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Canon PowerShot SX130 IS Ken McMahon, September 2010

Canon PowerShot SX130 IS verdict

The Canon Powershot SX130 IS is an affordable compact super-zoom camera with 12 Megapixel resolution and a stabilised 12x optical range. Launched in September 2010 as a replacement for the popular PowerShot SX120 IS, it extends the zoom range along with adding 2 Megapixels, an HD movie mode and a selection of new scene modes.

The PowerShot SX130 IS isn't as compact as the Sony Cyber-shot H55 or the Panasonic Lumic TZ8 / ZS5, two cameras with which it shares similar price and specifications and against which it will inevitably compete. But, its 'mini SLR' looks and combination of advanced controls with ease of use features make it a tempting choice for photographers with serious aspirations who also want an easy to use point and shoot compact. So how does it compare to these two rival models?



Compared to Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55


First let's deal with the difference in megapixels. The two megapixel advantage the Sony Cyber-shot H55 has over the Canon PowerShot SX130 IS is really not an advantage at all. It will allow you to make slightly bigger prints, but that's about it. A much better comparison is the visual quality of the images and, although we didn't test these two cameras side by side, in our opinion the PowerShot produced the better results. If you want see for yourself, take a look at our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55 real-life resolution results page.

The Cyber-shot H55's 10x optical zoom falls well short of the PowerShot SX130 IS at the telephoto end but provides a wider field of view at the other end, arguably more useful, but it depends on what kind of photography you do most. Both models have a 3in screen, both can shoot HD video and both allow you to use the zoom while recording. If you're particularly interested in manual exposure it's worth bearing in mind that, while it has a fully manual mode, the Cyber-shot H55 lacks the PowerShot SX130 IS's aperture and shutter priority modes.

Comparing specifications can only tell you so much though. The real difference between these two models is in the handling. The PowerShot SX130 IS is a much bigger, heavier compact than the Cyber-shot H55 - it weighs a third as much again. While this makes it harder to get into your pocket it has other advantages including comfort, stability and, never to be underestimated, looks. We also think the PowerShot's menu system and the way it implements manual focus and exposure control makes for a better handling experience. But the smaller size and lighter weight of the Sony, not to mention its quicker flash recycling thanks to a Lithium Ion pack, may be preferred.

See our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55 review for more details.


Compared to Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8


As with the Cyber-shot H55, and again, with the caveat that the two cameras weren't tested side-by-side, we think the PowerShot SX130 IS has the edge on the Lumix TZ8 in terms of image quality. If you want to make your own comparison head on over to our Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8 real-life resolution results page

On paper these two models share as many differences as similarities. The zoom range of the Lumix TZ8 is, like the PowerShot SX130 IS, 12X, though it starts and ends slightly wider. It has a smaller 2.7in screen and takes a proprietary Lithium Ion battery rather than AAs. Both cameras offer the same range of manual exposure modes, both have effective optical image stabilization, both have a quick access menu for frequently used functions and both can shoot 720p HD video and zoom during shooting.

But, as with the Cyber-shot H55, we think by far the biggest differentiator between the Panasonic Lumix TZ8 and the Canon PowerShot SX130 IS is the physical size and handling. The PowerShot SX130IS looks and feels like a more serious camera with better implementation of manual controls.

On the other hand, the Panasonic Lumix TZ8 / ZS5 does a superb job of integrating it's advanced controls with ease of use features like face recognition and travel modes. It's also smaller, lighter and enjoys quicker flash recycling.

See our Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8 / ZS5 review for more details.


Canon PowerShot SX130 IS verdict

The Canon PowerShot SX130 IS will not disappoint those who've been holding off making a buying decision in the hope of a significant upgrade to the SX120 IS. It extends the zoom range from 10 to 12x, adds 2 Megapixels to the resolution, upgrades the video capability with a 720p HD mode and adds some new scene modes. This is a substantially more capable camera than the one it replaces.

One thing that hasn't changed much is the size and in terms of weight the new model is slightly heavier. Compared with compact super-zooms like the Sony Cyber-shot H55 and Panasonic Lumix TZ8 / ZS5, both of which weigh a full third less and are significantly more compact, the PowerShot SX130 IS might be considered something of a behemoth. If size is top of your list of priorities, there's little question that either of the other two models will be a better option for you, but the PowerShot SX130 IS's size is actually an advantage in at least one respect - it's a much better fit in the hand and therefore a lot easier to hold steady than many smaller models. In our image stabilization test this meant we were able to get sharp results at almost ridiculously slow shutter speeds.

So don't write the SX130 IS off purely on the grounds of size. It's a big step up from its predecessor, providing a great range of features from novice-friendly modes all the way up to full manual control, while delivering excellent quality images and video. It's an easy model to recommend.


Good points
Great image quality.
Fully manual PASM exposure modes.
Excellent optical image stabilization.
720p movies with quiet optical zooming.

Bad points
Large and heavy compared to rivals.
Poor continuous shooting speed.
10 min HD video shooting limit.
Slow flash recycling.


(relative to 2010 compacts)

Build quality:
Image quality:


18 / 20
17 / 20
17 / 20
17 / 20
17 / 20


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