on December 12, 2010
I'll start by saying that I'm a Canon fan. Three out of four of my current digital cameras, including both my DSLR's, are Canon. When I was looking to upgrade my compact zoom, this unit caught my eye for both its price point and its feature set. For a sub-$200 compact zoom, this camera definitely leads the pack.
* 12 megapixel image capture
* Very good image quality
* Full 720P HD video capture
* Excellent low light performance for its class
* Excellent image stabilization capability
* Full manual control, including Av, Tv and full manual modes
* Great zoom range, especially at the wide end
* Excellent, fast and intuitive performance
* Reasonable battery performance with rechargables (a MUST!)
* Works with convenient AA batteries
* Excellent flash for its class
* Excellent color fidelity with no detectable image artifacts
* Fast continuous shooting for a compact camera
* Perfect size for a compact zoom, fits in a large pocket
* Fantastic price/performance ratio
* No CCD cleaner that I've found
* No flash shoe for an external flash
* No external audio inputs for video capture
* 10 minute video capture limit
* No RAW image support
* Terrible support for HD video codec
* No optical/digital viewfinder / LCD display only
* My unit got a speck of dust inside the lens, creating a spot on images/video for awhile
It's been a couple years since I've purchased a camera and I was a bit surprised to see how far the feature sets have come, especially on the lower-end compacts. I've now put this camera through the paces in many different situations and overall, I'm very pleased with everything about it so far.
My criteria for this camera purchase was fairly simple. I wanted a compact zoom with decent optical range, AA battery support, excellent color fidelity, reasonable low light performance and a unit that provided full manual control. I'm an amateur/semi-pro photographer and I expect a lot from my cameras. After reviewing the options out there, this one was a clear winner.
First, I'll speak to the image quality and zoom. I've been very impressed with both its color fidelity and the overall image quality. Images are sharp and its ability to provide vivid color and great dynamic range within images is fantastic. With the unit's lack of RAW support, this was very important to me. At the low end of the zoom, there is a bit of the wide-angle effect...but I really appreciate how wide this camera is able to go. At the far end of the zoom, the optical quality is still great and I haven't detected any weak spots within the optical range. I've never been impressed with digital zoom, and I nearly always avoid it...but as is typical with digital zoom, you'll get artifacts at the furthest end of the spectrum. For a compact, the macro mode is also quite functional, allowing a very short focus range of less than 1/2" - and the 2" focus minimum for normal mode is also quite impressive.
Aperture performance was up to my expectations for a camera lens of this quality, if not even a little better than I expected. The range is from f/3.4 to f/8.0 in aperture priority mode, and I typically would want more on the far end, but as far as I'm concerned, this camera produces f/22 and above quality in landscapes. You're not going to get beautiful bokeh effects at the low end (f/3.4) but this is typical of compact cameras with inexpensive lenses. With that said, though, I was surprised to see any bokeh whatsoever...and it is possible to get a little.
Low light performance is important to me as this is one of my strongest interests in photography. Up to ISO800, there is very little noise in the captured images and I've found that my noise filters will clean up what little there is quite well. ISO1600 starts to introduce a fairly strong noise characteristic, but I expected as much. There is no ISO3200 support, but personally, I feel like this is a waste in a camera at this price point as there's no way you're going to get good performance at such extremes. The image stabilization works well, especially when you're right on the edge of needing a tripod. The camera features an auto focus assist beam, which is a welcome addition within a camera at this price point. Low-light video performance was quite good, although it does take a performance hit in the noise department...but I was still very impressed that it performs as well as it does by producing very watchable low-light video results.
The overall feature set for a relatively inexpensive compact is just staggering to me. All of the basic features are there for a person who appreciates some creative control, including full Tv, Av and manual modes. The automatic modes are great for those times when I don't want to put effort in and P-mode (full auto, except for control over ISO) was an absolute necessity for me. The time-to-live is quick and from an off-state, I can capture an image in less than 3 seconds. I've tested some of the newer, fancier features and I have to say, they're quite impressive. The smile detection blew my mind because it actually worked! The ability to auto-shoot portraits when new people enter the scene is also pretty amazing to me. Blink detection? I would have never thought of that, but it's actually worked for me in a couple of cases. The HD-video is a great addition to my camera lineup and I've started playing with it fairly extensively. I have noticed a bit of discrepancy between the image stability on the LCD screen and the actual result in the produced video, but then again, if I wanted super-stable video, I'd use a tripod. There is a 10 minute limit to video capture, which could be a deal breaker for some, but for my purposes it's just fine. It picks up audio quite well, which was surprising to me - although you're not going to get movie studio quality out of the thing.
Physically speaking, the camera is very comfortable to hold and all of the buttons are conveniently placed. Anyone who's used a Canon camera will feel quite at home with it...and even if you're not, I wouldn't anticipate much difficulty. I haven't had any notable difficulty with the button placement, but have inadvertently turned off the camera when I was trying to capture a picture in a hurried situation. It's not exactly a sub-compact, but for a compact zoom, the size is perfect and exceeds my expectations. (It fits in a large pocket quite easily, but not well in smaller ones, such as most rear pockets.) The lens retraction is very nice and the lens portion only sticks out about 3/4" from the body when fully retracted.
Battery performance met my expectations, for the most part. The use of rechargeable batteries is a must for any digital camera - it's no secret that ALL digital cameras suck up a lot of juice. (This is WHY most of cameras use proprietary NiMH batteries!) For me, I'm fairly heavily invested into NiMH AA batteries, so it was very important for this purchase to support them. I don't get the rated performance, but I never trust those values and I can certainly squeak 200+ images out of a set of 2300mAh batteries, without flash usage. Video use does suck up the juice, but I've still been surprisingly impressed with its performance as I expected a lot less. I wouldn't really consider using standard alkaline batteries in a digital camera for all but a pinch situation and if you expect good performance on alkaline batteries, you're not going to get it. I did find the camera did not like a couple of my sets of 2700mAh batteries, and wouldn't even turn on...and while that bugged me, it wasn't a deal breaker as it does work with 90% of my batteries. A quality battery charger/tester goes a long way, as you won't get good performance if your batteries aren't up to snuff and aren't properly matched according to actual capacity.
I really only have a couple of complaints. Somehow my unit got a fairly large spec of dust inside the lens, and for awhile, all my images/video had a blurry spot on them - particularly in images with fairly strong light/midrange backgrounds. I'm a little concern about the seal and its ability to prevent dust from entering into the lens. Eventually, this speck of dust went away and my images are back to normal - but it's frustrating when you can't do anything about something like this. Additionally, the HD video codec that is used by this camera (H.264/Apple Quicktime MOV) is very frustrating to work with on a computer. It's just not well supported yet and takes a LONG time to open on my computer, even within Apple's quicktime application. (My machine is a quad-core 3.2Ghz proc, 4GB RAM...fast, for all intents and purposes - perhaps I have an issue with my computer's video codecs and I am willing to concede that possibility.) With that said though, I've found it best to convert it to a different format for editing...a step that I would rather avoid. These two issues prevented me from giving the product a full five-star rating.
Overall, though, I'm impressed with this camera and it fit the bill perfectly for me. I hope you've found this review helpful!
on August 31, 2010
I first heard about the SX130is on August 19th- the same day I had decided that my final purchase decision would be the SX120is. After reading a few reviews, it had me convinced that this would be worth waiting for. I received my SX130is late this morning- and have to say, right from the box it was just amazing. Every time in the past when purchasing a new camera, it takes some adjusting and "breaking in" before fully great-quality pictures come, but with this one, literally from the first shot it has been wonderful. The HD video also records wonderfuly, and the sound is great as well- even with using all of the 48x digital zoom! The one "downside" to the video mode is that the image doesn't auto-focus as you zoom in, at times you have to re-focus using the shutter just as you normally would when taking a picture, but I personally didn't find that too annoying once I figured it out. The miniature and fisheye modes are a blast to use, and the smart-shutter mode (takes the photo when a smile is detected, without using the shutter) is neat too. The LCD is a nice big size, and has an auto-rotate for images in the playback mode, as well as an option to scroll through them when selecting. A fun fact which I also noticed is that it has a "screensaver," which displays the time to save the screen (as a computer would). Although some might consider it a bit "bulky" compared to most compact point and shoots, the size is perfect for someone like me who has bigger hands, allowing for a decent grip and non-clumsy hold. Overall, I just absolutely LOVE this camera (which I why I already give it 5 stars, hands down). Definitely recomend this to anyone; is well worth the money!
***Updated on 9/24***
After finally getting some Rayovac recharcable NiMH batteries, I can finally say that this camera is well worth the money. If you use regular AA (nonrechargeable) batteries, it will blow through them like crazy, so I learned the hard way. But the NiMH last much, much longer, plus are rechargeable. If you plan on purchasing this camera, I would highly recommend also getting the batteries- it is well worth the extra money.
on November 1, 2010
I bought this camera mainly because it was reviewed as having good pic and video quality, it has HD video, and it takes AA batteries. So far it's been superb all round.
The AA batteries bit is a really big deal for me. I so nearly bit the bullet and got a camera that uses a proprietary battery pack -- as, tragically, they almost all do now -- only to discover, when trying to get 2 spare packs, that they're basically unobtainable! This makes such a camera useless for me, as on a long trip (e.g. weekend hike), once the battery is dead, you're stuffed until you find a 110v outlet to charge from.
I understand that AAs are more bulky for a given charge, and presumably that's why the SX130 only takes two. I'd personally take a larger handgrip to make room for two more batteries, but the bottom line is, it doesn't really matter. Just take along spares, and change them out as needed. Use NiMH batteries for best life (conventional batteries like Duracells simply can't handle the loads of a digital camera), but in a pinch, you know that more charge is almost always going to be easily available. And when rechargables wear out, getting new ones is a snap.
So anyhow... I basically love the camera. It's compact and light, and easily fits in a jacket pocket, so it's always handy for a snapshot. It takes great pictures, and superb clear 720p movies. The stereo sound is good, but with built-in mics, wind noise will always be a problem if there is much wind at all. You can zoom while filming, but the noise is quite audible on the soundtrack (though subtle enough not to be really annoying, mostly). I've started using a separate sound recorder for projects where I care about the live sound.
The reason for dinging one star is the one niggly point I've found to date: video capture is limited to 9 mins 59 seconds per clip. This is a hard and consistent limit; I guess it's to avoid the 2GB file size limit. It's never been a problem for me so far, but I could see where it could become an issue for some types of filming.
Battery life isn't great, but like I said, just carry two or three (or ten!) sets of spares, easy. For the record, here's what I got on a single set of Eneloops, taking continuous 10-minute video clips until it died: battery warning came on at 80 minutes; batteries died at 110 minutes. One 16GB memory card stored 85 minutes of video, averaging 186 MB per minute. I'm using a 32GB card now (class 10), and it works great.
In case you're wondering what it records in the .MOV files it captures, ffmpeg tells me that the video format is:
Video: h264, yuv420p, 1280x720, 22301 kb/s, 29.97 fps
Audio: pcm, 48000 Hz, 2 channels, s16, 1536 kb/s
So overall, great. I do wish there was more choice of cameras taking standard batteries; but this one fits the bill nicely.
on October 23, 2010
I've been a fan of Canon cameras for years. I currently have 5 of them, with my "best" one being an older S3 IS. The S3 takes awesome pictures but is a bit bulky, so I wanted to try this new camera. Well, I love the picture quality, features, controls, weight, construction and especially the HD video. However, I have to return it. This camera goes through a set of Duracell batteries about every 50 shots. I shot about 8 minutes of video today before the camera shut down due to dead batteries. You need to have at least 4 extra batteries with you at all times, otherwise you're going to get stuck. I tried higher capacity rechargeables and the camera wouldn't even acknowledge them. So, back it goes. Nice camera, Canon. If you do something about the battery life you'll have a winner on your hands.
on September 3, 2010
I was looking for a new camera to replace my 4 year old canon a630, 8mp, 4x zoom before our vacation next month. I was going to go with the sx120is, but it did not have HD video like all the other cameras had on them. Will I use that much, maybe, maybe not, but I at least wanted that option since all the other new cameras have it. Then I found out why the sx120is was going down in price, to make way for the sx130is. I looked everywhere and no one had it in stock yet. Then amazon got it a couple days later and I ordered it. Right away I thought it looked great. Very nice, something to hold onto, unlike the new small size cameras-I just don't like that they are so tiny. Love the big screen on the back. I thought I would miss not having a viewfinder and only using the rear display, but then i thought about it-I only use the display anyways on my camera and never the viewfinder! Sometimes the display looks grainy when not enough light, but after seeing the shot I just took, the pic was perfect. I like that it uses 2 AA batteries since I use rechargables-my other one used 4, so I have 2 extra for a backup now. I love how it zooms in on the face and the smile shutter is a neat trick. Have not played with the hd video yet, but I would have liked a mini-hdmi out of the camera. Also would like the flash to pop up on its own instead of saying on the screen to put the flash up. Other than that, there are so many controls, I'll probably never use them all and mainly use it on auto, which is great! The 12 MP and 12x optical zoom is great. Just note the 4x digital zoom does not work in widescreen mode, but it never did on my other camera either. A great camera to get without paying the extra money for the D-SLR cameras.
My guess: if a professional photographer were going on a week-end trip, and wanted to travel light with just ONE camera and lens, the SX130 might be that camera. No $200 camera does a better job of producing high quality photos outdoors in good sunlight.
If I am spending a week-end in an interesting place, I may take 300 or 400 photos a day. Most small cameras use expensive proprietary rechargeable batteries, so you need an extra $50 battery. The SX130 uses AA batteries, available at most corner stores around the world. That means you are never left without a battery. The SX130 eats throw-away AA batteries like popcorn. If you take only 250 or 350 photos per year, use lithium AA batteries, as they provide about 400 photos per set, if 10% or 20% of your photos use flash, and lithium batteries last for years when not being used.
The most affordable option is a set of "pre-charged" rechargeable batteries. Two "pre-charged" batteries such as the Sanyo Eneloops, provide about 250 outdoor photos, so a set of four get you through a week-end trip of 500 photos before you need to recharge. With heavy use of the flash, two pre-charged battereis will last about 100 photos, so for a wedding or party, bring along two extra pre-charged batteries. A package of four pre-charged AA batteries sells for under $15 and will last two or three years of heavy use.
The SX130 has an "easy mode" that permits even a child to take great photos outdoors, after learning to pre-focus before taking the photo. And, the SX130 has dozens of manual settings that enable experienced users to set a custom white balance, set the ISO level, adjust contrast, color tone, and color saturation.
If a user takes a few hours to work through the 140 pages of the owners' manual with the camera in-hand, practicing each of the settings, it becomes easy to learn how to dial-in precisely the photo you want. In bright sunlight, the SX130 can take photos that look very much like those from a $1,000 DSLR camera.
The SX130 is too big and heavy to put in a pocket, but it is much smaller and lighter than a DSLR...no DSLR comes with the powerful ultra-zoom lens of the SX130...a lens that ranges from a wide angle, for taking a photo of the interior of a room, a large group of people or of a large building...and a powerful telephoto that provides a sharp view of a seagull that is a hundred yards away.
The flash of the SX130 is designed to work best with subjects that are three feet to seven feet from the camera...if you keep your subject close to the camera, the flash can yield good results. WARNING: it feels like a week before the flash recharges...but it is only ten seconds...not the flash for pictures of kids playing or dogs running. This is a flash for taking photos of subjects who are willing to sit still...for a long, long time.
There are other cameras selling for under $200 that are much smaller than the SX130. However, no camera selling for under $200 provides its combination of a powerfull ultra-zoom lens, the option using full manual controls, and produces outdoor photos that look like they were taken with a professional DSLR camera.
on September 23, 2010
I have the SX110is and love it for the same reasons that I love this one, the SX130is. My father is a professional photographer, so I know a thing or two about cameras.
Actually, of course, every year they make the cameras better and entice buyers like me. This one has the HD video, and the 12x zoom, and 12.1 megapixels. Both features sold me. The SX110is now goes to my wife who has a fine collection of fairly new electronics that I discard annually.
The quality of photos is spectacular. The color is far superior to any camera in a comparable price range, especially a simple point and shoot. My 3 week old daughters skin tones show up amazingly realistic.
HD video is a plus. I am not sure how much I will use since I have an HD camcorder, but still, in a pinch it is nice. My only issue with the camera is the placement of the 'video' mode, so far from the 'auto' mode on the dial selector. This makes it inconvenient to switch back and forth, which is the main reason why I will probably not use the video mode as much, and the reason why I proclaim that this camera is 'very close to perfect', and not just perfct.
Canon has never let me down. The AA batteries make me happy. I hate running out of power on a camping trip with no options. The screen size is magnificent and bright.
This is a great purchase, until next year when they add a feature that I MUST HAVE!!
on September 4, 2010
I previously had the SX110 model and I loved that camera. I am loving the 130 just as much. The photos I get from this camera are amazing, and that's on Auto mode. Loving the Fisheye and Miniature settings too. Of course the thing I love most is the optical zoom(on this model, it's 12x). I also like that the camera takes AA batteries.
I have a DSLR as well but this camera will be my go to camera, much like the 110 was. For $249, you get a lot.Like I said, you can use the Auto mode, but you can utilize manual settings once you start feeling more confident.
I'm giving the SX 110 to my mom...
on December 12, 2010
I sell on eBay full time. I was looking to replace the canon P&S that I was currently using with something that was a little bigger, that had a better flash and Macro settings. (For product listing photos)
This review is going to touch on a couple cool features that I like for the sake of eBay.
1. The macro capabilities on this thing are amazing! In Manual mode with Macro on, you can have the lens 1/2" away, and it will still lock focus and snap a photo. The best Macro that I personally have seen.
2. Again in Manual mode, I LOVE the fact that it shows you exactly what the picture will look like before you take the picture. If your ISO is low, you shutter speed too quick, and it is darker, your screen will show you how dark the picture will be. Turn the iso up, put the shutter speed slower, and the image on the screen gets brighter letting you know you are getting a better shot.
No more taking the picture, looking at it, deleting it, re-doing settings and then doing the process all over again.
Which by the way, is also helpful if you are at a wedding or an event where you only have 1 chance to get the shot.
The reason I only give it 4 stars, is the battery life. However, after I blew through the 2 provided batteries after 1 hour, I put in rechargeables that have lasted all day so far.
Everything else with the camera is fun to play with. The minature effect has gained popularity in the past couple years. If you go to google images and search for "Tilt Shift", you will see what it does. It works best when you are higher up, taking a photo of city scapes, buildings, cars, people etc. A lot of people will do a fake "Tilt Shift" photo with photoshop.
This review as stated above, is more for how I use it with eBay. I have not included a full review of all features.
on November 14, 2010
Well yes it is bigger than most pocket cameras, but the lens is bigger. I brought another excellent little Canon I have and took pictures, at dusk, of some buildings. The difference was very obvious. The SX130 pictures had way more light than the smaller camera. If you ask me the AA (which it does eat) batteries are an advantage. You can buy replacements everywhere if you don't have a power plug. You can buy your own rechargeable batteries for very little money. With other cameras if something goes wrong with your battery you have to order a new one, for $40-$100 dollars, with SX130, no problem. I used a mulit battery charger to charge my wife's new Sony camera, the battery never worked in the camera again. Some chip in the battery got messed up. Had to buy a new one.
Picture queasily is excellent, but don't rely too much on presets. Especially low light setting. Use P mode and control the camera, decide what ISO you want to use. All of these cameras bump up the ISO high to get low light photos, but this just results in more noise.
I read in some reviews that the flash is a bit slow. It may be on the first shot, but after that it recycles just as fast as on other cameras. It is a little big to call pocket camera, but I use it as a secondary camera, "for better pictures".
Overall I think camera delivers what it promises. It doesn't pretend to be small, but it gives you the versatility of AA batteries and, if you know how to use it, takes excellent pics. It turns on in a fraction of a second and is ready to use. The weight of the camera makes it more stable when holding, with less shake. If you grade it in it's category, it is a great camera!