Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
Thumbnail image for canon_sx150is_black_500.jpg
  • 14.1-Megapixel CCD Imaging Sensor
  • 12x wide optical zoom lens: 35mm equivalent of 28-336mm
  • 3.0-inch,230,000 pixel LCD screen
  • DIGIC 4 Image Processor
  • Optical Image Stabilization
  • Intelligent IS System
  • Face Detection and Tracking
  • 720p HD video capture
  • Intelligent Contrast Correction
  • Blink Detection
  • AA-Type Batteries
  • SD/SDHC memory card compatible

Pros
  • Excellent image quality at lower ISO settings
  • 12x optical zoom with Optical Image Stabilization is great for handheld shooting
  • 720p HD video option produces excellent videos with stereo sound
  • Smart auto allows anyone to operate it
  • Full Manual mode for total control
  • AA battery source can be found anywhere
Cons
  • Shot-to-Shot and burst times are a little slow
  • Very Weak pop-up flash
  • High ISO noise is unacceptable
  • No audio input for HD video recording
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 3.0 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = 6/10 - 8/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 2.64 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 5.96 seconds
  • Burst Mode = 0..59fps
  • Burst Mode w/Flash = 0.27fps
  • All tests were taken using a 16GB ADATA Class 6 SD memory card, Program Mode, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The PowerShot SX150 IS is a compact digicam with powerful features for both beginning and enthusiast photographers alike. Its feature set, quality and full control make it a camera to consider if you on a tighter budget. 
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for an affordable compact digicam with great features, and full manual control.
Replacing the PowerShot SX130 IS from a year ago, Canon's new PowerShot SX150 IS is basically the same camera with a few tweaks; namely Canon has upgraded to a 14-Megapixel imaging sensor, which is the only major change. There were a few other minor changes in the controls on the camera, but even the body stayed the same. As with the SX130 IS, you have a full set of automatic and manual controls that allow anyone to not only shoot with the camera, but also challenge their creative side. A DIGIC 4 processor and 12x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization give it enough power and versatility for just about any shooting situation. The SX150 IS is available in the standard black body, as well as a new red color choice.

A sturdy camera that fits easily into your hands, no matter what size they are, the SX150 is a pleasure to hold and operate. All of its controls are easy to access and control quickly while shooting. If you are familiar with Canon's menu systems, then you can almost make your changes without looking. A scroll wheel around the 4-way controller lets you navigate the menus and search through your stored images quickly. My only complaint is that the flash must be lifted manually in order to fire, an automatic pop-up feature would be nice. Framing and viewing your images is easy in all lighting conditions on the 3.0-inch, 230,000 dot LCD screen.

The overall image quality of our outdoor image samples is good. When shooting in difficult overcast conditions, we did see a little overexposure in the sky of our cannon shot. Other than that, the exposures were good and the colors look natural. In some of the darker shadow areas we can see some noise within the image. As we saw in the SX130 IS samples, there was some aberrations in several of the images. While this sounds like a lot, the images still look good at your screen resolution and will print well. Framing and composing your images is accomplished with the 12x optical zoom lens. With a 35mm equivalent of 28 - 336mm, you get a great range of wide end and zoom for an overall very versatile camera.

Looking at our indoor images, we see the excellent color and exposure that we have come to expect from Canon. At the lower ISO settings, 80-400, the images are crystal clear, showing a great deal of detail throughout. After ISO 400, noise within the image starts to take over and the details soften or disappear quickly. Our auto picture with the flash up and set to auto was taken at ISO 800 without using the flash, cutting down on the image quality. The pop-up flash unit is not very powerful, with a maximum range of  just 9.8ft. (W). This means that you will have to stay very close to your subject; and using the flash and zoom together will net poor flash coverage. 

Portrait mode, either selected as a scene or when a face is detected in auto mode, produces excellent exposure and color based on the faces within the frame. The only thing that hurts the portrait images is the high ISO settings and weak flash. Our sample shows a very noisy image with some strong red eye, making the fill flash very disappointing. These overall results are not acceptable from any camera at any price range. 

Capturing videos and home movies with the SX150 is easy and fun with the large zoom.  With the zoom operational while the camera is recording, you have the ability to adjust to what you are shooting without stopping your recording. Although this is a great feature, it wouldn't matter without the great quality of the 720p videos themselves. They run smoothly both on the camera and on your computer, while showing very little image noise and artifacting. The sound from the small stereo microphones is good for on-camera mics, but they are still very sensitive and will pick up any sounds that are near the camera; so be careful where you position yourself.

As with the SX130 IS, the SX150 IS is powered by two AA-type batteries instead of a Li-Ion battery. This allows you to replace them anywhere as they are for sale in just about every part of the world. During our tests we were able to capture over 120 images and several short videos with our PowerEx 2700mAh Ni-MH rechargeable batteries. We recommend you keep a couple sets of these rechargeable batteries with you since they offer a good number of images on a single charge, and can be reused 100's of times over.

Bottom Line - Canon's PowerShot SX150 IS is a slight upgrade to the popular SX130 IS, mainly with a new 14-Megapixel imaging sensor and Intelligent IS system. Sporting a 12x optical zoom, Smart Auto shooting mode, 720p HD video capture and a large 3-inch LCD screen, the SX150's specifications are quite appealing for a camera under $300 USD. While it offers good image quality from ISO 400 and below, along with average shooting performance, the SX150 has been left behind in both categories by Canon's newer HS system cameras. With a MSRP of $249.99 USD, you will also want to look at models like the Canon PowerShot SX230 HS or the PowerShot ELPH 310 HS. These models are in the same price range as the SX150 IS, offer similar features, but produce higher quality images and faster shooting performance.


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