Canon PowerShot SX110 IS

      Photo Review 9

      In summary

      A compact and attractive, long-zoom digicam that will suit travellers who prefer plenty of adjustable controls.Replacing the PowerShot SX100 IS the new 9-megapixel PowerShot SX110 IS combines increased resolution and a larger, higher-resolution LCD with a more compact body, which is available in silver or black. Like its predecessor, the SX110 IS is designed for family snapshooters but retains the suite of manual controls that is truncated in the latest A-series PowerShots (like the A2000IS). . . [more]

      Full review


      Replacing the PowerShot SX100 IS the new 9-megapixel PowerShot SX110 IS combines increased resolution and a larger, higher-resolution LCD with a more compact body, which is available in silver or black. Like its predecessor, the SX110 IS is designed for family snapshooters but retains the suite of manual controls that is truncated in the latest A-series PowerShots (like the A2000IS).
      Physically, the new model is slightly longer and slimmer than its predecessor and also 20 grams lighter. The LCD monitor on the rear panel is larger and with higher (although not super-high) resolution. It also sports a plastic body, which is nicely constructed and finished.


      Front view of the PowerShot SX110 IS with the zoon lens extended.


      Back view showing the LCD monitor and key button controls.

      The body shape is inherently sturdy and the pop-up flash, mode dial and most controls are recessed into the camera body. Fortunately, the buttons are large enough for average-sized fingers to operate and positive to operate. The DIGIC III image processor is unchanged from the previous model and equips the SX110 IS with the latest Face Detection and Motion Detection technologies. (Motion Detection only operates in High-ISO mode.)
      In all, 20 shooting modes are provided, including P, Tv, Av and M, the new Easy mode and 14 Scene pre-sets. Whereas the P, Tv, Av and M shooting modes put exposure control into the hands of the photographer, the Easy Mode sets all shooting settings automatically and limits Playback options to simple image viewing and deletion functions. This combination makes the SX110 IS ideal for families as users can select the level of control they prefer.
      Camera menus on the SX110 IS have the standard Canon ‘flavour’ and most camera controls can be accessed via either the Funct./Set button or the Menu button. A dedicated button is provided just above the arrow pad for switching the Face Select and Track system on and off.


      The Func./Set menu button accesses the standard set of controls provided on most PowerShot models.


      Face Select and Track is switched on and off via a dedicated button above the arrow pad.


      The Scene modes include an ISO 3200 setting.

      Four of the Scene pre-sets are included on the camera’s mode dial; the remainder being accessed via the Scn (Special Scene) mode setting. Included are two new modes: Sunset and ISO 3200. In the ‘Creative Zone’ modes (P, Tv, Av and M), shutters and apertures are adjusted with the Control Dial that surrounds the arrow pad. Unlike the Ixus 980 IS, the SX110IS provides 10 aperture settings and shutter speeds from 1/2500 second to 15 seconds in increments of 1/3EV.
      Manual focusing is also provided, with adjustments controlled via the Control Dial. A nice touch is the automatic magnification of the centre of the frame so users can check focusing accuracy. And the new LCD provides enough resolution to make this feature worthwhile.


      Magnification of the centre of the frame in manual focus mode makes it easier to ensure shots are sharp.

      The SX110 IS has two continuous shooting modes that work with and without autofocusing. In the AF-continuous shooting mode the camera records shots at 0.7 frames/second. Switching to the fixed focus continuous mode records shots at 1.2 frames/second – which is fast for the camera’s specifications.
      The optical zoom cannot be used while filming movies, and video clips are limited to one hour or 4GB in size. Playback options and bundled software are the same as in other Advanced PowerShot models.

      Sensor and Image Processing
      Image files can only be recorded as JPEGs and the camera supports five resolution settings with a 4:3 aspect ratio plus a Widescreen setting that records images at 3456 x 1944 pixel resolution. There’s also a Date Stamp mode that captures 1600 x 1200 pixel images with Fine compression and embeds a date stamp in the image that appears on snapshot-sized prints. Three compression levels are provided: Superfine, Fine and Normal. Typical file sizes are shown in the table below.








      3456 x 2592





      2816 x 2112





      2272 x 1704





      1600 x 1200





      640 x 480




      Date Stamp

      1600 x 1200





      3648 x 2048




      Three resolution settings are provided for movie clip recording: VGA, QVGA and QQVGA. VGA clips can be recorded in either SP or LP mode, the latter having lower quality but offering roughly twice the recording time. Two frame rates are supported (30 frames/second for VGA and QVGA and 15 fps for QQVGA.


      Movie settings are accessed via the Func./Set button.

      Typical recording times for a 1GB memory card are shown in the table below.

      Movie mode

      Recorded pixels

      Frame rate

      Recording time with 1 GB card

      Standard (SP)

      640 x 480

      30 fps

      8 minutes 23 seconds

      Standard (LP)

      640 x 480

      30 fps

      16 minutes 31 seconds


      320 x 240

      30 fps

      23 minutes 16 seconds


      160 x 120

      15 fps

      1 hr. 54 minutes 17 seconds

      Maximum length of video clips is one hour, except in the Compact mode, where a three-minute limit applies. Recording will stop when the file size reaches 4GB. Use of SDHC cards with speed class of 4 or higher is recommended.

      The autofocusing system on the SX110 IS was better than on the Ixus 980 IS and we had fewer instances of blurred shots due to failures of the image stabilisation system. The image stabiliser enabled us to shoot at shutter speeds down to 1/15 second at wide and mid-range focal lengths but blurring occurred at 1/60 second with longer settings.
      However, the lack of AF area selection was a disadvantage in many situations and shooting with longer focal lengths in low light levels resulted in numerous blurred shots because the camera focused on the wrong part of the subject. AF lag was also noticeable in such conditions.
      Exposure metering was consistently good, with a slight tendency to expose for shadows, which resulted in a loss of highlight details in many shots. Shots taken in contrasty lighting consistently showed the blown-out highlights that characterise small-sensor digicams. An example is shown below.


      Imatest showed resolution to be slightly above expectations and revealed minimal edge softening in test shots. Resolution was highest at shorter focal lengths and wider lens apertures and declined as the lens was stopped down. The graph below shows the results of our tests (which were limited in scope due to insufficient working space in our test set-up).


      Resolution remained relatively high throughout the test camera’s ISO range, although it tailed off slightly at ISO 400 and above. The graph below shows the results of our tests.


      Colour accuracy was generally good and saturation levels were close to natural. A few colour shifts were detected in cyan and the light skin tone, although the latter was slight and the colours of lighter skins appeared natural in portrait shots. Lateral chromatic aberration varied between low and the low end of the ‘moderate’ scale. Coloured fringing was also observed when shots taken in contrasty conditions were enlarged to 100%. An example is reproduced below.


      Digital zoom shots were a little soft and slightly artefact-affected but generally superior to many other small-sensor digicams we’ve reviewed. Close-up performance was good – but not spectacular. Flash performance was generally good and the flash could illuminate an average-sized room at ISO 200. Flash exposures were generally well balanced, regardless of ISO setting.
      Image noise was visible in long exposures at high ISO settings but less evident in flash exposures at ISO 800 and ISO 1600. But no noise was observed in shots taken at ISO 200 and colours remained natural looking up to ISO 800. High ISO shots were printable at snapshot size but did not match the quality of shots taken with lower ISO settings.
      The test camera’s auto white balance setting had the usually problems with incandescent lighting but delivered close-to-natural colours under fluorescent lighting. The pre-sets over-corrected very slightly but manual measurement produced clean whites and accurate colours.
      It took approximately two seconds to power up the test camera and shot-to-shot times averaged just under two seconds without flash and 8.4 seconds with flash. Each image took an average of 3.3 seconds to process and it took just over five seconds to re-prime the flash. We measured an average capture lag of 0.6 seconds, which reduced to less than 0.1 seconds with pre-focusing.
      In continuous shooting mode, the standard burst setting recorded 10 Large/Superfine JPEGs in 6.3 seconds. With the Continuous AF burst setting, a burst of 10 shots was recorded in 11.5 seconds. Image processing appears to be on-the-fly in both burst modes as it took only 3.5 seconds to process each burst of 10 shots.
      Unusually for a modern digicam, the alkaline batteries supplied with the test camera ran low early in our tests. We replaced them with NiMH rechargeables that still had plenty of power remaining at the end of our tests after almost 300 shots. (According to the camera’s user manual, alkaline batteries are CIPA rated for approximately 140 shot per charge, while NiMH batteries are rated for approximately 400 shots.)





      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.




      Zoom close-up: 60mm focal length, 1/1250 second at f/4.3, ISO 400.


      Digital zoom.




      Flare: 7.3mm focal length, 1/300 second at f/7.1, ISO 100.


      6.0mm focal length, 1/320 second at f/5.6, ISO 80.


      60.0mm focal length, 1/200 second at f/5.6, ISO 80.


      Portrait mode: 16.1mm focal length, 1/125 second at f/4.0, ISO 400.


      Flash close-up: 46.6mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/4, ISO 100.


      Flash close-up: 46.6mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/4, ISO 1600.


      Night exposure: ISO 200, 15 seconds at f/3.2.


      Night exposure: ISO 1600, 2 seconds at f/3.2.




      Image sensor: 6.16 x 4.62 mm CCD sensor with 10.3 million photosites (9.0 megapixels effective)
      Lens: 6.0-60.0mm f/2.8-4.3 zoom (36-360mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 10x optical, up to 4x digital
      Image formats: Stills ““ JPEG (Exif 2.2); Movies ““ AVI (Motion JPEG/WAV)
      Image Sizes: Stills – 3456 x 2592, 2816 x 2112, 2272 x 1704, 1600 x 1200 (Date Stamp), 640 x 480, 3456 x 1944 (Widescreen); Movies ““ VGA (SP/LP), QVGA at 30 fps
      Shutter speed range: 15″“1/2500 sec
      Image Stabilisation: Lens-shift type (continuous, panning and off modes)
      Exposure Compensation: ±2 stops in 1/3-stop increments (Safety Shift is available)
      Focus system/range: TTL autofocus with Face Detect; Manual focus is available; range 50 cm to infinity; macro 1-50 cm
      Exposure metering/control: Evaluative, Centre-weighted average, Spot metering; Shooting modes – Auto, Easy, Creative zone (P, Tv, Av, M); Image zone (Portrait, Landscape, Night Snapshot, Kids&Pets, Indoor, Special Scene(Night Scene, Sunset, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Aquarium and ISO 3200)and Movie
      ISO range: Auto, High ISO Auto, ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
      White balance: Auto, Day Light, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H or Custom
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, on, off; Red-Eye Correction, Red-Eye Reduction, flash output settings (3 steps), FE Lock, Slow Synchro and Safety FE are available; range 0.5-3.0 m
      Sequence shooting: Approx. 1.2 shots/sec. (max.)
      Storage Media: SD/SDHC/MMC
      Viewfinder: n.a.
      LCD monitor: 3.0-inch TFT colour LCD (wide viewing angle type), approx. 230,000 dots (Picture coverage 100%)
      Power supply: 2 AA-size alkaline, lithium or NiMH batteries
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 110.6 x 70.4 x 44.7 mm
      Weight: Approx. 245 g (without batteries and card)





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