Canon PowerShot SX600 HS Review

May 6, 2014 | Jack Baker |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel SuperFine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 8Mb.

The SX600 HS produces very pleasing images for a camera with a fairly modest price tag. Detail is crisp across the frame and isn’t as susceptible to noise reduction smoothing as many cameras with equivalent sized sensors. Consequently fine details in landscape scenes are well retained and don’t get smeared into a painterly mess as is all too common with cameras in this sector. Bright, punchy colour reproduction adds to the appeal, as does the flawless exposure metering and reliable white balance.

Optically there is some chromatic aberration (purple fringing) visible in high-contrast areas, but it’s rarely distracting. Despite its considerable focal length range, the lens also fares well in the distortion department, with only a hint of barrel distortion at wide angle and no noticeable pincushion effect when zoomed in. Corner sharpness is fairly good, though detail isn’t quite as crisp as in the centre.

With such an impressive performance it’s a shame the SX600 HS’s image noise levels let the side down. View shots taken at ISO 400 and below at full image size and you’ll see fine grain, but this is a typical trait of cameras packing a 1/2.3” sensor. What’s less forgivable is the level of colour speckling visible when you crank things up to ISO 800. By ISO 1600 the problem is apparent even when viewing images at 50% or smaller, and detail has taken a turn for the worst too. This isn’t overly obvious in our ISO image quality test shots, so check out the indoor sample images to see the problem for yourself. It’s not severe enough to render such shots unusable, but it’s still a pity the camera is outclassed by many of its rivals in this area.

These issues also show up in video recordings, which despite being Full HD resolution aren’t quite as crisp as you may be expecting. Indoor recordings show some noticeable image noise, although it’s worth remembering that plenty of compact cameras at the price point suffer the same video capture flaws.


The Canon PowerShot SX600 HS has six sensitivity settings at full resolution. Auto mode uses a range between ISO 100 and ISO 3200, or you can switch to Program mode to manually select these settings.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso200.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso3200.jpg


We found that the Canon PowerShot SX600 HS images are already very sharp, but do benefit from a little touch up in post processing.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Focal Range

The Canon PowerShot SX600 HS’ 18x zoom lens achieves a maximum wide-angle focal length equivalent to 25mm, and is capable of a telephoto reach of 450mm (in 35mm-camera terms).



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

The Canon PowerShot SX600 HS handled chromatic aberrations fairly well during the review, with purple and green fringing present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg

File Quality

Every image size option on the Canon PowerShot SX600 HS is accompanied by two quality settings: Fine and Super Fine. Going for the latter will up the file size of each image from 4-6MB to around 8MB.

SuperFine (7.47Mb) (100% Crop)

Fine (4.85Mb) (100% Crop)

quality_superfine.jpg quality_fine.jpg


The Canon PowerShot SX600 HS’ lens will focus as close as 5cm. That’s not too special given the 1cm minimum that many compact cameras now achieve, but at that range a camera will often cast a shadow over your subject.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


The Canon PowerShot SX600 HS' flash can only manage a relatively weak 3.5m range and hence there’s some fairly obvious vignetting in our wide-angle test shot taken at a distance of 1.5m. The flash has four modes: Auto, On, Off and Slow Synchro, plus a separate setting to enable or disable red-eye reduction. Whether this is active or not, the camera successfully avoids any trace of red-eye.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (25mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (450mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (450mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On or the Red-eye-Reduction settings caused any red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
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Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg

Anti Shake

As you can see here, disabling IS when shooting handheld at the upper end of the Canon PowerShot SX600 HS’ focal length range isn’t a good idea. Keep the system on and it does a great job of counteracting the effects of camera shake.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length Anti-Shake Off (100% Crop) Anti-Shake On (100% Crop)
1/20th sec / 450mm antishake1.jpg antishake1a.jpg

Handheld Night Scene

By combining several shots taken in quick succession, the Canon PowerShot SX600 HS will create crisp night shots without the need for a tripod. In reality the results don’t look all that different from those taken in conventional Auto mode though.


Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg

Special Effects

The Canon PowerShot SX600 HS offers several special effects modes, but these are mixed in with the conventional scene modes. Those which are likely to get your creative juices flowing are: FishEye, Miniature, Monochrome, Retro, Special and Toy Camera.



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Toy Camera

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My Colors

In addition to the special effect modes, you can also set the camera to apply various colour filters as you shoot. Choose from: Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Vivid Blue/Green/Red or Custom Color.



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Positive Film

Lighter Skin Tone

my_colors_05.jpg my_colors_06.jpg

Darker Skin Tone

Vivid Blue

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Vivid Green