The Canon SX150 is the budget-friendly alternative to sleeker, pricier ultrazooms. This AA-powered 12x compact is a great option for families and casual shooters.
At first glance, the Canon PowerShot SX150 IS has the right look as one of the latest compact ultrazooms from that manufacturer, but under that shiny hood is an impressive collection of last year's features and hardware. Canon is the most modular of the major digicam manufacturers and they have an extensive catalog of consumer tested components to draw from when creating new models. Re-utilizing proven components to create new digicam models allows Canon to skip the expensive R&D phase of product development and quickly introduce new P&S digicam models at prices calculated to entice consumers to buy.
Canon's fifth generation DIGIC V processor is starting to turn up in some new point-and-shoots like the SX40 HS and the S100, but the SX150 IS is a DIGIC IV processor driven digicam. Several of Canon's newest models sport CMOS sensors (which offer greater dynamic range and better low light performance), but the SX150 features a 14 megapixel 1/ 2.3" CCD sensor. Many of Canon's new P&S digicam models feature 1080p HD movie modes, but the SX150 IS's movie mode tops out at 720p. Interestingly, Canon's top of the line G12 (which costs three times as much as the SX150 IS) is driven by a DIGIC IV processor, captures images via a CCD sensor, and tops out at 720p in movie mode.
Like the G12 and S100, the SX150 IS provides a full complement of shooting modes including Smart Auto, Program, Scene, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Full Manual exposure. The SX150 IS's most impressive feature is a 12x (28-336mm equivalent) super-zoom which, like the zooms on its upscale siblings the S100 and the G12, features a built-in Neutral Density (ND) filter to allow for maximum aperture shooting - even in bright outdoor lighting. The SX150 IS also incorporates Canon's proprietary "Intelligent IS" image stabilization system (first seen on the SX230 HS) which automatically selects the best IS method (based on matching the user's composition with the most effective IS mode for that type of image) from seven available IS options.
Like portable audio fans and smartphone lovers, photography enthusiasts lust after the newest and most unique imaging devices, but buying the current cutting-edge camera is not always the best option. Ninety percent of the people who buy point-and-shoots are casual photographers and they rarely (if ever) need the newest digicam features and functions. Does the SX150 offer more to the casual photographer than a bargain price, or would stepping up to a higher spec model be the better option? Read on as we put the SX150 to task in a full review.
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