Bridge cameras make for excellent travelling companions, offering the flexibility of a zoom range far larger than any DSLR’s lens but in a relatively small body.
While in terms of physical size, the SX60 HS isn’t far off that of an entry-level DSLR, it features a much smaller sensor. It houses a 16.1MP 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor (the same physical size as most compact cameras on the market, but considerably smaller than those used by a DSLR). It does at least bring a jump in four million pixels from its predecessor the SX50 HS.
- 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, 16.1MP
- 21-1365mm f/3.4-6.5 zoom lens
- 3.0-inch vari-angle screen, 922,000 dots
The SX60 HS offers a huge 65x optical zoom lens that provides a 21mm equivalent focal length at the wide angle end of the range and 1365mm equivalent at the telephoto end. At its widest point, the maximum aperture available is f/3.4, falling to f/6.5 at the zoom end.
Canon also has ZoomPlus technology, a type of digital zoom that boosts that range to 130x, or an incredible equivalent of 2730mm. ZoomPlus retains the resolution of an image shot using the optical zoom by interpolating pixels. A standard digital zoom is available to push that even further to 5460mm, but there will be a loss in image quality.
For those who like to get creative, there are a couple of options with the PowerShot SX60 HS. First of all there’s the Creative Shot mode – this will take one shot, plus 5 more with different random effects and crops applied. There’s a variety of different subsets you can choose from, but you don’t get absolute control over the digital filters which are applied. Secondly, there is a dedicated filters mode which allows you to choose a specific filter.
It’s starting to become more common now, but the SX60 HS is equipped with inbuilt Wi-Fi and NFC. This allows you to use your smartphone or tablet to remotely control the camera, as well as giving you the option of transferring images taken on it quickly to your device for sharing online, via email and so on.
In terms of competition, the SX60 HS goes up against the Sony Cyber-shot H400V and the Panasonic Lumix FZ82, which offer a 63x and 60x optical zoom, respectively.
Build and handling
- Manual, semi-auto and auto modes
- Easy to use controls
- Weighs 650g
The SX60 HS is one of the largest bridge cameras on the market, and you’d be forgiven for thinking at first glance that it was in fact a DSLR, especially one of the smaller entry-level models.
There’s a deep grip which makes the SX60 sit very comfortably in the hand, while it is also textured to give it that extra feel of quality. The grip has a slight contour for your middle finger which makes it feel even more secure in the hand.
Enthusiasts are likely to appreciate the number of direct buttons and dials which are found on the body of the camera. On top of the camera, there’s a mode dial which allows you to switch between different exposure modes – there are automatic and scene modes to choose from, as well as semi-automatic and manual modes (M/Av/Tv/P). There’s also a video mode accessible directly from this dial, although you can also use a dedicated video button on the back of the camera too when using different modes.
Just in front of the mode dial is a scrolling dial which is easily reached by the forefinger and serves a number of different functions depending on the shooting mode you’re in. For instance, if you’re in aperture priority mode, it will alter aperture, while in shutter priority it will alter shutter speed.
Finally, on the top of the camera is a dedicated “shortcut” button which can be customised to one of 18 different functions, including switching raw and jpeg on and off, directly accessing white balance and timer mode.
Head to the back of the camera and you’ll find a familiar layout if you’ve used any Canon cameras before. There’s a standard four way navigational pad, with each of the directional keys serving a specific function – press left, for example, to access focusing mode (macro, infinity and manual are available), while pressing right accesses flash options. It would be nice if you could have customised these keys in the main menu.
In the centre of the navigation pad is a function button which gives you access to a sort of quick menu for the most commonly used settings available, such as ISO (sensitivity), white balance, aspect ratio and so on.
Also useful is a button on the back of the camera for changing the autofocus point. It has the same icon as the buttons you find on Canon DSLRs for the same purpose – simply press it and then use the navigational keys to scroll around to the point you wish to focus on.
The Zoom Frame Assist button is extremely handy when photographing at the far end of the zoom range. This button can be found on the side of the lens barrel. If you lose track of a subject, simply hold it down and the lens will zoom back out again allowing you to find the subject again – release the button and the lens will zoom to that point.
Raw format shooting can be activated from within the quick menu, which places some restrictions on what you can and can’t shoot . For instance, you’ll no longer be able to alter the colours using MyColors, or use digital zoom, which seems a bit of a shame.
- Single, Continuous, Servo AF/AE, Tracking AF
- Face Detection
- 0cm minimum focus distance
Focusing is quick and generally reliable when in good light, locking onto the subject with accuracy. Unlike some of the other cameras in Canon’s range, you can alter the AF point which gives you greater flexibility when framing. As the light drops, the camera struggles a little more with focusing, but generally speaking it’s not too bad.
- Optical image stabilization
- Solid metering performance
- 340-shot battery life
The camera’s general purpose metering system does a good job of producing accurate exposures even in tricky/mixed lighting conditions. I found I hardly ever needed to add or subtract exposure compensation, though it would be handy to be able to do that in the automatic modes if you needed to. It seems strange that it’s only possible in aperture priority or shutter priority.
Automatic white balance does a decent job when faced with different kinds of light, but it does err slightly towards warm or yellowish tones under artificial lighting. Switching to a more appropriate white balance setting fixes this problem though.
At its widest point, the SX60’s lens offers 21mm, which is great for capturing wide sweeping vistas.
The 65x optical zoom gives you lots of flexibility – here we can see a close-up of a ruin which is barely visible in the wide angle image.
Use the ZoomPlus feature to get even closer if you need to.
The standard digital zoom allows you to get even closer if you need to, but it also represents a drop in image quality.
- Photo Effects
- Good detail at low sensitivities
Images straight from the camera are beautifully bright and punchy, displaying a typical level of Canon saturation that I’ve come to expect.
The camera works especially well in good light, putting in a performance that is comparable to a DSLR. At lower sensitivities, the amount of detail resolved is fantastic when examining at 100%, which gives you excellent scope should you wish to crop an image down the line.
By examining the raw files we can see how much processing the camera applies to JPEG images. If you’re interested in retaining more detail at the expense of noise, it’s good to work with the raw format files.