Some thoughts about the SX230HS

Started Aug 12, 2012 | Discussions
GeraldW
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Some thoughts about the SX230HS
Aug 12, 2012

Over the last 9 months or so, I've had this conflict over the SX230HS and the Panasonic ZS15. Since last fall, I've owned 2 of each model. The SX230HS is the winner.

I don't use video, so that's not an issue, and I'm not into wide angle lenses wider that 28 mm. So the 24 mm wide angle of the ZS15 is not an issue for me - the SX230HS is wide enough.

I do prefer the styling of the ZS15, and also the ergonomics - there's a well shaped front grip and a place for my thumb on the back. Both cameras have a 460k dot LCD with a 3" diagonal; but the ZS15's has a 4:3 aspect ratio; while the SX230HS's is 16:9. Both are good in full sun. However, the SX230HS's LCD is much better if you shoot at 3:2, which I do.

So why did I keep the SX230HS? First off, it has adjustments for sharpening, contrast, and saturation, red, green and blue color, and skin tones, and has flash exposure compensation. The ZS15 has I resolution which adds sharpening. If you shoot in the "creative modes", as I do, you really want to be able to adjust things.

Second, the Canon has the better lens. It's just plain sharper over the range. Both cameras are a bit soft at default; but even with added sharpening in both, the Canon lens is better. It's also a bit faster in short and middle focal lengths by at least 1/3 stop.

The SX230HS also has a stronger flash. The ZS15 is quite weak, and the slower lens doesn't help. plus, i can adjust the Canon's flash output in 1/3 stop steps.

The SX230HS also has lower noise at high ISO. Not a big difference, but shots in low light at ISO 1600 have lower noise than on the ZS15.

Color rendition is different on the two. The Canon has nicer reds; but greens are a little muted, so you might want to use +1 saturation. The ZS15 has a tendency to over emphasize yellow-green shades; so that grass in the spring looks almost fluorescent. The ZS15 does correnct for chromatic aberration in-camera; but the SX230HS is pretty good without it most of the time. The SX230HS also has noticeably better Dynamic Range, and less tendency to burn out highlights.

The two raps against the SX230HS in reviews have been the lack of a front grip, and the flash that pops up at turn on - need it or not. The grip issue is easily solved for $10 by buying a Flip-bac silicone rubber grip which just sticks on and works very well. And the flash pop-up is solved by either pushing it back down, or putting your left index finger over the flash at turn on and holding it down.

The camera in the forground is my SX230HS with the Flip-bac grip. In the background is my S90 with an aluminum Franiec grip.

Once the grip was added, the handling of the SX230HS is transformed, and becomes a bit better than the ZS15.

Compared to the later SX260HS, the SX230HS has lower noise and a better, and faster lens. It was also a lot less $$$.

So, bottom line, if you're primarily looking for a still photgraphy travel zoom camera that's enthusiast oriented, I believe the SX230HS is the best avcailable.
--
Jerry

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stephen davis
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Re: Some thoughts about the SX230HS
In reply to GeraldW, Aug 12, 2012

Interested in your thoughts on AF speed? Thanks

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Ian Abrahamson
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Re: Some thoughts about the SX230HS
In reply to GeraldW, Aug 12, 2012

So, bottom line, if you're primarily looking for a still photography travel zoom camera that's enthusiast oriented, I believe the SX230HS is the best available. In it price category
--

I have to agree with you here.

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AndyPerry
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I have the SX220 euro version...some low light pics
In reply to GeraldW, Aug 12, 2012

Took these while on holiday all handheld in caves while others fired off flashes which was a bit of a laugh, there not the best in the world but ok.

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1dash1
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Re: Some thoughts about the SX230HS
In reply to GeraldW, Aug 12, 2012

Well, I bought both models, too. But I ended up keeping the ZS15.

  • I love the wider angle of the ZS15.

  • I do take a lot of video with my ZS15, and the ZS15's video far outshone the SX230's.

  • I find the ZS15 is faster in cycling between shots. (Most of my photographs are of family scenes where it's important to take advantage of fleeting moments.)

  • I like the layout of the camera controls better.

  • I pretty much stick to taking photos in the 4:3 format, which reduces the SX230's effective screen size to only 2.45".

I did a lot of side-by-side comparisons of photographs taken with both cameras before making my decision. The SX230, in my opinion, did a better job of color rendition (particularly in maintaining skin tones) and preserving details in low light conditions. So, I can appreciate why you chose to go with the SX230.

However, the ZS15 was a better fit for my needs and temperament.

A few comparison photos:

230

230

230

230

230

Note: All photos taken under full automatic and flash-suppressed camera settings, at widest angle - except where otherwise noted.

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GeraldW
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Re: Some thoughts about the SX230HS
In reply to stephen davis, Aug 12, 2012

Stephen,

I'm not terribly sensitive to that, since most of my shots are of slow moving or stationary things. But I really haven'y noticed any problems, and the low light AF seems good. Low light is where sluggish AF usually shows up.
--
Jerry

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GeraldW
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Re: I have the SX220 euro version...some low light pics
In reply to AndyPerry, Aug 12, 2012

Under the conditions, I think they are very good. 1/10 second at ISO 1600 isn't available light, it's available gloom.

I would have preferred the SX220HS as I don't use or want GPS, and the 220 comes in a really pretty gray color. The 230 has that GPS bump and it makes it look like a humpbacked little garden gnome.
--
Jerry

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GeraldW
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Re: Some thoughts about the SX230HS
In reply to 1dash1, Aug 12, 2012

I haven't totally given up on the ZS15 as I still have a spare battery and the Panasonic plug in battery charger - the real one, not that USB thing they supply. If I find one cheap enough, I may just get one to use with the battery and charger. Otherwise, I'm stuck with them.

I'm used to the Canon controls from other cameras, so that's not an issue. And I like having access to sharpening, contrast, saturation and color adjustments in My Colors, and flash exposure compensation is also nice to have.

With the Flip-bac grip added, and the ring added around the control wheel on the rear, the ergonomics of the SX230HS match the ZS15, Although, I did add a ring to the rear of my ZS15, and added a strip of black Velcro to the front grip to gain still more grip, and to keep the thick of my thumb off the rear control cluster. It was designed for the S90/95; but is a perfect fit for the SX230HS and the ZS15, and I use one on my FZ150.

Style wise, the ZS15 has it all over the Canon.

I did run a little experiment on the yellow-green cast that the ZS15 often shows. Kicking up the blue compensation in the WB fine tuning does a nice job of improving the color. Unfortunately, it doesn't work on AWB - you can't fine tune that. But with a little fine tuning of WB and use of i resolution; the shots OOC are quite good.

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Jerry

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pcake
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Re: Some thoughts about the SX230HS
In reply to GeraldW, Aug 13, 2012

maybe i should try the zs15. i owned the sx230, and it wasn't bad at all, but ultimately i sold it and bought a zs20. that zs20 was a disaster for me, although i keep wondering if i got a lemon. low light pics were very noisy, as was ISO over 400. ergonomics - or maybe my a camera had stabilization problems - meant that most of my pics soft or downright blurry, and i got the lowest number of keepers of any camera i ever owned. too bad, 'cause i liked the size, form, snappy feel and the touch screen of the zs20.

so after comparing a zillion shots from boards and review sites, i got the sx260. i have mixed feelings about it - image quality is good, noise at ISO 1600 and in low light is better than the zs20 at ISO 400, and not smeared or missing significant detail. colors are good, and i was able to shoot pics out of a moving car that stopped the action up to 40 MPH, and did pretty well at up to 65. stabilization seems to work great for my shaky hands, and i'm able to hand hold some indoor shots at 1/30 or a bit slower. the sx260 is easy to use, but i don't understand why it isn't a bit smaller as its competitors are. and somehow it didn't have the snappy feel of the zs20.

the zs20 sort of put me off the idea of getting the zs15, but i keep reading good things about it and i've mostly had good experiences with panasonics other than the zs20. and while the zs15 doesn't have a touch screen (i use touch screens a lot when i have 'em), neither does the sx260.

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GeraldW
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Re: Some thoughts about the SX230HS
In reply to pcake, Aug 13, 2012

I've had two ZS15's. The first was very sharp with i Resolution turned on; but the second one was very soft on the whole left side - obviously defective. I'd guess a tilted lens element, as it was there at all focal lengths. Most reviewers rate the ZS15 as better than the ZS20 for stills. Oddly, the German site CHIP.de ranked the ZS20 one step higher than the ZS15; but their extensive data shows better numbers in most things for the ZS15.

The ZS15 definitely has a warmer color balance than the SX230HS, with a gold color cast under most conditions, except full sun. It's especially noticeable in indoor shots and in areas in the shade when outdoors. At the same time, strong reds are shown lighter and a little toward orange. You can't fine tune the Auto White Balance; but you can fine tune Sun and Cloudy and Incandescent WB; and if you adjust the settings for each WB toward the blue, it eliminates most of the color shift. Adding a couple of carefully chosed Custom WB settings would also help.
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Jerry

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peter42y
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Re: Some thoughts about the SX230HS
In reply to GeraldW, Aug 14, 2012

i have the sx220hs and my main complain is exactly...., the camera white balance outdoors !!!!
Sometimes it is quite cool.
Can you post more pictures shot with both cameras, side by side ?
That is the best way to ascertain the camera differences.
The greatest plus, strenght , of the canon is its low light capabilities.
They are outstanding.
Mind boggling.

With a sony DSLR A500 , kit lens I was not able to autofocus an object in low light.
With the Canon I was able to lock the focus of the subject.
The greatest weakness : The slight blueish white balance outdoors.

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Leonardo Ita
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Re: Some thoughts about the SX230HS
In reply to peter42y, Aug 15, 2012

i still think that the IQ of the sx220/230 is the best in comparison with the other compact superzoom cameras.

Altought you don't get the best results in Auto, i use always the camera in "P" with the following options:

  • iContrast off

  • saturation +1

  • sharpness +1

  • IS single shot (to save battery life)

for a very few euros i also bought a Phottix nb-5l spare battery and it last more than original (tested with continuos full hd video clips).

comparison shots, crop 1:1
ISO100

SONY HX20V

PANASONIC TZ30

CANON SX260

CANON SX230

PANASONIC TZ25

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Leonardo Ita
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Re: Some thoughts about the SX230HS
In reply to Leonardo Ita, Aug 15, 2012

ISO100

read ISO800

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1dash1
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Re: Some thoughts about the SX230HS
In reply to peter42y, Aug 15, 2012

peter42y wrote:

i have the sx220hs and my main complain is exactly...., the camera white balance outdoors !!!!
Sometimes it is quite cool.
Can you post more pictures shot with both cameras, side by side ?
That is the best way to ascertain the camera differences.

Here are a few shots that I took this afternoon with both cameras on full auto, widest angle setting.

15

230

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Dale Buhanan
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Re: Some thoughts about the SX230HS
In reply to Leonardo Ita, Aug 15, 2012

Great post! I agree with your thinking, and the pictures back it up.

Leonardo Ita wrote:

i still think that the IQ of the sx220/230 is the best in comparison with the other compact superzoom cameras.

Altought you don't get the best results in Auto, i use always the camera in "P" with the following options:

  • iContrast off

  • saturation +1

  • sharpness +1

  • IS single shot (to save battery life)

for a very few euros i also bought a Phottix nb-5l spare battery and it last more than original (tested with continuos full hd video clips).

comparison shots, crop 1:1
ISO100

SONY HX20V

PANASONIC TZ30

CANON SX260

CANON SX230

PANASONIC TZ25

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kind regards
Dale

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GeraldW
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Re: Some thoughts about the SX230HS
In reply to Leonardo Ita, Aug 15, 2012

Bravo! The yellow color cast of the Panasonics shows up very well. The SX230 not only has the best color, it's also the sharpest.
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Jerry

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peter42y
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Re: Some thoughts about the SX230HS
In reply to 1dash1, Aug 24, 2012

1dash1 wrote:

peter42y wrote:

i have the sx220hs and my main complain is exactly...., the camera white balance outdoors !!!!
Sometimes it is quite cool.
Can you post more pictures shot with both cameras, side by side ?
That is the best way to ascertain the camera differences.

Here are a few shots that I took this afternoon with both cameras on full auto, widest angle setting.

15

230

Only today I got aware that you had posted some pictures online comparing the zs15 and the SX230HS.

Thanks a lot.

To post online such kind of material does take effort . One has to shoot pictures with both cameras at the same time.., upload them to the PC and post them online.

Thank you very much.

The SX230HS does look sharper indeed.

Thanks a lot for your message.

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1dash1
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Re: Some thoughts about the SX230HS
In reply to peter42y, Aug 25, 2012

Peter:

Glad you enjoyed them.

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peter42y
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Re: Some thoughts about the SX230HS
In reply to 1dash1, Aug 25, 2012

anks again.
This time I wa

1dash1 wrote:

Peter:

Glad you enjoyed them.

Thank you. This time my answer was faster, lol.

Take Care.

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