I got my first camera within the first year of my life – seriously. A large local company had been caught doing something illegal, so as a PR stunt, every child born in the same month as myself received a free camera. It wasn’t great on quality, but its film pictures were ok and I prided myself that I owned a “real” camera. Fast forward many years, and I received my first digital camera as a birthday gift in my mid-teens. Again, it took reasonable pictures (this blog was started using that camera), but compared to my parent’s new Canon, its images were a bit blurry. So, for Christmas a couple years later, I received my most recent camera – a Canon PowerShot SX150 IS. And from the first, I was in love with it. Was it perfect? No. For one thing, it’s not exactly easy to use. However, it takes beautiful pictures and I’ll live with a lot for that!
Quick Stats on the Canon PowerShot SX150 IS:
14.1 Mega Pixels
12X Optical Zoom (with Image Stabilization)
720p HD video (with stereo sound; saves as a .mov file)
Powered by 2 AA batteries
Records images on SD or SDHC card (no internal memory)
Comes in 2 colors – Black and Red (I’ll take the black any day!)
The Pros of the Canon PowerShot SX150 IS:
1. The pictures are outstanding. Not only do they look great on the screen or as an e-mail attachment to friends back home, but I can print them out on letter-size paper and they look wonderful. Sometimes I use an excellent (not ink-jet) printer, and the pictures are calendar-quality.
2. The “vivid” setting is stunning. This is one of the reasons I went for a Canon camera – I’d seen the “vivid” setting work for family members. (Note, though, that the setting only works if you’re in Program mode, not Auto mode).
3. There are options for manual modes. This is no DSLR or anything close to it, but I do have fun playing with the manual settings. One setting is fully manual, allowing you to set the f-stop (aperture) from 3.4 to 8.0 and the shutter speed from 1/1600 of a second to 15 seconds. This is great when I want nice waterfall pictures or if I’m not happy with the settings the camera is automatically choosing (which rarely happens; the “point and shoot” part is pretty good). There are also modes that allow me to only set the shutter speed or aperture and the camera automatically chooses the other. Another nice manual feature is the manual focus, which works from most of the other modes. Using this, you can choose how far out the camera focuses, from a few inches to “infinity”. A third manual mode is for ISO; I haven’t used this feature though I might in the right situation.
4. The wide range of other features. Modes are Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Priority, Program, Auto, Easy (which I guess must be for those who can’t figure out the other settings), Portrait, Fish-Eye (limited usefulness, I think), Discreet (for when you don’t want your camera beeping or flashing and thereby attracting attention), and Standard Movie Mode. Beyond this, there is also macro, an incredible zoom (12x wide-angle with image stabilizer), and a self-timer with a 10-second option, a 2-second option, and a “custom” option that allows you to set how long you want the self-timer to go before taking the picture and how many pictures it will take when the picture is taken (up to 30 seconds and 10 pictures in quick succession).
5. Movies are just a push of a button away – in any mode! The button with the red dot on the back of the camera can be pushed in any mode and the video will start recording. This is great for fast videos and ease of use; however, I’ve also accidently knocked into the button and begun recording movies I don’t want. On the other hand, it’s nice to not accidently get a movie instead of a picture because someone left it on movie mode and I just pushed the shutter button…!
6. The flash won’t be triggered unless the flash is up. I love this. I keep the flash programed to go off at all times; however, it won’t flash unless I lift the flash up (and I only lift the flash if I want one, so this is great). The flash can also be programed to stay off or to auto-flash. There is also a setting for flash that lights up the background by using a slower shutter speed; this would be cool to try further.
7. Easy-to-use SD card. This is just convenient. You can also plug a cord into the camera and attach it to the USB on your computer if your computer doesn’t have a card-reader.
8. Uses convenient, replaceable AA batteries. I purchased rechargeable batteries on Amazon, so if I’m on the trail and a set of batteries runs low, I can simply replace them and recharge the spent batteries later.
The Cons of the Canon PowerShot SX150 IS:
1. The “middle of the road” setting for picture size (M1 setting; 3072×2304– fits A3 paper) is a bit large for casual photography. I’m not blowing the prints up huge, so I don’t need 1-2 MB pictures. The other sizes are as follows: L is 4320×3240; M2 is 1600×1200 (and a bit smaller than I really want); S (for e-mail attachments) is 640×480; and W (for wide-screen) is 3744×2104.
2. The pictures on the Auto mode tend to be slightly washed out. I fix this issue by always using Program (P) mode and lowering the exposure by a couple bars.
3. The tools and settings could be more intuitive. I can usually make my way around the camera, but it’s not easy to use.
4. It’s a little big. I don’t see this as a huge issue since I always carry it in my hand or in a camera bag, but it’s not going to fit in your front shirt pocket.
5. The battery cover feels a bit flimsy. It’s lasted great for me (I’ve had the camera about 2 years), but I’m always a little worried that I won’t put it back quite right or that it will break after too much use.
6. The battery light begins to flash long before you really need to replace the batteries. Some say that the camera eats batteries; I don’t find that it’s too much worse than other cameras (so just have a couple extra sets on hand). As long as I’m using decent batteries, I can easily go several days of being on the trail (and not taking flash pictures) without changing the batteries.
Overall, I’d say the Canon Powershot SX150 IS is the perfect camera for someone who’s serious about photography and wants great pictures and some flexibility but doesn’t want a DSLR. In this review, I’ve only touched on some of my favorite features and dislikes; for more information about the specific specifications and features, visit Canon PowerShot SX150 IS 14.1 MP Digital Camera with 12x Wide-Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom with 3.0-Inch LCD (Black)
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.