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dalethorn 04-21-2013 09:20 PM

Canon SX-280 digital camera review.
Here's a youtube review of the Canon SX-280 comparing to the Pana LX7 and Nikon Coolpix 'A', with special mention of how much better the SX-280 is than the Nikon S9500 I had to give up because of fragility.

Three (3) Digital Cameras (Nikon 'A', Panasonic LX7, Canon SX280) review by Dale - YouTube

dalethorn 04-23-2013 07:31 PM

Re: Canon SX-280 digital camera review.
While the Canon SX-280 isn't usually described as a "Photographer's Camera" or using terms like "Prosumer" etc., it does have manual controls and they're very accessible from the main dial without having to hunt for them. Add to that an excellent 25 to 500 mm effective focal length lens, high quality low-noise images, and a compact size that fits into a shirt pocket easily, and I've just described what I think is the best bargain I've ever gotten in a camera that I can take anywhere. I nearly didn't get the SX-280, choosing another brand first, but when that camera broke after sustaining a minor bump, I took a chance on the SX-280 and I'm very happy that I did, since the SX-280 images are far better than the previous camera (when it was working).

People who want to see what the SX-280 is capable of can do a Web search for my name, and then view the images on the website that's listed in the search results. There may be a few professionals out there who would not be highly impressed with the SX-280's images, but I had the $2000 Leica X1 for 3 years and currently have the $1100 Nikon Coolpix 'A', and the SX-280's images still amaze me - in some cases even better than what I got with the Leica X1. The image stabilization ('IS', a.k.a. vibration reduction) works very well, and most of the shots I take at full zoom come out sharp. But I don't take chances either - I have a 32 gb memory card and I always shoot in burst mode, so even when hand-shake is a factor, generally I lose only one or two images in a burst. The downside of burst shooting is the time required to compare the images in each burst on the computer, to select the sharpest and best from each burst and discard the rest.

I haven't done much with video with the SX-280, but from what I have taken the video quality is excellent (inspecting each frame one-by-one in Quicktime), although there is enough internal background noise (or whatever it is) that you'll get best results with the sound if you're close to the action, or the sound you're recording is loud enough to give you a good dynamic range. I assume the SX-280 uses AGC (Automatic Gain Control) for sound recording, so if you're recording something that's very low in volume, the AGC will turn the SX-280's internal microphone amps all the way up to boost the sound, but that also boosts the microphone/amp internal electronic noise. So you'll want to get closer to the sound (if possible) if it's not loud, and also be aware that the mics are omni-directional and pick up sound from all over. So if you need to focus the sound better, you may want to shield the camera on whatever sides the sound you're trying to record isn't coming from.

Physically, the SX-280 is very nicely made, with a metal case that looks durable and doesn't have any sharp edges. I bought the red version, and the red case with the black trim on 3 sides plus the black wrist strap looks stunning. My SX-280 says "Made in Japan" on the bottom of the case, which is a big plus in my book. It's certainly possible to get a high quality camera made by a Japanese company that's outsourced to a distant location for manufacture, but it didn't pan out with my previous pocket camera, which broke with just a slight bump. The SX-280 doesn't come with a carry case, but it does come with an external battery charger, so you don't have to have the camera plugged into anything to charge the battery. That's especially important when you have a second battery, so you can put the exhausted battery into the charger and a fresh battery into the camera and continue shooting.

Pocket cameras with long zoom lenses like the SX-280 require very tiny sensors (typically the "1/2.3" size) to be able to focus light at all focal lengths onto the sensor in such a small camera body. If the sensor size were increased, the camera would have to be larger and heavier accordingly. Fortunately, the SX-280 uses what Canon calls the "Digic 6 engine" (internal computer code) to get the best possible quality from the small sensor, and based on the image quality I was getting with my 3 previous pocket cameras, the SX-280 is way better. I don't see any significant pixel smear, which was always a problem with my previous cameras. Noise in images is tricky - I have ISO 1600 images with very low noise, and ISO 400 images with significant noise, and the apparent noise in the final image seems to be more a function of the lighting than the ISO setting itself.

Camera "On" time is about one second, and it takes about 2.5 seconds to zoom from minimum to maximum or vice-versa. The mechanism is very smooth, so I don't anticipate any trouble with it. I would suggest being very careful not to bump the lens barrel against anything when extended, and even though I've done that with some cameras without harm, it's the most sensitive part of the camera because of the mechanics needed to extend and retract the lens as much as it does. The SX-280 has a dedicated "Movie" button on the back, which to me is a very important feature. I've missed getting a video started in time with older cameras where the mode dial had to be rotated to the movie position in order to start a video. The SX-280's screen measures 3-3/16 inches diagonally, but the actual image area measures only 2-15/16 inches.

The SX-280 has a built-in flash, but that flash is strictly for users who want snapshots for social forums or scrapbooks - even something as simple as a quick copy of a whiteboard needs a bounce-flash to mitigate hot spots and the like. The tripod socket is metal (some pocket cameras have plastic sockets) and it's close to the camera's center of gravity (near the lens), but when mounted on a tripod the battery and memory card door cannot be opened.

Camera forums are rife with complaints about the price of replacement batteries, and I always recommend carrying at least a second battery so shooting can continue if the first battery runs down. Contrary to what many people suggest - saving money with third-party batteries, I consider the price difference and if it's huge, I need to know why. Before I could even consider a very cheap battery, I would need several independent reviews that affirm the quality of that particular battery as well as the reliability of the manufacturer of that battery. On top of that, I would need to know that if their battery damaged my camera, they would pay to replace my camera promptly. Lithium-ion batteries can be very dangerous. If the price difference were less than my expenses in replacing a defective battery (packaging, shipping, time wasted, loss of battery for a period of time), I would certainly get the camera manufacturer's battery.

cappers 09-04-2013 04:11 PM

Does anyone know if this model has auto bracketing and the range. Fits the bill for me but need AEB

dalethorn 09-04-2013 04:18 PM

Re: Canon SX-280 digital camera review.

Originally Posted by cappers (Post 1945672)
Does anyone know if this model has auto bracketing and the range. Fits the bill for me but need AEB

Given that the PDF user manual has the term 'bracket' only once, and it doesn't relate to exposure bracketing in any way, I'd say no unless I can find something under a different term.

EDIT: One feature I REALLY like about the SX280 is that bursts are grouped so that only the first image in each group is visible until you "enter" that group. You can delete individual images when "in" that group, or exit the group and delete the whole group. So this would not be a substitute for bracketing necessarily, but I've found it very handy when settings can be easily changed and a burst would use one setting, and the next burst group another setting.

cappers 09-04-2013 04:27 PM


Originally Posted by dalethorn (Post 1945674)
Given that the PDF user manual has the term 'bracket' only once, and it doesn't relate to exposure bracketing in any way, I'd say no unless I can find something under a different term.

That's what I guessed, but wondered if a user could confirm. Need to do my HDR!

dalethorn 09-04-2013 05:01 PM

Re: Canon SX-280 digital camera review.
There is discussion in the manual about how the camera combines shots in certain of its scene modes, which seem a lot like HDR, although they avoid that term. Maybe download the PDF and check those scene modes.

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