Canon Powershot SX150 IS  compact camera

Eksovichea Tito Hak 

 

So finally I got some hands on with an actual powershot SX150 (the update to the SX130) which see's a bump up in Pixel count from 12 megapixels to 14 which isn't a particularly huge leap. Straight out of the box this thing feels extremely premium like in terms of build whilst being nicely weighted. Some people might say its overally bulky and heavy for a a modern compact of its specs but to my mind it makes a nice compact alternative to a full sized DSLR or MCS. It is in fact flat enough for pocket-ability (which was the main point of this as an backup to an MSC or DSLR) unlike similar specification bridge equivalents with over double the optical zoom. But then again the 12x optical zoom on the Powershot SX150 is nothing to shake a stick at as its more than ample for compact point and shoot camera antics. To my mind it looks like a shrunken down and flatened D-SLR even within the actual design language used for its overall form. But even with the sturdy premium feel and pancaked DSLR looks of the SX150 I was a little disappointed that they didn't include RAW image capture capability. If I was holding onto it, this is something that I would definitely keep as a backup point and shoot camera whilst away from the MSC or a DSLR for capturing JPG's. 

 
 

 

You'll maybe need photoshop

With a camera like this some version of Photoshop or lightroom (ideally photoshop if only one or the other) is going to be one of your bestest friends/essential to help you sort the visual noise to whatever degree its present, as well as for sorting some potential softness and low contrast where and when needed. But most serious users coming from the MSC and/or DSLR end will no doubt already have some version of photshop or lightroom to use. If you'd rather have lower visual noise by default I hear that the lower res SX130 that tops out at 12 megapixels has vastly less visual noise by default.

Ease of use

Simple to use as a point and shoot camera with various auto mode settings. They've even thrown in an "Easy" setting indicated my a red heart shape on the mode dial which automates things even further. However the great thing about this camera is that it can be used in total manual mode too, and with the control layout being very similar to canon DSLR camera's, DSLR users should feel right at home using this aside from not having on lens manual zoom and focus. 

 Image stabalisation

It worked perfectly.

This camera also comes equipped with same DIGIC 4 processor found on the Canon DSLR range.

 Macro photography

The closest possible distance I could take a snap with this was about a cm. 

Image quality

Indoors with curtains drawn in daylight - In some straight out of the box tests the image quality is good with much less noticeable visual noise over other compact alternatives whilst initially testing it with some indoors curtains drawn snaps during the day, this was regardless of whether I used it in AUTO or Manual (although admittedly it was possible to get images with less visual noise with manual setting over what the AUTO picked). The fine noise that was still present was bareable but obviously still a little annoying and vastly more prevalent then what a decent MSC or DSLR would produce.

Indoors with curtains open in daylight - fine visual noise was vastly reduced but still visually present over certain darker colours.

Outdoors daylight - noise wasn't really noticable until viewing some of the images at 100% crop view. But overall IQ is pretty decent although a little soft and a little lacking in contrast (possibly from having gotten used to using DLSR's and MSC's before). On the plus side visual noise was virtually a none issue in bright sunny conditions or good lighting with the appropriate settings.

In instances where the pictures came out with little or no issues of noise or softness at all, the image quality was excellent for the main part. I recokon it'd be more likely that you'd be able to nail images in such a way more frequently with this thing if maybe taking the opportunity to go through every single setting its capable of and learning of its limitations and strengths. But I'm inclined to think that most regular users are generally looking for something much more straight forward along the point and shoot lines when looking at a compact camera.

 LCD

The LCD on this thing is huge, basically because it is roughly the same size of the types of LCD that they'd put on a mid sized DSLR (if not the exact same size I'd say fractionally smaller).

 Flash

With the flash being a pop up flash that's centrally located over the lens just as they are on DSLR's, there's no chance that a miss-placed digit over the camera body will get in the way when actually using the flash. Bonus. You can also set the intensity of the flash on this camera too which might help get round the need to use a flash diffuser. It would certainly help save battery power at times when flash is needed and the full intensity isn't required. 


 Metering sensor

They've also sensibly placed the metering sensor on the other side of the body away from the grip, i.e. away from where most people would grip a camera. I've never really understood why the actual metering sensor is placed right next to the grip on many smaller compacts and MSC's where your finger could quite easily obstruct the sensor. Although having said that I have found that being able to quickly and easily obstruct the sensor has been quite useful from time to time for achieving slightly different effects in pictures on compacts where there really isn't an option for manual focus.

Image samples taken @ 14 megapixels and ISO 200 under a spot lamp with no kind of Photoshop noise reduction filters or contrast adjustment applied at all. You can't really tell from the scaled down pictures, but there was no visual noise at all in the original 14 megapixel images.

summary

I could think of better ways to spend £149 RRP on camera gear for sure. But having said that for around the £69 offer price from places like Argos this thing is perfect (even better if you can get it for less). Especially if you're looking for a compact alternative to a DSLR or MSC and pretty much already put everything you shoot through Photoshop and/or light-room as part of your post image capture processing routine. But if you're a general user who rarely deals with or doesn't want to deal with Photoshop along with all the slights of all the various camera settings for getting the best out of the powershot SX150, you might be better off going with the Powershot SX130 instead which is said to have a broader threshold for shooting with less visual noise with excellent image quality.

The only slight gripes I could find so far that seemed to hinder intuitive operation are the placement of the picture review button and the video record button. To me they felt like they were in the wrong places. Generally I tend to shoot with auto picture review off for the main part (its quicker since I already have an idea of what I'll have taken in the pictures from the view finder preview without having to look at every single picture before taking the next picture) whilst opting to manually review pictures if I feel I need to in having an incing something might have not been right, either that or just view them afterwards after a session. The problem was that It felt more intuitive to press where they had placed the video record start/stop button on the camera body for reviewing picture and pressing where they had placed the picture review button on the camera body for video record start/stop. I was constantly pressing the wrong button whilst trying to quickly move through said tasks without looking to see what I was pressing on the camera or if I was taking pictures in the dark. They should really swap the button placements round.

Small details I liked were things like the eventual adding of the menu option to mute all beeps and artificial camera sounds rather than just giving the option to just turn each individual sound down. There was also a nifty little feature that users of older Canon point 'n' shoots won't have come across before, but that was the ability to set the camera to automatically generate new folders for you for storing pictures in either on a daily or monthly basis.

As a general point and shoot I reckon its still pretty decent, its just a shame they didn't include the option to switch to 12 megapixels too as well as maybe the option to take snaps in RAW given all the effort that they'd put into making the use of it feel a little like handling a DSLR. I'm kind of gutted I'm not keeping it, but it'd be something I'd maybe own personally some time down the line with funds permitting (if working within a budget) based on my current usage patterns for post image capture processing. But if money was no object I'd obviously go for something that was able to shoot in RAW too. But for all those who want less post capture processing effort it might better to stick with the powershot SX130 for around the same price, even at only 12 megapixels the powershot SX130 still has excellent image quality from all the image samples I've seen floaing about the net. 


 
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