Despite having a 25-500mm equivalent lens to shunt in and out of the body, the Canon PowerShot SX260 HS is a responsive compact camera. Our tests clocked it at under two seconds from start up to taking the first shot.
Zooming through the Canon SX260 HS's full zoom range takes approximately two seconds too. We didn't experience any delay or any zoom creep past the point at which we took our finger from the zoom collar switch. Framing scenes is therefore a joy, enabling you to blast through the focal lengths and compose shots with precision.
A zoom with such extended reach requires a robust image stabilisation system. The Canon PowerShot SX260 HS features Canon's Intelligent IS, offering up to four stops of compensation and automatically switching between seven different modes to suit the scene being photographed. It's effective.
Canon has addressed some of the handling quirks of the SX230 HS. A small, vertical rubber strip has been added to the front of the camera to improve grip, for instance. The flash no longer pops up on start up, either, making the camera much more comfortable to hold in two hands from the off. Due to its position on the far-left of the body, it still requires some readjustment of the left hand when it is activated, though.
Build quality is on a par with the Canon SX230 HS - in other words, it's excellent. There's no GPS hump on the top of the camera any more, and the curved edges and clean lines give it an appealing look and feel.
In another smart move, the power button has migrated to a recessed position on the top of the camera, reducing the chance of the Canon PowerShot SX260 HS being switched on in a bag or pocket. It makes it a little more fiddly to power up the camera, but at least there won't be any accidents.
Other than that, the controls that run down the right of the Canon PowerShot SX260 HS's screen are almost identical to that of its predecessor. The four-way controller/scroll wheel combo gives quick access to exposure compensation, flash and focus settings, plus the self-timer - all clearly marked, unlike on the SX230 HS.
A central FUNC/SET button confirms selections, while the self-timer also doubles as a delete button - another improvement over last year's camera.
Rotating the scroll wheel to adjust settings requires a gentle touch, though. Press too heavily and it's all-too easy to accidentally nudge one of the other controls as you do so, and adjust that parameter instead.