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Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Review
The Canon PowerShot SX series of cameras have been around for a long time now and one of the key features of the product has been a large zoom lens. There have been several updates to these models over the years and the latest update to the line is the SX150, a point and shoot equipped with a 12x optical zoom lens. An affordable price and a large zoom lens should make it an interesting camera to look out for.
Design and Build Quality
The Canon PowerShot SX150 IS comes in a dual tone silver and matte black finish. It’s got the standard jog dials for switching between settings, which also works as the standard directional keys. As in almost all cameras, the mode selection dial is positioned at the top of camera. The jog dial offers the right amount of resistance, but there’s a chance it might get loose after extended use over a period of time. There are some interesting tweaks made to the body itself. For example, there’s a bump next to the playback button on the rear of the camera, which helps your stabilize the finger by placing a finger on it. The delete and record buttons are also positioned close to the thumb for quick access. The dedicated record button lets you quickly record a video without having to manually switch to the video recording mode using the mode selection dial.
The buttons are made of plastic, so the texture and feel is cheap. Feedback however, is pretty good. The zoom trigger at the top of the camera is easily accessible using the first finger. There’s no button for the flash, so you’ll have to manually flip it up for when you need it. There’s a mini-USB port on the side underneath a rubber flap along with a 3.5 mm jack and the bottom houses the two AA sized batteries and memory card. It’s a slightly bigger point and shoot camera and weighs 306 grams with the battery and the memory card. The design is pretty standard and the build feels quite sturdy, inspite of all the plastic they’ve put in this shooter.
12x Optical zoom
The PowerShot SX150 IS has a 14.1 megapixel sensor, with a 12x optical zoom lens. Image stabilization is part of the camera’s feature. There are assisted shooting options with the aperture priority and shutter speed priority modes along with the manual mode. Manual focus is one of the unique features of the camera. The jog dial is used to focus on objects - this is something most point and shoot cameras can’t do. ISO settings can be varied from 80 upto 1600 and the aperture range for the lens is F3.4 – F8. Canon has also included a range of creative filters for shooting, including the colour swap, colour accent and fish eye options that are getting increasingly popular. The colour accent option retains one colour and changes all others to monochrome, whilst the colour swap selects one colour and swaps it with another.
Interface requires a minute learning curve
The interface of the SX150 IS is a tad confusing, initially, but it’s just four or five buttons for manoeuvring that you’ll have to get used to. Navigation through the various menus and sub-sections is easy once you get a hang of the device and the learning curve is pretty small.
The SX150 IS has pretty standard looks, but it’s got a few features. So let’s have a look at how they perform in our indoor, outdoor and controlled environment tests. Firstly, however, let’s have a look at the finer nuances on basic terms. The 3-inch TFT screen dampens the whole shooting experience as images don’t look clear on the panel and sometimes they appear quite pixelated. Viewing angles aren’t too impressive. The fact that it’s got AA batteries may be looked upon either as an advantage or a disadvantage. Whether you’re in Calcutta or Colorado Desert, you don’t need to worry about batteries. On the other hand, the camera usurps the juice out of your battery extremely fast. So, that option will be based more on personal choice. We suggest you buy two sets of rechargeable AA batteries.
The ISO Sensitivity test
So, we put the camera through our standard ISO sensitivity test and here’s what we observed. Colour reproduction is fairly good at the initial ISO levels, but a distinct paleness that is observed at higher ISO settings. The orange colour, in particular, is quite prominent. Also, the noise levels are quite high at ISO 1600 as compared to the settings at 800. The grainy effect is quite visible.
The Aperture Priority Test
Next up, is the aperture priority test. We tried three presets and the camera doesn’t particularly impress with depth of vision shots. There isn’t much of a noticeable difference and there’s little depth of field that the lens is able to produce, at least at these close distances.
Zooming options are pretty nice
As it can be seen from the images, the camera performs quite well in the zoomed in shots with the 12x optical zoom. Also, the image stabilizer does come in handy during zoomed in shots, but you’ll need a little steady hand to eliminate any sign of blur. Besides that, a powerful zoom coupled with the in-built image stabilizer makes it perform well in this particular section.
Macro shots are good
The camera is capable of shooting at 720p and we put the video shooting through our controlled environment test and the most distinct observation was that colour adjustments were a bit abrupt when the camera panned the subject from a lighter to a darker surrounding.
A worthy successor to the SX130 IS?
The Canon PowerShot SX 150 IS currently sells at a market price of Rs.12,500. The older SX130 IS almost has similar features to this newer model, except for a slight difference in the continuous shooting mode and the fact that it’s a 12.1 MP instead of a 14.1 MP. The major complaint we had about the SX150 IS is that the LCD screen hasn’t improved much over previous models and also the battery won’t last you long. We suggest you don’t worry about the slight differences between the two models, and if you’re on a budget, then the older PowerShot SX 130 IS should make for a good buy. If for some reason you can’t source the older model, then this option is definitely there.