Gear Review: Canon PowerShot SX160 IS Camera

Black model and red model of the Canon PowerShot SX160

Black model and red model of the Canon PowerShot SX160

I own a Canon PowerShot SX150.  It’s a great camera; I mean, really, really great if you’re looking for a point and shoot that takes fabulous pictures.  (You can read my review of the Canon 150 here.)  But two of my group members have the next model up, the Canon PowerShot SX160.  I got to use their cameras several times recently, and I get to share their pictures, so I’d like to do a review on the Canon PowerShot SX160 vs. the Canon PowerShot SX150.

 


 

Quick Stats on the Canon PowerShot 160:

16 megapixals (150 is 14.1 megapixals)

16x Optical Zoom with optical image stabilizer (150 has 12x zoom and similar stabilizer)

28mm wide-angle lens (150 has the same)

720p HD video (150 has the same – and both also have a dedicated movie button; you can be in any mode and take video)

3-inch LCD (150 has the same)

Records to SD, SDHC, or SDXC cards – no internal memory (150 records to SD or SDHC card and also has no internal memory)

Powered by 2 AA batteries (150 is the same)

Comes in two colors – Red and Black (the two group members got different colors to help keep the two from becoming confusing – it’s bad enough with the 130 and 150 looking so similar!)

The Canon PowerShot SX150

The Canon PowerShot SX150

Benefits of the Canon PowerShot SX160 Over the 150

 

Smooth action.  On the 150, I could easily feel the motor moving the zoom in and out, the shutter opening, etc.  On the 160, it opens and closes in an almost soundless, smooth dream.  I like that!

This is what I mean about color. The 160 is made for scenes like this. Kabetogama Lake, Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

This is what I mean about color. The 160 is made for scenes like this. Kabetogama Lake, Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

Picture quality.  The pictures are just plain better on the 160.  What’s better?  Well, an amateur can take a picture that (quality, lighting, and color wise) looks like a DSLR.  Seriously.  Not every time, but more often than not.  The 150, while its picture quality is up with the best, doesn’t have the fine-tuned color / lighting algorithms that the 160 uses.

A picture of Clear Creek Canyon in the Wind Rivers of Wyoming taken with the 160

A picture of Clear Creek Canyon in the Wind Rivers of Wyoming taken with the 160

Picture Color.  I love the almost-DSLR color the 160 gives, as well as the simply fabulous color algorithms.  The pictures are so vivid; so like you’re right there.  The 150 turns out more real pictures at times, but the 160 turns out better pictures.  And considering I really like the 150’s color algorithms (as long as it’s on “vivid” mode), this is saying a lot!

The same canyon, taken with the 150. Notice how it's more real, but I'd rather look at the 160 picture.

The same canyon, taken with the 150. Notice how it’s more real, but I’d rather look at the 160 picture.

Flash button.  Instead of having to reach around front and flick up the flash (like the 130 and 150), there’s a little button in the back that pops up the flash on the 160.  Pretty cool, except I keep trying to flick it since I’m used to my 150…

 

Less Hesitation.  One of the most-talked-about drawbacks of the 150 is that it tends to hesitate for a fraction of a second before taking a picture.  Since I’m usually taking scenery shots, this doesn’t bother me very often.  The 160 has much less trouble with hesitation, so it’s better for quick action shots, or when you want to get that split second of action.

Top view of the Canon PowerShot SX160

Top view of the 160

On / Off Button vs. Shutter Button.  On the 150, more often than I wish I hit the on/off button instead of the shutter.  My finger is just in the wrong place, but they somehow feel similar enough that I turn the camera off instead of getting the photo.  It’s much harder to do this with the 160, as the on/off button is nearly flush with the top of the camera – you know which one you’re pushing just by feel!

Top view of the Canon PowerShot SX150

Top view of the 150

More zoom.  The 160 can zoom in further than the 150.  99% of the time, this isn’t necessary.  But when I want it, it’s really nice!

Back view with the flash up of a Canon PowerShot SX160 Camera

Back view with the flash up

Size.  The 160 is just slightly (very slightly) slimmer than the 150 (or the 130, for that matter) – measuring from the back to the front of the closed lens, the 160 is about 2 3/4”, while the 150 is more like 2 7/8”.  It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it looks like a lot more, and considering most camera cases were never made for the 150, the slightly slimmer model means you can fit the 160 into smaller camera cases.

Back of the red model of the Canon PowerShot SX160

Back of the red model

Style.  Ok, this is just personal preference, but when it comes to style, I like the 160.  It’s more boxy-looking (less smooth curves), but to me that looks more robust.  The black is also more black and less gray like the 150, which to me looks better.  Totally preference.

Back of the Canon PowerShot SX150

Back of the 150

Downsides of the Canon 160 vs. the 150

 

Picture color.  Often, the camera decides to make the color awesome; really make the picture look good.  99% of the time, that’s great.  But if you’re looking for something a little less professional, there’s no way to go back to something a bit less.  Actually, you could turn off vivid (I highly recommend Canon’s vivid mode, whatever model you have), which might make it a little more real.  The 150 simply takes more “real” pictures.

Another example of just what the Canon PowerShot SX160 can do. This was in Cascade Pass, North Cascades National Park, Washington

Another example of just what the 160 can do. This was in Cascade Pass, North Cascades National Park, Washington

Picture size.  The 160’s pictures tend to be just slightly larger than the 150’s pictures on the same setting, but I suppose that’s to be expected since the quality is slightly better.

Front of the Canon PowerShot SX150

Front of the 150

Neutral Comments about the Canon PowerShot 160 vs. the 150

 

Size.  The cameras a virtually the same size, except that the 160 is slightly slimmer (see above).  Some say it’s too big.  And it is a lot bigger than many compact point and shoots.  But considering the size of a DSLR, these really aren’t that big.  Personally, I find them a little heavy to want to hold up for a long time, but it’s a small price to pay for a camera I really like.

Front of the red Canon PowerShot SX160

Front of the red 160

Price.  The prices really don’t seem to be different.  It all depends on the sale (make sure you also look at black vs. red; you never know which is going to be cheaper this week).

Front of the black Canon PowerShot SX160

Front of the black 160

Features.  The 160 definitely has a few more features than the 150.  But most aren’t something I’d use on a frequent basis, so it doesn’t bother me.

 

If you’d like to read more about why I like these cameras, click here.

 

Do you own either of these cameras?  What do you think of them compared to other cameras you or others own?

 

 

In terms of batteries, these are my favorite to use in the camera.  They seem to hold a charge and have lasted longer than many rechargeable batteries.

 

Tenergy Centura AA Low Self-Discharge LSD NiMH Rechargeable Batteries, 1 Card 4xAA (Electronics)


List Price: $7.99 USD
New From: $7.92 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

 


2 thoughts on “Gear Review: Canon PowerShot SX160 IS Camera

  1. Robert Ballard

    You would probably be horrified to see how much camera gear I carry. Maybe that’s not a good thing if a compact camera can take reasonably similar photographs. I suppose that some phones are most likely comparable in quality now. But an SLR is what I’m used to.

    As for Vivid mode, I’m pretty sure that I could choose something along those lines, but I have my settings as neutral as possible. I don’t even have any extra sharpness. I prefer to control what I want in camera and then adjust as necessary during post processing. I don’t even happen to be very good at post processing. I know that it’s possible to do much better, but I get by.

    I remember my dad carrying a whole lot of gear when I was growing up. Now he simply uses a compact camera and gets good results. Perhaps I’ll choose to do the same at some point in my life.

  2. Anne Post author

    Lol, I can just see you carrying a whole lot of gear… Personally, I’m an avid hater of post processing photos (don’t ask me why; the less I can get away with the better). So the Vivid mode lets me get decent shots without having to post process much. If I actually post processed the pictures on the blog, they’d look better, but I’d probably have given up ages ago 🙂