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Canon just introduced 6 new compact and ultra-compact cameras with some very interesting developments and two minor upgrades. The most significant news is the revival of the Powershot S-series with the new S90. Also new is Canon’s widest angle lens ever on the SD980. The biggest surprise is that the new G11 has a significantly lower resolution than its predecessor.

The 10 megapixels Canon Powershot S90 is a very compact – but not quite ultra-compact – digital camera with an unusually bright 28-105mm F2.0-4.9 lens, full manual controls and a 3″ LCD with 461K pixels. Its sensor is also larger than most compact cameras, similar in size the SuperCCD Fuji uses in its F-series of ultra-compacts. The larger sensor and brighter maximum aperture should give the S90 good low-light capabilities, something which is constantly a problem with most compact cameras.

The new flagship G-series reduces the resolution by over 30% compared to its predecessor, in the hopes of producing better high-ISO images to improve low-light performance. While the G10 had a 14.7 megapixels sensor, the G11 shares the same 10 megapixels sensor at the new Powershot SD90. Most other components remain the same, including the 28-140mm 5X stabilized optical zoom lens. While Canon had gone back one megapixel before, this is the probably strongest indicator that they understand the importance of low-light performance over increased resolution.

The 12 megapixels ultra-compact Powershot SD980 features an ultra-wide lens. It is widest fixed lens among Canon cameras and the smallest camera to feature a lens starting at 24mm. The SD980 has a 3″ touch-screen, also a first for Canon, but something we would like to ignore. More importantly the SD980 records HD 720p video at 30 FPS using the H.264 codec.

The Powershot SD940 also features a 12 megapixels sensor and HD 720p video at 30 FPS but in a smaller body and with a 28-112mm stabilized wide-angle lens. This ultra-compact has a standard 2.7″ LCD and slightly more external controls than the SD980. Both these new SD-series digital cameras are point-and-shoot models with custom white-balance, choice of metering patterns but no manual controls. The HD movie-recording feature is complemented by HDMI out on these two cameras.

The Powershot SX20 is a resolution upgraded SX10 with the same stabilized wide-angle 20X optical zoom lens, equivalent to 28-560mm. The sensor now has 12 megapixels and the ability to record HD 720p video at 30 FPS. Th SX20 also adds HDMI out compared to its predecessor. It keeps the built-in stereo microphone, full-manual controls and 2.5″ LCD with 230K pixels. This ultra-zoom is powered by 4 AA batteries and can take over 600 shots per charge.

The last new camera is the Powershot SX120, a resolution upgrade to 10 megapixels of the 9 megapixels SX110. It keeps the same stabilized 10X optical zoom lens, equivalent to 36-360mm, and full manual controls. It also has a 3″ LCD and is powered by 2 AA batteries, giving it 360-plus shots-per-charge. The SX120, SX20, SD940 and SD980 should be available in September, while the G11 and S90 are scheduled to ship later in October.

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