Canon's New Pocket Megazooms Are More Pocketable Than Ever

PowerShot Elph 510 HS
We've referred to compact high-zoom cameras as pocket megazooms for quite some time now, but in most cases "pocket megazooms" require the pocket in question to be fairly big. Think "a jacket's inside pocket" rather than "jeans front pocket."

Two of Canon's new PowerShot pocket megazooms announced today actually are jeans-front-pocket friendly, despite offering optical zoom ranges that compete with those of slightly bulkier rivals. The 12X-optical-zoom Canon PowerShot Elph 510 HS has a body measuring just 0.86 inches deep, while the 8X-optical-zoom Canon PowerShot Elph 310 HS sports a frame that's 0.87 inch thick.

The company also announced a third, less-pocketable megazoom today: The 12X-optical-zoom Canon PowerShot SX150 IS has a beefier 1.8-inch-deep body--but unlike the two smaller pocket zooms, it offers manual exposure controls.

Canon PowerShot Elph 510 HS: Superslim Design, Touchscreen, 12X Zoom

Canon is billing the 12-megapixel PowerShot Elph 510 HS as the "world’s thinnest digital camera with 12X optical zoom and a 28mm wide-angle lens." The body measures 3.9 inches wide, 2.32 inches tall, and 0.86 inch deep. Its optically stabilized zoom lens reaches from 28mm wide-angle to 336mm telephoto in 35mm film equivalent.

Canon PowerShot Elph 510 HS
The latest PowerShot camera in Canon 's HS System line, the Elph 510 HS offers a low-light-optimized CMOS sensor and a 3.2-inch-diagonal LCD touchscreen. Added to the touchscreen functionality of the PowerShot Elph 500 HS from earlier this year is the ability to control the camera's shutter using the touch-to-focus controls; pressing the screen focuses on a subject, while releasing your finger from the screen fires the shutter.

The PowerShot Elph 510 HS offers a high-speed burst mode for still images that fires off 7.8 shots per second; however, unlike previous models in the HS System line, this camera doesn't provide a high-speed/superslow-motion video mode. In video mode, the Elph 510 HS shoots 1080p video at 24 frames per second, and optical zoom controls are enabled while the camera is shooting video.

Canon PowerShot Elph 510 HS
You won't find any manual controls for shutter and aperture, but the PowerShot Elph 510 HS looks to have the generally excellent auto exposure, scene modes, and creative filters found in recent PowerShot cameras. New to the mix is an "Intelligent IS" stabilization system, which Canon says selects from various presets to correct camera shake more effectively in different scenarios. The system reportedly adjusts the level of shake correction automatically, depending on whether the user is snapping a wide-angle shot, a macro photo, a moving handheld shot, or a tripod-mounted shot, for example.

Due in the beginning of October, the Canon PowerShot Elph 510 HS is priced at $350 and will be available in black, silver, or red.

Canon PowerShot Elph 310 HS: Very Thin Design, 8X Zoom, and Physical Controls

The 12-megapixel PowerShot Elph 310 HS trades in the 510 HS's touchscreen for physical buttons, and it has a slightly shorter zoom range (8X optical zoom, 28mm to 224mm) to go along with its smaller dimensions overall (3.77 inches wide, 2.24 inches tall, and 0.87 inches deep).

Canon PowerShot Elph 310 HS
It also has a slightly faster burst-shooting mode than the PowerShot Elph 510 HS does, clocking in at 8.7 shots per second at its speediest. You handle shot composition via a 3-inch-diagonal LCD screen; the back of the camera also hosts a dedicated video-record button, a playback button, and your standard PowerShot four-way directional pad/function controls.

Canon PowerShot Elph 310 HS (click to zoom)
In an interesting design twist, the Auto-mode and Menu buttons reside on the side of the camera rather than the back of it. Canon moved those buttons from the back to the side in order to leave more room for the LCD screen without increasing the size of the camera or reducing the size of the display.

Like the PowerShot Elph 510 HS, the Elph 310 HS offers the new "Intelligent IS" stabilization system, 1080p video recording at 24 fps with optical-zoom functionality enabled, and a low-light-optimized CMOS sensor. Slated for availability in the beginning of October at $260, it will be available in purple, silver, blue, green, and pink.

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS: 12X Zoom, Manual Controls, and a CCD Sensor

One of these cameras is not like the others. It's the 12X-optical-zoom (28mm to 336mm) Canon PowerShot SX150 IS, which is the only non-HS-branded PowerShot camera we've seen this year.

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS

For instance, the PowerShot SX150 IS offers a 14-megapixel CCD sensor rather than the HS System's CMOS imager; most likely due to that CCD sensor, the SX150 IS lacks the fast-shooting burst mode and 1080p video capabilities of the other cameras. The PowerShot SX150 IS shoots 720p video with optical zoom enabled, and it measures a comparatively hefty 4.46 inches wide, 2.88 inches tall, and 1.8 inches deep.

However, the larger PowerShot SX150 IS offers more manual maneuverability, with aperture-priority, shutter-priority, and full manual exposure controls, as well as a pop-up flash instead of the other new models' fixed, front-facing flash. The SX150 IS also offers the Intelligent IS stabilization system found on the other cameras, and its 3-inch LCD is flanked by physical buttons and a scrollwheel to control its range of in-camera functions.

Due in early September, the Canon PowerShot SX150 IS is priced at $250, and will be available in black or red.

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