We are usually pretty pleased with the performance of Canon cameras, and here in the Canon SX600HS, the company has produced another solid performer. It's specifications aren't especially exciting, but it produces good pictures and offers a good range of functions.
If you're looking for a well-performing compact camera with a good zoom range, then this is an appealing prospect. Although the 18x zoom certainly isn't the longest on the market, it's also significantly cheaper than those that offer even longer zooms, and 18x should cover the majority of scenarios. You've also got a digital zoom if you do need that extra reach.
Although it's starting to become more common, it's still nice to see Wi-Fi connectivity included on the camera. It's easy to set-up and use, and gives those that want to share their photos quickly on social networking the option to do that, which is always welcome. It's also great to see NFC included here for anyone with the technology available to them.
As mentioned, this camera doesn't have any particularly exciting specifications. For instance, it would be nice if it had a touchscreen, but on the other hand, not having one probably helps to keep the costs down.
You don't have manual control with this camera, but it's not meant to be aimed at enthusiast photographers. It's aimed more at people looking for something capable of producing good quality pictures without too much help. That said, there is Program Auto mode for those who want to experiment with some of the settings that are available, such as white balance and sensitivity.
The Hybrid Auto mode is a fun function which we've seen on quite a few Canon compact cameras. It's especially nice if you're using the camera to photograph a holiday or a big event such as wedding, since you'll have a video clip along with the shots that you take. It would be nice if you could activate this function when shooting in other modes though.
Creative mode is a bit of a strange one. While it's quite fun letting the camera choose different filters for you and it can be interesting to see what comes out of it, it would also be nice if you could take control over what the camera was doing, or just shoot with a particular filter that you liked. The other filters that are available in Program Auto mode aren't quite as fun, so it's a shame that there isn't more control.
Probably the best thing about this camera is the 18x optical zoom, which offers a very good range for the majority of users in the majority of scenarios. It's not the longest available on the market, sure, but it's also not the most expensive. Images taken at the telephoto end of the lens are good, too.
There's not too much to dislike about the SX600, it's more a collection of small niggles, many of which may be down to personal preference anyway. For instance, the lack of a touchscreen or lack of control over Creative Mode.
If you're looking for a reliable camera with a decent zoom range that's capable of producing good quality images – without too much input from you – this is a good option. If you want something with manual control, take a look at the Canon SX700 HS, which offers this functionality, along with an even longer zoom. It does come at a higher price though.