Canon gives long-zoom SX and compact Elph series minimal refresh at 2015 CES

Canon’s five new PowerShot models announced at the 2015 International CES Show highlight the current state of the camera industry: budget point-and-shoot cameras aren’t as popular as they used to be, but as long as there are still enough consumers who want them, camera makers will continue to churn out a handful of models.

Where there’s some traction, however, are models that provide features like long zooms. So from Canon, we get a bit of both. The newly announced PowerShots include three mega-zoom SX-series cameras and two pocket Elphs. But don’t expect anything groundbreaking; all five models are minor refreshes to existing products.

In the compact Elph lineup, we have the 170 IS ($150) and 160 ($120), replacing the 150 IS and 135, respectively (although we say they are replacements, the older models will be available for sale until end of life). The 170 IS uses the same 20-megapixel CCD sensor and Digic 4+ image processor, but increases zoom from 10x to 12x (25-300mm).

The 160, which represents Canon’s least expensive camera, ups the CCD sensor from 16 to 20 megapixels, while retaining the 8x optical zoom. Because of CCD’s limits, both shoot videos up to 720p. Expect both cameras in different colors once they arrive in February. Sales of these types of cameras are dwindling, becoming a niche category.

Canon Powershot ELPH170IS
Canon Powershot ELPH170IS

In the long-zoom category, we have the SX530 HS ($430), SX710 HS ($350), and SX610 HS ($250). The SX530 retains the same specs and DSLR-like form-factor as the SX520 HS, such as the 16-megapixel CMOS sensor and Digic 4+ image processor. It also means movie-recording stays at 1080/30p.

New are Wi-Fi/NFC and a longer 50X (24-1200mm) zoom, versus 42x. The SX520 has a much lower price, and could go lower when the SX530 arrives in February (in black), so check that out if you don’t need Wi-Fi.

If you want telephoto zoom in a compact, the SX710 and SX610 will appeal. The SX710 succeeds the SX700 HS, a DT Editors’ Choice camera that we really enjoyed using. Price remains the same, but you get more megapixels (20.3 versus 16.1) out of the high-sensitivity CMOS.

Zoom is still a 30x optical zoom (25-750mm), as is the Digic 6 image processor. The Wi-Fi now supports improved NFC pairing, and image stabilization has improved. Story Highlights feature lets you add special effects in-camera, while remote shooting from a smartphone now offers enhanced camera controls. Expect this camera to ship in February, in black.

Canon Powershot SX610HS
Canon Powershot SX610HS

The SX610 succeeds the SX600 HS, a camera we weren’t as crazy about, unlike the SX700. Judging from the similar specs, we don’t expect any major improvements. Zoom remains at 18x (25-450mm), while the CMOS sensor increases to 20.2 megapixels, instead of the previous 16. Canon calls it the economy SX model, and will be available in red, white, and black, and in February 2015.

Canon says the SX cameras’ Zoom Plus feature can digitally magnify up to 100x without any noticeable degradation, but we are generally iffy on digital zooms. Also, moving forward, any new Canon camera that supports NFC now handles dynamic tag support, which improves the pairing process with known devices.

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