Canon PowerShot SX20 IS Review

September 8, 2009 | Mark Goldstein | |

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#1 Amit

Well… I’ll be the first one to post :)
Personally, I’m going to opt for the Panasonic FZ38, given it’s better quality with stills.
What’s your verdict everyone?

7:50 am - Wednesday, September 9, 2009

#2 MarK

Panasonic FZ38 = better quality on pictures but the video sound is still weak

11:21 am - Wednesday, September 9, 2009

#3 Roger

Fixed rear screen rules out the Panasonic for me

11:41 am - Wednesday, September 9, 2009

#4 katarn

Why Canon is doing so ? 3 cameras superzoom , all of 3 with major drawbacks :

SX1 - IQ so so .
SX10 - No HD video .
SX20 - IQ so so .

Im this close to give up the idea of buying a superzoom. I wondering if a Pana ZS3 and an entry-level DSLR like D5000 wouldnt be a better idea.

1:04 pm - Wednesday, September 9, 2009

#5 Sribash

Me thinks of getting the Panasonic FZ38 also.  Can’t believe what’s happening with Canon…bad SX1 review (specs on camera with CMOS sounds great, though) and now SX20 gets only a 3.5 (out of 5) in Image Quality.

Maybe move up to an entry level DSLR like D3000 or XSi. Any comments?

6:14 am - Thursday, September 10, 2009

#6 alansky

“Anti-shake is a feature that sets this camera apart from its competitors…”

What are you talking about? Virtually all but the very cheapest digital cameras have built-in image stabilization these days. Every camera in the SX20’s class most certainly has it.

7:58 am - Thursday, September 10, 2009

#7 RT

G11 is not the only Canon compact with RAW!
There are also:
PowerShot G10 (and G9!)
PowerShot SX1 IS
PowerShot S90

9:33 am - Thursday, September 10, 2009

#8 Maddie

Re anti-shake… I think they’re referring to the Anti-shake warning icon not the OIS.

10:15 am - Thursday, September 10, 2009

#9 Maddie

...nevertheless the anti-shake warning icon hardly “sets the camera apart” lol!

10:22 am - Thursday, September 10, 2009

#10 Katie

Just out of interest, has anybody here held the Lumix? It is very small and light, but a little too bulky to hold single handed. The LCD panel on the back and the sensor to the front on the nub side means that it’s a little difficult to support with your left hand. Because it’s so small it doesn’t really work with the viewfinder up against your eye, but the long lens, and lightness and the fact you have to put your left thumb on the lcd panel means it’s not great held like a phone, so you end up holding it away from your face at three-quarters arms length with both arms outstretched. Personally I dont think it is usable, but everyone else seems to love it and frankly it gets the best reviews, offers the best spec and at the lowest price. I’m probably wrong, but I would like to know if others have similar concerns.

10:47 am - Thursday, September 10, 2009

#11 willstay

Don’t you think there are slight red and green fringes on the corner of sample photographs? I have S3IS and it has the same bug (noticable only when seen at 100% and at the corners when object makes transition from light to dark or vice versa. e.g., darker building line against clear bright sky).

4:36 am - Friday, September 11, 2009

#12 MarK

Update: The chromatic aberrations/purple fringing are so evident. The image quality sucks big time. Canon is going down. 12.1MP for nothing. What’s next? 14.1MP? please stop this madness!

5:47 pm - Friday, September 11, 2009

#13 R K Sudan

How does it help in enhancing the resolution feature by cramming up another 2 megs on to the same 1 / 2.3” CCD? Then how many prosumer fans would prefer shooting HD with the SX20? I think I’d pick up a long zoomer for wildlife photography and prefer the SX10 over the 20. Well, only if Canon hasn’t already phased that out.

5:01 am - Saturday, September 12, 2009

#14 Nicole

Feeling quite sad, we just purchased an SX20 over an SX10 and fear we have made a mistake!

12:28 am - Sunday, September 13, 2009

#15 katarn

After reading a lot ...I decided to enter in DSLR world with one of either acclaimed CAnon T1i or Nikon D5000 ..that´s it ...

No more suffering in low light ...

1:26 am - Sunday, September 13, 2009

#16 Sharon

I purchased the Canon SX20 IS due to having great success with the Canon SD900 PowerShot and also with the Canon Rebel XT and Canon Rebel XSi.  Found image quality to be poor with the SX20 IS, so I took it back and exchanged it for a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35.  The DMC-FZ35 produces absolutely crisp, stunning, vibrant photos, and the video clips are also very good.  I am very happy with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35.

6:43 am - Monday, September 14, 2009

#17 satya

I am going to buy this in Dec ... Mostly I need it for video shooting ..
Can anyone let me know if any fast memory is required to record smooth video in SX20 ? I am getting ATP Pro Max SD 2 Gb Memory . Is there a faster memory that I can buy ?

7:19 am - Monday, September 14, 2009

#18 SailsElan

I have this camera and I have two of the Lumix cameras(two different models). I have no buyer’s remorse with this camera. I also tried and returned the Sony HX-1, which didn’t compare to this Canon, in my opinion. The available features on this camera are extensive and unlike so many other cameras, the LCD viewfinder is bright and shows an image even in the dark. As well, it is not washed out in very bright sun. Unless you are printing all of your shots in 8x10 format and putting them in a gallery for inspection or sale they don’t have to be “perfect”. They are for capturing an image and for your enjoyment. If you want a “perfect” photo in large format for each shot you make, you probably aren’t even considering this type of camera in the first place.

7:57 pm - Monday, September 14, 2009

#19 MarK

@ satya, on 2GB = 10 min. of HD video. Try to buy the fastest card, at least 8GB preferably 16GB.

10:28 am - Tuesday, September 15, 2009

#20 stephen sinagoga

Thinking of getting the lumix fz35,But one thing bothers me no hot shoe for flash, or can you use a sync lead,This is why i am leaning towards the canon sx20 is

12:54 pm - Wednesday, September 16, 2009

#21 Don

I felt somewhat frustrated by a lack of comparable photos in the SX20 vs SX10 reviews. Yes, there are closeups illustrating the noise. However, the images in the SX10 review are of a crudely painted ceramic piece that obscures the details enough to make a comparison with the image of a book cover in this review impossible.

The SX20 review at digitalcamerareview uses a still-life setup that is virtually identical to the scene used for ISO/noise comparisons in their SX10 review. Under those conditions, the noise performances of the two models seemed quite comparable.

The review here of the FZ38/35 is intriguing, but the sample photos just don’t have the color of the SX20. (Look at the reds in the comparable street scenes in the sample images of the FZ38 vs the SX20—to me the reds of the Panasonic seem orange and washed out.) The lack of a hot shoe is also significant.

I guess I still have enough questions to slow down my purchase of a superzoom right now.

5:57 pm - Wednesday, September 16, 2009

#22 Bellerophon

As an amateur, I’m not so sure I’ll be able to tell the difference between the SX10 vs SX20 image quality.  The HD video was an important feature for me. 
I ordered an SX20 today from New Egg for $379, and will put my SX10 up for sale on eBay.  Who knows, if there’s enough demand for the older model, maybe I’ll make enough to pay for the SX20.

7:46 am - Saturday, September 19, 2009

#23 Bellerophon

I also wanted to add that some reviewers have not found the degradation in high ISO settings that are reported here.  Also some other reviews note a greater flash range, better macro capabilities, less shutter lag, faster AF acquisition, and obviously the higher quality of the HD video.  At any rate if you don’t need HD video, the SX10 is a great camera, if like me the HD video is important to you then by all means pick up the SX20.

8:18 am - Saturday, September 19, 2009

#24 SailsElan

Bellerophon - I have had the camera for a couple of weeks and have used it just about daily to get to know it. I have two of the Panasonic Lumix cameras (the FZ38 and a small one I can carry with me all the time) and they are nice cameras but they don’t have the features this camera has and I don’t see the that the Lumix has the “crisp, stunning, vibrant photos” anymore than the Canon. Maybe with all of the options the Canon has, some of the other users are not using the Canon optimally, I don’t know. I do know that I do not take photos to enlarge them and study them for flaws. And you are right, there are plenty of other reviews (other than this blog) that are not so critical of “noise” and the purple fringing that reviewers here seem to be focused on. I don’t understand why this type of camera would even be considered by someone that is so concerned with perfection in all of their photos. I am extremely pleased with my Canon SX 20 and I am going to sell my Lumix! I don’t think they are even in the same league, personally. I have used all kinds of cameras, including some pretty fancy SLRs since the 70s. Get the Canon and enjoy it.

3:12 pm - Saturday, September 19, 2009

#25 Brian

I just got the SX20 this weekend.  So far I am HIGHLY impressed.  I am a novice, but did my research for a couple of weeks before i decided on it.  I read some user review that were terrible, and some professional comparisons to similar models that were good to great.  Possibly there is some user error going on with all the options that are available on the SX20?  I just know that for the price I am really impressed.  It’s not the quality of a DSLR, but then again i don’t think it’s meant to be, and the price is much cheaper when you consider all the other lenses that would be required for the same range as the 20X zoom.

6:17 pm - Monday, September 21, 2009

#26 SailsElan

Or ... possibly some people here have a beef with Canon or have something to gain by trying to promote Panasonic ... or add their opinion without actually having used the camera! Too bad there are people that are willing to let those opinions influence their decision.

6:32 pm - Monday, September 21, 2009

#27 Georget

I need some advice. I’ve recently decided I need a good camera (but I am not ready for an SLR) so i have been thinking of the Canon Powershot SX20IS and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35.  What I like about the Canon is the “color accent” scene but not sure about the “AA” batteries. In terms of image quality… I don’t know much. Any insights?

2:57 am - Tuesday, September 22, 2009

#28 SailsElan

about the AA batteries ... it’s one of the pros of this camera—you never have to worry about having a spare $35 battery that needs a special charger. They are available everywhere and if you use NiMH AA batteries you get over 600 shots with them and they are rechargable. In a pinch you can use regular AAs.

3:52 am - Tuesday, September 22, 2009

#29 Tomas

Also bought Canon SX20 is . VERRRYY pleased with it! Great camera for the money.

6:54 am - Tuesday, September 22, 2009

#30 Brian


The color accent feature is very useful.  I took some outdoor photos this weekend and did a comparison between that and a shot on the “normal” mode.  Big difference.  It really makes the colors POP.  Not fake looking, or overly contrasted, but just a better photo.  There seems to be a really good selection of different scenes to choose from.  I agree on the battery, that was definitely a plus for me as well.  I have taken over 400 shots with the batteries that came with the camera and they yet to give me a warning light, so i am looking foward to the NiMH rechagables that i have at home.  Check out the link above of a few of the shots i took.  The first 15 are, the butterfly is with my wifes SD630 They are a very rough, i am by no means a pro at this.  I just take what i think looks good.

1:22 pm - Tuesday, September 22, 2009

#31 brian

the link.  It’s also in my name above.

1:24 pm - Tuesday, September 22, 2009

#32 rpw

How is this any better than the Canon Powershot SX20?
Which was rated:

Canon Powershot SX20:
Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4
Image Quality 3.5
Value for money 3.5

Olympus SP-590UZ:
Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image Quality 4
Value for money 4.5

Canon IQ review:
“The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS’s main drawback in terms of image quality is noise, with ISO 400 showing some noise, blurring of detail and slight colour desaturation. The noise and loss of detail get progressively worse as you go from ISO 800 to the fastest 1600 setting”

Olympus IQ review:
” The 1/2.33 inch, 12 megapixel sensor recorded noise-free images at ISO 64 and 100, but there’s already some noise and slight loss of saturation at ISO 200. ISO 400 shows more noise and some obvious softening of fine detail, and ISO 800 and 1600 are even worse, with lots of noise and a very washed-out look. The fastest speeds of ISO 3200 and 6400 are recorded at a reduced resolution and simply aren’t worth using.”

Olympus starts to show problems as ISO 200 where the Canon starts at ISO 400(I have the Canon and dont see any problems at ISO 400).

Canon chromatic handling:
“The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS handled chromatic aberrations quite well with some purple fringing effects appearing in high contrast situations.”

Olympus chromatic handling:
“The Olympus SP-590UZ dealt extremely well with chromatic aberrations, with limited purple fringing effects appearing only in high contrast situations.”

But they gave Olympus a 4 for IQ and Canon a 3.5 ?!

If anything I think they should have the same rating or Canon should be rated a bit higher.

11:45 pm - Tuesday, September 22, 2009

#33 Brian

That’s why I am glad that Bestbuy has a 14day guarantee.  I asked before i bought it.  No way i can really tell if i like a camera before i have had a chance to really “test drive” it.  So far i am ery happy though.

1:38 am - Wednesday, September 23, 2009

#34 CharlieInSF

I love Canon Powershot cameras with vari-angle monitors. I have owned several “A” series Canons and currently have an A650 in addition to an SX10 that I have been using since they came out. Have also owned S3 and S5 before my current SX10.
I am VERY disappointed that Canon does not provide a printed manual for the SX20, but only offers the 180 page manual on the start up CD.
Shame on you Canon. A BIG MISTAKE!

2:57 am - Wednesday, September 23, 2009

#35 SailsElan

Don’t agree it’s a “big mistake” not supplying the manual. It would have been nice but it doesn’t take long or much resources to print it out from the CD, as I did. Does anyone carry a manual around with them anyway? If they do, is it ever used on the fly? I carried around a comprehensive manual for years with one of my SLRs in the 80s and never used it while out shooting (though I could have).

3:23 am - Wednesday, September 23, 2009

#36 jrj073000

As an avid user of a camera similar to this one: Canons are best when making the transition. Easy to use and the most bang for your buck.

7:54 pm - Wednesday, September 23, 2009

#37 dcgibson55

I’ve had mine for about two weeks and like it very much. My only gripe is no printed instruction manual. Last week I was at a convention where the camera went into the bag then out again multiple times each day at many locations. The bag doesn’t close with the hood on so I shot without it. I had no problems with flare. Normal use will not be like at the convention and I will be using the hood just to play it safe.

6:39 am - Thursday, September 24, 2009

#38 Blade

Canon, coud done better, but they are not capable to deliver a complete camera. See the latest launches of G11 and S90, funally they stoped the megapixel madness but there is no HD video there. What will be so bad in putting the same 10MPX ISO capable sensor in the next SX2 IS or the SX30 IS. IF SOMEONE FROM CANON IS READING THIS, do note that we all need faster lens and bigger CCD sensors. You are not cheating us anymore every year with more and more MPX every year!!!

1:57 pm - Thursday, September 24, 2009

#39 R K Sudan

Very true, Blade. Canon (and other camera biggies) ought to give us products with better processors and at reasonable costs. Since long I have been of the opinion that cramming up more megapixels on to the same CCD won’t make any qualitative difference. If a reputed and iconic organization indulges in cheap gimmickry then the enthusiasm of photography hobbyists might well wane away. About time CANON listened. I say Canon because they are the brand leaders and the most trusted name.

2:10 pm - Thursday, September 24, 2009

#40 Rob

Software errors on install, a error occured while installing. No more information provided.
Canon helpdesk say go to Mickeysoft.
Only solution is to take another computer

9:39 pm - Thursday, September 24, 2009

#41 Steve

I purchased a Canon SX20IS Last week and am very happy with it except for one problem. I can’t find a way to make a DVD with the HD video I create. I know I can convert the file to AVI and then create a DVD but the quality stinks by comparison. Any Ideas out there?

9:10 pm - Friday, September 25, 2009

#42 Bellerophon

My SX20 arrived a couple days ago, and I was able to sell my SX10 almost immediately on eBay. I now can speak to a couple of the issues here. 

I experimented with different ISO settings, and saw no more noise than I used to see with the SX10.  This camera takes great pictures.  If you want to magnify each pixel you might find some less than perfect areas, but for the average user will never notice.

The HD video looks really nice.  The VGA video on the SX10 was great.  The HD on the SX20 is even better.

I am okay with the abbreviated owners manual.  You have the full version on disk if you need it.  Additionally, the on-screen prompt in the camera are excellent.  This is a great help to an amateur like myself.

I recommend this camera to anyone who wants to graduate from a simple point and shoot, but does not want the cost of a DSLR.

10:12 pm - Friday, September 25, 2009

#43 brian

Check out the other samples that I have taken.  I am EXTREMELY please with my purchase.  After about 600 pic in I cannot be any happier.  The zoom is wonderful, especially for outdoor pics.  The depth of field is great, the MPX are wonderful.  The vivid setting seems to be great for making those outdoor photos pop.  Many of these beach photos were taken on the Apeture priority setting.  I highly recommend checking out this camera.

11:33 pm - Friday, September 25, 2009

#44 Schoei

I purchased the SX20 a couple of weeks ago and love it. I have tried many different point-and-shoot (FujiFilm S2000 & S700, Nikon L100) and found the SX20 to do all I needed. The video is fantastic and was able to take a nice picture of the moon last night. I highly recommend this camera.

5:00 pm - Monday, September 28, 2009

#45 BrandX

Thank you all for the great insights into this camera.  I have been pondering the SX10 and the SX20 for the last few weeks and your views have pushed me to the SX20.

I only have one question.  Extended warrantly?  I never used it on my previous A560, but should I seriously consider it on the new SX20 with all of it’s features and the cost to fix/replace if something goes wrong?


7:21 pm - Monday, September 28, 2009

#46 brian


What were your settings when you took that moon photo?  That looks great?

9:10 pm - Monday, September 28, 2009

#47 Joe Smokie

I have a question for all those that love the SX20. I am having trouble with capturing motion blur when shooting people who are talking or when trying to photograph my 4 year old that never stops moving. I have tried Sports mode but I have the same results. I don’t recall ever having this problem with any other Digital camera that I have owned. Is it a problem with not enough lighting or is it some setting that I need to change? I don’t want to return it but this is a make or break issue for me.

12:06 am - Tuesday, September 29, 2009

#48 Schoei

Thanks brian.
The setting was put at mode Av, with aperture @ -3, zoom @ 63x and the ISO @ 400.

12:56 am - Tuesday, September 29, 2009

#49 Schoei

Joe Smokie,

I haven’t had a problem with the sports, even when taken a picture while I was walking and took a picture of a couple of kids playing basketball in their yard.

1:16 am - Tuesday, September 29, 2009

#50 Schoei


I apologize for giving the wrong settings for the picture of the moon. Here are the correct settings:

Mode: Av
Shutter Speed: 1/320
Aperture: f5.7
ISO: 400
Zoom: 63x
Exposure: -2

6:27 pm - Wednesday, September 30, 2009

#51 C.J.

Are there any rivals that have a tilt and swivel LCD?  I have a Powershot S3 IS, and I would never go back to using a camera without one.
Also, has anyone used the Lensmate filter adapter with an SX20?

1:54 am - Thursday, October 1, 2009

#52 RJW

Review has missed a key point - the SX20 has lost the ‘superfine’ JPEG compression setting. Obvious as the images are the same size (in MB) as those from my 5MP (superfine) canon S2 1S. The damage is obvious from the photos - look for narrow lines! The small CMOS sensor also seems a step backwards from the CCD of the SX10. If you are going to use CMOS it has to be big to make up for the poor noise characteristics (but then you cant have a superzoom). I just hope they keep he SX10 on the market - I suspect that it will soon cost a lot more than the SX20!

11:31 pm - Friday, October 2, 2009

#53 Don

RJW said:

“Review has missed a key point - the SX20 has lost the ‘superfine’ JPEG compression setting. Obvious as the images are the same size (in MB) as those from my 5MP (superfine) canon S2 1S. The damage is obvious from the photos - look for narrow lines!”

Canon’s “SuperFine” jpeg has a quality that is approximately equal to the International JPEG Group’s (IJG) quality level of 97. Canon’s “Fine” is approximately an IJG quality level of 93. In looking at the pixel level it is possible that you can detect that there is a difference between images with IJG quality levels of 97 vs 93 but I highly doubt that you can say which is which.

Both quality levels are very high. The difference in file size is significant. However, it is unlikely in a “blind” test that your eye will be able to determine with a better than random probability which is higher in quality.

The key to testing is that it be a truly “blind” test.

RJW also said:

“The small CMOS sensor also seems a step backwards from the CCD of the SX10.”

The SX20 has a CCD sensor. That sensor is the same size as the SX10’s but it packs 12 MP into that area. That accounts for the greater image noise. That noise comes with the higher pixel resolution. The higher pixel resolution gives you several choices to get a fine image out of the SX20: 1) you can downsample the image and get an effect similar to having fewer pixels like the SX10; 2) you can apply clever noise reduction software and sharpening to achieve an improvement beyond what the processor in the camera has achieved; 3) you can shoot at a “medium” resolution of 8 MP and get a really sharp looking image from the get-go. 

Basically, the trade off for 12 MP resolution and a 20X zoom in a small package like the SX20 is a bit higher noise in the images at medium and high ISOs. That is a trade-off I’ve been happy to make. I did a few decades of lugging around a film SLR and 3 lenses plus tripod. I’m happy carrying a smaller camera, no extra lenses and having image stabilization replace the tripod in many situations.

I am looking forward to the CHDK project’s SX20 version of that software so that I can shoot the SX20 in raw image format.

5:19 pm - Saturday, October 3, 2009

#54 Bellerophon

Thank you for your well thought out comments Don.  I learned a few things.  At the end of the day, as a complete amateur, I am ecstatic with the SX20, and like it better than my previous SX10.  This is mostly because of the excellent on-screen prompts built into the SX20 software, and of course the excellent HD video.  I will use your tip and when shooting at higher ISO levels and will consider setting the camera at medium resolution. 

The fact is this camera was designed for amateurs who want a camera with a bit more capabilities than a shirt pocket point and shoot.  Canon did an excellent job providing us with that camera.

5:39 pm - Saturday, October 3, 2009

#55 Howard

CJ asked:

“has anyone used the Lensmate filter adapter with an SX20?”

Well I’m about to order one for my SX20 and a polarising filter.

I’ll let you know if the adaptor is OK.

12:15 pm - Sunday, October 4, 2009

#56 Ray

Where are you ordering the adapter and filter from?

3:48 pm - Sunday, October 4, 2009

#57 Steve

With reference to filters for the SX20IS you really don’t need the adapter. If you are careful, you can screw a 52mm filter onto the SX20. I have a UV filter on mine and it works just fine and the lens cap still fits.

4:25 pm - Sunday, October 4, 2009

#58 SailsElan

FYI to all of those interested in buying a UV filter: When I went to a camera shop to buy a UV filter for my camera, they found that the threading wasn’t quite right when they tried to use a 52mm filter for a “digital camera”, (it would go on but it wasn’t a perfect fit) but when they tried the 52mm filter for a “film camera” it was a perfect fit.

8:47 pm - Monday, October 5, 2009

#59 Matt

I was going to buy the Canon SX20 or the Panasonic FZ35.  Read countless reviews.

Finally got to a store that had both cameras and was able to compare them in person.

For me, the larger size of the Canon was a plus as was the articulated screen.  It will allow me to hold the camera in different positions and in a more comfortable manner.

As I have yet to use the camera, I do not know if the pictures will be of poor quality as some claim.

However, I have found a large enough number of satisfied SX20 users to make be feel quite hopeful.

10:21 pm - Monday, October 5, 2009

#60 Brooks

Did anyone ever come up with a response?

I purchased a Canon SX20IS Last week and am very happy with it except for one problem. I can’t find a way to make a DVD with the HD video I create. I know I can convert the file to AVI and then create a DVD but the quality stinks by comparison. Any Ideas out there?

10:35 pm - Tuesday, October 6, 2009

#61 Schoei1

Without having to convert, the best way is to buy a Philips DVD Player. It will play just about anything.

3:28 am - Wednesday, October 7, 2009

#62 Schoei1

This is the newer version at Best Buy for $60

3:39 am - Wednesday, October 7, 2009

#63 R K Sudan

Lately, I have been busy online with searches and reviews on the SX20 and its comparisons with the SX10. I think Steve’s conclusions on both the above models make it a deciding factor and I have decided to get the older model (SX10 IS) which gives better value for money and there doesn’t appear any significant advantage with the new model.

5:03 am - Thursday, October 8, 2009

#64 SailsElan

to Brooks: would this link help? It shows converting MOV (the format that this camera uses) to HD WMV.

to RK Sudan: the SX10 has no HD movie capability IF that matters to you.

to BrandX: I bought a three year warranty for $52 (you just never know)

9:28 pm - Saturday, October 10, 2009

#65 R K Sudan

Yes, SailsElan, shooting a movie with a prosumer model would not be my priority. I’d be using the camera to capture wild life shots. Then some reviews have also put the picture quality of the SX10 above that of the SX20. I’d like to know more from other users of SX10 / SX20.

11:08 am - Sunday, October 11, 2009

#66 Matt

I am seeing conflicting advice from “experienced” camera users on how to get the best quality image from the SX20.

Reduce megapixels to improve quality


shoot at highest count for best pictures.

I would appreciate some additional opinions on this.

1:09 pm - Sunday, October 11, 2009

#67 Bellerophon

Matt what is being said is that in certain low light situations, a sharper image can be obtained by using a lower MP setting.

2:52 pm - Sunday, October 11, 2009

#68 Matt

Thanks, Bellerophon.

Does that imply that I should not lower MP setting in strong daylight conditions?

3:14 pm - Sunday, October 11, 2009

#69 Don


If you shoot at one of the medium image sizes you will get less apparent noise but a smaller image. You can get virtually the identical result (I’ve done the comparisons with my own SX20) by shooting the large image size and then downsampling that image to the medium size in your favorite image editing program.

The real question is what is the target use for the final image? Is it going to be viewed on a computer screen? Is it going to be printed? If printed, at what size? What is the mechanism you’ll use to get that image from the computer to its final use? If you’re going to print, my guess is that printing the image with the largest pixel count will give you a better result than downsampling and then printing to the same final image size.

The previous statement didn’t take into account any tweaking you might do for a favored photo. If you are going to do any processing to reduce noise and sharpen the image I think that you’ll be better off doing that for the largest image, before making it the final size for display.

4:14 pm - Sunday, October 11, 2009

#70 Bellerophon

I completely agree with Don’s statements.

4:25 pm - Sunday, October 11, 2009

#71 Brooks

SailsElan - many thanks. THink I’m going to have3 some fun with some of my older videos- not that they are THAT old.

So much information, an only so much daylight…

5:22 pm - Sunday, October 11, 2009

#72 Brooks

Ok, next question. Which of the free-standing noise programs are worth the $. I’m not aggressively into anything like Photoshop (i’d never leave the house for work), but I do have some shots that I feel could use tweaking.

5:27 pm - Sunday, October 11, 2009

#73 Buz

Does anyone know if the SX20 will record directly to a DVD recorder?  Canon says the recorder wouldn’t have the capability to pick up the signal, but that’s how I transfer from my camcorder, so if it will pick up that signal, why not from the camera, if I can view the video on the TV? I haven’t bought it yet, as this is a big feature for me;  being able to elimate a camcorder.

4:38 pm - Monday, October 12, 2009

#74 Martin Hedington

Hi, I decided to ‘move up’ from point and shoot recently and so started ‘reviewing reviews’ to ascertain wheher I needed to get into full DSLR. I have a nearby pro’ photo-geek (and Canon agent) who almost insisted I needed RAW -for post production- so should get the SX1-IS but then I read this:
Needless to say, I found the SX20 IS had everything I needed, for a thousand Rand less, (I’m in South Africa).  Nice site here.

8:15 pm - Thursday, October 15, 2009

#75 Howard

Following up on my post on 4th October:

I ordered the filter adaptor from Lensmate on 4th October and it arrived (in UK) on 15th October. It works a treat. I bought a Hoya circular polarising filter in the UK.

I did email Canon about fitting a filter directly onto the lens and they said it could not be done.

1:28 pm - Sunday, October 18, 2009

#76 Mark

Is this a good camera for closs up buirding?  All within 15 feet.  A high energy backyard…...May favarties and ever so quick.  Have ever only owned cheep (but good() Pand and Shoots.  Need to mve that a couple or three notcihes.  Hope the comments will asnwer some of these questiopns.

2:51 am - Monday, October 19, 2009

#77 John Sulja

I just bought the SX20 and have only taken a few pix so far.  I am very happy with the quality so far.  I am extremely pleased with the video quality.  Blows my standard def camcorder out of the water.  On my standard def camcorder I was able to take the raw avi file and render it MPEG2 (DVD quality) and reduce the file size by 75%.  I was wondering if there is any way of doing something similar with the HD files from the SX20?

The SX20 files are recording at about 178 MB / minute or about 10GB per hour.  Doe anyone know of a way to convert this video to get the size down without losing much quality?  I don’t care about the output format, since I would be playing the video on a Mediagate media player which plays all kinds of HD formats.


12:29 pm - Tuesday, October 20, 2009

#78 Sandy

I can’t decide between this camera and the Fuji 1500.

Any recomendations?

8:26 pm - Thursday, October 22, 2009

#79 taufgeschenk

The powershot sx20 is looking very great camera.I get almost every aspect of this camera from this very helpful review.

8:14 am - Tuesday, October 27, 2009

#80 Martin Hedington

Ya John, you’re so right about the Vid quality, I found the same diff between my ‘normal’ cinecam, (JVC mini-DV GR-dvf 3A) and the SX20, plus I don’t have to faff-around getting the cassettes converted to MPEG whatever.  I bought a few 4-GIG SD cards (all came c/w readers), then come the party this W/E I can just swop the full card (which will carry a mixture of stills and vids of course) with an empty one to carry on shooting. I’m also very pleased with the plus-minus 3 to 4 Meg stills resolution, plenty clarity but not hogging space on the cards. Yes, I’m well pleased with this cam, just going to get a nice carrybag for it today. Oh yeah, another feature of the cam using standard AA Nim-H batteries is that they’re going to be updated of oourse, a specialised battery pack would be stuck in its issue date technology. Good tip.

1:03 pm - Tuesday, October 27, 2009

#81 Martin Hedington

On that ‘battery’ issue: until recently I used to think penlights (AA’s) were doing pretty good at say 2200 mA, then I saw 2500 & 2700 mA, the local Canon guy had 3000 mA but now I’ve seen 3800 mA in a local shop. All those technology upgrades were just this year. A coupla teensy packs of four AA spares in your pocket or carrybag takes up almost no space at all and some cheapo alkalines can almost always be bought at practically any supermarket nearby if you really hammer your rechargeable ‘carry stock’.

1:25 pm - Tuesday, October 27, 2009

#82 Ray Sundstrom

I find it useful to have a manual while I’m getting familiar with a new camera, or when sometime out of the ordinary comes up.  Tossing a printed manual in the camera bag is one more thing to carry around.  I solved the problem with the SX20 by rendering the manual as a series of JPEGS and putting on the SD card.  Voila!  Instant, on-line manual, exactly where I need it, on the camera.  Since I use 16GB SDHC cards, it’
s no problem having the first 180 images as the manual.

12:11 am - Wednesday, October 28, 2009

#83 Martin Hedington

Just tested the stereo microphones yesterday. I wouldn’t have thought that being so close together they’d pick up that much between left and right, they do, very nicely. The onboard software must be really smart. Its quite cool when you view, you know from which direction a person (out of the take) is making a comment from. (Another good reason why this cam scores over any other -without twin mic’s). Even with onboard motors moving, (when zooming), there’s no discernable ‘internal noise’ picked up by the mi’cs, so apart from the visible trembles (a la Blair witch project), which you’d expect from a such a small cam in your hand- its almost as good as a broadcast quality Cam, -which you’d have to have on your shoulder anyway.  The trick for steadycam quality is to use it mounted to a tripod, (makes for a steady shot but you do go back to being a bit ‘bulky’ again). Good idea on the onboard JPEG manual Ray, (long as you have that card in though, LOL!). I’da thought it might look a little small for the LCD myself, unlike me, you must have 20/20 vision perhaps.

11:00 am - Wednesday, October 28, 2009

#84 Ray Sundstrom

The manual images zoom to show the detail when needed.  I have 2 cards, and just copy the folder with the manual to each card.

4:00 pm - Wednesday, October 28, 2009

#85 Stefanie

I really need some assistance.  I’ve recently upgraded from my Kodax DX6490 (yes an oldie) to the Canon SX20IS.  I am having a couple issues that I could use all opinions on.  I shoot mostly indoors, my children and pets and am getting constantly blurring photo’s or mudded shots and the flash is not going off in low light when it’s needed in the Auto mode.  I was hoping that with the Auto mode I could pick this camera up quick and just shoot as my children where playing.  I love all the custom settings but sometimes you need to just turn on and start taking photo’s.

Can anyone give any suggestions on how to decrease the blurr from motion and the muddy look? Or to make Auto perform better?  I’m so frustrated but I dont want to give up on this camera just yet.  I’ve taken over 400 photo’s and most all in Auto indoor lighting are poor quality.

4:51 am - Thursday, October 29, 2009

#86 Ray Sundstrom


I may be stating the obvious, but is the flash in the ‘open’ position when you are shooting?  Different from many point-and-shoots, with the flash flipped down, it’s off; when it’s flipped up, it will fire if the camera settings call for it.

4:58 am - Thursday, October 29, 2009

#87 Martin Hedington

Stef: Put better lighting, photography and cinematography is 95% illumination. Thats why -on set- there are usually so many riggers and lighting guys around. Your light is probably the problem, not the camera. ‘Sides, its cheaper to put better lighting than a more expensive camera anyway. Using a single flash -like on the cam- will get you mega shadows, spread you light source around the room, but preferably behind the cam if possible, if not, out of the shot at least.

11:59 am - Thursday, October 29, 2009

#88 Amit

After a month of research on best zoom cameras, I have decided to go for Canon SX 20 IS. This camera score 9 out of 10 points in best zoom cameras.
I was initially going for Nikon P 90, but canon SX 20 can beat Nikon p 90 in all aspects.

The basic features of Cannon SX 20 IS over Nikon P 90 are as below:

1) HD video
2) 20X optical zoom + digital zoom (pics / videos)
3) able to take snaps while video recording.
4) Excellent quality of pics with full zoom.

I can suggest everyone to go for Canon SX 20 IS anytime, if you are looking best zoom camera.

1:20 pm - Friday, October 30, 2009

#89 Stefanie

Ray,  I do have the flash up :)  I actually like the feature of being able to manually open the flash such as I had on my Dx6490.  It’s just not firing under low light situations and that bumps up the ISO giving me grain and poor quality.  I dont know if this is a camera error???  Most all of my photo’s have turned out noisy even outdoors in sunlight.  Ugh

3:20 pm - Friday, October 30, 2009

#90 Joe Smokie

I had the same problem earlier on. I nearly returned my SX20 because of the smearing that I was getting. As others have mentioned it is all about lighting. Once I stopped shooting in auto and have set the camera to P (program) mode and tested the various settings (and shot while consciously considering the lighting on my subject) I have gotten MUCH better results and have almost totally eliminated the motion smearing.

I know your original statement indicated that you just want to be able to quickly shoot but even under those conditions stay away from Auto. Also check what your white balance setting is on as it makes a big difference when shooting outdoors.

I am very happy with my purchase.

4:44 pm - Friday, October 30, 2009

#91 Ray Sundstrom


The SX20’s low-light performance is fair to good at best - typical of a camera with a slow lens.  It’s disappointing, but not unexpected, that the camera selects high ISO (over longer exposure) for low light shots in Auto mode. 

The practical solution is to set the camera in P(Program mode) and manually set the ISO to an acceptable value - I use 200 in general ‘point and shoot’ situations.  With everything else set to ‘auto’ defaults, the camera will be forced to make other exposure/flash adjustments which may lead to better results.

Another huge help for flash photography is to use an external speedlite.  The SX20 has the EOS Rebel’s speedlite capabilities, and is compatible with many of the Canon speedlites.  The low-end 270EX (around $130.00 on-line) while auto-only, will perform markedly better than the internal flash.  Stepping up to the 430EX II (about $250.00) gives you more creative control over the flash and can make a world of difference.

It’s disappointing to hear of the poor performance in sunlight.  What are the settings used by the camera in these situations? 

Whether your camera is behaving within spec or not is hard to tell.  You may want to go to a local camera store (especially if you bought the SX20 locally) and ask to make comparison shots with another SX20.  If they behave differently you may wish to replace/repair your camera.

5:12 pm - Friday, October 30, 2009

#92 panks

I am particularly interested in the HD video.
If I take the 8GB SD card, I can take 40 mnts of HD video comfortably ?
And how about the battery life, I mean how long can the fully charged battery record ?

11:10 am - Saturday, October 31, 2009


Hi all! I am just ordering from Amazon the Canon SX20 IS, plus the Tiffen 52MM UV filter, for permanent lens protection, Kingston 8 GB class 4 SDHC card and the Digital Concepts (Sakar) 952AF/CAN flash. DC website said it is OK with Canon Rebel XT an D30 wich use E-TTL II technology, there are some one with experience in this topic? Will I get full compatibility? Advice will help. Best to the e-mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) Thanks very much.

1:26 pm - Monday, November 2, 2009

#94 bogdanti

Just want to share my experience:
I bought sx20 as a replacement of my 5 years old canon powershort A95 (5 mp). It was unpleasant surprise when quality of pictures in the room (60 watt lamp + flash) of sx 20 was worse than a95 in all auto modes. I only got more or less good result setting iso100 in P mode.
I returned this camera back.

5:10 pm - Wednesday, November 4, 2009

#95 Sandy

I recently bought this camera and I find that in Auto Mode it does not take very good pictures? Does anyone else have that problem?

6:58 pm - Wednesday, November 4, 2009

#96 Don


I have a 4MP S45 that I bought 7 years ago. If I compare S45 and SX20 images at the same pixel magnification I would see less noise in the S45 images taken at ISOs above 100. Does that mean that the S45 is a better camera? No. It only shows that when you make a sensor that has fewer pixels in a larger overall area you get less apparent noise.

There is more to image quality. The SX20 has highly effective image stabilization (IS). I can hand-hold the camera and get way sharper images at lower shutter speeds with the SX20 than I can with the S45. On the SX20 I have a 20X zoom, equivalent to a 560mm lens on a 35mm camera. That, combined with IS, permits pictures I cannot take with the S45.

If I take pictures of the same scene and equivalent fields of view with the two cameras I can downsample my 12MP SX20 image to a 6 or 8 MP image that is sharper and lower in noise than that of the 4MP image from my S45.

If you don’t understand the process of getting the most from an SX20 using IS, using Program mode to keep ISO low and taking advantage of the effect of printing the images or viewing them at the same final size then you probably will be happier with your A95.


8:14 pm - Wednesday, November 4, 2009

#97 rap

Regarding the manual, does anyone have the PhotoBert Photo CheatSheet for the sx20. I wondered if that might be a good alternative to carrying the manual.  My Oly C-750 that I will be replacing didn’t come with a manual either.  I printed it out I think at 1/4 page size and took it to office max and had it cut and bound with a plastic comb.  That worked really well.  It was more compact and now I could stick it in my bag.

11:37 pm - Saturday, November 7, 2009

#98 kayla

just purchased a canon sx20is. i was using an 8 megapixel fujifilm point and shoot camera. with all the experience i’ve read on here should i be excited about this camera or not? i was hoping to “upgrade” but with all the negative comments i fear i made the wrong decision. i just wanted clearer images.

9:04 pm - Monday, November 9, 2009

#99 lisa

My 14yr old daughter also has a fujifilm point and shoot camera. She wants to upgrade and we have been advised the canon sx20is. She wants to take sports photography and the zoom was recommended to us. Slightly concerned that the camera looks very complicated when you read all these reviews. She is planning on attending a beginners photography course once she has her new camera. can anyone please advise if we are buying the right camera.

10:41 pm - Tuesday, November 10, 2009

#100 Ray Sundstrom


While feature-laden, the SX20 is no more complicated than most cameras in its class.  A zoom (with image stablization) would surely be useful for sports photography.  A couple of minuses: the lens is fairly ‘slow’ so fast shutter performance (necessary for freezing action) comes at the cost of high ISO settings; and the continuous shooting speed in is around one frame per second(!), generally considered much too slow for sports-action shooting. 

Overall, the SX20 is a servicable all-purpose compact zoom camera.  If the primary focus is sports photography, it should be carefully evaluated against other cameras in its class.

10:53 pm - Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, compact, 720p, 12 megapixel, canon, super-zoom, bridge, 20x zoom, 2.5 inch LCD, Canon PowerShot SX20 IS Review, power shot. review, sx20, sx 20

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