Canon PowerShot 200SX – New Point And Shoot Camera

by Mike Holman

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CanonCameraI recently picked up a new digital (what else?) point and shoot camera. I’ve been the happy owner of a Canon Digital Elph from 2002 (2.1 megapixels) but in the last few years it started to fade. The battery doesn’t work as well and the speed of the shots, particularly inside photos was very slow – up to several seconds. This is tolerable for landscape scenery shots but for toddlers it just doesn’t cut it. Often we would try to take a photo of one of the kids and by the time the camera got its act together, the toddler would be in the next room.
Our solution was to buy a Sony DSLR A350 camera (which will be the topic of another post) because they are very quick. The drawback of the DSLR is the size – it’s like lugging around a separate piece of luggage if you go somewhere. It occurred to me that some of the great features of our DSLR like the anti-shake function should be available on a point’n shoot as well. I thought if I could get a camera that would take better pictures than my old Canon and the size didn’t increase then it might make a great “traveler” camera – one that I could take the kid’s park or on a bike ride.

Researching cameras

I knew that I wanted a modern day version of my old Canon – some quick Googling reassured me that the digital elph line was still around.  I then checked out a great post on how to buy a beginner digital camera over at “The Fox“.  I then exchanged a few emails with the royal Squawkers herself and got a whole bunch of more info on the topic.  Talking to other people can be quite helpful – especially if that person is “The Fox”.

The criteria

My criteria was very flexible but the basic criteria was as follows:

  • Price under $500.
  • Small and portable – ie similar to my old camera.
  • Anti-shake function.   In my opinion this is a key feature that helps improve photos.

The choice

I narrowed the choice down to 2 great cameras:  The Canon PowerShot SX200 ($400 at FutureShop) which is basically the modern day equivalent to my old camera or the Canon Powershot G10 ($529 at FutureShop).  The G10 had more mega-pixels which I didn’t really care about but it seemed to be a pretty good camera that was rated quite favorably in Consumers Reports.  The drawback of the G10 compared to the 200sx was size – although not a big camera the 200sx was significantly smaller than the G10.  I decided to go with the Canon 200sx since it fit the bill exactly for what I wanted.

The purchase

I bought the camera at Future Shop for $400 (since reduced to $379).  I also got an 8 GB memory card (there isn’t one with the camera) and a camera bag ($21).  I decided to try my “negotiating” skills when purchasing and asked the salesperson if I get a reduction in price for any of the items.  She told me yes, I could get a “package deal” – I was pretty pleased with myself but what she did was lower the price of the camera to $330 and add in a $100 extended warrantee (4 years).  The net effect was that I could have the extended warrantee for $30.  I wasn’t going to accept it since I hate EWs (I think generally they are a ripoff) however I thought that paying less than 10% of the purchase price for 3 additional years of warrantee wasn’t a bad deal.  Normally the extended warrantee costs are 30-40% of the purchase price which makes it hard to come out ahead.  It also includes an “annual lense cleaning” which I had never had done on my old camera but I figured I could probably do it once before the warrantee ran out.

After-purchase thoughts

I’ve had the camera for a couple of weeks and it is fantastic.  It’s hard to believe how much difference there is in this camera and my old Canon.  Ironically I think I paid $500 for the old camera 7 years ago and my new camera cost $400 for something far superior.

Some things that I really like and didn’t necessarily expect:

  • Picture quality.  I don’t really know anything about cameras or photography and most of my pics so far have looked pretty good.  Even the inside shots are pretty decent.
  • Video.   The video quality is amazing.  I had assumed it would be a bit better than the rather bad video of my old camera but I was quite amazed at how good it was.  The camera has a speaker so you can listen to the video sound when replaying it on the camera.
  • Zoom.   The zoom is quite impressive.  It doesn’t compare to a larger camera with the add-on zoom lense but it’s pretty good.  Again, a huge improvement over the old camera.
  • Size and portability.  The camera is only a bit bigger than my old camera so it fits into a small camera bag and can be strapped onto my belt.  I have no problem taking it anywhere.  I knew this before I bought it but it’s still worth mentioning since it is one of the big benefits of this particular camera.

Read my review of the Sony DLSR A350 camera.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Traciatim

I think you made a great choice based on what you want to use the camera for, especially since the advantages of the G10 over the SX200 are mostly for people who don’t really want to just stick the camera in auto and take pictures.

The G10 can save RAW pictures, which generally give you more flexibility when you get them on to the computer . . . if you want to spend the time.
The G10′s image sensor is 86% larger, not only allowing for more photosites, but allowing each one to be bigger ending up with a cleaner picture in the end.
The G10′s lens doesn’t reach as far, but is also faster, making it easier to take lower light pictures (IE, not in sunlight)
The G10 has an external flash connector, for small, or bounce and swivel flash options
The G10 has an add on lens thread for wide and telephoto lens extensions, or a tube for filters like a polarizer or UV filter to protect the lens.

See, mostly features that a normal picture taker isn’t interested in, but more than justifies the cost difference for people who want it.

Did you happen to look at other cameras other than Canikon?

2 Mike

Traciatim – thanks for all the info. I didn’t look at any other cameras since I was kind of stuck on Canon. Also I didn’t want to spend too much time looking for the “perfect” camera.

3 Traciatim

LOL, I’ve been searching for a replacement camera for my old failing point and shoot . . . I’ve been searching for about 6 months and can’t find one I really like . . . though the Olympus E-P1 looks like it may be a good fit.

4 Al

This is the website I use for checking out cameras. One thing I check when possible is flash recyle time, and it’s often one of the biggest hang up. The Powershot SX200 did well.

http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/SX200IS/SX200ISA.HTM

5 Jess

Hi Mike,

I’ve the same issue 2 weeks ago but I bought DSLR instead of point and shoot. If I’m going to spend that money, I might as well go with entry point DLSR. Canon Rebel XS is around $500 with the lense and editing software.

Here’s my reason why I went to buy DLSR instead of Point and Shoot:
1. Great Photos. Unlike PnS, there’s a lot of noise. Life is short and photos are supposed to be a memory. You can’t go back in time.
2. Flexibility – You can change lenses, unlike PnS, you can’t change their lenses.
3. Robust – DLSR not only have the auto but also the manual features. Its great for night shots, sports, and landscapes.

Good luck!

Jess

6 nobleea

I just bought a Canon SD1100 for the wife as her point n shoot this weekend. Her last canon (SD 250 i think) served her well, but the screen died. I wasn’t tied to canon, but she was adamant that she get one with the ‘colour accent’ feature which only Canon has. I hate it and this it’s too trendy and ghetto, but it’s not my camera. I tried to tell her the same thing could be done on the computer, but she wants it in the camera.

I’ve got a canon rebel DSLR which has served me well. Probably good for another couple of years.

7 Squawkfox

So are you gonna start posting photos on 4P? :D
The “royal Squawkers” is happy you love your new camera!
Funny!

8 Sean

I’ve found this website userful when looking at cameras: http://www.dpreview.com/

They do very thorough reviews, rank many cameras in the same class on varying factors to help you choose the right one for you.

9 BigAssSuperstar

I find it useful to apply the same logic to digital cameras as I do to PCs…
- if you can afford it, it’s probably almost obsolete.. or at least there’s something better out there, so don’t fret about getting the best of the best, and
- count on spending about the same time every time you upgrade. you’ll just get a ton more each time.

My first digital camera was about $500 … 1.3 megapixels, I think, pre-USB, and it took a ton of batteries. Five years later I spent about the same and got one with a bigger screen, video, better battery life, etc. etc. Now that camera can be had for about $150. When I get around to upgrading again, I’m sure I’ll get HD video, autowhatsits up the yinyang, and it’ll recharge itself by absorbing stray radio waves.

10 Four Pillars

BAS – I like the idea of an auto-recharge feature! :)

11 BigAssSuperstar

So did Tesla! I read on Yahoo that one of the cell phone companies — Nokia, maybe? — is 3-5 years away from commercial availability of such a technology. Harnessing electromagnetic energy that’s just flying around all the time, and using it to charge the cell phone batteries. Not enough energy to run a light bulb, but if it means never having to change the batteries on my camera or phone, it’s good enough for me!

12 Traciatim

The trouble I find with self charging is that there will be a space premium. Which would you rather have, a larger higher capacity battery, or a self charging battery?

Lets say the difference is a 2000mah battery that takes 200 pictures and self charges, or a 3000mah battery that takes 300 pictures and doesn’t . . . I suppose it depends on how quickly you take the pictures. Plus, will the lower capacity be more expensive to have the charging circuitry built in?

I’ve read a bunch on different wireless power solutions. It seems, like camera lenses, there is always a trade off and no one is perfect in all scenarios.

13 Four Pillars

Traciatim – I was going to mention that the self-charging feature would be less useful if you are click-happy.

What about a battery that self-charges AND can be manually recharged?
The self-charge feature would probably meet most of your charging needs and the manual charger would take care of the times you take a ton of pics.

14 Traciatim

Well, there’s the trouble. In most cases where you are taking lots of pictures (at least in my case) there is no option to manually charge. It’s not like you’re walking through the zoo/themepark/playground/flower garden . . . with a huge extension cord and your charger plugged in the wall.

If I was that concerned about high capacity batteries (IE, more than just taking 2 full capacity battery sets with me, either 2 Li-Ion packs for your camera or 2 sets of AA’s if your camera takes those) then I would probably just use a product like this (or build your own in a fanny-pack):
http://www.samys.com/product_detail.php?item=10679

15 Four Pillars

Yah, having more batteries would be the logical answer.

I was thinking the dual recharging scenario might work if the auto-recharge feature was really slow (ie 3 days to recharge). At least you could manually recharge the batteries once in a while (ie at night in the hotel room).

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