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Canon PowerShot SX160 IS picture samples

Check out an examination of picture quality and shooting features for Canon's AA-battery-powered 16x optical zoom camera, the PowerShot SX160 IS.

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Joshua Goldman
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1 of 9 Joshua Goldman/CNET

ISO comparison

These are 100 percent crops from the center of our test scene. Though you probably won't want to use its photos at full size, the SX160 IS overall produces very nice photos, especially for its price and features. Pixel peepers will see noise even at ISO 100, but it's not noticeable at reduced sizes. Up at ISO 400 is where it starts to be more visible. Going above that you'll start to see more color noise, artifacts, and loss of detail. The camera definitely favors dropping shutter speed over raising ISO when left in auto. That's good in general, but if you're not paying attention it could result in blurry photos.
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Macro

For those who like to shoot close-ups, the SX160's macro option can focus as near as 0.4 inch from a subject. This is a 100 percent crop from the inset photo taken at ISO 100.
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Color

Color performance is generally very good up to ISO 400. Above that you start to end up with noise that makes colors look off.
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ASM modes

The camera has semimanual and manual shooting modes for those who like more control over their results. This makes it a good choice for those who are just getting into photography, but perhaps aren't ready for a more advanced (or more expensive) camera. Available apertures at the wide end are f3.5, f4.0, f4.5, f5.0, f5.6, f6.3, f7.1, and f8.0; at telephoto you get f5.9, f7.1, and f8.0. Shutter speeds go from 15 seconds down to 1/3,200 second.
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Zoom range

The SX160's zoom lens goes from a wide 28mm wide (top) to 448mm telephoto (bottom).
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Lens distortion

There is a slight amount of barrel distortion at the wide end (top), which is more noticeable when shooting videos. The telephoto end has a bit of pincushioning, too. Center sharpness is good (but best in macro), but the corners and sides on my review camera were a little softer.
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Fringing

Purple or green fringing wasn't much of an issue at the center of the frame, but high-contrast areas off to the sides did show quite a bit of it.
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Live View Control

Live View Control mode gives you simple sliders for adjusting brightness, color, and tone. For example, the top photo was taken with everything set to the middle, while the bottom shot is with all three raised. Everything else in this mode is set for auto, but it does make it easy to experiment since you can see the changes onscreen before you shoot.
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Creative Filters

For those who are addicted to the photo filters from a favorite smartphone app, Canon includes several of its high-quality Creative Filters: Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect (pictured), Toy Camera Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, and Poster Effect.

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