on 26 November 2011
I can't believe that I'm back again reviewing a Canon powershot - but I am. I saw this one come out, with no intention of buying it, but there was a good price on Amazon, cashback from Canon, and a relative needing a camera, so I couldn't resist passing the old one on and buying the SX150is. It's available in silver and red as options, but I stuck to black.
First of all this is a superzoom camera, which means it has a big range of focal lengths. This gives a body which is slightly bigger than most pocket-sized cameras, but the benefit is the ability to zoom in - and boy can you zoom in! It has a 12x optical zoom and to indicate what that means; I was standing so my shed was filling about a quarter of the screen, and then zoomed in fully and the fairly small shed window filled the screen on the optical zoom, without resorting to the digital zoom. It is the equivalent of 28 mm to 336 mm, for a 35mm camera, which is as much as you are ever likely to want.
Power is provided by AA batteries, which doesn't suit everyone, but it really works for me. We have dozens of high capacity rechargeables, and they are long-lasting, with charged spares always to hand. The original alkalines didn't do very well though, so try to use rechargeables. If you are going to carry them charged for a long time it's also worth getting the long-lasting ones.
The sensor has been upgraded to 14.1 megapixels, from 12 before, which helps in low light, and is all anyone is ever likely to need for everyday family use.
Settings are simple to use, with lots of manual options. I tend to ignore the easy mode and go straight to auto option, which has 31 settings for the camera to choose from. Then you can move to SCN mode, which I generally use for scenery and people. Then there are the programme modes, and finally manual settings.
There are various filter modes, including a miniature scene mode, toy camera mode and colour swap. I rarely use them, but they're useful for a bit of fun. Speaking of fun smart shutter, smile detection takes a photo when it detects someone smiling. It may seem a little gimmicky, but it does actually work, and has improved photos of people - maybe because they know they're stuck there until they smile!
Photo quality is very good, probably an advance on the last one. Because of the large sensor you can blow the photos up quite large, and retain the detail. Canon reckons you can print to A2. I rarely print photos, but like to use the highest quality setting nevertheless. A 4gb memory card holds around 1000 photos at the highest resolution. Even zoomed in the detail is good, with the image stabilisation working to reduce shake. Colours are good, very realistic, although I have sometimes detected a slight yellowish cast indoors.
I have tried the video, and am quite happy with it, but it isn't why I bought the camera, and I'm unlikely to use it very often.
It's worth giving the software a quick shout as well. I like zoombrowser to upload new photos to my computer with very little fuss. Plug in the camera, switch it on and off you go.
So all-in-all this quality of camera, with this range of zoom, with an overwhelming range of manual settings, but very good photos out-of-the box in auto mode, has to be worth 5 stars.
Edit 27-12-11 I've added two photos of Leith Hall to the product description. They are intended to show the range of the zoom, rather than being held up as good photos. They were both taken from the same place, one at the wide-angle setting, and the other fully zoomed in, using the optical zoom only. As you can see it really does have a huge range.
on 17 April 2013
Originally I bought this as a replacement for a faulty SX200is (one of the first hi-zoom cameras around). I wasn't expecting much from it, with a 14Mp sensor, I was expecting more noise in the pictures at lower ISO levels than before. A function of squeezing more pixels onto the same size piece of silicon. However I have been pleasantly surprised with the photo quality, and some of the included features. I won't go into huge detail, except to say that in everday use it is superb, and very easy to use at a moments notice for those instant photos you might otherwise miss.
Some pros:- superb 'tracking' feature allowing you to track a subject in focus even when they move about the photo frame; light and quick to start up; large 3" display on the rear; a flash with quite a good range and that doesn't pop up constantly (you have to open it up when wanted); 720p movie recording via a dedicated button on the camera back; the addition of several fun modes including a 'miniature effect' function; a quick acting 12x zoom, and if you reduce the pixel count (e.g. down to 7Mp) that zooms further without loss of quality; standard AA battery usage, not dedicated Lithium-ion, means replacements are easy to find if you're caught out, though this is balanced out by poor battery life on alkalines they are still good for emergency usage.
Some cons:- poor battery life with standard alkaline batteries means you really have to use hi-capacity NiMh rechargables to get a good life span from the camera between changes (I reccommend a minimum 2100mAhr at least); no view finder means you have to rely on the large rear panel (but on the up side it's easy to view in most conditions so far), the loss of the 'panorama stitch assist' function is a big downer for me as I used that one an awful lot.
P.S. Search on eBay for this camera, and if you don't mind a refurbished item direct from Canon (with a full 12mth warranty) you'll pay less than £50 for this excellent little camera. I did.
on 4 September 2013
There's nothing to dislike about this model. This is my third and the price has dropped every time. The first one was great but I dropped it and the lens bent. I got the third because I wanted more pixels than the second one had. I've got two now, one of which is a spare just in case.
After all, this is a Canon, and has one of the best camera lenses in the world. A decent lens has to be the main critera for buying a quality camera, and this is a quality camera with a top class lens. Simple to use with plenty of features, it can't be bettered in it's range. Mine goes everywhere with me because it can go in a small pocket. Doesn't wiegh much and is very unobtrusive. Cracking piece of kit.
on 11 October 2012
The SX130/150 series compacts suffer from poor optical performance, sluggish response, and bad battery life.
The lense produces soft images, with sharpness really dropping off at the edges. Grain is visible in the sky and darker areas even at the 80 ISO setting. Macro performance is bad.
What I find truly appalling is the speed of the lense in terms of 'light-gathering ability'. The lense is rated at F3.4 widest aperture, but even in pretty bright conditions, the shutter speeds are slow, and this results in blur when taking pictures of animals and action scenes etc. How can this be ?
Well, I compared the results from an older Powershot A610 (2006)set to the same focal length, aperture and ISO setting. I found that for the same scene, the old Powershot chose a shutter speed twice as fast ! Obviously a faster shutter produces sharper pictures. Canon are not being entirely honest with their claim of F3.4. Now the SX150 has image stabilisation which helps of course, but this is no substitute for a fast lense ! If there is any movement in the scene, it will be blurred. One way around this is to select a higher ISO, but this increases the grain.
Another problem is the focus performance - the old Powershot will focus reliably on a wide range of objects - a jet flying high in the sky, or an object 1cm away. The SX will not lock onto an aircraft, and it often gives the green symbol in macro mode, only to find on review that it's out of focus ! There is only one focus option - centre, whereas the old powershot has a moveable focus point so that you can compose a scene with the main object of interest off-set to one side.
Rather than chasing a higher pixel count, Canon should have concentrated on better optical and focus performance - and all those manual options simply can't come to the rescue...
on 24 October 2012
Sorry about the pun but I have owned a string of Canon Powershots and this is the best and probably as the years have passed the cheapest! It has as may pixels as you could want, produces full screen video in good quality, good optical zoom and unlike my old Canon the video edit feature is back, why this went away I cannot imagine; its even easier to use as the programms are selected for you, unless you really want to fiddle around, and quite intuiative, video is just push the red button to start and end; and you can slip it in your pocket so nothing clunky to carry around, another winner.