Steve's Conclusion

Steve's SnapShot

  • 12.1-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
  • Face Detection and Tracking
  • 720p HD video capture
  • Intelligent Contrast Correction
  • Blink Detection
  • AA-Type Batteries
  • SD/SDHC memory card compatible

  • Excellent image quality
  • 12x optical zoom with Optical Image Stabilization is easy for handheld shooting
  • 720p HD video captures excellent videos with stereo sound
  • Smart auto allows anyone to operate it
  • Full Manual mode for total control
  • Powerful pop-up flash
  • Shot-to-Shot and burst are a little slow
  • No dedicated video recording button
  • No audio input for HD video recording
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 2.8 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = 7/10 - 9/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 2.58 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 4.86 seconds
  • Burst Mode = 0.66fps
  • Burst Mode w/Flash = 0.34fps
  • All tests were taken using a 2GB RiDATA Pro 120x SD memory card, Program Mode, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The SX130 IS is an easy to use, yet powerful compact digicam. With smart auto and manual controls, anyone can find an appropriate shooting mode. Although the performance lacks a little, the camera more than makes up for it with its image quality and features.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for a compact digicam with plenty of manual and automatic control like found on a dSLR, without the size or price tag. It is also great for anyone that is looking for great quality at an affordable price.
At the lower end of Canon's "High End, Advanced Digital Cameras" line is the PowerShot SX130 IS, a compact digicam featuring a 12x optical zoom lens, 12.1-Megapixel imaging sensor and a full set of automatic and manual controls. This is perfect for someone that likes the control of a dSLR but is looking for a compact and affordable digicam. Loaded with useful features, the SX130 IS sports Optical Image Stabilization for the large zoom lens, Smart Auto, Intelligent Contrast Correction, Digic 4 image processor, 720p HD video capture and a 3.0-inch LCD just to name a few. It also runs on AA-type batteries, so there is no reason that you should ever run out of power.

Fitting nicely into your right hand thanks to the built-in hand grip, the solidly built SX130 IS is manageable with one hand but much easier to control with two. All of the controls are well within reach of your right thumb, but none of them are in the way. A nice addition would be an automatic pop-up flash instead of one that you must raise yourself. Framing and viewing your images is accomplished on the 3.0-inch, 230,000 LCD screen. It has several levels of brightness control allowing you to see the screen easily in any lighting condition, including direct sunlight.

Our outdoor image samples show that the camera captures a sharp, vivid, overall outstanding image. In our Canon shot, you can see that the camera struggled with this high contrast subject, overexposing the bright areas. This is pretty typical however, as many of the cameras we test have some overexposure issues with this show. When viewing the images at 100% there is a noticeable amount of noise in darker areas, along with brighter areas like open blue skies. There are also several instances of chromatic aberrations in some of the higher contrast areas.

Helping to compose your images is the 12x optical zoom lens with a 35mm equivalent zoom range of 28-336mm. The 28mm wide end is great for capturing landscape and group portrait images, while the zoom end gets you a great distance closer to your subject. Combined with the Optical Image Stabilization, you should have no problem capturing sharp handheld images at the full telephoto end.

The M&M man test shots look even better than the outdoor images. With great exposures and images that are incredibly sharp from edge to edge. Image noise is kept to a minimum at all ISO levels, allowing the camera to capture ISO 800 images that are great for prints. ISO 1600 is a little noisy and should only be used if necessary. We were also able to capture some indoor action shots without the flash in a moderately lit gym, with just a little practice. Helping you with your low-light images is the SX130's pop-up flash unit. With a flash range of up to 10ft. you will have no problems lighting a scene in a small to mid-sized room. Our sample shows a well exposed and well lit image at ISO 80 from approx. 5ft. away.

Portrait mode and Canon's face detection software make capturing your portrait shots as simple as possible. The face detection system recognizes and locks onto a face and adjusts all of the camera settings for it, assuring you a well exposed image. As we used portrait mode, the camera took a little longer than normal to detect a face if it was not directly looking at the camera, and at times would lose track of it if the face moved too much. When the face detection worked, the camera produced an excellent image based around the face.

With the ability to capture 720p HD videos, the SX130 IS is the perfect camera for situations when a single image just isn't enough. Our sample shows a smooth, bright video that was taken in a moderately lit gym. Usually a compact camera struggles in these lighting conditions. There is very little noise within the video and the camera's stereo microphones did a descent job of capturing the audio. Since the mics are so small and built directly into the camera, they will pick up all audio that happens around the camera and not necessarily what you are recording video of.

Powering the SX130 IS are two AA-type batteries. This is a very convenient feature, allowing you to purchase another set of batteries just about anywhere in the world if you should need to. Using a set of Energizer 2450mAh NiMH rechargeable batteries, we were able to complete all of our tests, including capturing over 150 images and videos, without having to worry about them running out. We recommend using NiMH batteries vs. alkaline batteries because they are much more efficient and reusable. With the NiMH batteries Canon claims the camera is able to capture 370 shots compared to 130 with alkalines.

Bottom Line - The Canon PowerShot SX130 IS is a full-featured, 12-Megapixel compact camera with a large 12x optical zoom lens, optical image stabilization, HD video capture and Auto and Full Manual shooting modes. This camera gives you total control and with its excellent image quality and decent performance, this is a great alternative or backup camera for times when you don't want to carry a larger dSLR. With a MSRP of US $249.99, this is an excellent buy.

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