June 1, 2012
- Well-designed controls
- Strong 12x optical zoom
- Functional image stabilization
- Good overall image & video quality
- Chunky design
- LCD display is low-resolution
- Low light poses quality issues
- AA battery life is low
The Canon PowerShot SX150 IS is a 14.1-megapixel superzoom digital camera that has a wide 12x optical zoom. It has a nice set of features in addition to both manual and semi-manual exposure modes for users who want more control. While lacking the best design, it is a nice camera that offers a lot for its modest price.
The design of the SX150 IS certainly won't win any design contests due to its chunky appearance but it does come in black, silver and red colors. It is, however, a little smaller and lighter than other similar cameras. It measures 4.5 x 1.8 x 2.9-inches (wdh) and weighs about 0.7-pounds (about 10.7-ounces). While not small enough to fit easily into a pocket, it will fit into a larger coat pocket or mid-size purse.
Canon's external controls included on this camera seem to be both well-designed and placed. The camera's backside includes a clickable scroll dial that also provides one-click access to ISO, flash modes, focus modes and drive moves. Below the dial are two buttons for display and menu while above are buttons for white balance, video record and playback. The 3-inch LCD also on the back has a rather low resolution of 230k dots and as a result, it doesn't offer the quality that we expected. In very bright light the screen does become almost unreadable. The top of the camera has a mode dial, combined shutter/zoom toggle and the power button. A pop-up flash is located directly above the lens.
Some of the Canon PowerShot SX150 IS's specifications include a 14.1-megapixel CCD image sensor and a 12x optical zoom with a focal length of 5-60 mm (28-336mm 35mm equivalent). The aperture range is f3.4-5.6, shutter speed is 1-1/2500 second and ISO speeds that range from 1600 to 80. Images are shot in JPEG format only and have a maximum resolution of 4320 x 3240-pixels and video are shot in H.264 format and max out at 720p HD. Memory cards supported include SD/SDHC/SDXC cards and EyeFi wireless cards are also supported.
The SX150 IS comes loaded with a ton of shooting and scene modes. The Easy Auto mode handles all settings automatically by defaulting to a preset settings. While easy to use, this setting will give you the lowest quality images. The Smart Auto mode automatically chooses the best camera settings based upon your shooting conditions. You also have both shutter- and aperture-priority modes in addition to a full manual mode for more advanced photographers looking for more control. Most users will probably want to use the Program mode, which allows you to access exposure compensation features while still shooting mostly on auto. Additional shooting/scene modes include beach, fireworks, monochrome, foliage, snow, etc.
There is also Intelligent IS image stabilization that analyzes the camera's movement and corrects for it based upon the shooting condition. In our testing, we found it to work decently well for moderate movements but nothing extreme. There is also optical image stabilization which uses lens-shift technology to correct for camera movement.
In subjective image testing, we found the Canon PowerShot SX150 IS to take good-looking images in well-lit situations. Colors looked accurate and balanced in outdoor shots. Shots of landscapes and cityscapes looked sharp and good-enough for 4x6 and 5x7 printing. Indoor shots posed an issue if light was a problem. Low-light shots resulted in visible noise and loss of detail. When using the flash, shot-to-shot recycle times were quite lengthy when compared to other similar cameras.
Video shooting is limited to 720p HD but it is also good in well-lit conditions. Zooming is allowed while shooting video but the lens motor is audible when watching the videos shot with the camera.
The SX150 IS uses two AA batteries for power, which is useful when not near a power source for recharging and when traveling as AA batteries are universal. However battery life is typically shorter compared to lithium-ion batteries seen in other cameras.