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Canon quietly announced a pair of PowerShot long-zooms today, both aimed at casual photographers.
The Canon PowerShot SX500 is notable for 30x zoom range (24-720mm). Other vital specs include a 16-megapixel CCD point-and-shoot sensor, Digic 4 processor, a 3-inch, 461,000-pixel LCD, optical image stabilization, a maximum ISO setting of 1600, and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, rated for a mediocre 195 shots per charge. As far as we can tell, it's a new entry in the SX series, with no immediate predecessor. It will be available in September for $379 in black.
The other announcement is the SX160, packing a 16x zoom range (28-448mm), a 16-megapixel CCD point-and-shoot sensor, Digic 4 processor, a 3-inch, 230,000-pixel LCD, optical image stabilization, and AA-battery power. The sturdy SX1xx series has been kicking around for a while, basically sticking to the same budget-friendly formula year after year. It will be available in September for $279 in red and black.
Neither announcement is likely to generate much interest among the enthusiast crowd. Since they're both built around CCD sensors, the SX160 and SX500 are stuck with last-generation performance specs. Their burst speeds are limited to just 0.8 frames per second and high-def video is stuck at 720p. Indoor and low-light performance aren't likely to impress, either. Canon claims that autofocus and shutter lag are improved compared to last year's long-zooms, but real-world impact is tough to gauge.
Does this leave open the possibility for a proper, higher-end superzoom in the coming weeks? Most likely. The SX40 HS wasn't announced until mid-September 2011, a few weeks after the SX150. It was a top-notch superzoom, and Canon tends to operate on a yearly replacement schedule.
For more information, head to the Canon U.S.A. website.