Duo of Canon long-zooms focus faster, help keep you on target


posted Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 8:59 AM EDT

Canon's PowerShot SX500 IS digital camera. Photo provided by Canon. Click for our Canon SX500 preview!Fancy an affordable, long-zoom camera, and want to shoot sports, kids, pets or other unpredictable subjects? Shutter lag will be your enemy: even with a regular compact it's easy enough to miss the moment. With a long-zoom, you've also got to deal with the added complication of trying to keep your subject in the frame while your camera does its thing. Far-reaching lenses sure can get you close to the action, but if you've not got the steadiest hand they can also serve as a photographic guillotine, yielding headless subjects aplenty from the slightest twitch.

Canon has announced two new models today--the Canon SX160 IS and Canon SX500 IS--that it suggests provide the answer. Both feature an overhauled autofocus system that the company says should reduce shutter lag by a third or more, and one also has a handy tool for helping you relocate your subject if it does accidentally stray from your field of view.

At the heart of both designs is the pairing of a sixteen megapixel CCD image sensor, and the company's previous-generation DIGIC 4 image processor. The PowerShot SX160 and SX500 also both share a similar control layout, and feature three-inch LCD panels, although that's about as far as the resemblance goes. The Canon SX500 has the higher-res display of the pair, and a much more powerful 30x optical zoom lens. The Canon SX160, meanwhile, guns for a more affordable pricetag and a slimmer, lighter body with a 16x optical zoom. They also differ in their power choice: a proprietary lithium-ion pack for the SX500, and standard AA cells for the SX160.

Canon says the snappier autofocus and shutter lag of both cameras was achieved with lighter lens elements, more powerful focus motors, a reworking of the operational sequence and autofocus algorithms, and a boost in the readout speed from the image sensor.

The Zoom Frame Assist function in the SX500 uses a dedicated control to snap the zoom to wide angle as fast as possible, then back to your previous zoom level with a second press, letting you recenter your subject with a minimum of fuss.

More details can be found in our Canon SX160 preview if you're on a tight financial or size and weight budget, while our Canon SX500 preview details the megazoom model. Both ship from September 2012, with the SX160 priced at around US$230, and the SX500 at about US$330.

Canon PowerShot SX160 IS
Canon's PowerShot SX160 IS digital camera. Photo provided by Canon. Click for a bigger picture!
Canon's PowerShot SX160 IS digital camera. Photo provided by Canon. Click for a bigger picture!
Canon's PowerShot SX160 IS digital camera. Photo provided by Canon. Click for a bigger picture!
Canon's PowerShot SX160 IS digital camera. Photo provided by Canon. Click for a bigger picture!

Canon PowerShot SX500 IS
Canon's PowerShot SX500 IS digital camera. Photo provided by Canon. Click for a bigger picture!
Canon's PowerShot SX500 IS digital camera. Photo provided by Canon. Click for a bigger picture!
Canon's PowerShot SX500 IS digital camera. Photo provided by Canon. Click for a bigger picture!

Press Release

New PowerShot Cameras ‘Zoom Photographers In’ Close To The Action And Offer Fast Auto Focus Speeds To Help Capture The Moment In Stunning Quality

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., August 21, 2012 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today announced two new additions to the Canon PowerShot digital camera lineup designed for the on-the-go photographer looking for large extended zoom in compact easy-to-use cameras. For all those times when the action is just out of reach, Canon offers two new super-zoom solutions, the new PowerShot SX500 IS and PowerShot SX160 IS digital cameras featuring an impressive 30x and 16x optical zoom, respectively. Both cameras are equipped with Canon’s latest advancements in auto focus (AF) technology enhancing AF speeds over previous SX-series camerasi to capture the excitement in brilliant clarity and quality. The extremely responsive high-speed AF lets you capture great shots as they happen, with significantly reduced lag time. With incredible zoom capabilities, fast responsive AF, stunning resolution and easy-to-use features, both cameras are stylish and compact to take along for any occasion to help you get a good shot from the back of a school theatre or the sidelines of a game.

Borrowing from Canon’s optics expertise, these new models include long-reaching zoom and Canon’s Intelligent Image Stabilization technology which analyzes the scene being shot and compensates for camera movement for steady images and video even while panning or walking. In addition to the great optical features, both of these new cameras are also equipped with Canon’s Smart AUTO mode – which will automatically apply optimum image settings for 32 different shooting scenarios. In this mode, the camera automatically identifies the ideal setting, making high-quality images easy for anyone to capture.

“In photography, there is no substitution for great optical zoom and while our customers may not always be close to the action, these cameras are designed to help bring their photos and videos in close, with great image resolution and quality as if they were standing right there,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Imaging Technologies & Communications Group, Canon U.S.A.

PowerShot SX500 IS
With a 24mm wide angle lens and an incredible 30x optical zoom (up to 720mm) packed into a compact design, the PowerShot SX500 IS enables users to pull subjects in close and capture stunning, high-quality images with a 16.0 megapixel sensor and powerful DIGIC 4 image processer. With such incredible zoom capabilities, the camera is also equipped with Canon’s Intelligent IS system for rock-steady images and HD video even at full-telephoto zoom. A 3.0-inch LCD screen makes operation easy and intuitive, and displays the scene with brilliant clarity. In addition, the camera is equipped with a Zoom Framing Assist feature – a Canon technology that makes zooming-in and framing subjects quick and effortless. This feature is a tremendous benefit for those times when you lose sight of your subject after zooming in. By simply pressing the Zoom Framing Assist button located on the lower front left of the camera, the lens will quickly zoom out to help you re-locate and frame your subject. A frame box appears on the LCD as a guide to place your subject in and releasing the button quickly brings the camera back to the initial “zoomed-in” range. The lens retraction and extension is faster using the Zoom Framing Assist button than the zoom lever, and allows the photographer to keep the camera more stable for the shot, this is particularly helpful for those trying to zoom in and shoot pictures of animals or moving subjects.

PowerShot SX160 IS
With its compact design and powerful 16x optical zoom, the PowerShot SX160 IS is a versatile camera with a dynamic optical zoom range from 28mm wide up to 448mm, perfect for everyday use. This model also features a 16.0-megapixel sensor, DIGIC 4 image processor and Canon’s Intelligent IS system – providing ultimate functionality in a compact, easy-to-carry design. The camera is always ready to shoot video with its dedicated movie button to start and stop recording HD video instantly and uses the full range of optical zoom when recording, without sacrificing HD resolution. The camera’s large 3.0-inch LCD provides a beautiful display when shooing and recording video or simply scrolling through menu options. Powered by AA batteries, the PowerShot SX160 IS is ideal for easy and convenient shooting on-the-go even when charging a battery may not be an option. The PowerShot SX160 IS digital camera will be available in red or black.

Both the new PowerShot SX500 IS and PowerShot SX160 IS digital cameras are expected to be available in September 2012 for an estimated retail price of $329.99, and $229.99, respectively.

For more information, visit www.usa.canon.com/powershot

About Canon U.S.A., Inc.
Canon U.S.A., Inc., is a leading provider of consumer, business-to-business, and industrial digital imaging solutions. With approximately $45.6 billion in global revenue, its parent company, Canon Inc. (NYSE:CAJ), ranks third overall in U.S. patents registered in 2011† and is one of Fortune Magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies in 2012. Canon U.S.A. is committed to the highest levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty, providing 100 percent U.S.-based consumer service and support for all of the products it distributes. Canon U.S.A. is dedicated to its Kyosei philosophy of social and environmental responsibility. To keep apprised of the latest news from Canon U.S.A., sign up for the Company’s RSS news feed by visiting www.usa.canon.com/rss.


† Based on weekly patent counts issued by United States Patent and Trademark Office.
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  1. According to tests performed by Canon Inc. when compared to the PowerShot SX150 IS model, the PowerShot SX160 IS digital camera exhibits improvements in AF speed with a 22 percent reduction in AF time and a 46 percent reduction in shutter lag. When tested against PowerShot SX40 HS model, the PowerShot SX500 IS digital camera exhibits improvements in AF speed with a 32 percent reduction in AF time and a 33 percent reduction in shutter lag.  Tests were conducted under identical conditions - Subject brightness: Lv 13, shooting mode: P mode/Single AF (center point). The percentage of improvement for AF and Shooting time lag (Shutter lag) is measured in seconds. Defined focal length for each model: SX500 IS and SX40 HS at 24mm wide and SX160 IS and SX150 IS at 28mm wide. AF time definition conforms to CIPA guidelines established in April 2012.