How do you justify splurging for a pricey point-and-shoot when your smartphone takes "good enough" pictures on its own? A 20x lens, for starters. Canon's new PowerShot SX280 HS is small enough to tuck away in a pocket, yet it packs a 25-500mm f/3.5-6.8 lens. That's old news for SX260 owners, though -- last year's model offered an identical range. There's plenty of new features, however, including a 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor, built-in WiFi, a DIGIC 6 processor, 1080/30p and 60p video capture, a sensitivity range of ISO 80-6400 with significantly improved image quality in low light, a 14 fps Burst HQ mode and a 260-shot battery rating in Eco Mode (compared to 210 shots under normal conditions). Those features are joined by a 3-inch 461k-dot LCD and GPS, both of which shipped on the SX260.
During our hands-on, we quickly noticed the SX280 HS' significant speed boost -- it's 50 percent faster than its predecessor when it comes to focusing and shutter lag, and it definitely shows. The Burst HQ mode was also quite impressive, though you're unfortunately limited to just seven consecutive shots. The camera has a solid feel, though it's not terribly heavy. A very slim pop-up flash on the top, compact dedicated mode dial on the rear and a slightly extended front grip help to distinguish this model from lesser-equipped point-and-shoots, though both the red and black matte finishes convey a premium look on their own. You can catch both colors in person when the camera hits stores in April with a $330 MSRP, or you can sneak a peek right now in our hands-on gallery attached to this post.Gallery: Canon PowerShot SX280 HS hands-on