I've taken pictures with lots of Canon point and shoot digital cameras over the years and one of the most interesting things about all those cameras was not their differences, but their similarities. Canon is the most modular of all the major camera manufacturers and their product development folks have a broad catalog of proven components to draw from when creating new models. The new Canon Powershot SX280 HS is a very good example of just how well this modular design philosophy works. The SX280 HS is essentially an assemblage of consumer proven and market-tested components from earlier Canon models with only a few genuinely new components.
The polycarbonate bodied SX280 HS is actually a somewhat plain looking P&S camera, rather like a 21st century version of the Kodak "Brownie" box camera popular during the early decades of the last century. The SX280 HS won't turn any heads or launch any trends -- this digicam is all about practicality and usability. The SX280 HS is about the same size and shape as a standard Altoids tin and like the "Brownie" the SX280 HS was designed to provide consumers with a camera that has the ability to easily and dependably capture high quality images.
The SX280 HS (which replaces the SX260 HS) features a 12 megapixel (BSI) CMOS sensor, Canon's new DIGIC VI processor, and Canon's proprietary HS (high sensitivity) low-light system. When combined these components give the SX280 HS unique low light capabilities. Canon claims the SX280 HS produces about the same amount of noise in an ISO1600 image as its predecessor (the SX260 HS) produced in an ISO 400 image -- substantially expanding low light photography capabilities. Built-in Wi-Fi technology allows users to easily share photos on social networking sites and a built-in GPS receiver allows users to geo-tag their images and record their precise location, making the SX280 HS an almost perfect travel camera. There is no optical viewfinder, but the 3.0 inch (461k) LCD monitor is more than adequate for most viewfinder chores. Factor in improved HD video at 1080p and 30fps or 60fps in MP4 format (the SX260's videos were in MOV format and the only frame-rate available was 24fps) and you have a general purpose camera that is difficult to beat.
When veteran shooters discuss P&S digicams, they may dismiss such imaging tools since they are targeted toward snap-shooters and casual photographers. That's really too bad, since the cameras used by old time photographers were pretty basic and most assuredly lacked the sophistication, advanced photographic technology, and user friendly features of today's cameras. Classic shooters like Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau, et al used what would today be considered very primitive cameras to capture the iconic images that defined the golden age of photography. An SX280 HS in the hands of a skilled shooter is capable of producing images that are every bit the equal of anything produced during the golden age of photography.
We are in the midst of a period of global economic stagnation -- money is tight and "bang for the buck" is especially important during these trying economic times. The SX280 HS may be the best choice "Travelers" camera currently available. It is small and easily pocketable, it features a 20x zoom, it has enhanced low-light capabilities, it is easy to use, it consistently produces excellent images, it features good battery life, built-in wi-fi for sharing images taken in exotic locales, built-in GPS, an improved HD movie mode and (as the icing on the cake) it is unintimidating to subjects. Below are more samples of images taken by the Canon Powershot SX280 HS. Our full review will be posted shortly.