PROS / This camera features the longest zoom lens in our comparison.
CONS / It has only average battery life.
VERDICT / The Canon PowerShot SX720 HS is larger and heavier than most of the cameras in our review, but it is very versatile and produces great-looking images with soft, appealing colors. We only wish its controls and battery were a little better.
The best point and shoot cameras are compact with good image quality, a useful design and a versatile lens. Every camera approaches this differently, however, and so while a camera may offer all of these things, the balance may still not quite suit your needs.
While we consider the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS to be one of the best point and shoot cameras you can buy, it is on the larger side when compared to pocket-sized competitors. It’s similar in size to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50. However, it remains an excellent option, boasting great image quality, a long zoom range and decent physical controls. For besting most others in those categories, we’ve decided to give it our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award.
In general, image quality is affected most by sensor size and quality as well as the quality of your lens. Since all of the cameras in our review have identical sensors sizes and similar lenses, we relied heavily on our testing to determine which ones produce the most accurate, detailed and appealing images.
In terms of resolution, the SX720 is one of the best cameras that we tested. While 20.2 megapixels is quite a detailed image, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a quality image. In general, more pixels only means you’ll have more freedom when it comes to cropping or enlarging your images. For most people, however, 10 megapixels is already more than enough. In other words, don’t place too much weight on resolution.
In our testing for low light performance the SX720 was among the best. As we increased the sensitivity of the sensor we found that it handled noise better than many of its competitors. This is helpful when shooting indoors without a flash.
We also found that it did well to capture details in highlights and shadows. While other cameras had many areas with blowout highlights or overly black shadows, the SX720’s images were well balanced. Realistically speaking, however, this is still an inexpensive point and shoot camera, and in extreme circumstances you will lose detail with any of the cameras we tested.
The colors this camera produced were appealing despite being slightly less accurate than those from the Nikon or even the Panasonic cameras. For the most part we thought the colors were a little softer than the others, which looks nice especially when it comes to portraits.
Most of the time, point and shoot users expect their cameras to do their processing for them and output images pre-compressed as JPEGs. The SX720, however, is capable of saving RAW images which are uncompressed and therefore, comprised of much more information. This gives you the freedom to process the images as you see fit.
The SX720 has decent battery life, but it is about 40 shots below our lineup’s average at 250 shots per charge. If that seems too little to you, Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-SZ50 offers a shorter zoom range and 50 more shots per charge. If you’re digging the idea of a longer zoom range, spare batteries are easy enough to find online.
At 40x zoom, this camera’s lens is longer than anything else we tested. This means you can shoot close to the action in all kinds of situations without having to move – think soccer games, school plays – circumstances where approaching your subject simply isn’t an option. The zoom is easy to operate via a small toggle that surrounds the shutter release button.
Features & Design
Optical image stabilization allows you to shoot at low shutter speeds without introducing blur as a result of camera shake. This can be incredibly useful for shooting in low light environments without using a flash. In our testing, the optical image stabilization of the SX720 worked well, and although it’s not a camera designed for low light shooting by any means, we were able to capture relatively clear images with consistency.
We thought that its physical controls were pretty good, although we did have a couple issues. There are no programmable buttons as found in the Panasonic ZS50, and there’s only one adjustment dial. And while we appreciated the options afforded by the mode dial, we thought that placing it on the back of the camera, rather than the typical position at the top was a strange and less intuitive choice.
Help & Support
Canon provides a one-year warranty with the SX720 that protects you against defects in craftsmanship or materials. If you run into any issues with your camera or just need some help learning to use it, you can always consult the manual that’s included. If you lose that, there are also downloadable manuals available on Canon’s website. For other questions, you can also reach support staff via phone or email.
The Canon PowerShot SX720 HS is a capable camera with a long versatile lens. And with good image quality and decent controls, we think it’s a good choice for most people. The only real downside is its below-average battery life. If that’s something you can handle, this might well be the camera for you.