PowerShot SX220 HS Camera

The PowerShot 

SX Series

Big Zoom – Small Sensor

In 2007 Canon began a new Powershot series targeting amateurs  who wanted more sophisticated features in a small inexpensive package. The new cameras were positioned just below the PowerShot flagship cameras, the Powershot G series. At the time the PowerShot G9 was the current model.

The SX’s became known for wide optical zoom ranges, a small sensors and the sophisticated Canon Digic processor which allowed for advanced features and excellent processing speed.

These cameras were introduced with the SX100 IS in October of 2007 and 35 models later the SX740 HS was released in August of 2018. A long successful run.

All of the SX’s had zoom lens ratios of 10 or more. One, the SX60 HS, had a zoom ratio of 65. This is equivalent in full frame terms to a range of 21 to 1365mm. An unbelievable lens. Combined with a 16 megapixel sensor and a Digic 6 processor it made for an amazing camera.

The Digic processors are Canon’s top line processor used in their best cameras because they are powerful and allow the inclusion of advanced features such image stabilization, fast autofocus, and even facial recognition. The inclusion of these processors shows an intent to create an advanced camera.

And then we come to chip size. Canon says that the sensor is a 1/2.3 inch (two cameras were 1/2.5’s) chip and then points out that this is a small size. But what does 1/2.3″ mean? I have looked for the answer to that and had trouble getting an answer. Everyone just quoted the expression and offered no further clarification.  Some gave the dimensions as 6.16mm x 4.6mm but they gave no connection between the two types of measurement. But that is so poor to quote a number that you don’t understand or explain.

Videcon Video Vacuum tube of the type used in TV and Video cameras in the 1980’s. The image was focused on the flat front surface on the left end. (Image courtesy of wikipedia.com)

I finally found an explanation on ‘photoreview.com’ and it’s quite interesting. Apparently the term originated back in the 1950’s when video images were captured on round photosensitive vacuum tubes. Of course the images were rectangular but were captured on the face of round vacuum tubes such as the one on the left.

These image sensors were named by the outer diameter of the round tube

needed to produce an image that takes up two thirds of the circular face of the tube. Got it? Good. Now forget it. It is a bad measurement that means nothing in this modern day. It is so much more understandable to say that the sensor is 6.16 x 4.6 mm.

These are small sensors and they suffer from all of the ills that come with small sensors. These are mainly poor shadow detail, high noise in shadow areas and with high ISO settings. Reading reviews of the SX cameras these weaknesses are mentioned again and again. But, the small sensor allowed the lens designers more leeway when designing the extreme zoom ranges found on these cameras. 

Table of SX Models

You should note that the SX series was given the same name in all marketing areas, unlike many other models. This makes things so much easier. The SX models are listed below and the ones I have are shaded in blue.

Also note that in the following table “PS” is used as the abreviation for PowerShot.


Date of Introduction Model Name MPX Sensor Size Card Zoom Ratio Battery
Oct 2007 PS SX100 IS 8.0 1/2.5″ SD 10x 2 x AA
Sep 2008 PS SX110 IS (Silver) 9.0 1/2.3″ SD 10x 2 x AA
Dec 2008 PS SX10 IS 10.0 1/2.3″ SD 20x 4 x AA
Dec 2008 PS SX1 IS 10.0 1/2.3″ SD 20x 4 x AA
Apr 2009 PS SX200 IS (Blk) 12.1 1/2.3″ SD 12x NB-5L
Aug 2009 PS SX20 IS 12.1 1/2.3″ SD 20x 4 x AA
Aug 2009 PS SX120 IS (Blk) 10.0 1/2.5″ SD 10x 2 x AA
Mar 2010 PS SX210 IS 14.1 1/2.3″ SD 14x NB-5L
Aug 2010 PS SX130 IS 12.1 1/2.3″ SD 12x 2 x AA
Aug 2010 PS SX30 IS 14.1 1/2.3″ SD 35x NB-7L
Mar 2011 PS SX220 HS (Purple) 12.0 1/2.3″ SD 14x NB-5L
Mar 2011 PS SX230 HS 12.1 1/2.3″ SD 14x NB-5L
Sep 2011 PS SX40 HS 12.1 1/2.3″ SD 35x NB-10L
Sep 2011 PS SX150 IS (Red) 14.1  1/2.3″ SD 12x 2 x AA
Mar 2012 PS SX260 HS 12.1  1/2.3″ SD 20x NB-6L
Mar 2012 PS SX240 HS 12.1  1/2.3″ SD 20x NB-6L
Sep 2012 PS SX50 HS 12.1  1/2.3″ SD 50x NB-10L
Sep 2012 PS SX500 IS 16.0  1/2.3″ SD 30x NB-6L
Sep 2012 PS SX160 IS 16.0  1/2.3″ SD 16x 2 x AA
Apr 2013 PS SX270 HS 12.1 1/2.3″ SD 20x NB-6L
Apr 2013 PS SX280 HS 12.1  1/2.3″ SD 20x NB-6L
Aug 2013 PS SX510 HS 12.1  1/2.3″ SD 30x NB-6LH
Aug 2013 PS SX170 IS 16.0  1/2.3″ SD 16x NB-6LH
Feb 2014 PS SX700 HS 16.1  1/2.3″ SD 30x NB-6LH
Feb 2014 PS SX600 HS 16.0  1/2.3″ SD 18x NB-6LH
Aug 2014 PS SX400 IS 16.0  1/2.3″ SD 30x NB-11LH
Oct 2014 PS SX60 HS 16.1  1/2.3″ SD 65x NB-10L
Feb 2015 PS SX710 HS 20.3  1/2.3″ SD 30x NB-6LH
Feb 2015 PS SX610 HS 20.2  1/2.3″ SD 18x NB-6LH
Feb 2015 PS SX530 HS 16.0  1/2.3″ SD 50x NB-6LH
Mar 2015 PS SX410 IS 20.0  1/2.3″ SD 40x NB-11LH
Feb 2016 PS SX420 IS 20.0  1/2.3″ SD 42x NB-11LH
Mar 2016 PS SX720 HS 20.3  1/2.3″ SD 40x NB-13L
May 2016 PS SX620 HS 20.2  1/2.3″ SD 25x NB-13L
Feb 2017 PS SX430 IS 20.0  1/2.3″ SD 45x NB-11L
May 2017 PS SX730 HS 20.3  1/2.3″ SD 40x NB-13L
Aug 2018 PS SX740 HS 21.1  1/2.3″ SD 40x NB-13L


Cameras in the Collection

I have been picking up these cameras at Goodwill Stores, camera shows and Craig’s list for a few dollars each. Some are not in the best condition and many don’t work any longer. Eventually I will have to replace some of them with better copies. However, in the meantime, here are some of the ones I have found.

Canon PowerShot SX220 HS

PowerShot SX220 HS

Canon PowerShot SX160 IS

PowerShot SX160 IS

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