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Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Digital Compact Camera Review

Daniel Bell reviews the Canon PowerShot SX150 IS, a low cost digital compact camera with a 12x optical zoom lens.

|  Canon PowerShot SX150 IS in Compact Cameras
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Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Lens Extended
Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Lens Extended

The Canon PowerShot SX150 IS was released in August 2011 and has a 12x optical zoom lens. It is available in red, black and silver for £179.00, although there is currently £20 cash back available (as of 9th November 2011).
Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Front
Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Front

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Features

The SX150 has a 14.1 megapixel sensor, enough to produce A3 sized prints, there is also a 12x optical zoom lens which is a 35mm equivalent of 28 - 336mm. To reduce the amount of blur in images the camera has Intelligent IS which automatically adjusts the Optical Image Stabilisation.

Picture taking is made easy in Smart Auto mode, which detects the scene and selects the perfect settings from 32 variables (21 in movie). There is also Easy mode as well as full manual controls so you can set the camera's shutter speed and aperture. Other modes include Smart Shutter with Wink Self-Timer and creative filters, which include Fish-eye Effect, Super Vivid, Poster, Toy Camera, Miniature and Monochrome.

Movies are recorded in 720p HD with stereo sound and optical zoom. There is Dynamic and Powered Image Stabilisation to help keep movies sharp and blur free. Videos can also be optimized for Apple's iFrame format.

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Top
Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Top

Key Features

  • 12x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 28 - 336mm)
  • Intelligent Image Stabilisation (IS)
  • 14.1 megapixel CCD sensor
  • Smart Auto and Easy modes detect 32 scenes
  • 3.0 inch LCD screen
  • HD movies with stereo sound
  • Full Manual control
  • Creative Filters including Miniature Effect
  • Smart Shutter with Wink Self-Timer
  • iFrame movie
  • Hints & Tips
Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Screen
Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Screen

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Handling

The SX150 is large and bulky for a compact camera as well as being heavy when loaded with its two AA batteries. The body is made of plastic and on the rear of the camera is a 3 inch LCD screen, which is easy to see in most lighting conditions, although images don't look as colourful as when viewed on your computer. The buttons are large and easy to press, with a mode dial placed on the top of the camera. The d-pad also rotates to cycle through menu options and you can press the playback button when the camera is switched off to view your images. There is also hints and tips to help you understand the camera.

With standard alkaline AA batteries the camera is capable of around 110 shots. This isn't a lot so it's likely you're going to need at least one set of spares. Alternatively you could purchase the Canon NB-3AH rechargeable batteries which are capable of around 320 shots on one charge. The camera is ready to take photos within two to three seconds of switching on and focusing speed is good. In continuous shooting mode it is capable of shooting full sized images at 0.8fps.

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Batteries
Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Batteries

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Performance

Images produced by the camera are generally well exposed with good colour reproduction. Detail is decent throughout the images whether shooting wide or with the full optical zoom. When shooting with the lens at its longest you can see the camera working hard to reduce image shake. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 1cm and allows you to get really close and take very pleasing macro images.

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Lens test images

Images at ISO 80 and ISO 100 show little signs of noise, but there is some evident at ISO 200. Noise increases further at ISO 400 with images losing a touch of sharpness. Noise really starts to kick in at ISO 800 and even more so at ISO 1600. Although there is plenty of noise at these higher ISO settings, the colour reproductions is barely effected, so you can still get a good images, even though they will be best used for the web rather than large prints.

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS ISO test images

The images below are examples taken using some of the various modes available. The landscape mode really makes your scenes stand out with good blues in the sky. Portraits have good skin tones and no red-eye. The final image was taken using shutter priority mode at 1/1000 sec to capture the water droplets.

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Sample Photos

Under our incandescent studio lights the auto white-balance (AWB) preset has a strong orange cast in the image with the incandescent preset giving a much better result. Under the fluorescent lights there is very little difference to tell between the AWB and fluorescent preset images.

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS White-balance test images

Below are examples using some of the creative modes available.

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Digital filters

Video Mode

Below is a video shot at 720p HD. Videos can also be recorded using the optical zoom lens, an example of which can be seen on the ePHOTOzine Youtube page.

Value For Money

The Canon PowerShot SX150 IS is available for £179.00. Other cameras with a similar specification are the Pentax Optio RZ10 at £84.99, Olympus VR-310 at £87.00, Fujifilm FinePix T200 at £96.00, Samsung PL210 at £99.00. None of these cameras offer the advantage of manual controls. Other compact cameras with manual controls and plenty of zoom are the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20, Sony Cybershot HX9 and Canon Powershot SX230.

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Verdict

When picking up the SX150, the first thing that strikes you is how heavy and bulky it is for a compact camera. There are many cameras on the market that offer a similar amount of zoom in much smaller lighter bodies, but these cameras are likely to be more expensive or lack features such as manual controls. For a very reasonable price you get a good zoom range and decent image quality making it an ideal camera for travelling.

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Pros

Keenly priced
Decent image quality
Minimum focus distance of 1cm allows for good macro shots
Video quality is good
Manual controls

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Cons

Requires AA batteries
Camera is heavy and bulky for a compact


Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Specifications

Max Aperturef/3.4 - f/5.6
35mm equivalent28mm - 336mm
Optical Zoom12x
Image Sensor
Pixels14.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4320
Pixels (H)3240
Sensor TypeCCD
Sensor Size1/2.3 inch
Sensor Size (width)6.16mm
Sensor Size (height)4.62mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution230,000 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus1cm
Focusing modes
  • AF Tracking
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2500sec
Shutter speeds longest15sec
Bulb modeNo
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
  • A
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity80 - 1600
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shootingNo Data
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPS30
Stereo SoundNo
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery Type2x Size-AA Alkaline or Ni-MH Batteries (NB-3AH) (Alkalines supplied)
Battery Life (CIPA rating)110shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsGetting started guide, 2x AA batteries, wrist strap, interface cable, digital camera solution disk, warranty

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Photographs taken using the Canon PowerShot SX150 IS

From a distanceA BIT OF PINK IN THE GREENTHE MOUNTAIN OF LONDONTHE MOUNTAIN OF LONDONSTANDING TALL AND PROUDShades of pinkSIMPLE BUT BEAUTIFULCamera shyOrange SkyTrees SilhouettedCalm River MerseyGesture StumpsIt's a MagpieStunning 1st February Urban Sunset

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swa 7
6 Dec 2011 5:05AM
AA battery power and a bit of heft are virtues, in my opinion. I wouldn't carry a camera in my shirt pocket no matter how small and slender. In a pinch, one can buy AA's almost anywhere.

I looked at the SX-150's hi-res results just after reviewing the Fuji X-10's. The SX-150's image quality is extremely good, IMO. It's all the more impressive when compared to results from a camera that costs several times more. Not equal, true, but remarkably close.

Perception of the value of features included or not included and some elements of handling and image results are subjective and personal, fair enough. Still, I think your value-for-money rating is one star shy of what the SX-150 deserves.

(Disclaimer: I have no relationship with Canon except as a sometimes consumer of the company's products.)

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altitude50 15 16.1k United Kingdom
7 Dec 2018 1:42PM
I have just bought a mint used SX 150 for general use to carry around in a jacket pocket all the time and in bad weather and on the beach in storms.
About 3 years ago I had been using a Powershot SX 110 9mp camera but broke the rear screen, so I had an idea how good the 150 should be. I checked out the telephoto performance by my regular non-scientific test (in dull weather this time) the sharpness and contrast are nearly as good as a 300 Sony CSC lens and a 200 DSLR Sigma..In my opinion. No evf is not too much of a problem in winter.
I am also a fan of AA batteries for low Mp compacts.

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