Canon PowerShot SX280 HS pictures and hands-on

Canon's latest travel zoom compact, the PowerShot SX280 HS, updates 2012's SX260 model with Wi-Fi and is the very first Canon camera to boast the latest Digic 6 processor.

Yup, it's out with Digic 5 and in with the new and more-powerful sixth-generation version. This opens the door to more advanced features at this price point including 1080p movie capture at 60 frames per second and up to 14 frames per second in burst shooting. Canon also opened the door to its London HQ's door for the 'Lint to go and check out how this latest compact camera performed.

READ: Canon PowerShot SX260 HS

We're already fans of the SX260 HS, so we entered with high expectations for the SX280 HS. And disappointed we weren't - this is a good looking wedge of camera that sits neatly in the hand. Its got a mode dial to cater for a variety of shooting modes so whether it's point-and-shoot or full manual control that you prefer it's all here.

However there's not much new compared to its predecessor - the very same body, 20x optical zoom lens and 12.1-megapixel sensor all remain on board. Aside from the addition of Digic 6, Canon's lumped Wi-Fi into the latest model which can pair up with your smartphone's 3G connection or other wireless networks to share pictures when out on the move.

But that's pretty much where new and exciting things end. If Wi-Fi doesn't appeal then there's the SX270 HS which cuts out the connectivity and trims back the price point too. So all bases covered.

Just like the SX260 HS the SX280 puts plenty on the table for its £299 asking price. That 20x optical zoom lens extends from a wide-angle 25mm through to a 500mm equivalent which means group shots or far-away subjects can fill the frame no problems; close-up macro mode worked a treat too. The camera's f/3.5-6.3 maximum aperture offered up throughout that range might not be the best going in terms of delivering loads of light, but it helps to keep the compact's size and price to a sensible level.

What's most important is that the zoom moves at pace as controlled via the zoom toggle around the shutter, has that big ol' range to work with and the camera's autofocus system is speedy too. The optical image stabilisation system is suitably sturdy to keep shots steadied when zooming right in and there's also the addition of a new dynamic five-axis stabiliser for smoother movie capture than before. There are few qualms we have here at all.

But one thing we do feel is missing from the SX280 HS is a touchscreen. Think about the likes of the Panasonic Lumix TZ40 and it seems as though Canon's missed a bit of a trick.

READ: Panasonic Lumix TZ40 review

Unlike the Lumix, however, Canon's stuck to its PowerShot principles when it comes to resolution. The SX280 HS's 12.1-megapixel sensor may not be an updated brand new sensor, but then it served just fine in the SX260 and avoids the whole unnecessary megapixel race - and we doff our caps to Canon on that front. We're yet to see what the camera's pictures look like with Digic 6 behind the wheel, as we weren't allowed to take snaps away with us, but if they're even marginally better than this PowerShot predecessor's quality then this'll be one camera well worth keeping an eye on.

Overall the camera may represent small steps rather than a giant leap in the PowerShot range, and Wi-Fi isn't going to capture everyone's attention, but Digic 6 is of interest and we suspect the SX280 HS will be among the better of the small-sized, well-ranged zoom compacts to hit the market this year. Keep an eye on the site for a full review in the future following the camera's April release, this one looks to be a serious contender.