Canon PowerShot SX420 Review

Its 42X optical zoom sets it apart

In a market where there's not enough difference between a smartphone camera and a basic model to entice people to carry both, the Canon PowerShot SX420's large optical zoom lens sets itself apart. Smartphone cameras just can't match the capabilities of this lens.

Aside from the lens, the PowerShot SX420 has features similar to those of other point-and-shoot cameras. Image quality is good with adequate lighting and below average in low light. It's easy to use with only a few manual controls, meaning it works best as an automatic camera. Its reasonable price makes it a tempting option.

Canon PowerShot SX420 camera.
Canon

Specifications

  • Resolution: 20 megapixels
  • Optical zoom: 42X
  • LCD: 3.0-inch, 230,000 pixels
  • Maximum image size: 5152 x 3864 pixels
  • Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion
  • Dimensions: 4.1 x 2.7 x 3.35 inches
  • Weight: 11.5 ounces (with battery and memory card)
  • Image sensor: APS-C CMOS, 22.3 x 14.9 mm (0.88 x 0.59 inches)
  • Movie mode: HD 1280 x 720
What We Like
  • Long 42X zoom lens in a lightweight camera.

  • Built-in Wi-Fi.

  • Fast power-up.

  • Good price for a large zoom camera.

  • Easy to use.

What We Don't Like
  • No full 1080p HD video recording.

  • Image quality suffers in low-light conditions.

  • Only average battery life.

  • LCD screen not as sharp as it could be.

  • Shutter lag in some scenes.

Image Quality

As with most basic cameras, the PowerShot SX420's image quality is adequate in good lighting but struggles in low light. That's to be expected in a camera with a 1/2.3-inch image sensor, which also limits the effectiveness of the 20-megapixel resolution.

You can't shoot in RAW image format with this camera, which is common in this price range and with 1/2.3-inch image sensors.

Numerous special-effect shooting modes can create some interesting images and make the SX420 fun to use.

The PowerShot SX420 is limited to 720p HD video recording; most competitors in this range can record 1080p HD or 4K video.

Performance

Burst mode is about two frames per second—not great for action photos.

On the other hand, the camera's easy-to-use Wi-Fi option is a nice extra in this price range.

The camera doesn't offer many manual controls or a mode dial. You can make minor changes to the camera's settings by pressing the Func/Set button on the back of the camera or through the camera's menus, but these are basic options.

Design

The 42X optical zoom lens is among the biggest you'll find on ultra-zoom cameras. Canon also included an effective image stabilization (IS) feature that helps you record sharp images that don't blur from camera shake, as long as the lighting is good. Low-light images are almost impossible to shoot while holding the camera, even with the strong IS system.

The Canon SX420 weighs only about 11.5 ounces, even with a battery and memory card installed. Despite its large body (typical of large-zoom cameras), it's one of the lightest large-zoom cameras on the market. The lens extends more than 8 inches from the camera body at the full optical zoom setting.

The control buttons on the back of the camera are too small and too tightly set to the camera body to use comfortably, like those on many of Canon's point-and-shoot models. However, because you'll be using this model in automatic mode, this doesn't pose much of a problem.

A touchscreen LCD would have simplified the operation of this camera, but Canon chose to keep the starting price of the SX420 low by not including one. Still, the camera offers plenty of easy-to-use features, so you'll have no problem using it on the first try.

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