HX1 Compared to Canon SX1

Started Jun 12, 2009 | Discussions thread
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Stephen McDonald
Stephen McDonald Forum Pro • Posts: 14,449
HX1 Compared to Canon SX1

Although I've had the Canon SX1 for only two days and used the HX1 for 12 days, I already have a strong opinion about which is best. The HX1 works better in low light, especially for video. I was able to catch some surprisingly good video with it, even a bit after sunset. The SX1 needs more light and isn't so good indoors, for either photos or videos. In every other respect that I can determine, the SX1 comes out ahead and in some ways, this is by a large margin. It's a larger and heavier camera and feels as solid as a brick.

The video of the SX1 is much sharper and the CMOS flutter when panning is less than you see with the HX1. The SX1 optical image stabilizer in video mode is exceptional. I can shoot smooth video at full zoom hand-held. An important thing about viewing the videos from both cameras on a computer, is using Oxygen Splash Beta 3, a free program that gives improved performance. It helps minimize the CMOS flutter you see when using other playing programs.

The SX1 has the full 1920 X 1080 pixel-size for HD video, while the HX1 uses a 1440 X 1080 version. My HX1 shot sharper 1280 X 720 video, than it did with the 1440 X 1080, which was a disappointment. The SX1 has no 720p mode, but it's easy enough to convert to that size when editing. I use the $60. AVS Video Editor 4.1 to edit and convert the SX1 video, but it works only with the 720p video of the HX1.

The HX1 needs only 12 Mbps for its HD video, while the SX1 requires 3.5 times as much, at 42.5 Mbps. I'm glad I have some large SDHC memory cards and plenty of harddrive space. My computer accepts the SDHC cards in a slot, without a separate USB card-reader being needed. The SX1 has Standard, Fine and Superfine choices for photo encoding quality levels, while the HX1 has only the single auto-selecting level. The SX1 photo files are around 50% larger than what the HX1 uses, which is a plus for me.

When I put the SX1 into Safety Zoom, which is the Canon equivalent of Smart Zoom, it takes 2-Megapixel 16:9 aspect photos at full zoom, that look almost as sharp as the 10-Megapixel shots. This same 2-MP mode on the HX1 is very poor and really unusable, although its 3-MP and 5-MP Smart Zoom shots are pretty good. The SX1 has a video 2X mode, that is similar to Safety Zoom for still photos. You can shoot video at 1,120mm, without loss of quality, compared to 640mm for the HX1. The HX1 does have mounting threads for a telextender, which the SX1 lacks. I have my own SX1 lens adaptor for telextenders, but this slip-over design is difficult to install and wouldn't be practical for many people.

When I expand the SX1 10-MP photos to full-size, the ones that are well-taken, hold their quality nicely. Most of my HX1 shots, even those that look sharp at large size (the 1200 X 900 pixel range), are weak at full-size.

The SX1 has better control functions, that are easier to use. The Exposure Compensation and Image Size changes are just a couple of quick clicks away. It has 5 adjustment choices for Contrast, Sharpness and Color Saturation, while the HX1 has only 3 levels. However, the SX1 lacks the manual Noise-Reduction level adjustment of the HX1, which I regard as very important. The SX1 audio pickup is better and the front-facing mikes don't seem to be affected so much as those of the HX1, by wind noise. I recommend that HX1 users get a mini windscreen of foam or fur, to put over the mike opening.

By the end of this weekend, I should have some sample SX1 videos and photos on my Flickr and Vimeo albums, for comparison with those already there from my HX1. It would have been nice to keep my HX1 and the SX1 both, but my excesses of camera expenditures have limits.
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Steve McDonald
http://www.flickr.com/photos/22121562@N00/
http://www.vimeo.com/user458315/videos

http://video.yahoo.com/people/4019627

 Stephen McDonald's gear list:Stephen McDonald's gear list
Nikon Coolpix 950 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX400V +1 more
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