None of these problems seriously detract from the overall usability of the camera, but forgetful or infrequent shooters might find themselves having more settings accidents than they'd like.
Although there's a movie mode on the dial, it's rather superfluous. In addition to the dedicated button, Canon has integrated the movie-resolution settings into the function menu, along with the standard white balance, colour adjustment, exposure bracketing, flash compensation, metering, and still size and quality controls.
Some of the SX1's more novel features include a 'face self-timer', which shoots a specified number of seconds after a face is detected, and a custom timer, which lets you also specify the number of shots to take (it's like a limited intervalometer, since you can only take up to 10 shots).
As with the SX10, this camera has Canon's Servo AF autofocus tracking mode. As the continuous shooting is so slow on this camera, we found Servo AF has too much time to get confused, and, since EVFs black out when a shot's taken, you can't verify that it's focusing on the right thing -- we have numerous in-focus fences and out-of-focus people in our test shots.
The rest of the capabilities are mostly the same as those of the competition. These include program, aperture-priority, shutter-priority and manual modes, full auto, and a handful of scene modes. Our favourites are a custom-setting slot on the mode dial and 99mm macro and 0mm super-macro modes.
Overall, the SX1 delivers excellent performance, especially for a superzoom. It wakes and shoots in 1.4 seconds, and, under optimal focusing conditions, can lock and shoot in 0.4 seconds. Even in harder-to-focus, low-contrast conditions, it takes only 0.6 seconds. Shot-to-shot JPEGs typically take 2.8 seconds, and raw is even faster, at 2 seconds.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Time to first shot||Typical shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim)||Shutter lag (typical)|
While its 2.9fps burst can't beat the ultra-high-speed continuous shooting of models like the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 or the Casio Exilim Pro EX-FH20, it's still very good for its class. And the SX1 can burst raw at about 1.5fps. Our only caveat about the camera's performance concerns a repeated, but unfortunately unrepeatable, problem with the AF system, in which it would indicate focus had been locked even though the scene was completely out of focus.