Canon Powershot SX 20 IS

September 3, 2009

Anyone who knows me knows I am a gadget geek. There’s no other way to saw it or soften the blow; I am a gadget geek.  The worst part is that I cannot always afford the very best so I have to pick and choose which piece of equipment I will poor my money into. On top of that there are some pieces that I really need so that I can provide the best service when I go out on jobs. Sometimes I just can’t go cheap…

For example, I purchased a Tripod for $150 for my video camera even though I saw a nice Sanford & Davis model for $200. I thought I needed to save that $50 to use in another area. I ended up buying the Sanford & Davis model for a church. I strongly regret not getting the more expensive model for myself. The S&D came with a very useful dolly, an additional plate and is just a better model all around. My model’s level bubble burst which makes it hard to get a good picture on a slope. All to save a lousy $50. (Arrrrggh! I just checked and the price is down to $189)

A few weeks ago I made the mistake of touching my friends Nikon D40 DSLR. The gadget geek in my came alive! I have often wanted to incorporate pictures into my video editing either for DVD covers or to add for a quick slide show. Within Sony Vegas I can use the feature to take a frame from a video file but that doesn’t always provide the right quality. I also figured it was an easy way to break into HD video recording so I started to research digital camera.

The last digital camera I had was an old model that I got in 1998 which was (maybe) a 2MP Kodak. Don’t laugh, we all have to start some place. I recently bought my wife a 5MP Point & Shoot HP model which provides middling quality pics at best. So I start my search. I was looking for the following specs (not in order of importance)

  • Can record HD video
  • Over 10x OPTICAL zoom (digital zoom is worthless)
  • Over 10MegaPixels
  • Has to resemble a DSLR form (cameras that are too small get lost in my hands)
  • Should be able to handle rechargeable batteries (Nikon Coolpix L100 cannot)
  • Reasonable price
  • Accept external flash
  • Shoot well in low light conditions
  • Good picture quality
  • Uses SD or SDHC cards (no thank you, xD)

Over my search I came across a few models that I ultimately rejected for one reason or another. I was willing to over look certain features (HD recording) but not others (reasonable price). I ended up rejecting DSLR because the picture quality is not in the camera body but the type of lens. I would have to factor in decent lens and figure out what lense goes with what camera. That is just a debt I can’t take on, especially if I want to do HD with the DSLR. I’d be looking at about $1500 to start plus a couple of lenses. Sure it is cheaper than a Canon XA-H1 or Sony HVR-V1 but it is still more than I had. 

So I came across the following models that sort of fit the criteria that I needed:

Fujifilm Fine Pix S2000HD
FujiFilm Fine Pix S1500
Casio Exilim EX-FH20
Canon SX 10 IS
Canon SX 1 IS
Canon SX 110 IS
Nikon Coolpix L100

I didn’t seriously consider anything from Olympus, Kodak or Panasonic; they didn’t fit enough of my criteria. I initially settled on the Finepix S2000HD because it fit the most criteria and came in under $250 (well, $249 before shipping). But I could only find it one place (the local Ritz Camera store (nice staff, btw)) and it was an opened box. I searched everywhere on the web and nearly picked it up from a nice lady on Amazon.com for $150 which would have been a great bargain. I thought about just getting the Finepix S1500 which is going for as low as $169 now (see Google Products) but I compared the picture quality to the Casio at the Ritz store and I was unimpressed to say the least.

I might have gone with the Casio model but the fact that they make mediocre lenses bothered me so I passed. I thought the Canon SX1 (@$599) was a bit out of my price range. I could get an entry level DSLR with a basic lens kit for that price *and* the SX1 got bad marks for poor picture quality. So that left me with the Canon SX10 IS which got much better marks. The fact that it didn’t shoot in HD wasn’t that big a deal to me (see my blog on HD). The price is around $350 which was about as much as I wanted to spend.

I was trying to wait until Labor Day weekend to see if there were any sales, then while I was perusing Photographblog.com I saw that Canon was releasing a new line of digital cameras including an SX 20 IS that is just like the award winning SX10 AND includes HD recording. So I thought I would just waiting until the SX20 was in stores and *of course* the price on the SX10 would drop… So I started watching the stores closely but instead of seeing price drops I saw the DISCOUNTED and OUT OF STOCK tags showing up on the websites. I remembered my experience with looking high and low for the Finepix S2000HD so I was ready to just bite the bullet and get the SX10 and then I thought about my tripod and a few conversations I have had…

So I bought the Canon Powershot SX20 IS yesterday and it arrived today (Newegg‘s 3day shipping at it’s best. Cost me $1.50 to ship). A Gadget Geeks best moment is when he signs for a packages or picks it up from the front desk!

I will be testing it out over the Labor Day weekend and will have a review posted shortly. Stay tuned!


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