Canon PowerShot SX720 Review

Canon SX720 review
Canon

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Although thin fixed lens cameras have been declining in popularity in recent years, they continue to showcase constantly improving feature sets. The Canon SX720 HS is the latest of these powerful thin cameras. As shown in my Canon PowerShot SX720 review, this model's 40X optical zoom lens is an impressive feature for this model, as you will only find a few cameras that measure 1.4 inches in thickness that can match this type of zoom lens.

The PowerShot SX720 HS is a strong camera for travel, as it's thin enough to fit in a pocket while offering a zoom lens that can allow you to shoot close up photos of landmarks that you cannot reach by foot or vehicle. 

As with many of these basic point and shoot cameras with fixed lenses, the image quality -- especially in low light -- isn't as good as what you'll find with a DSLR camera or mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The SX720's 1/2.3-inch image sensor is the smallest you'll find in a digital camera, meaning you shouldn't expect to make large prints from the photos you shoot with this camera. And with a price tag of just under $400, this isn't going to fit in the budget of many beginner photographers.

But if you're looking for a complement or a replacement to your smartphone camera, the Canon SX720's image quality is going to be good enough to outperform most smartphone cameras.

And of course, no smartphone camera can offer even a 4X optical zoom lens, let alone match the impressive 40X zoom of this Canon model.

Specifications

  • Resolution: 20.3 megapixels
  • Optical zoom: 40X (24-960 mm)
  • LCD: 3.0-inch, 922,000 pixels
  • Maximum image size: 5184 x 3888 pixels
  • Battery: Rechargeable Li-Ion
  • Dimensions: 4.32 x 2.51 x 1.41 inches
  • Weight: 8.64 ounces (camera body only)
  • Image sensor: 1/2.3-inch CMOS
  • Movie mode: HD 1080p

Pros

  • Great optical zoom lens measurement at 40X
  • Very thin camera that's easy to fit in a pocket
  • 20MP image quality is adequate when shooting in good lighting conditions
  • Good autofocus speeds versus its peers
  • LCD screen is sharp and bright

Cons

  • Price is a little high versus other point and shoot cameras
  • Burst modes are somewhat limited by a small camera buffer
  • Camera buttons are too small to be used comfortably
  • Maximum ISO setting of 3200 equals a camera that struggles in low light
  • Some problems with camera shake when you have the zoom lens fully extended

Image Quality

Canon gave the PowerShot SX720 20 megapixels of resolution, which has become the minimum number of pixels for today's digital cameras. However, because Canon included a 1/2.3-inch image sensor with this model, don't expect to create images that are a high enough quality to allow for making large prints. A 1/2.3-inch image sensor is as small as you'll find in a modern digital camera, which limits the camera's ability in terms of image quality. Additionally, there's no opportunity to shoot in the RAW image format.

Low light images are especially tricky for the Canon SX720. The quality of low light images suffers in part because of the small image sensor and in part because the camera's maximum ISO setting is just 3200.

Even though the SX720 has some image quality flaws, it does create good looking images most of the time. If you're just looking to create photos for small prints or to share online, this model will have an image quality that easily meets your needs.

As it commonly does with its point and shoot cameras, Canon did a good job of giving the PowerShot SX720 HS a large number of special effect shooting modes, allowing you to add some fun effects to your images.

Performance

Unlike most basic digital cameras, Canon gave the SX720 HS full manual control options, which is great for those who want to learn more about photography. You can shoot in automatic mode until you feel comfortable controlling more of the settings yourself.

Versus other thin point and shoot cameras, the PowerShot SX720 has a fast autofocus system, which leads to minimal amounts of shutter lag. This is a great feature for inexperienced photographers because it lowers the chances that you'll miss a spontaneous photo because the camera is too slow to respond to your shutter button press.

Another area where this Canon model shows good speed is in its burst mode performance, where you'll be able to record images at speeds of about 6 frames per second. This is a high burst mode speed for a point and shoot camera. However, you can only record at this speed for a couple of seconds before the camera's small memory buffer area becomes full.

Design

At just 1.4 inches in thickness, it's a bit of a surprise to find a 40X optical zoom lens in the PowerShot SX720. Canon included a raised area for a right-hand grip on the front of the camera to try to help you hold the camera steady when shooting at the maximum zoom, but it doesn't help much. I'd plan on using a tripod with this camera.

The button layout on the back of the camera is about what you'd expect from a Canon point and shoot camera, although the manufacturer did provide a handy mode dial, something that's not always found on similar Canon models. Additionally, the buttons on the back of this camera are too small and too tightly set to the camera body, which is a common problem for these PowerShot models.

I did like the sharp and bright 3.0-inch LCD screen, although it would've been nice in this price point to have a touch screen availability

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