The PowerShot SX260 HS is a more streamlined version of the SX230 that came before it. The camera is made almost entirely of metal, with everything feeling pretty solid. It's compact and easy to hold, though there's not a lot of room on the back of the camera for your thumb, with mine usually resting on the movie record button. I also don't like how the buttons on the back of the camera are flush with the body, so you can't tell what you're pressing without looking first.
Up on top of the SX260 you'll find the flash, speaker, and stereo microphones. The GPS has been integrated into the body, so the SX260 lacks the "hump" of its predecessor. On the back you can see that the SX260 loses the widescreen LCD of its predecessor (I view this as a good thing), and the buttons have been flattened to the flush design I mentioned earlier. Also notable is the fact that the power button has moved from the back of the SX230 to the top of the SX260.
The most obvious feature of the back of the camera is the SX260's 3-inch LCD display. The LCD has gone back to a more traditional 4:3 aspect ratio, rather than the widescreen one on the SX230. This is good news for still shooters, as composing photos on a 16:9 display is awkward. The LCD retains the same 461,000 pixel resolution of its predecessor, and it offers good outdoor visibility. In low light situations the screen brightens up nicely, allowing you to see what you're trying to take a photo of.
Oh, and I'm sure you've all been wondering about this - the PowerShot SX260 HS comes in three colors: red, black, and green.
The biggest new feature on the SX260 is its new 20X lens. This F3.5-6.8 lens isn't exactly "fast" -- especially at the telephoto end -- so don't expect miracles in low light. The focal length is 4.5 - 90.0 mm , which is equivalent to 25 - 500 mm. The lens is not threaded, so conversion lenses and filters are not an option.
To the upper-left of the lens is the camera's pop-up flash, which is raised electronically (depending on the flash setting). The working range of the flash is 0.5 - 3.5 m at wide-angle and 1.0 - 2.0 m at telephoto (both at Auto ISO). If you want more flash power, consider picking up the slave flash I mentioned earlier, which has a range of up to 30 feet.
Also on the front of the camera is the AF-assist lamp, which serves as a visual countdown for the self-timer, too.
At the top-right of the photo is the mode dial, which is chock full of options. I'll tell you more about those options on the next page of this review.
Underneath that we have four buttons, plus the four-way controller / scroll wheel combo. The function of the four buttons is pretty obvious, and you can see that the four-way controller does a lot more than just navigate menus, as well. The scroll dial around the four-way controller can be used for adjusting manual settings, navigating the menu system, and replaying photos you've taken.
Continuing to the right we see the shutter release button, which has the zoom controller wrapped around it. The controller moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in just 1.9 seconds. I counted a little over twenty steps in the SX260's 20X zoom range, which doesn't allow for a lot of precision.
At the far right of the photo is the SX260's power button.
On the base of the SX260 HS you'll find the compartments for an SD memory card and the slimline NB-6L lithium-ion battery which is supplied with the camera.
On the right side of the SX260 are its I/O ports, where are protected by a rubber cover. The ports here include USB + A/V and mini-HDMI. The optional AC adapter feeds through a "hole" in the battery compartment door.
On the bottom of the PowerShot SX260 you'll find a metal tripod mount (not visible in this photo) as well as the battery/memory card compartment. The door over this compartment is of average quality. Keep in mind that you won't be able to access its contents while the camera is on a tripod.
Now it's time to see how the PowerShot SX260 HS compares to other travel zooms in terms of size and weight. As you can see above, it's pretty compact for a camera with a 20X zoom lens!
(W x H x D, excluding protrusions)
Canon PowerShot SX260 HS
4.2 x 2.4 x 1.3 in.
13.1 cu in.
Fujifilm FinePix F770EXR
4.1 x 2.4 x 1.4 in.
13.8 cu in.
Nikon Coolpix S9300
4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 in.
14 cu in.
Olympus SZ-31MR iHS
4.2 x 2.7 x 1.6 in.
18.1 cu in.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20
4.1 x 2.3 x 1.3 in.
12.3 cu in.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V
4.3 x 2.5 x 1.4 in.
15.1 cu in.
As you can see, the SX260 is one of the smallest and lightest travel zooms out there.