The new Canon Powershot SX400 IS isn't the most well-endowed super zoom on the market, but it does appear to be leading the competition price-wise, with a $249.99 list price and a solid 30x optical zoom. The super zoom cateogry has seen a lot of growth this year--the SX400 aims to compete not by adding fancy specs, but as a budget model. But, some consumers might find everything they are looking for without hitting the $400 mark of similar cameras.
The Canon Powershot SX400 doesn't offer advanced features like manual modes or RAW--it's designed for the average consumer looking to go big on zoom without going big on budget. The sensor is the average size for the category, but is the older, less expensive CCD type over the more common CMOS. The 30x zoom, again, isn't the top in the category but is still an excellent zoom, especially considering the price. The zoom is paired with optical image stabilization.
Like other budget cameras, the SX400 is not very fast. Burst speed only hits .8 fps (yes, there's a . there), unless you're in low light mode which bumps it up to a still slow 3.2 fps.
While it doesn't have manual modes to set parameters yourself, the settings the auto will choose from are more limited than higher end models. Shutter speed only goes to 1/1600. ISO range is also limited between 100 and 1600--which might mean a little more trouble with low light shots than other models.
Design wise, the Canon SX400 will feel very comfortable to those who have shot a Canon before. The body more closely resembles a DSLR than a point-and-shoot, though it's much smaller. The larger grip will make the camera more comfortable to use over smaller options.
The Canon SX400 isn't the top of the line super zoom--but it may have everything some consumers are looking for at a good price. A 30x zoom will get you up close without too much distortion--something many are looking for since their cell phones can't do that. The SX400 also has several digital filters for adding special effects. While video isn't 1080p, the SX400 has HD video and Canon has a pretty solid reputation for video quality. If you are looking to photograph sports or kids, opt for something faster; and if you're getting into photography, choose something with manual modes instead. But if you're looking for zoom on a budget, the Canon SX400 is certainly an option to consider.