Steve's Conclusion

Steve's SnapShot
  • 16-megapixels of resolution
  • DIGIC 4 processor
  • 8x optical zoom lens (28mm wide)
  • 3.0-inch LCD screen
  • New Hybrid Auto mode
  • New Eco mode
  • New Creative shot modes
  • Advanced, built-in Wi-Fi
  • Li-ion battery
  • Pros
    • Extremely thin and lightweight camera
    • Lens moves very fast through 8x optical zoom range
    • Image quality is adequate for a beginner-level point-n-shoot camera, especially flash photos
    • Images look very good in small prints and on computer screens
    • Camera is extremely easy to use
    • On-screen explanations of various settings and modes are helpful to beginners
    • High-quality LCD screen is nice to see in this price range
    • Dedicated movie button simplifies process of shooting video
    • Pretty fast start-up for low-priced camera
    • Shutter button is a good size
    • Built-in Wi-Fi capabilities
    • Solid overall camera with traditional PowerShot ELPH look and design
    • Very limited manual control options
    • Image quality doesn't support creating large prints
    • No single feature really stands out about this camera
    • Battery life is less than it should be
    • Shot to shot delays could be much better, especially when using the flash
    • Very little here to appeal to anyone but the most inexperienced photographers
    • No full HD movie mode
    • Not enough of a "hitch" between optical zoom and digital zoom settings
    • Control button design is poor with buttons that are far too small and tight to camera body
    • It'd be nice to have more colorful body options
    • No HDMI port
    Timing Test Results
    • Power up to first image captured = 3.1 seconds (with start-up image turned off)
    • Shutter lag when prefocused = less than 1/10 of a second
    • Shutter lag with autofocus = about 0.5 seconds
    • Shot to shot delay without flash = 5.3 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 4.1 seconds with review Off
    • Shot to shot delay with flash = 7.1 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 6.2 seconds with review Off
    • Continuous = 6 frames in 8.7 seconds @ 16M
    • All tests were taken using a SanDisk Class 10, 16 GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, Flash off, Review on, ISO Auto and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
    Bottom Line
    There aren't a lot of above average or advanced features found in the Canon PowerShot ELPH 130 IS camera, but that may be a good thing. After all, Canon is aiming this model at beginning photographers looking for a good value in a basic camera, and by keeping the advanced features to a minimum, Canon is able to offer this latest ELPH version in the sub-$200 price point. The ELPH 130 is one of the easiest cameras to use currently on the market, giving those beginning photographers looking for a solid overall camera an adequate option at a reasonable price.
    Pick This Up If...
    You're looking for an extremely easy-to-use, thin camera at a reasonable price, you don't need advanced photography features, and average performance will suit your needs.
    If you're one of those photographers who needs to have the latest and greatest features when it comes to selecting a new digital camera, The Canon PowerShot ELPH 130 IS probably isn't going to appeal to you.

    Average is the most common description I can come up with for the PowerShot ELPH 130, whether you're talking about its overall photography feature set, its list of components, or its design. (This camera is called the Canon IXUS 140 in some parts of the world.)

    Still, being average isn't all bad. There are plenty of cameras in the sub-$200 price range that have a number of below-average features. The ELPH 130 doesn't really have many of those. The ELPH 130 will do a decent job with image quality and it has a really nice LCD screen, especially for a thin camera. It offers a good value for the beginning photographer who wants a really easy-to-use camera that fits comfortably in a pocket.

    Canon has included an 8x optical zoom lens with the PowerShot ELPH 130 IS, which is a slightly above average telephoto capability for an ultra-thin camera. The zoom motor moves quickly, but it would be nice if it had more of a pause between optical zoom and digital zoom, as the ELPH 130's image quality isn't quite sharp enough to allow it to create good quality photos with digital zoom.

    The overall image quality with this model is about average. As long as you're going to view the ELPH 130's images only on a computer screen, share them on Facebook or make average-sized prints -- say 3x5 or 4x6 inches -- you should end up with photos that look very good. However, once you start to blow up the images to larger sizes, you're going to see a slight blur and some imperfections.

    Although this PowerShot camera can shoot at ISOs up to 1600 (and up to ISO 6400 under limited circumstances), you'll notice excessive noise kicks in at about ISO 800 and above when you try to make larger prints. As you can see from the sample photos included on the next page, the image quality isn't terrible when the photos are enlarged, but they're far from pin sharp, either. Colors are vibrant, which is a good feature.

    Movie quality is pretty good with this camera, but you will be limited to 720p HD resolution. And Canon included no movie control options with the ELPH 130. It is easy to shoot movies, as you just press the dedicated movie button to start and stop movies, but you're limited to having the camera automatically control the video recording exposure and settings, outside of resolution. In addition, the zoom moves very slowly when recording movies, requiring several seconds to pass through the entire 8x optical zoom range.

    Canon included a pretty small CCD image sensor with the ELPH 130 IS, measuring 1/2.3 inches, so even though this camera has a maximum resolution of 16.0 megapixels, its image quality is not going to be as good as more advanced cameras with lower megapixel counts but larger image sensors. However, this sensor size is typical for cameras in this category, and price range. We were surprised to see that Canon chose a CCD type sensor, versus a CMOS sensor like found in most of their PowerShot models over the past few years.

    This camera does a surprisingly good job with low light and flash photos, at least when compared to other cameras in this price range. This is one area where the PowerShot ELPH 130 is an above average performer, as long as you stay within the recommended range of the built-in flash unit.

    However, if you are shooting with the flash, be prepared to experience some significant, below-average delays. Shot to shot delays when using the flash will be several seconds, which will be very frustrating. Eventually you are going to miss a spontaneous photo while you wait for the ELPH 130 IS to recharge the flash. Even without the flash, shot to shot delays are below average with this model. You'll also notice some shutter lag, which is common with beginner-level thin cameras. Try pre-focusing whenever possible to eliminate shutter lag with this PowerShot camera.

    One area where you won't experience delays with the ELPH 130 is in needing to change the camera's settings between shots. In Auto mode, this is one of the easiest cameras to use I've ever tested. You'll have almost no control options in Auto mode, other than setting the resolution and setting the flash to on or off. You can't even use scene modes in Auto mode, which is pretty rare, even for a beginner-level camera.

    Your only other shooting mode option is Program mode, through which you will have some limited control over the shot, such has setting the exposure value or white balance. Still, even this "advanced" mode is pretty limited, maintaining this camera's ease-of-use theme. When making selections on the LCD screen, you'll see brief explanations of the various features, too, which is beneficial for beginners.

    Canon did choose to include a built-in Wi-Fi connectivity with this camera, which is a nice feature in the sub-$200 price point. Unfortunately, this is the one aspect of the ELPH 130 that isn't all that easy to set up and use. Of the printed Getting Started guide that's included in the PowerShot ELPH 130's box, more than half of the pages are dedicated to setting up and using the camera's Wi-Fi options. Once you have the right software installed on your computer, you can connect to other Wi-Fi-enabled cameras, smartphones, computers, and printers. This allows you to easily upload photos to your favorite social websites, once you figure out how to set it up.

    The LCD is the other area where the PowerShot ELPH 130 IS excels. This screen measures 3.0 inches diagonally, which is a good size for a camera in this price point, and the LCD has 461,000 pixels of resolution, which is above average. Unlike many sub-$200 cameras, glare isn't a significant issue with this sharp and bright LCD. You can increase the brightness of the LCD by a couple of steps to combat the minimal glare problems you may experience.

    However, this bright and sharp LCD does require a bit of a trade off. Canon included a really thin battery with this camera, which allows the body to remain thin and lightweight. However, it requires quite a bit of power to operate the LCD, which contributes to the poor battery life of the PowerShot ELPH 130. Because Canon included a separate battery charger with this camera, you're going to want to purchase a second battery that you can charge while using the first battery to shoot photos.

    The thin battery does allow this camera to remain small with a depth measurement of about 0.81 inches. The PowerShot ELPH 130's design looks a lot like other thin ELPH cameras, with a boxy, rectangular shape and slightly rounded edges that will fit easily in a pocket. The camera isn't cluttered with a lot of buttons and dials, as this camera is designed specifically for beginners. It has a solid-colored design with red, gray, and silver camera bodies available. For a camera aimed at beginners and designed to be carried in a pocket, such as for a night out with friends, it would have been better had Canon experimented with more color choices.

    The bigger problem with the physical design of the PowerShot ELPH 130 IS, though, is the size and placement of the control buttons on the back panel of the camera. These buttons are far too small and they're aligned too tightly to the camera body, making it very difficult to press the buttons successfully. The four-way button area is the worst offender, and only those photographers with small fingers will be able to use this button comfortably. I would recommend testing this camera in-hand before you purchase it to determine whether you can use the buttons comfortably. Because this camera operates primarily as an automatic point-n-shoot model, you may not need to press the buttons too often, though.

    Bottom Line - I wish I had one feature that I could point to and say, this is what makes the Canon PowerShot ELPH 130 IS camera a good one for certain segments of photographers. However, there just isn't a standout feature on this camera that will grab your attention. This is simply a camera with average features and average performance. Fortunately it has an average price point, too, and only a couple of below-average features, so it provides a decent value for beginning photographers who want a small, reliable camera that easily fits in almost any pocket. The 8x optical zoom lens is a slightly above average feature for this type of entry-level camera, its sharp and bright 3.0-inch LCD screen is probably the camera's best feature, and you have built-in Wi-Fi - a rarity in sub-$200 cameras. However, a poor battery lifespan, shot to shot delays, and control buttons that are too small will offset those pluses. Not surprisingly, the image quality is about average for the ELPH 130, as the photos look pretty good when printed at small sizes or when viewed on a computer screen. You'll see some flaws in the images when blowing them up to large sizes, as occurs with many cameras in this sub-$200 price point. Simply put, the PowerShot ELPH 130 is an average camera in nearly all regards. Considering how many below average cameras are on the market right now, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

    Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.