Canon PowerShot SX280 HS Gordon Laing, May 2013

Canon PowerShot SX280 HS quality

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To compare real-life quality I shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot SX280 HS using its best quality SuperFine JPEG settings and lowest sensitivity - in this case, 80 ISO.

I have presented results from the SX280 HS alone here, but plan on updating this and my other 2013 pocket-super-zoom reviews with side-by-side comparisons when I can get them all in the same place at the same time. In the meantime the results here are applicable to the SX270 HS which shares the same lens, sensor and image processing.

I shot this scene in Aperture Priority at all settings and found the sharpest results were with the aperture close to its lowest f-number at f4.
  Canon PowerShot SX280 HS results
1 Canon SX280 HS Quality
2 Canon SX280 HS Noise
3 Canon SX280 HS Handheld Night Scene
4 Canon SX280 HS Sample images

The image above was taken with the Canon PowerShot SX280 HS with the lens at its widest focal length. I shot this in Aperture Priority with all settings and found the sharpest result was with the aperture closed a fraction to f4, which coincidentally was what the camera chose when set to Program moments later. Like most cameras of its class, closing the aperture much further results in diffraction and an overall softening of the image.

The crops below are as always taken from the areas marked by the red rectangles and presented at 100%. The results here are equally applicable to the PowerShot SX270 HS which shares the same lens, sensor and image processing. You can download an original version of this image in my Canon SX280 HS sample images page.

Unlike its rivals from Sony and Panasonic, Canon has sensibly resisted from pointlessly increasing the resolution with every generation, so the SX280 HS inherits the same 12 Megapixel resolution as its predecessor, albeit backed-up by the newer DIGIC 6 processor. But does it make any difference to the quality?

Pixel-peeping the image at 100% magnification reveals indistinct edges even at the lowest sensitivities - this is something we've become used to on most point-and-shoot compacts with 1/2.3in sensors or thereabouts. But comparing the images from the SX280 HS with Panasonic's 18 Megapixel Lumix ZS30 / TZ40 proves the Canon suffers from this to a lesser degree and delivers crisper and cleaner results when both are set to their lowest sensitivities. So if you're into looking at your images on-screen at 100%, the Canon SX280 HS will hold-up better, but if you're viewing at smaller sizes or printing at 10x8in or smaller, you'll be unlikely to tell much difference.

A quick note on the optical quality: as you move towards the extreme edges and corners of the frame, the image from the SX280 HS becomes a little softer. You can begin to see this towards the right edges of the second and fourth crops, but you don't have to move into the frame very much before it all becomes sharp and well-resolved.

So overall, a good start for the SX280 HS, so the next test is to see how it performs at different sensitivities in my Canon SX280 HS noise results.

Canon PowerShot SX280 HS (JPEG using in-camera defaults)
80 ISO, f4
80 ISO, f4
80 ISO, f4
80 ISO, f4

Canon PowerShot SX280 HS results : SX280 HS quality / SX280 HS Noise
/ SX280 HS Handheld Night Scene

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