Canon PowerShot SX160 IS Review

There are some people who should not consider purchasing the Canon PowerShot SX160 IS. It’s huge and thick. The shooting performance and image quality are not as good as those of some other models. And it most definitely does not have all of the most recent and cutting-edge features that are available on many of Canon’s more expensive PowerShots.

Key Specs

  • 16MP – 1/2.3-inch CCD Sensor
  • ISO 100 – 1600
  • 28-448 mm F3.5-5.9 Zoom Lens
  • Optical Image Stabilization
  • 3.00″ Fixed Type Screen
  • 1.0fps continuous shooting
  • 291g. 111 x 73 x 44 mm

But let me explain why I find it appealing. You can get a capable point-and-shoot camera that does more than simply automatically take photos for around $150 (an $80 savings from the camera’s initial price). Because of this, it is an excellent choice for individuals who wish to increase their knowledge of regulating shutter speed and aperture without making a significant financial commitment. You have a lot of versatility when it comes to framing thanks to this lens’ 16x zoom and image stabilization. Even while some people might like a high-power rechargeable battery, the fact that the SX160 IS uses two AA batteries makes it a highly convenient option for people who travel a lot or who don’t take many photos.

If you have the budget for it, the more costly Canon PowerShot SX260 HS is the model that you should acquire since it offers superior image and video quality as well as quicker performance. Aside from that, this is a wonderful alternative for beginning photographers, casual photographers, or just anyone wishing to shoot photographs that are prettier than what can be achieved with a smartphone.

Picture quality

Even while you probably won’t want to utilize its photographs at full size, the SX160 IS takes pretty great photos overall, which is especially impressive considering its price point and feature set. Even at ISO 100, noise may be seen by pixel peepers, but it is not evident when the image is decreased in size. When you go up to ISO 400, you’ll see that it becomes more noticeable.

When you go above that point, you’ll start to notice additional color noise, artifacts, and a reduction in detail. It’s a good thing the camera maxes out at ISO 1600 because I can’t fathom a greater sensitivity producing photos that are passable in any situation. When left in auto mode, the camera will almost always decrease the shutter speed rather than increase the ISO. That is a good thing in general, but if you aren’t paying attention, it might cause your photographs to come out fuzzy.

Video Quality

As with the images, the video quality is excellent; but, just like with the photos, the more light you have, the less noise you will notice. The lens is capable of zooming in and out as the scene is being recorded, and in more peaceful settings, the front stereo mics will take up part of the zooming mechanism’s motor noise. In general, though, if all you need it for is to record the odd video clip so you can share it on the web, it works just fine.

As with the images, the video quality is excellent; but, just like with the photos, the more light you have, the less noise you will notice. The lens is capable of zooming in and out as the scene is being recorded, and in more peaceful settings, the front stereo mics will take up part of the zooming mechanism’s motor noise. In general, though, if all you need it for is to record the odd video clip so you can share it on the web, it works just fine.

Performance in the shooting

One of the most significant shortcomings of the models that came before the SX160 was its poor shooting performance; all of its predecessors were similarly bad in this regard. This model finally receives the long-overdue update to the autofocus (AF) technology. Canon claims that advances to its algorithms, lighter lens elements, a stronger lens motor, and reductions in processing and AF scan times have all led to faster focusing and reduced shutter lag in its cameras. It is an improvement over the SX150 IS in a number of respects, however, being quicker does not necessarily mean that it is fast.

Even with the larger lens, the time it takes to get from turning the camera on to taking the first photo is roughly two seconds. The delay time between shots was an average of 1.4 seconds when the flash was not used; however, when the flash was used, that wait time increased to 7 seconds. The minimal shutter lag, which is the amount of time that passes between when the shutter release is pressed and when the image is shot without the need for prefocusing, was 0.3 seconds when working in excellent lighting and increased to 0.7 seconds when working in low light.

There are two primary modes of continuous shooting: one uses autofocus for each and every photo, while the other establishes focus and exposure before taking the first picture. The latter takes pictures at a rate of around 0.8 frames per second, making it the speedier option. Continuous shooting with autofocus results in a frame rate of about 0.6 frames per second. When you take into account the shutter lag for the initial shot, you will need to have a fair deal of experience in anticipating motion in order to achieve the photo that you desire. If you’re going to be photographing objects that are constantly moving, and you’re not very skilled at judging when to press the shutter button, you really shouldn’t get this.

Structure and characteristics

The size and weight of your camera will increase significantly if you use AA batteries to power your long zoom lens. To accommodate a larger lens and batteries (at least ones that are larger than those found in a lithium-ion pack), a camera needs additional space and weight. However, despite the fact that it just has a little grip on the front, the camera’s larger size makes it simpler to manage, and the added weight makes it slightly more stable while it’s being used for shooting.

Additionally, because of the wider body, there is space for buttons that are larger and simpler to push. In addition to the display, menu, and exposure compensation buttons that are located above and below the navigational scroll wheel that is located to the right of the 3-inch LCD, you also get a button that records movies with just one touch. The display can grow sufficiently bright, but some people may still find it difficult to see in full sunshine, and the image flips upside down when it is seen from above eye level.

The navigational wheel contains pressure points on the top, bottom, left, and right sides for adjusting the ISO sensitivity, focus (manual, normal, and macro), flash, and timer. The Func./Set button is located in the center of the wheel. Because the wheel is sensitive and has tactile stops to it, it will be difficult for you to accidentally pick something other than what you intended to. Even if you have experience with Canon cameras in the past, you should still read the whole manual that is provided on the software disc that comes included with the camera because its functioning is quite simple to understand.

Batteries and a slot for memory cards

The memory card slot and the batteries are both located in a compartment that can be reached from the bottom of the camera and is protected by a door that locks. The fact that the batteries aren’t being held in place by anything else is a positive sign. A Mini-HDMI connector and a USB/AV port are located on the right side of the body, under a tiny door, and may be used to connect to an external monitor or a computer, respectively.

If you use alkaline batteries, the battery life will be significantly reduced because the CIPA-rated capacity is 140 shots. If you use rechargeable NiMH batteries, the number of shots you can take will increase by two. However, you should bear in mind that using the zoom lens frequently, boosting the screen brightness, recording movies, or taking continuous shots will all reduce the rated battery life of your camera. If you plan on going out shooting for the day, you should either have extra ammunition with you or be prepared to buy some as you go.

The majority of point-and-shoot cameras that cost less than this one do not come with a wide range of shooting settings or controls because they are primarily designed for shooting in completely automatic mode. On the other hand, the SX160 features a multitude of modes, some of which include manual, shutter-priority, and aperture-priority. At the broad end, the available apertures are f3.5, f4.0, f4.5, f5.0, f5.6, f6.3, f7.1, and f8.0. At the telephoto end, the available apertures are f5.9, f7.1, and f8.0. The slowest shutter speed is 1/3,200 of a second, and the fastest is 15 seconds. If you find that to be too much control for your needs, you may change the mode to Program, which gives you control over everything other than the shutter speed and aperture.

There are also some standard scene modes such as Portrait, Landscape, and Fireworks; a Discreet mode that turns off all noise and lights while shooting; and a Movie mode for capturing clips at resolutions up to 720p HD in MOV or iFrame formats. Of course, you’ll also find Canon’s dependable Smart Auto mode, which analyzes your subject and automatically selects an appropriate scene setting from among 32 defined settings.

Canon offers many of its high-quality Creative Filters, including the Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, and Poster Effect. These filters are designed for those who are addicted to the picture filters available on their favorite smartphone app. Another option called Live View Control enables you to easily experiment with the camera’s exposure and color settings while simultaneously viewing the consequences of your adjustments onscreen before you take a picture (the same goes for the filters). Although some people may regard the effects that can be achieved with software to be gimmicks, playing about with them may be enjoyable if you are wanting to do something new, and they can really help you line up your shot effectively to achieve the impact that you are going for.

Specifications

Body typeCompact
Max resolution4608 x 3456
Image ratio w:h1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels16 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors17 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Sensor typeCCD
ProcessorDigic 4
ISOAuto,100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
White balance presets5
Custom white balanceYes
Image stabilizationOptical
Uncompressed formatNo
JPEG quality levelsSuperfine, Fine
Focal length (equiv.)28–448 mm
Optical zoom16×
Maximum apertureF3.5–5.9
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaCenterTrackingSingleFace DetectionLive View
Digital zoomYes (4x)
Manual focusYes
Macro focus range1 cm (0.39″)
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3″
Screen dots230,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typeTFT Color LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeNone
Minimum shutter speed15 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/3200 sec
Aperture priorityYes
Shutter priorityYes
Manual exposure modeYes
Subject / scene modesYes
Built-in flashYes (Pop-up)
Flash range3.00 m
External flashNo
Flash modesAuto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Slow Sync
Continuous drive0.8 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 10 sec, Custom)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpot
Exposure compensation±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
WB BracketingNo
Resolutions1280 x 720 (30, 25 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps)
FormatH.264
Videography notesMiniature Effect (HD, L) 6fps, 3fps, 1.5 fps
MicrophoneStereo
SpeakerMono
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMINo
WirelessEye-Fi Connected
Remote controlNo
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryAA
Battery description2 x AA batteries
Battery Life (CIPA)380
Weight (inc. batteries)291 g (0.64 lb / 10.26 oz)
Dimensions111 x 73 x 44 mm (4.37 x 2.87 x 1.73″)
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingNo
GPSNone

Conclusion

The Canon PowerShot SX160 IS was originally priced at around $230; however, the price has since been reduced to $150, making it a very good deal. It’s an excellent option for people who are just starting out and are on a tight budget, or for those who are just seeking for a good camera for occasional usage that doesn’t require you to worry about charging it first before using it. However, if you want higher performance and battery life, as well as a lighter and more compact chassis, you should look for a camera that has a rechargeable battery pack. Also, the Canon PowerShot SX150 IS took better images and is virtually the same camera as the SX160 IS; the main differences are that it is a bit slower and has a smaller zoom range, but it may be purchased for a price that is even cheaper than the SX160 IS while it is still available.

Pros & Cons

Good For
  •  Face Detection Focusing
  •  Image Stabilization
  •  Long Battery Life (380 shots)
  • 1/3200s High Shutter Speed
Need Improvement
  •  No Articulating Screen
  • No Wireless Connection
  •  No Full HD Video
  •  No External Flash Shoe

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