It’s tough trying to create a new kind of camera, but that’s just what Canon is trying to do with the Canon PowerShot Zoom, a small handheld capable of 800mm stills and movies. Canon is targeting people who want the ability to get close to the action without having to resort to superzoom or large telephoto lenses.
I had a chance to use the Canon PowerShot Zoom for a couple of days; while I am still evaluating all its features, here are my first impressions.
Canon PowerShot Zoom: Price and Availability
The Canon PowerShot Zoom will be available at the end of November for $299. Check out our Canon promo codes for ways to cut costs.
Canon PowerShot Zoom Specifications
Launch: Optical 100 / 400mm, digital 800mm
Size: 4 x 2 x 1.3 inches
Weight: 5.1 ounces with microSD card
Sensor: CMOS 12MP
Size photo: 12MP
Shell mouth: f/5.6-6.3
Electronic viewfinder: 0.39-inch 2.3m dots, 60 fps
Video resolution: 1080p / 30fps
Wireless: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Battery life: 1:20 (about 150 shots)
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Canon PowerShot Zoom: Design
The PowerShot Zoom has an almost rectangular shape, with one end that tapers into the electronic viewfinder. Measuring 4 x 2 x 1.3 inches and weighing 5.1 ounces, it’s small enough to slip into your jacket pocket. It will also fit in wider pockets.
Below the viewfinder is a dial for adjusting the diopter as well as a button for capturing still images and another for starting video recording. On top of the camera is a Zoom button, which lets you switch between 100mm, 400mm, and 800mm equivalent zoom levels. On the front are the power button and the menu button.
The placement of the photo and video capture buttons makes it practically impossible to use the Powershot Zoom with one hand. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it helps you use the seconds hand to stabilize the camera, especially when using an 800mm zoom lens. However, it’s hard to identify buttons just by feel.
While the Powershot Zoom is light enough that you can hold it for a while and not get tired, I wish it had a tripod on the bottom.
The left side of the device has a small door that hides the microSD card slot as well as the USB-C charging port.
Canon PowerShot Zoom: Image Quality
PowerShot Zoom can take photos at 100mm and 400mm and digital zoom at 800mm. However, those are the only three focal lengths; you cannot choose any number in between numbers.
The PowerShot Zoom’s 12 MP CMOS sensor (1/3-inch type) is similar to that of Canon’s PowerShot SX series cameras and has an aperture of f/5.6-6.3 and ISO 100-3200. The camera also features optical image stabilization, but Canon doesn’t specify the number of stops.
You can’t manually adjust shutter speed, ISO, or f/stops, but exposure compensation is available in the settings menu.
Photos taken with PowerShot Zoom are fine, but nothing fancy.
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Take, for example, the photos above of a squirrel sitting on a fence. The zoom range is impressive, but overall still lacks sharpness and definition throughout the image. It looks like something I took with a very old phone camera. Even though it’s a well-lit scene, you can still see a lot of noise, especially in darker areas.
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A similar scenario occurred when I photographed a United jet flying overhead around sunset time. While it’s great that you can get up close and personal — you can make out the United logo on the tail in a 400mm photo — it’s not something you want to hang on your wall.
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I took a few more pictures of the plane when it was brighter and got better results. Here, at the 800mmm setting, you can clearly read the FedEx detail in the tail section and almost spot the FedEx as the engine crouched. However, you want to take a quick shot: some photos are blurry because Powershot Zoom has trouble maintaining focus.
Canon Powershot Zoom: Video Quality
The lack of an easy way to stabilize the camera makes shooting video at a distance difficult, especially when using maximum zoom. I tried tracking a plane as it raced through the sky, but had trouble keeping it in frame. Furthermore, Powershot Zoom’s autofocus does not track the aircraft, resulting in some blurred frames. Its motion stabilization works to a limited extent.
The sound is good, but you can clearly hear the mechanism of the camera when zooming in and out.
Canon PowerShot Zoom: Outlook
The Canon PowerShot Zoom is like a camera for those who want a device that allows them to get really close to the action, but who don’t necessarily care about the final quality of the photo. It could be a good device for soccer moms and dads or those who want a high-tech monocular and who don’t want to buy a smartphone with super zoom capabilities like the Samsung Galaxy S20. Ultra.
The photos and videos I took with the PowerShot Zoom were adequate, but nothing great. And, it’s hard to keep it steady, especially when aiming at long distances. There’s nothing really like the PowerShot Zoom, which makes it difficult to compare with other devices. Its relatively low price will make it attractive to those who value lightweight and powerful zoom above all else.