Little zoom for manoeuvre with Canon Powershot SX530 HS camera

Holidays offer many things to many people. Mine, in Denmark and the UK, offered a chance to give the Canon Powershot SX530 HS a road test in some trying conditions.

The model sits in the category known as a bridge camera, retailing for Dh1,199 inclusive of 4GB memory card and a carry case – bridging the gap between the lower end point-and-shoot brigade and the high end DSLR cameras. The main difference between the point-and-shoot cameras is the zoomability, offering a whopping 50x lens that allows you to get really close.

Canon hasn’t tried to rewrite the rule book with this model. It looks similar to its predecessors, with a classic black sober finish and a 3-inch monitor that doesn’t twist or swivel and isn’t a touchscreen. The upgrade, apart from the enhanced zoom, is the connectivity, with added Wi-Fi and NFC to allow immediate picture-sharing via your smartphone.

The connectivity also allows you to control the camera remotely but doesn’t allow for much image enhancement or altering.

All the buttons are easily accessible, and to anyone who has used a moderately expensive camera it is easily navigated.

While the camera is easy to carry and handle when shooting without the zoom, as soon as the lens is fully extended I felt it became unbalanced and unwieldy. Also, because of the huge zoom, getting any clear shot while the lens is extended is almost impossible unless you have it set on a tripod. The range of the zoom is also problematic as the toggle that opens or closes the lens is hard to control in precise increments. I found myself often shooting too close or not close enough as I tried to frame a shot.

The zoom, again, causes problems as it extends. The lens narrows and electronic gain kicks in to balance the light, and the images become very grainy. This may not be a problem if shooting in bright sunlight but as I was in northern Denmark and the natural light was limited to spaces between raindrops, most of my images look very grainy.

The camera offers a great variety of shots, but one has to be prepared to take them and have accessories to hand when the lens is fully extended.

q&a which way is up? you choose

Andrew Scott’s take on the Canon Powershot SX530 HS.

Did you like the camera?

I thought it was a functional, easy to use piece of equipment, but the reason for buying it is the zoom and that actually makes it harder to use. Also, because the zoom is an option one finds that you start zooming in on objects and body parts that one might not usually – my son’s nose played a larger part of the holiday snaps than usual. It also didn’t perform well in the wet.

You used it in a pool?

The only pools I saw were the puddles left by torrents of rain that eventually stopped the camera from working – I think this is why it comes with a carrying case. As the camera is bigger than a point-and-shoot you can’t put it inside your pocket, but if you want it out to shoot, say a football game, and it’s raining, then this Canon doesn’t shoot in the water. I had to sit it on a radiator to return the functionality.

Did the zoom come in handy at any point?

It would have had I brought a tripod, but then if you are using a tripod you may as well go for a DSLR and all the accessories. It does bring some added dimensions to what you can shoot on buildings and static objects, but if you are trying to shoot a moving object at full zoom then the results are barely worth looking at. At least mine weren’t worth looking at.

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