The PowerShot SX260 HS ($349) is the latest compact travel zoom from Canon. The SX260 replaces the SX230 (one of my favorite travel zooms from last year) and its biggest feature is its wider, more powerful zoom lens. Other things that have been improved include its image processor, image stabilization system, Smart Auto mode, and burst mode performance. The SX260 retains the same 12.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor, 3-inch LCD, GPS receiver, and Full HD movie mode of its predecessor.

A non-GPS model known as the PowerShot SX240 HS is available in certain countries.

What's in the Box?

The PowerShot SX260 HS has a standard Canon bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 12.1 effective Megapixel PowerShot SX260 HS digital camera
  • NB-6L lithium-ion rechargeable battery
  • Battery charger
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • CD-ROM featuring Canon Digital Camera Solution
  • 34 page Quick Start Guide (printed) + full manual on CD-ROM

As with all of their recent cameras, Canon neither builds memory into their cameras, nor includes a memory card in the box. So, unless you have one already (which you probably do), you'll need to buy yourself an SD, SDHC, or SDXC card right away. You're going to want a 4GB card at the very least, and larger if you plan on taking a lot of Full HD videos. A high speed (Class 6 or higher) card is recommended for best performance.

Canon uses the NB-6L lithium-ion battery for power. This battery, used on a number of other PowerShots, packs 3.5 Wh of energy, which is on the lower end of the spectrum. Here's how that translates into battery life:

Camera Battery life
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Canon PowerShot SX260 HS * 230 shots NB-6L
Fuji FinePix F770EXR * 300 shots NP-50A
Nikon Coolpix S9300 * 200 shots EN-EL12
Olympus SZ-31MR iHS 200 shots LI-50B
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 * 260 shots DMW-BCG10
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V * 320 shots NP-BG1

* Built-in GPS
Battery life numbers are provided by the manufacturer

The good news here is that the SX260's battery life is about 10% higher than its predecessor. The bad news is that it's still a bit below the group average. Picking up a spare battery (which will run you around $38) is a good idea, especially if you're using the power hungry GPS (which is not part of the above battery life calculations).

When your 230 shots are up, just pop the NB-6L into the included charger. The charger plugs right into the wall and takes just under 2 hours to fully charge the battery.

There are a couple of accessories available for the PowerShot SX260 HS. They include:

Accessory Model # Price Description
External flash HF-DC2 $150 Attaches via the tripod mount and fires when the onboard flash does. Boosts overall flash range and may reduce redeye as well.
Underwater case WP-DC46 $240 Take the SX260 up to 130 feet under the sea.
Stereo A/V cable AVC-DC400ST $25 Connect the camera to a TV using these composite video cables. I remember when these used to come in the box!
AC adapter ACK-DC40 $50 Power the camera without draining your battery.
Prices were accurate at time of publication

And that's it! Not surprising, though, as compact ultra zooms like this are usually pretty light in the accessory department.

Canon continues to have one of the nicest software bundles out there. You'll first encounter CameraWindow, which will download photos from the camera onto your Mac or PC. The main photo organizing suite is called ZoomBrowser in Windows and ImageBrowser on Macs. The software lets you e-mail or print photos, upload videos to YouTube, and do some editing, as well. Available photo editing features include trimming, redeye removal, level/tone curve adjustment, and color tuning. Movie editing tools in Image/ZoomBrowser include trimming and frame grabs.

Two other products you'll find in the box with the PowerShot SX260 HS are PhotoStitch and Map Utility. PhotoStitch can take photos that you've lined up using the Stitch Assist feature on the camera, and combine them into a single panoramic image. Map Utility will show you where photos with GPS data embedded appear on a Google Map. If you had the logging function turned on, you'll also be able to see the route you travelled.

The documentation for the SX260 is the same as it is for all Canon PowerShot models. Inside the box is a leaflet that'll get you up and running. For more details, you'll need to open up the full manual, which is in PDF format on an included CD-ROM. This manual will answer any question you may have about the SX260, though it's not the most user friendly guide out there. Instructions for the bundled software is installed onto your Mac or PC.

Compared to the PowerShot SX230 HS

The PowerShot SX230 and SX260, side-by-side (close to scale)
Images courtesy of Canon USA

Although outwardly very similar to its predecessor the SX230 HS, the SX260 HS does display some differences. Gone is the GPS 'hump' on the top plate, and the rear LCD takes up more space and is in the 4:3 aspect ratio, unlike the 'letterbox' view offered by the screen on the back of the earlier camera.

  PowerShot SX230 HS PowerShot SX260 HS
Processor DIGIC 4 DIGIC 5
Lens max aperture range F3.1 - F5.9 F3.5 - F6.8
Lens focal range (35mm equiv.) 28 - 392 mm (14X) 25 - 500 mm (20X)
Intelligent IS No Yes
LCD aspect ratio Widescreen (16:9) Normal (4:3)
Burst rate (full res) 8.1 frames/sec 10.3 frames/sec
Flash working range (Auto ISO) 0.8 - 3.5 m (W)
1.0 - 2.0 m (T)
0.5 - 3.5 m (W)
1.0 - 2.0 m (T)
Smart Auto scenes 32 58
Face ID (recognition) No Yes
Live View Control mode No Yes
Movie Digest resolution 640 x 480 1280 x 720
Battery used NB-5L NB-6L
Battery life (CIPA) 210 shots 230 shots
Dimensions 4.2 x 2.4 x 1.3 in. 4.2 x 2.4 x 1.3 in.
Weight (body only, empty) 195 g 208 g

This review was first published at, and is presented here with minimal changes, notably the inclusion of a full set of product images, our usual studio comparisons and an expanded samples gallery, plus the addition of a standard dpreview score.