One of the two biggest players (alongside Nikon), Canon have an established reputation at all levels of the market and are popular with everyone from professionals to those just wanting something easy to use for holiday snaps.
Canons compact cameras fall into two distinct ranges; the Digital IXUS range that focuses on ease of use and great point and shoot results, and the PowerShot range aimed towards those who want greater quality and a higher degree of creative freedom. Entry level IXUS models start at just over £100, and the wide range of colours and stylish designs make them a popular choice among children and the style conscious. PowerShot models tend to command a premium for the higher quality optics, larger sensors (which are particularly useful for taking photos in low-light), sturdier build quality, and on some models very impressive zoom lenses. Popular current models include one of our favourite compacts, the Canon PowerShot SX210, and the long standing compact choice of many DSLR and pro users, the Canon PowerShot S95.
It is in the DSLR market that Canon has really carved a name for itself of late, starting in 2003 with the EOS 300D (or EOS Digital Rebel in North America), widely regarded as the first affordable mass market DSLR and the catalyst for many photographers moving from film to digital. More recently, Canons’ perceived superiority over other manufacturers in DSLR video has made several models, particularly the high-end EOS 5D MkII and EOS 7D, popular among those looking for a serious video tool.
Generally the EOS range follows a system whereby the lower the number the better the model – so the EOS 1D is the flagship camera, with the 5D MkII fitting below it, the 7D and 60D below that, and then the 450D/500D/550D/600D/1000D/1100D falling in sequence. As models get updated at different times the logic doesn’t always follow, and certain cameras lower down the range may offer features not seen on higher models.
One of the highlights many overlook on the Canon EOS range is the included software, which enables RAW processing and control of many models through a PC or Mac. If this software is important to you, then consider Canon carefully as other manufacturers (including Nikon) sell processing and control software as an extra.
The PowerShot SX30 IS is the closest Canon really has to a traditional bridge camera offering, though the PowerShot G12 high-end compact is close in terms of size and performance. If you are in the market for a bridge camera then you should check out the models from other manufacturers too – Fuji are probably the market leaders in this field.
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