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Canon PowerShot SX150 IS review:

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS

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, Toy Camera Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, and Poster Effect.

SX150 Control Dial
Plenty of shooting options on the SX150 IS make it a good choice for budding photographers.

On the dial you'll also find Canon's reliable Smart Auto, which analyzes your subject and automatically selects an appropriate scene setting from 32 specially defined settings; an Easy mode for fully automatic shooting with no access to menus whatsoever; some standard scene modes like Portrait, Landscape, and Fireworks; the aforementioned Discreet mode that shuts off all noise and lights while shooting; and a Movie mode for capturing clips at resolutions up to 720p HD.

Shooting performance is very slow, which sadly is average for cameras that use AA batteries. From off to first shot takes about 2 seconds. The shot-to-shot times averaged 3 seconds without the flash while using the flash more than doubled that wait time. Shutter lag--the time from when the shutter release is pressed to when the image is captured--is a minimum of 0.5 second in good lighting. It jumps to 0.8 second in low light, but felt longer. There are two main continuous shooting options: one with autofocus on every shot and one that sets focus and exposure with the first shot. The latter is faster, capturing at about 1 frame per second. The continuous option with AF slows down to about 0.6fps. Add in the shutter lag for the first shot and you'll have to be pretty good at anticipating action to get the shot you want. Basically, don't buy this if you're regularly going to be shooting active children, pets, or sporting events.

SX150 controls
The SX150's controls are big and the camera's size makes it comfortable to hold and use.

The SX150's design changes only slightly from earlier versions. It's still bulky and heavy, especially in comparison with competing compact megazooms. Part of the reason for its heft and dimensions is it uses two AA-size batteries for power while other manufacturers have moved to rechargeable packs. Battery life is very short if you use alkaline batteries, and even with rechargeable NiMH batteries it isn't particularly great.

The positive thing about it being larger is that it's comfortable to hold and use. The controls on the back are pretty much the same as those on the SX130 IS. The face detection button is gone and in its place is a one-touch movie record button in addition to display, menu, and exposure compensation buttons above and below the navigational scroll wheel to the right of the 3-inch LCD. The screen gets adequately bright, though some may still find it difficult to see in direct sunlight. The navigational wheel surrounds a Func./Set button and has top, bottom, left, and right pressure points for ISO sensitivity, focus (manual, normal, and macro), flash, and timer. The wheel is responsive with tactile stops to it, so you will not easily overshoot what you're trying to select. Operation is overall easy to pick up, but even seasoned Canon users will want to examine the full manual included on the software disc bundled with the camera.

The batteries and memory card slot are in a compartment accessed through the bottom of the camera, secured by a locking door. That's good considering there's nothing holding the batteries in place. On the right side of the body under a small door are a USB/AV port for connecting to a computer or external display and a DC input if you want to power the camera with an optional adapter.

The Canon PowerShot SX150 IS is a bit of a disappearing breed: a compact megazoom that uses AA-size batteries and has semimanual and manual shooting modes. It's fairly affordable, too, and does get you very good photo quality. Its shooting performance is miserable, though, so I'd only recommend it for patient photographers shooting landscapes and similarly stationary subjects.

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