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Canon PowerShot SX260 HS Digital Camera Review$349.99
A tall, skinny ergonomic strip juts slightly outward from the front plate, giving the fingers something sturdy to latch onto. We still prefer wider, rubberized surfaces at this position on small cameras, but Canon's technique here is still a decent way of lending some grip to the otherwise-smooth camera body.
There are no ergonomic features on the rear panel, however this isn't as bad as we would've expected. The thumb naturally comes to rest beside the mode dial, which is rigid and textured, and gives the thumb enough traction to stay in place, without the risk of accidentally swapping modes.
Buttons & Dials
Canon's tried and true button layout for compacts is used to great effect here on the SX260. The multifunction directional pad / rotating dial is flanked top and bottom by keys for video recording, playback mode, display options, and the main menu. Inside the circular pad itself are shortcuts for common functions like exposure compensation, flash, focus, and self-timer; plus the Func./Set button in the center opens up a convenient quick menu. Simple and easy.
Above all that, the detailed mode dial is oriented vertically for comfortable operation by the thumb, and also makes a good resting place for it.
On the top plate, the large shutter release feels great, with clear tactile feedback, and is surrounded by a small (but not too small) zoom lever within easy reach of the right pointer finger. The rounded, oversized power button is sunk into the body, making it difficult to press on short notice, but at least you won't strike it accidentally.
A 3-inch LCD of good quality is fixed to the rear panel and, in the absence of a viewfinder, is the only way to frame and review photos. Brightness is sufficient for daytime photography and the viewing angle, while not the best we've seen, is decent at this price range. The onscreen image is delayed by a fraction of a second and, while framing at long zoom, the vibrations of our hands were enough to cause a noticeable rolling shutter effect, even with maximum image stabilization. The entire panel is covered by a hard plastic coating, which resists scratches or smudging, and wipes clean.
In our stabilization lab test, which simulates quick, constant, horizontal movement, the SX260's stabilizer produced only a moderate improvement to overall sharpness. A difference of under 6% in fact. That's not bad, we sometimes observe stabilizers worsening image quality, but still a modest result overall.
Yet when we actually got out to shoot with the SX260, things were much different. The stabilizer is highly effective in retaining sharpness for shots we expected to be blurry. Walking and shooting simultaneously is possible at all but the most extreme focal lengths, and long zoom framing is aided tremendously by the Continuous IS mode. For still photography we do not recommend the "Powered" option.