What makes the Canon Powershot SX150 IS different to other digital cameras is the range of more advanced features it offers for a relatively low price tag. This includes manual exposure controls and a 12x zoom lens. Other features that help to make the Powershot SX150 IS stand out from other cameras in this price bracket include being able to record stereo sound with your movie clips.
This is also one of the few digital cameras to be powered by AA batteries.
Why Buy The Canon Powershot SX150 IS
If you would like a digital camera with a few more advanced features, but do not want to buy a more expensive, top of the range models the Powershot SX150 IS gives you a more reasonably priced option.
113.3 x 73.2 x 45.8mm
Megapixels and Zoom
The Powershot SX150 IS has 14 megapixels and a 12x optical zoom lens. The focal length of the lens is equivalent to 28 - 336mm in 35mm format. The maximum aperture is f/3.4 - f/5.6.
Batteries and Memory Cards
Power is supplied to this camera by two AA batteries. The Powershot SX150 IS is one of only a small number of digital cameras to use this type of battery. It can use SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards.
High Definition movie clips can be recorded. These have a maximum resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, with a recording speed of 30 frames per second. The maximum duration of a High Definition movie is 29 minutes or 4GB - whichever limit is reached first.
Two plus points of movie recording with this camera are the fact it can record stereo sound and videos can be stored in Apple's iFrame format.
The LCD screen is 3 inches in size.
Manual Exposure Modes
For when you want to take more control over the way your photos look Canon have added a set of manual exposure controls (Fully Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority). The shutter speed can be set between 15 and 1/2500 seconds. The aperture range available is f/3.4 to f/8 when the lens is zoomed out and f/5.6 to f/8 when the lens is zoomed in.
Close up photography is catered for by a macro mode that is able to focus from 1cm away from your subject.
Smart shutter has three settings. These are smile, new face and wink. In smile mode the camera will fire off a shot if it detects someone is smiling. With new face a picture is taken when the Powershot SX150 IS detects a new face has joined the scene. With wink self timer you can fire off a photo by winking at the camera.
Canon have added image stabilisation to reduce blur for your still images and to reduce shakiness for movies. This should give your movie clips a smoother look.
Flash is one area where Canon tends to offer more options than other brands. You can adjust the power of the flash, use red eye reduction, set flash exposure compensation and use flash exposure lock.
If you are looking for some fine tuning options you have access to setting ISO, white balance and exposure compensation. Another area where you get a little more control with the Powershot SX150 IS is when it comes to metering. Here you can choose from evaluative, centre weighted and spot.
The larger size of this camera compared to smaller compacts makes it easy to take a firm hold. There is a grip area on the front as well as plenty of room on top and also on the back of the camera to place your thumb.
Canon have used a flash unit that pops up above the lens unit. With some cameras this positioning can mean the flash unit gets in the way of your finger on top of the camera. The larger size of the camera means that is not an issue in this case.
LCD Screen Quality
The screen is 3 inches in size. That's a good size for viewing. Quality is about average. It can be difficult to view the screen in direct sunlight, but most of the time the screen should be easy to see.
Turn on Time and Shutter Delay
Shutter lag tests threw up a big problem when using flash. This camera produced some of the slowest times I have seen. Perhaps I would have seen better times if I had used new batteries, but even if this was the case the times posted are a big cause for concern. Times without flash were much better, although they are still slower than many cameras manage.
Design, Build Quality and Finish
The Powershot SX150 IS has a bit of a retro look to it. It is certainly not a sleek stylish model. In terms of build quality there is a bit of a plastic feel. This suggests the attraction is likely to be the features on offer rather than looks and build.
On top of the camera sits a shutter button, on / off button and control dial. There is also a zoom ring encompassing the shutter button. The control dial lets you select the shooting mode you wish to use.
At the top on the back of the camera is the picture review button. Moving down there are two buttons. The first gives you access to exposure compensation settings and the second is for shooting movies. In playback mode the exposure button controls deleting photos.
Next comes the main control section. This has controls for setting ISO, flash mode, the self timer, focus type, accessing main functions and confirming a setting. It also has a selection wheel that is used to speed up selecting settings. At the bottom are buttons to change information displayed on the LCD screen and accessing the menu system.
Canon divides settings into two areas. Main settings such as white balance, metering mode and image size are stored in the functions area. More general settings are in the menu. These include digital zoom, flash settings and image stabilisation settings. The main menu has 18 settings and the setup section of the menu has 17 options.
Image Quality - See Sample Images Below
Picture Quality Summary
The Powershot SX150 IS performs very well when lighting is good. Outdoor shots in daylight are impressive. Working in lower light the camera can find it a challenge to produce truly sharp images.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 1
This test poses a number of challenges for a digital camera. It is a high contrast scene with lost of very light and lots of very dark areas. The Powershot SX150 IS handles those challenges extremely well. This is especially true of the light areas of the boats and wooden slats under the roof of the building. Much more detail is showing in those areas compared with a lot of other digital cameras. Noise levels around the names of the boats are kept to a minimum too.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 2
As with the first test shot the Powershot SX150 IS performs well when compared to digital cameras of around the same price. The sharpness of this shot in particular is impressive. When the lens is zoomed out you often see a loss of focus towards the edges of a picture, but this is not the case here.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 3
A small amount of purple fringing shows if you blow up picture size. This is unlikely to be a problem with snapshot sized prints. Likewise there is a little less definition in some areas of the photo when compared to more expensive cameras. So all in all quality is in line with what you might expect from a camera in this price range.
Canon digital cameras tend to produce the sharpest images compared to all other brands. This shot is a fine example of that. Sharpness is retained up to the edge of the shot.
There is not too much to note with this picture. Colours take on a natural look and the photo is sharp and clear. You should be able to produce plenty of pleasing portrait shots when the lighting is good.
Indoor Portrait With Flash
This is the weakest test shot. It is not in perfect focus. The burst of light produced is quite bright and reflects back off the face leaving some shiny patches. This is an area where you can experiment with the power of the flash unit.
Indoor Portrait Without Flash
Working with the indoor lighting the Powershot SX150 IS comes up with a very warm looking photo. Al though the photo is sharper than the shot taken with flash is still lacks absolute clarity. Taking these two shots together, plus the time taken for the flash to fire it suggests this camera may not be the one for you if you take a lot of shots indoors or in lowlight situations.
Macro quality is about standard for this level of digital camera. The specification states that you should be able to focus from 1cm away from your subject, but you may find owing to the size of the camera light levels are reduced. Therefore you may find you achieve a better result if you are slightly further away.
Colours are well balanced. As with other Canon digital cameras you will be able to pack lots of colour into your shots without overpowering your photos. Your pictures should be bright too.
In most instances noise is kept to a minimum and is not an issue. This can change when you are working in more challenging lighting conditions.
Shutter Lag Times
Single Shot With Flash
Five Shots With Flash
Turn on Time
Ease of Use
Although the Powershot SX150 IS has some extra controls compared to more basic digital cameras it is still easy enough to operate. It you are new to digital photography or you are used to a more basic camera you can learn how to make the most of the more advanced features as you go.
Points I Like
Picture quality in good light, features for price
Where it Could Improve
Shots in lowlight, delay in taking a photo when flash is used
The Canon Powershot SX150 IS performs very well indeed in good light. Photos are crisp, colours vibrant and pictures are bright. In fact the camera outperforms a lot of similarly priced cameras in those conditions. Lowlight is a challenge and in some tests it was hard for the camera to achieve absolute focus. If you see yourself mainly taking pictures in good light then this camera offers a very enticing combination of features and price.
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