Does somebody know if the Canon Powershot SX60HS, a superzoom bridge camera, is a good camera (for travel)?


  • We like making landscape pictures (stars, moon, river, mountains...) so the colors from the camera should be as natural as possible :D
  • Because we're traveling, the camera shouldn't be too heavy or big

In fact we want to make professional pictures. Is this possible with this camera?

  • 8
    "professional pictures" are taken with experience and practice, not hardware. – Olivier Feb 19 '16 at 18:44
  • Well, some "professional" pictures are taken by inexperienced interns running the camera on school picture day. I know you're using the word as a shorthand for "high quality", but it doesn't mean that. All it means is that it was done by someone as part of their job. – mattdm Feb 20 '16 at 15:17

There is nothing particularly outstanding about this model for travel or landscape photography, but it isn't a bad choice either. It has some advantages such as an "all in one" solution where you don't need to carry multiple lenses, but it still offers a huge optical zoom range by any standard.

Is it capable of taking images in as difficult situations as a high end DSLR? No of course not. But does it have the ability to capture images that are superior to a smartphone? I would say yes for sure.

You did ask about astrophotography (stars/moon), which is a very demanding area of photography. You will struggle to get good images of the night sky with a camera like this. But for general purpose landscape, sure this camera can handle it.

I would strongly suggest investing in a good starter book for digital photography, like The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby. Without the knowledge, a camera at any price is not worth it.

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A superzoom bridge camera, which is the class that the Powershot SX60HS fits, is a good versatile camera, but it does have a few weak spots.

This type of camera is basically built around the lens. To cover the large zoom range, and especially the supertelephoto reach, the lens itself will be larger than a lens with less "reach". And its maximum aperture will typically be small--especially on the long end, typically in the f/5.6-6.3. That means you can't use any aperture settings larger than f/5.6 when zoomed all the way in. And on the wide end, you may still be slower than f/2.8. f/2-f/2.8 are what you generally need for available light photography (say, indoors without a flash).

In addition, the huge zoom range comes not so much from a really powerful lens, as it does from a combination of a longer lens and a small sensor (1/2.3" format is most common). The "crop factor" of these sensors tends to be around 5x.

So, where this type of camera really shines it outside, in bright sunlight. So, for landscape photography, it can be very good, so long as you have enough stabilization (either built in or with a tripod) when zoomed all the way in to eliminate shake. Canon's SX series also offers you the three features I consider mandatory for any "serious" camera: full manual mode (for full control of exposure), RAW capability (for full post-processing latitude), and a flash hotshoe (for off-camera lighting flexibility).

But there are drawbacks to this camera, that might make it less ideal for travel.

  • Size/bulk. Because of the larger lens, this isn't going to be the most compact of cameras. Bridge cameras are styled like dSLRs, and are rarely pocketable. But you don't have dSLR low-light or versatility (from interchangeable lenses).

  • Low-light capability. Smaller sensors, because of the small size of the pixels on the sensor, tend not to handle high iso settings as well as larger sensors. So, noise is much more evident at lower iso settings. In addition, the maximum aperture of the superzoom lens limits you as well. You will generally be using flash or a tripod in low light with this type of camera.

  • Shutter speed limitations. Like most P&S fixed-lens cameras, bridge cameras rarely offer bulb mode for night-time astrophotography. 30s is typically the outside limit on these types of cameras (the SX60HS's limit is 15s). While this can suffice for some night time shooting, it may not be suitable for darker environments you might encounter (like trying to do star trails on a moonless night somewhere not light-polluted).

Chances are good that if this camera fits your budget, and you're not interested in getting seriously into more advanced forms of photography, and you're not that interested in portraits or available light shooting, this camera could serve your needs as a travel camera. But you may want to consider how much you need the "reach" of a superzoom, vs. the compactness or low-light capability another type of compact camera might be able to offer you. Or if the versatility of an interchangeable lens camera might be worth the huge uptick in expense.

See also: What do I need to consider to choose between dSLR, mirrorless, or a compact as my first "serious" camera?

In addition, your request about color and professional quality aren't so much up to the camera as up to you and how far you're willing to go in learning how to use a camera, compose a shot, and post-process. Gorgeous landscape shots are rarely snapshots someone took on the spur of the moment. They're generally done by folks who are willing to spend money on plane tickets, and get up at 0-dark-thirty to hike to the perfect vantage point at the perfect time of day/year to get That Shot. And probably to shoot RAW, bracket, HDR or panostitch, and post-process the hell out of it, too. Which is why they're willing to get the really expensive camera gear, too. Read the story of how Ansel Adams captured "Monolith, The Face of Half Dome" sometime (I forget which book, but I'd assume that Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs has it).

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