Canon SX170 Preview
by Roger Slavens
Canon's latest entry-level model in its PowerShot SX-line of compact digital cameras is the 16-megapixel, 16x optical zoom Canon SX170 IS. At least on paper, the biggest difference compared to its predecessor appears to be the price. The SX170 comes in at US$180, some $50 cheaper than the SX160 IS was at launch almost exactly a year ago. Additionally, the new model boasts a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery rather than relying on AA batteries for power.
The styling on the Canon SX170 also has been updated, though it still bears a close resemblance to its forbearer. It's just a smidge smaller than SX160, measuring 0.12 inches narrower, 0.01 inches thinner and 0.06 inches shorter. A few more lines and edges add definition to the new model, and the hand grip appears to be more pronounced so that photographers can ostensibly hang onto it a little bit easier.
The physical controls otherwise appear to be near-identical, with a Mode dial, Shutter button and zoom ring up top, and six control buttons and a four-way wheel on the back of the camera. Both the new model and the old share a basic 3-inch, TFT, 230K-dot color LCD monitor. The only thing that's missing from the SX170 is a button that deploys the pop-up flash (a feature it seems that lasted only one generation as it was added to the SX160 from its predecessor, the SX150, then summarily dropped).
As far as imaging technology goes, the SX170 is built upon the same 16-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor and DIGIC 4 image processor as the SX160. The new model also borrows the 16x optical zoom lens, which features a 35mm equivalent range of 28-448mm and aperture range of f/3.5 at wide angle to f/5.9 at tele. Movie capabilities remain intact from its predecessor, offering basic 720p (1,280 x 720 pixels) HD video recording at 25 frames per second, but is obviously limited by its CCD sensor. The entry-level compact still hasn't received a CMOS sensor like those used in other cameras in Canon's SX-line. And its DIGIC 4 processor is also a bit long in the tooth, though appropriately paired with a CCD.
Canon also incorporated its High-Speed AF and Intelligent IS system in the SX170 to provide smooth and sharp images -- both still and moving -- via six stabilization modes. The company claims the new model's AF speed has been improved, but we're not exactly sure how this is achieved given that the sensor and processor are the same as the previous model.
The camera also employs Smart AUTO technology, which helps photographers capture images by automatically selecting the right camera settings from among 32 predefined shooting situations. What's impressive for a camera at this price range is that it offers full PASM exposure controls. It also offers an assortment of creative filters.
The Canon PowerShot SX170 IS digital camera, available in both black and red, is scheduled to be shipped in the U.S. market September 2013 for an estimated retail price of US$180.
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