Canon SX60 HS has largely caught up for performance and overtaken the FZ200 for video quality. Its lens performs better than its predecessor at telephoto focal lengths too. The Panasonic FZ1000 has raised the stakes for bridge cameras with its 1in sensor and 4K video, but at £750 it's beyond most people's shortlists.

On balance we still prefer the Panasonic FZ200, as its 24x (25-600mm) zoom is rarely insufficient and the f/2.8 aperture transforms image quality when there's limited light. However, for those who prioritise a huge zoom range over image quality in challenging conditions, the SX60 HS is the camera to buy.

Hardware
Sensor resolution16 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.3in
Focal length multiplier5.52x
ViewfinderElectronic (922,000 dots)
Viewfinder magnification (35mm-equivalent), coverage100%
LCD screen3in (922,000 dots)
ArticulatedYes
TouchscreenNo
Orientation sensorYes
Photo file formatsJPEG, RAW (CR2)
Maximum photo resolution4,608x3,456
Photo aspect ratios4:3, 3:2, 16:9 1:1, 4:5
Video compression formatMP4 (AVC) at up to 35Mbit/s
Video resolutions1080p at 30/60fps, 720p at 30fps, VGA at 30fps
Slow motion video modesVGA at 120fps (1/4x), QVGA at 240fps (1/8x)
Maximum video clip length (at highest quality)16m 0s
Controls
Exposure modesProgram, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed range15 to 1/2,000 seconds
ISO speed range100 to 3200
Exposure compensationEV +/-3
White balanceAuto, 7 presets with fine tuning, manual
Auto-focus modesMulti, flexible spot, face detect, tracking
Metering modesMulti, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash modesAuto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
Drive modesSingle, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, focus bracket
Lens
Optical stabilisationYes
Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths)65x (21-1365mm)
Maximum aperture (wide-tele)f/3.4-6.5
35mm-equivalent aperturef/19-36
Manual focusyes
Closest macro focus (wide)0cm
Closest macro focus (tele)1.8m
Physical
Card slotSDXC
Memory suppliedNone
Battery typeLi-ion
ConnectivityUSB, AV, mini HDMI, microphone, wired remote
WirelessWi-Fi, NFC
GPSVia smartphone app
HotshoeCanon E-TTL
Body materialPlastic
AccessoriesNeck strap
Weight663g
Size (HxWxD)93x128x121mm
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Price including VAT£449
Supplierwww.jessops.com
Detailswww.canon.co.uk
Part code9543B009AA

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