When the Canon PowerShot SX10 IS was launched back in September, we reported that Canon would most likely bring the similarly speced, CMOS-equipped PowerShot SX1 IS to the American market in due course.
It's been five long months, but today Canon made good on that promise with the official U.S. launch of the 10 megapixel, 20x zoom Canon PowerShot SX1 IS.
Sharing the stage
The SX1 joins Canon's already popular SX10 at the top end of the manufacturer's ultrazoom/"bridge camera" market, and as anticipated, the majority of the basic hardware – body, lens, processor, and AA power – is shared between the two flagship models.
The reason most of us buy cameras like the SX1 is the lens, and while it can't compete from a pure specs perspective with some of the newly launched 24 and 26x ultrazooms, the SX1's 28-520mm f/2.8-5.7 optically stabilized glass provides plenty of telephoto range for all but the most demanding applications and great wide-angle coverage besides.
Like the SX10, the SX1 incorporates a tilt and swivel LCD, allowing shooters to work with the SX1 at angles that would be difficult or impossible with a fixed display. The screen itself is a slight upgrade over the SX10's display: 2.8 inches diagonally, versus the SX10's 2.5 display.
As before, an electronic viewfinder, a Speedlite-compatible hot shoe, and the typical DIGIC IV processing goodies (improved face detection and tracking, i-Contrast, and better noise reduction) are all included in the SX1 as well. Shooting modes include a range of auto-exposure and scene preset options, as well as P/A/S/M settings for users seeking manual exposure control.
The first CMOS-equipped PowerShot
What separates the SX1 from its SX series siblings is Canon's use of a 10.0 megapixel, 1/2.3 inch CMOS image sensor in the SX1, rather than the 10 megapixel CCD from the SX10. In addition to presumed noise control advantages, the combination of a CMOS sensor and Canon's latest DIGIC IV processing means the SX1 is capable of shooting at an advertised continuous rate of 4.0 fps – besting some entry-level DSLRs, even.
The new sensor also affords the SX1 the ability to shoot full HD (1080p) video. The incorporation of both an ultrasonic zoom motor and a near-silent voice coil motor for focusing keeps lens noise nearly inaudible, allowing users to zoom and use auto focus while capturing movies.
A stereo mic provides companion audio recording for movies, and a built-in HDMI output on the SX1 allows stills and videos to be sent straight from the camera to an HDTV.
RAW shooting now available
The U.S. version of the SX1 also packs in a key feature upgrade not seen in the original international launch of this camera: RAW shooting. In addition to shooting JPEGs, advanced shooters will now be able to process their own RAW files from the SX1 using Canon's Digital Photo Professional software.
Pricing and availability
With several key technology upgrades over the SX10, the SX1 will likely command a predictably high retail price compared to its sibling: suggested retail pricing for the SX1, which should debut at stores in April, is $599.