Very good camera in its class, can be excellent with effort

Started Mar 26, 2013 | User reviews thread
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bellcurve
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Very good camera in its class, can be excellent with effort
Mar 26, 2013

I know this camera is a bit long in the tooth at this point, but it's widely traded on Ebay so if you're in the market for a travel zoom you can still get it (cheaply too).  So maybe this will help you bargain shoppers...

First, ignore the complaints about the flash popping up when turned on and being a problem.  Just hold your finger over the flash, where it probably sits naturally, and it will stay down.  Really, this is not the monumental problem some make it out to be, in fact it's not a problem in any sense.

Second, if you're getting bad pictures from this camera either it or you are defective.  A normally operating SX230 used by a normal person can get great pictures, even at full zoom, from this camera.  You do have to experiment with it a bit to get it to work for you, but what else is new?

I've found it to meter well (use center weighted averaging), focus accurately (center, normal size), do a good job with mixed shadow and light (keep i-contrast on), and take sharp pictures with good color rendition (on mine the best results are in Av mode at f5.0 to f6.3 with My Colors option activated and set to Custom Color with Sharpness +2, Contrast +1 Saturation 0, Red +1, Green 0, Blue -1).  Your sample may vary, so experiment a bit, but the camera's chief virtue is having enough control so that you can get very, very good pictures once properly tuned.  In some defense of people criticizing the picture quality I can say that shooting in Auto mode will not yield best results, but they've been acceptable, generally.

The image stabilization on mine works really well, even at 14x outdoor shots at ISO 100 come out just as clean and blur-free as the wide angle (1x) shots, which means they're very good.  I keep Image Stabilization set at Continuous.

I've only experimented with a few of the specialty modes and the only one that is useful to me is Hand Held Night Scene which can capture an otherwise unobtainable picture.  If I had one change to make it would be to scrap all the other modes in favor of a true HDR capability.

I bought it for outdoor shooting, so really haven't evaluated it closely indoors but it seems OK.  It does its best work at ISO 100 (duh) and is fine at ISO 200 - 400.  Things get a bit soft after that but OK for small prints to ISO 1600 and even ISO 3200 has some merit.

Finely, the GPS on mine works well.  On my first try it quickly got a signal in a back yard with very tall trees, and when mapped it looked like it nailed me within a couple feet of where I actually stood.  Haven't used GPS much but no complaints for the little I have.

This is still, as of March 2013, DPReview's highest rated travel zoom ever, and with good justification I'd say.

bellcurve's score
4.5
Average community score
3.9
bad for good for
Kids / pets
unrated
Action / sports
good
Landscapes / scenery
great
Portraits
great
Low light (without flash)
okay
Flash photography (social)
unrated
Studio / still life
great
= community average
Canon PowerShot SX230 HS Panasonic Lumix DMC-F5
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