The SX280 HS is slated to hit retail shelves this April, with black and red variants planned for North America.
Canon stands pat with a familiar body design.
The SX280 HS retains most of the same design cues that we saw with the SX260 HS. The camera is slim and can easily fit into a small bag or a jacket pocket. Its chassis is smooth plastic, with a hard vertical ridge on the front providing a place for your hand to grasp the camera.
The dominant feature of the body is the 20x optical zoom lens (f/3.5-6.8, 25-500mm 35mm equivalent), which collapses flush against the body when turned off, then telescopes out when in use. The lens is unchanged from the SX260 HS and gives a zoom range that is still competitive in the travel-zoom market. The back of the body is quite crowded, with a full mode dial, playback and menu buttons, a rear 3-inch 461k-dot LCD, and a rear control dial that also functions as a directional pad for navigation.
Shooting with the SX280 is easy, since the camera handles well and provides plenty of grip for a point-and-shoot. It's difficult to keep the camera stable when zoomed all the way in on your subject, but that's true of any design that provides such a long zoom in a small body. The shutter button also feels a little squishy, but it's easy enough to find half-press in order to lock in focus and exposure.
Additional connectivity features are nice, but the speed upgrades are most welcome.
The SX280 HS has quite a few features that improve upon last year's SX260, though they may not benefit everyone. The chief upgrade is the Digic 6 processor, which is a generation newer than the Digic 5 found in the SX260. This allows for 1080/60p shooting (in MP4 as well as .MOV), an ISO range of 80-6400 (instead of 100-3200 on the SX260), and slightly faster shot-to-shot speed (14fps for 7 shots instead of 10fps for 10 shots).
The image sensor and lens remain unchanged however, at least on the surface. The 20x optical zoom range still provides plenty of reach, while maintaining a satisfying angle of view on the wide end. The sensor will still top out at 12.1 megapixels, though the improved processing power should also speed up AF and reduce shutter lag by about 50%, according to Canon. The battery time remains essentially the same, with a CIPA rating of 210 shots (260 in Eco mode).
The two truly new features that the SX280 has over its predecessor are built-in WiFi and GPS. The SX280 can send shots to compatible devices using Canon's CameraWindow app for Android and iOS devices. The camera can also communicate with various social networking sites, or print photos wirelessly with compatible Canon printers.
A healthy update to one of the better travel-zoom cameras on the market
Canon's line of travel-zoom cameras have been consistently good for several years, but other than a facelift they rarely see major revision. The SX280 follows this trend, bumping up the MSRP by $30 but adding WiFi, GPS, improved video features, and a host of speed upgrades.
The improvements are quite welcome and they keep the SX280 HS competitive in a travel-zoom market where the margins are razor thin. While we don't think the GPS functionality will be all that useful for most people, the improved WiFi functionality will appeal to some. Above all, the improved speed makes the SX280 all the more satisfying to shoot with than the SX260, with snappier performance and truly quick focus lock in normal conditions.
While we can't make any real judgements about quality yet, we're excited to see what the SX280 HS can do once it gets into our labs. We'll be sure to put it through the ringer as soon as we get a full production sample in later this spring.
Meet the tester
TJ is the Executive Editor of Reviewed.com. He is a Massachusetts native and has covered electronics, cameras, TVs, smartphones, parenting, and more for Reviewed. He is from the self-styled "Cranberry Capitol of the World," which is, in fact, a real thing.
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