Canon's Powershot SX series of camera is a compact camera at heart but tries to bridge the gap between super-zoom cameras and the regular compact ones by providing a more powerful optical zoom lens and manual controls like a DSLR.
The Canon Powershot SX150 Image Stabilisation (IS) is the latest in this range. It is just a minor upgrade over the SX130 IS; namely a better megapixel count and an improved Image Stabilisation module.
Features and Specs
The Powershot SX150 is has a 1/2.3 CCD Sensor with 14.1 effective megapixels (the only factor distinguishing it from its sibling). The 12x optical zoom lens has a focal length of 28-336mm (35mm equivalent). The wide angle specification of the camera is a dissapointment. It has a minimum aperture of f/5.4 and extends to f/3.4. Once again not great numbers. We shall find out if it has any effect on the captured images.??The camera has a 3-inch LCD which has a display of 236k pixels again making me wonder why Canon doesn’t provide a better LCD screen on their cameras.??The Canon Powershot SX150 IS can capture 720p videos at 30fps. It comes with a manual pop-up flash. Defeats the purpose???The camera has a ISO range of 80/ 100/ 200/ 400/ 800/ 1600. The camera also has a range of scene modes which are regular with Canon camera’s these days.
The camera also utilises two AA batteries and doesn’t use the now standard Li-ion batteries. Though it is not green energy, it definitely has some advantages like the higher number of photos that can be captured and the easy availability of the batteries.
Design, Usability & Controls
The three photos below speak for themselves.
As you may have already deciphered Canon is a strong believer of "why tinker around with a design that is good". But my dear designers at Canon, a little bit of creativity wouldn’t have killed you. Would it? At least you could have reduced the weight. I believe 306 grams is a tad too much for a sub-15k compact camera. Well, I suppose most of the weight woes arise because of the extended optical zoom lens.
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Apart from that, the design is not exceptional or ground-breaking but it is utilitarian. However, the build quality is top-notch. Despite the plasticky body, the SX150 IS gets good points in terms of build quality.
The top of the camera is populated by the mode-dial, the manual pop-up flash, the shutter button surrounded by the zoom ring and the power button. Three-fourths of the back of the camera is covered by the 3-inch LCD which is flanked on the right by the playback, circular dial, video record, exposure sensitivity, displan and menu buttons. Though it looks cluttered, prolonged usage actually makes the placement of buttons easier for navigation.
I have never had any qualms with Canon's user interface on most of its model. The Canon Powershot SX150 IS also does not dissapoint in this regard. Even a first-time user should figure out the controls without any issues.
The camera is a slow performer. In our extensive speed test, I found that the camera was average to slow in most of the aspects of shooting speeds. To start the camera and be ready for shooting the SX150 IS took 1.309 seconds which is not too bad. However, shutter lag with pre-focus was constantly at 2.5-3 seconds which is bad and without pre-focus it was around 4 seconds which makes matters worse. Shot-to-shot time clocked around 8 seconds with flash making it the slowest camera used in this regard and without flash it clocked at around 5 seconds. Disappointment galore.
Image and lens quality
To my surprise, the camera has a complete manual mode. Apart from that Canon has also added the Aperture priority (Av) and Shutter Priority (Tv) modes to play with.
Despite all these manual modes, the quality of captured images was not up to some of the great Canon cameras I have tested recently. Not to say that it is bad but I generally expect more from Canon.
The camera lens suffers from chromatic abberation. Take a look at the images captured in soft sunlight for reference.
Focussing in full zoom took a while but the camera did manage to capture good details. Use a tripod if you are shooting pictures in low light conditions. The camera manages to capture some good details in the night.
In our ISO test, the camera failed to capture good images beyond ISO 200. They were not as terrible as some of the other cameras I've tested, though.
Yes 1080p recording is missing but the camera can definitely capture some good 720p videos. Two thumbs up.
The best part about having to use AA (alkaline or NiMH) batteries is that you invariably get a lot of shots. But I suggest that you invest in good quality NiMH rechargable batteries because I noticed that the camera ate up a lot of battery while shooting movies. However, the battery life is excellent and two rechargable NiMH batteries should give you a minimum of 400 shots on single charge.
The Canon Powershot SX150 IS has its share of niggles. But it is nevertheless a good buy. Definitely, not an upgrade over its predecessor but worth a look for first-time buyers. Casual users who wish to have a truckload of manual controls will enjoy the camera.