Canon PowerShot SX150 IS



The Canon PowerShot SX150 IS is budget superzoom with a 12x stablised optical zoom lens and a 14.1 Megapixel sensor. Bigger than compact superzooms like the Panasonic ZS8 / TZ18, Sony HX7V, and Canon’s own PowerShot SX230 HS, the PowerShot SX150 IS combines advanced control including PASM exposure modes and manual focussing with accessible features including intelligent Auto exposure with scene detection, Creative filter effects and Smart shutter with smile detection.

The SX150 IS lacks some of the sexier features to be found on more expensive superzooms. There’s no GPS, its best quality video mode is 720p and the continuous shooting capabilities are, to put it kindly, mediocre. But it’s a very affordable superzoom that will appeal to those on a budget who are more interested in solid performance than the cachet that attaches to the labels smallest, lightest, fastest, and latest.

Compared to Canon IXUS 220 HS / ELPH 300 HS

The IXUS 220 HS / ELPH 300 HS makes an interesting alternative to the PowerShot SX150 IS not least because it’s very similarly priced. For your money you get a much smaller, classier looking camera with the 1080p24 HD video mode so beloved of independent film makers, combined with a 24mm (equivalent) maximum wide angle lens.

The IXUS 220 HS /ELPH 300 HS’s CMOS sensor not only has better low noise characteristics, it provides superior continuous shooting capabilities and adds super slow motion movies.

But those gains come at a price. Most significantly the 5x zoom of the IXUS 220 HS / ELPH 300 HS can’t match the 12x zoom reach of the SX150 IS. You can also wave goodbye to PASM exposure modes. Perhaps more importantly, these two models handle very differently. The SX150 IS is bigger, has more physical controls, a larger 3 inch screen and, while you can use it as a point and shooter, has a personality that positively encourages you to engage with it.

See my upcoming Canon ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS review for full details.

Compared to Canon IXUS 230 HS / ELPH 310 HS

Like the IXUS 220 HS / ELPH 300 HS, the IXUS 230 HS / ELPH 310 HS is a very different camera, handling-wise, to the PowerShot SX150 IS.

It’s much lighter and more compact, uses a proprietary battery rather than AA’s, and lacks the PASM exposure modes and the SX150 IS’ 12x reach. But with an 8x stabilised optical zoom, there’s less of a shortfall.

The IXUS 230 HS/ELPH 310 HS shares the same sensor as the IXUS 220 HS/ELPH 300 HS, providing better noise performance, faster continuous shooting and higher quality HD video. These features may or may not be important to you but one thing that will make a difference is the handling characteristics. If you like to get more involved with picture taking, you’ll find the PowerShot SX150 IS a better fit.

See my upcoming Canon ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS review for full details.

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS verdict

The Canon PowerShot SX150 IS is a hard camera not to like. You can talk about features and compare specifications but what those things rarely convey is a sense of personality, which the SX150 IS has in bundles. Compared with most modern compacts it’s big and heavy, but it’s a comfortable and enjoyable camera to use whether in point-and shoot auto modes or for fully manual operation.

On the down side, increasing the resolution to 14.1 Megapixels has done nothing for the image quality and noise characteristics, and continuous shooting speeds remain a bit of an embarrassment. The SX150 remains a solid performer, it won’t turn many heads, but for a capable compact with better than average zoom reach at a budget price it’s hard to beat.

Good points
12x zoom with intelligent optical stabiliser.
PASM exposure modes and manual focus.
Creative filter effects.
Budget price.

Bad points
Lens suffers from chromatic aberration.
Slow continuous shooting.
Poor high ISO noise performance.
Poor battery life with alkaline AAs.



(relative to 2011 compacts)
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