Canon SX130 IS Review

February 20 19:57 2011 Print This Article

Canon PowerShot SX130 IS Megazoom Camera


For blogging and as a portable day-to-day camera, I’ve recently been using a Canon PowerShot SX130 IS, which is the company’s newest compact megazoom. It’s a great shooter that puts out quality pictures in auto, semi-manual and manual modes, and more importantly, can shoot 720p video with continuous autofocus in stereo audio. Priced at just below PHP16,000 in the white market, and going for under PHP10,000 in the gray, it lands at that sweet spot of attracting casual shooters who want to jump into manual shooting while maintaining portability.


Specswise, the camera is a 12MP shooter with a 28mm wide lens and 12x optical zoom – reaching far enough to be useful in most situations without sacrificing portability. It can do 720p video at 30 frames per second – with the stereo microphones and the ability to use the optical zoom being great additions for the video recording. (The recent couple of videos at the site were recorded with this camera in HD.)


The design is a little bulkier than your average portable point & shoot, particularly because of the zoom lens and the AA batteries. The camera is not pocketable, but is small enough to be brought along everyday with minimal bulk. All of the controls are on the right side of the camera and can be easily manipulated with one hand. The main circular control pad serves as 5-way directional keys but is also a jog dial that you can twirl to adjust settings faster – useful when shooting in manual modes. For framing you have the 3” LCD screen at 230,000 pixels, but there is no Electronic ViewFinder.


Backside of the SX130 IS


The camera produces great images and videos – sharp, with accurate colors and good exposure. The IS system (Image Stabilization) does a good job of preventing camera shake – useful when you use the zoom and/or extend the shutter speed for longer exposures. (Shutter speed ranges from 1/2500 to 15”.)


The camera’s ISO range is from 80-1600 and as with most cameras, it does get noisy every jump in ISO. That said, it’s noise performance is still better than your average point & shoot. Up to ISO 400 is decent and 800 still acceptable. At 800 its best to get the subject as close as possible so that there’s little need to crop the image or zoom into it to reveal imperfections. The aperture is largest at f3.4 at its widest and goes down to f5.6 when fully zoomed in (smallest aperture is f8.0). While not exactly what you would call large apertures, it can still produce a narrow depth-of-field by utilizing some common photography techniques.


In video mode, there’s noticeable vertical lens flares that get recorded when bright light sources are in the frame. Whether this is a positive feature or not is up to you, though when recording video of multiple light sources like Christmas lights, you will notice a lot of flares. It should be noted that the flares disappear when the camera is turned 90 degrees in portrait, but is less useful as video.




There’s a pop-up flash that you can use and it works well enough, though it has to be opened manually. Unfortunately the flash takes about 5 seconds to recharge, which long enough for you to become impatient. I’ve generally avoided the flash altogether and I’m thankful that I can just leave it down and it wouldn’t pop out automatically like in most cameras. Since the camera can be tweaked to handle night photography in various situations, you can leave the flash to be your last resort.


The SX130 uses two AA batteries which is a convenient feature for travelling or in emergencies. Its highly recommended to use popular Low Self Discharge NiMh batteries like Sanyo’s Eneloop as it doubles the amount of shots you can take over regular Alkalines.


Overall, the manual modes leave you with a great deal of freedom to take pictures of everyday subjects, capture portraits and landscapes. For travel, the zoom extends long enough and you can adjust exposure to make the best out of harsh light, easily take rechargables or buy alkalines in a pinch, and record great 720p video in stereo audio for taking back home. At night there are many creative ways to take pictures, and if needed, the flash is a good last resort to dimly-lit situations. If you can look beyond the old-fashioned styling, bulkier build, long flash recycle times, and slightly limited apertures – but rather consider the advantages of the manual capabilities, sharp image quality, long zoom, 720p video, battery flexibility and the affordable price point, then the Canon Sx130 is definitely for you.

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