New Canon SX120 IS looks promising as a bang-for-the-buck compact-zoom
The compact fun-zoom digital camera segment has become one of the most popular segments, following the break-out success of the now legendary Panasonic TZ3. So much so, that the segment is actually having two nebulous sub-groups, the more stylish and expensive cameras like the SX200is and TZ7/ZS3, and the more affordable bang for the buck cameras like the brand new SX120IS and its two predecessors.
This is a camera geared towards the "bang for the buck" crowd, as it offers a number of useful features, including manual exposure and Tv/Av, something you don't always find in fun-zooms, most notably absent from the Panasonic TZ-series. It has a 10x stabilized lens that attracts the telephoto crowd with its 36-360mm f2.8-4.3 equivalent reach, which may remind some of the 10X superzooms of the good old days (Olympus C7xx-series?).
The camera has a slightly smaller sensor, it is a 10mp 1/2.5", "growing" by one megapixel over the SX110-is. DiGiC IV is there of course, and it has 1.3fps burst mode, which is actually faster than the three Powershots of today that reside above it in the line-up.
The movie mode is the expected 30fps VGA, since a lot of manufacturers reserve the "HD video" for their more expensive models.
The camera appears to have promising battery life according to the CIPA numbers, it is 370 with two AA NiMH rechargeables, and 130 with alkalines. Not bad for a two-battery superzoom with a 3-inch display! It is a fixed display with the usual 230K.
Needless to say, there is no RAW, hot-shoe or OVF, but considering the current feature landscape, one shouldn't realistically expect such features at this price-point.
In a way, the AA-based SX-series models are carrying on the tradition of the A-series which Canon strangely decided to turn into PASM-eunuchs a couple of releases ago.
Price and availability
The camera will start at $250 with an expected shipment in August/September, and it is already available for pre-order at Amazon at that price.
Canon is renowned for being able to quickly get a camera from announcement to release, something that often fans of other camera manufacturers wish their own brand would be able to do so as well.